The concept of experiencing life transitions is not foreign to most adults. Transition is a part of life. But sometimes, what is normally viewed as a common life transition can feel like a major trauma. Why is that? Why do experiences nearly all of us go through seem to be extremely difficult for some people?
The simple answer is that people are wired differently. As explained by the experts at Relationships & More in Rye, New York, personalities are a lot like fingerprints. No two are exactly the same. So it stands to reason that people react to life transitions in different ways.
Beyond the simple answer, there are some fundamental reactions capable of turning common life transitions into traumatic events. In such cases, Relationships & More says that counseling and professional therapy can help a great deal.
Fear of the Unknown
A big trigger for many people is a fear of the unknown. By its very nature, the unknown gives us reasons to imagine either the best or worst. If you are the type of person who tends to think positively, you may have no trouble imagining and hoping for the best when the unknown lies before you. Otherwise, you might tend to imagine the worst.
Worst-case scenarios tend to be blown out of proportion by our imaginations. The result is often a more intense fear. So for someone whose fear of the unknown tends to feed even more fear, common life transitions can be absolutely paralyzing.
A Lack of Flexibility
Common life transitions can also be traumatic for people who lack flexibility. In such cases, you are generally looking at one of two scenarios. The first involves circumstances that don’t allow flexibility regardless of how much a person desires it. A good example is someone whose life changes suddenly and dramatically because of a serious disability. The disability might prevent them from being flexible about everything from living arrangements to making a living.
The other scenario involves people who, despite having the capacity to be flexible, refuse to do so. They do not want things to change. They refuse to accept change. They lock themselves into a single idea of what they believe things should be like and, if it does not turn out that way, a life transition becomes traumatic.
A Perceived Loss of Control
Moving on, certain types of life transitions can make people feel like they have lost control of a particular circumstance. Older parents launching their adult children is a perfect example. When kids are still at home, parents feel as though they have some measure of control over their destinies. But once the kids are gone, so is that control.
People who tend to want to maintain control may have a challenging time when they feel that control slipping away. Unfortunately, so many life transitions involve the loss of control to some degree. Whether it is launching adult kids, embarking on a new career, saying goodbye to a departed loved one, etc., most of us don’t really control our circumstances as much as we think. That can be problematic.
The Trauma Can Be Worked Through
Relationships & More points out that, regardless of what triggers traumatic feelings during life transitions, the trauma can be worked through. They recommend professional counseling or therapy from the onset. Getting help early can prevent a complete meltdown by offering compassionate support all the way through.
Life transitions are normal and natural. For some people though, they are traumatic. Thank goodness there are trained therapists ready and waiting to help those who need it.