Moving on to the next chapter

Our lives are like books.

We move through chapters, some exciting and some painful, but each chapter has an ending and is a paramount period in our lives. Whatever our situation - divorce, a new job, moving home or starting a new relationship - it’s normal to feel loss or fear as we transition into the new phase in our lives, saying goodbye to the familiarity of the last chapter and embarking on a new page. 

Our 40s and beyond mark a time when many of us go through great changes, some unexpected. We may find our marriages coming to an end or experience empty nest syndrome - often cruelly coinciding with the loss of our parents and heightening the sense of being alone. We might also experience the onset of menopause, maybe finding symptoms difficult to manage physically and feeling as though it signals the end of youth.   

As we make a fresh start, it’s natural to experience anxiety, apprehension or self-doubt. We can struggle to move forward because we think we’re incapable of letting go of the past, grasping onto old patterns, habits and relationship because they’re comfortable - even if we didn’t enjoy the chapter. Crossing into a new phase can be daunting, bringing the realisation that we may never again have that experience or be in a situation or with certain people, and this can even lead to symptoms of grief.

It’s important to remember that change is an inevitable part of life and, as humans, we’re in a constant state of flux. To thrive and to experience happiness, we need to adapt to the continual conditions of change; resistance can cause us harm or pain.  Being open to shifts in life helps us develop and grow, focusing ahead yet holding onto positive life lessons and memories as we forge a new path.

To help yourself move through change: 

  • Let go of the circumstances behind the new start and give yourself time and space to heal. Try to create a new perspective of the past as a time of learning. Letting go of the past allows us to be present in the now and lightens our emotional load for the start ahead, while letting go of toxicity and painful residue reframes our new reality.

  • Remember that our experiences are part of our ongoing personal development. We need to understand the meaning and lessons from our experiences and utilise them. Whether those experiences are good or bad, you can ask yourself what you learned from them, what could you change next time, what can you take forward and what can you let go of.

  • If you’re struggling to make sense of things, speak to someone you trust or an impartial third party, such as a counsellor, to help you gain fresh perspective. Once you understand who you are and how your experiences have shaped you, you can create new goals for this next stage in your life. You can embrace the new opportunities that the fresh start brings - especially as you’re no longer burdened by the past and are aware of how you want to live your life.

  • Stay social. Maintaining social contact with trusted friends and family can be hugely beneficial, even when you feel like hiding away. Talking through your worries over a coffee can help put things in perspective and remind you you’re not alone.

  • Nature is a wonderful healer! Get outside for 15 minutes a day or sit by an open window and focus on the sounds and scents.

  • Embrace the change in you and take the best version of yourself into new relationships and experiences. Don't expect everything has to fall into place immediately; setbacks may happen, so be gentle with yourself and stay focused on your goals.

Above all, remember to be kind to yourself, particularly if you are recovering from emotional pain and grappling with adjustments to your new life. Change can often be difficult - but it's only temporary and an exciting future is there for you if you are willing to accept it!