“Photo by Jack Blueberry on Unsplash

The first couple of months of a new year can feel daunting. We may carry hopes and
expectations of things being different somehow, yet are still holding some of what has
already passed. Outside, it may be freezing, dark and stormy, but birds and blossom seem to
be returning. Some of us just want to snuggle down into our burrows, but force ourselves
out to socialise or take up new exercise when our bodies want to rest. Others enjoy the cold
and dark, making the most of what is left of winter. It is a time of transition – neither the old
year, nor quite yet the new one.
A transition can be defined as ‘a change or shift from one state to another.’ William Bridges,
in his wise and lovely book ‘Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes’ speaks about
change versus transition. Change is the outward aspect (for example, a new job or home,
losing a parent, having children and so on). Transition is the internal shift – this may not
necessarily coincide with the change itself – it may take us more time to come to terms with
the change, or we may already have transitioned internally without the action or event
having happened. This can lead to some difficult feelings.
Bridges reminds us that a transition has three phases – the Ending, the ‘Neutral Zone’ and
the Beginning. It is important to attend to all of these phases. The Ending requires saying
goodbye, possibly mourning. The Neutral Zone feels confusing – we are not still a caterpillar,
nor yet a butterfly. That is OK. We are allowed to feel the confusion and all of the feelings
which go with that. There may be anxiety there, and there is an opportunity for creativity
too. We can notice the difficulty of remaining in the present when a learned habit is to look
back and/or forward. And the Beginning comes after these – we are ready to move forward.
The counsellors at the Next Chapter Collective support clients in all of these stages. We are
also aware that, as a group, we are ourselves in the process of transition right now. We have
said goodbye to working together in a familiar physical space and have acknowledged the
mix of feelings around this. We are settling into what ‘we’ as a group means and trusting the
strength of the connection between us. We are excited about the new growth which is

Written by Ali Moir

All book links take you to our pages on Bookshop – the platform for independent bookshops.

We are a social enterprise. Buying books from these links supports our centre and services, so your book contributes to your wellbeing (we hope) and to others’ too.

Please email info@thenextchapter.org if you have any questions about the books or would like to get some personalised recommendations.

~ Kate MacDougall, centre co-ordinator and bibliotherapist
header image photo by Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash