Why we should celebrate stepping into new 'eras' of ourselves
When we look back on our lives, we tend to identify certain chapters.
But these don’t have to be dictated by age – or even external things (such a new job or a house move). They can be a lot more personal.
‘We don’t stay static throughout our lives. Instead, we tend to live through “eras,”’ explains Hannah Martin, a psychotherapist and founder of Talented Ladies Club.
‘When we are young, these eras are more distinct: nursery, junior school, senior school and university. Each era will define a new us as we grow up, move physical location, learn new things and befriend new people.
‘But that doesn’t mean these changing eras stop once we leave education. As adults, eras are usually defined by external influences: jobs, the places we live, the people we spend time with, romantic relationships, the stages of our children’s lives, and the activities we do.
‘But eras can also be more internally driven. For example, going through menopause, losing weight, and getting fit, or a phase of significant personal growth.’
It might be a turning point you’ve reached in therapy, finally finding ‘yourself’ again after a break-up, or overcoming a previous anxiety you experienced.
And experts say it’s important to mark these personal and psychological chapters.
They shed light on why we should celebrate stepping into these new eras of ourselves – and remind us why it’s important.
An acknowledgement of personal strength
‘By celebrating moving into a new era of ourselves we acknowledge our journey through life and personal growth,’ says Hannah.
‘It also turns our focus away from regrets and things that may have not turned out as we hoped, and instead looks forward, as we appreciate the gifts our experience will give us.’
To celebate a new era, Hannah says it’s important to take time for reflection.
This might be looking back on the ‘old’ you – maybe even literally by looking at old photos, and recognising that this is a different person.
Hannah adds: ‘Think kindly of this person and the decisions they were making then, and the consequences of those choices. Acknowledge they were just doing their best, and how different you are and feel now.
‘Think how you have grown and changed and give thanks to the old you who paved the way for who you are now.’
An opportunity to give ourselves credit
Psychologist and psychotherapist Nova Cobban explains that celebrating new eras is a way for our minds to positively acknowledge the changes and, in some cases, huge transformations we’ve been through.
As a result, it’s a great opportunity to give ourselves credit where it’s due.
‘It’s too easy to rush through life without noting how much has already been done and achieved,’ she says.
‘Taking time to reflect upon each “era” of our lives allows us to change the way we see ourselves and challenge some of the outdating beliefs we hold onto.’
It’s also a good way to identify if you’re come through something challenging and out the other side.
Nova adds: ‘Without taking time to reflect upon the past (where things are different in the now), the sense of struggle can still be there and can drive decisions that are no longer relevant and may even be harmful (working yourself into a burnout, for example).’
Finding liberation in moving forward
Nova explains: ‘When we see that a new era has arrived that sense of forward motion is reassuring.
‘You have changed so much that “going back” is just no longer possible – and this can be truly liberating.’
What to do if you feel anxious about personal change
Of course, being positive about change is easier said than done.
So what if you feeling anxious about the new personal chapter you’re embarking on?
Psychologist Dr Alison McClymont says the best thing to do if you’re doubting this is to try and accept and fully embrace the change.
‘Once we accept and agree to a change, our psyche adapts and move us to feel excitement and possibility,’ she explains.
She’s shared four steps of how to do this:
- Step one: Acknowledge the part of the cycle you are in currently and explore that. What has triggered this feeling of sentimentality/anxiety/ rejection?
- Step two: Remind yourself that nothing in life is cemented, everything is in your control to “change”. Change in this instance may mean changing your mindset or approach rather than a complete change of circumstances, but everything is in your control.
- Step three: Embrace the change. Ok, so maybe this change has caused you to feel unsettled or destabilised- but what has this challenge brought you? Has it increased your resilience? Has it shown you skills you didn’t know you had? All growth comes through some degree of stress – watch a child learning to walk and you will see the stress of learning and adaptation right through to mastery.
- Step four: See the gifts the change has brought you – maybe you have made new friends, or learned a new skill. Be grateful of this.’
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