In the book Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, 2009, Dr. Bridges identifies three distinct phases of transition. It is during these phases that the work of figuring out the new world and how to be in it happens.
Endings – letting Go Of The Old
This phase is marked by the letting go of old realities. It is the place of disorientation, not having the familiar, known entities, relationships and routines to rely on. Some endings are more challenging and troubling and can be more disorienting than others. To what extent and for what length of time is often related to impact but not necessarily. It is unique to each person – what’s important to them, whether the change is aligned to their values and purpose or not.
The disorientation is heightened by the sense of finality, with ‘the end’. We often hear “when one door closes, another one opens” What isn’t said, is that there is a long corridor between the two. The “end” signals the transition to the new beginning but not before going through the place in the middle. According to Bridges, there is a Neutral Zone, the place of limbo, for some, purgatory or as Dr. Seuss would call it, “waiting place”.
“The Waiting Place… …for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or a No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting. Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting. NO! That’s not for you! Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing.”
In my next blog we’ll take a closer look at The Neutral Zone.