It was late one warm summer’s evening in Marrakesh. We had wandered around the souks and then enjoyed a pleasant dinner in a restaurant just off the main market square in the Medina and it was time to head back to the Riad where we were staying.
The Medina was built around 1122 and is the old town in Marrakesh. It is a twisting labyrinth comprising 19-kilometers of tiny streets with pink walls, and poor lighting and it can feel like a scary place to walk through at night, especially if you don’t know where you are going!
The walk into the centre undertaken in daylight had been quite pleasant, but walking back in the dark wasn’t an option so we took a taxi.
The heart of darkness
Unfortunately the taxi driver misunderstood the rather obscure address of our Riad and assumed wrongly that we wanted to go some late night venue on the other side of the Medina! Language difficulties made it impossible to rectify so we set off on foot.
We asked a succession of strangers for directions and yet we seemed to be going deeper into what was rapidly beginning to feel like Conrad’s “Heart Of Darkness”. With hindsight I am sure the locals who tried to help us were genuine and had good intentions, but after about an hour or two of this we were totally disoriented and frankly scared.
Lost in transition
To be in an alien North African city, late in the evening, in the dark, completely lost in transition from the main market square back to the obscure location of our Riad, with no tools for navigation, and finding it impossible to communicate with the locals, was frightening.
To cut a long story short we eventually found someone who seemed to understand where we were trying to get to and it was with enormous relief when we recognised the alley (I wouldn’t dignify it by calling it a street) where our Riad was located.
Needless to say, the following day we moved to another Riad in the centre adjacent to the main market square.
The Difference Between Change and Transition
That experience of being lost in transition in the Medina illustrates the locational disorientation we can experience when we experience an unexpected change in circumstances, and especially a change that is imposed upon and that leads to hard times.
At the time of writing, with the world slowly emerging from Covid-19 lockdown, with our economies strangled, business failures and unemployment rising and our national governments flailing around like drowning men clutching at straws I think it is fair to say that many of us are currently experiencing hard times as a direct result of imposed change!
The purpose of this article is to set out a framework for understanding what is happening to you and to go beyond the circumstantial changes and to address the inner psychological and emotional impacts and how you can deal with those as well.
The additional objective is to offer a range of practical and proven resources to empower you to cope with these hard times.
The first and key point to make is that there is a distinction between the events, situations and circumstances that are imposed on you and your inner response to these things.
In the world of change management this is known as "transition".
Transition is a psychological process of inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate the effect of external changes into your life.
One of the major causes of the difficulty that you will experience with transition is that it necessarily involves letting go of something.
The process of letting go is often unsettling and unnerving.
Therefore a fundamental element of the transition is acceptance of that letting go. Without that acceptance, you will become stuck in denial, anger or resistance.
Empowering Resources For When You Are Lost In Transition
Bridges' transition model outlined above provides a well recognised and attested road map for what you are likely to be experiencing, or eventually will be experiencing, as you enter the transition phase of your personal experience of hard times.
Now I want to focus on, and offer you, some practical tools and resources that I have used many times, that will empower you and show you how to cope with tough times.
(1) Are you in a mess and having a really tough time right now?
"It’s 3 am and you have woken up and can’t get back to sleep. You lie in bed tossing and turning and as your brain wakes up a little voice in your head starts nagging you with doubts and fears about money…"