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Life Transitions ‒ Looking Back To Help You Move Forward

Written by: Jack Carmody, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with coining the paradoxical phrase, “Change is the only constant in life.” Life transitions are a reality. If you live in the United States, you will change jobs an average of every 4.4 years. You will also move almost 12 times over the course of your lifetime. Taking the time to mentally and emotionally process a transition can affect not only your memories of your previous job/locale/life phase, but it will also help equip you to best take advantage of your new pastures.

Take an Honest Look Back at the Positives

Self-reflection comes naturally to some of us, but can be a challenge for others. Either way, it can be extremely beneficial to take an honest look back at your previous season, and point out the good things about it. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, the apostle Paul tells us to, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Giving thanks has long been a Christian tradition, but it has found its way into the clinical psychological literature as well. Being thankful and having a spirit of gratitude is good for your mental and spiritual health. What was good about your last job? What did you enjoy about the city you just left? What are some things that went well for you personally? Were there important milestones that happened? Take time to reflect on these things!

This step can be particularly hard if there was pain involved in this season, or if your transition is not one you chose (a forced move for work, for example). However, even in such circumstances, it’s crucial to acknowledge the positives. It is always a danger to paint things with too broad a brush, especially a purely negative brush.

Take an Honest Look Back at the Negatives

It is helpful to look back at the positives, but you shouldn’t whitewash the past either. It is equally important to label the pain and hurt that happened in your previous life phase. What losses did you experience? Were there mistakes you made? If you could do it over again, what things could you have done differently?

Whether the negatives were things you did (or didn’t do), or things that happened to you, it can be therapeutic to name what happened, and talk about it. David in Psalm 32:3, reflects on one of his transgressions and says, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” When David kept things bottled up, it affected him in a negative way. When he confessed them, he was able to experience healing.

Move Forward in Confidence

Taking an honest inventory of the positives and the negatives of your past season will be fruitful in and of itself, but it is also important to help you move forward. If you look back with only fond memories of your last season, it will be nearly impossible to embrace change. Have you heard anyone say something like, “I wish we could just get back to the good ole days?” The reality is there was plenty wrong with the “good ole days,” many just choose not to see it! If you are stuck in a utopian view of the past, you will never be able to fully appreciate where you are now, and that will limit the potential of your transition.

On the other hand, if all you think about is pain from your previous season, you will limp into your next season unnecessarily tired and bitter. You also run the risk of completely lowering the bar of future expectations, which can also be damaging. For example, if you think your ex was the worst person on planet earth with no redeeming qualities, you may settle for a new relationship where you are impressed that he/she merely remembers your birthday or doesn’t curse you out during an argument.

Were there negative things that happened in your previous season you can correct in the future? Do you wish you had exercised more? Made deeper friendships? Been more organized? Make some of these areas a priority on the other side of your transition.

Were there positive things that happened that you can build on in the future? Maybe you joined a Bible study that you found helpful. You can build off of that momentum and find a Bible study in your new area. Maybe it benefited you to befriend other moms in your previous town. Make it a priority to make those connections in your new location.

Bottom line: don’t waste your transition. Take time to look back and reflect on the positives and the negatives of your previous life phase. Doing so will not only help you process the past, but will also help you move into the future with confidence! A good counselor, pastor, or mentor can be invaluable as you work through these things!

Follow Jack on his Facebook, Linkedin and visit his website for more info.


Jack Carmody, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Jack Carmody is a licensed counselor in the state of South Carolina (US), a military chaplain, and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. Whichever of these "hats" he is wearing, his passion is to help people discover God's best for their lives. He is also the Veteran Coach for the TV show, "Military Makeover with Montel" which airs on Lifetime. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, running, and spending time with his family.



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