Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, 2nd Ed.

Book Review, by Martha Beahm, D.Min. Ed.S.

William Bridges is an author and consultant that has been guiding individuals and organizations through changes and transitions for over 3 decades. His basic premise in this book is based on his definition of what a transition is, and is not.

To begin with, he differentiates between a “change” and a “transition”. Change is based on something situational. Whether we acknowledge it or not, change happens. Transition, he states, is a psychological term.

In this book, he outlines in detail about the 3 stages of a transition:

-First comes the ending, which means that we acknowledge not only the change, but also how it impacts us and what need to let go of in order to move forward in the midst of the change.

-Neutral Zone is that experience of when we have acknowledge what we have lost or need to let go of, but do not know what will or needs to come next in our lives. This is usually a time of confusion, often an emptiness. In the midst of changes that may be external, perhaps job, relationship, other loss or change, we are also experiencing internal disorientation and perhaps a loss of identification of how we have know ourselves. It brings about an inner searching, listening, a patience that requires a level of emptiness based on what we use to know and is not longer true in our lives.

-A new beginning can only come when we have allowed ourselves to both acknowledge what has ended, externally to ourselves as well as internally, and have allowed ourselves in the “neutral zone”. Beginnings come when we are mentally and emotionally ready for that new thing in our lives.

For me as the reader, I found William Bridges book not so much profound in a new idea. However, this book is very helpful in putting into words what I intuitively have known and have had lacked words to articulate. It was helpful to give image and words to transitions of our lives as a process of our emotions and personal understanding, not just “change” that is happening. It may be helpful for both those persons going through personal and individual transitions, as well as organizational changes that are occurring in the life of a system.

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