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Women Breadwinners: Five Ways to Cope With Major Life Transitions

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In life, there are anticipated transitions (graduating from college, getting married, having a baby) and unanticipated transitions (an affair, divorce, death foreclosure, early death of a parent or a child).
Throughout life, both will occur.
While oftentimes painful and jolting, these transitions serve as turning points, experiences that help us redefine who we are, what we want, and what really matters.
For the women breadwinner, transitions can be especially difficult because so much is on her plate.
Whenever there are changes to employment, income, family structure, relationships, routines and roles, it affects everything including how the woman breadwinner views herself.
For example, a woman breadwinner who gives birth to her first child may not have expected to feel mother guilt at dropping off her baby at 3 months.
She might have never thought that she'd be one of those women who longed to stay at home and have her husband be the breadwinner.
Prior to this major life transition, she wasn't that woman.
But now she is...
and she has to find ways to cope with the fact that she wants a change of lifestyle that her breadwinner status may not allow her to have at the moment.
Rather than judge where she is or how she's feeling, the woman breadwinner needs to consider the type, context and impact of her transition so she can determine the best way to adapt and make her journey through this transition.
Self reflection of the transition requires asking three questions: 1) What type of transition is this (anticipated or unanticipated)? Anticipated transitions (graduating college) tend to be easier to adapt to than unanticipated (death of a parent at an early age) transitions.
Is this an event (a marriage) or a non-event (learning that you are infertile and may never have kids)? 2) In what context is this transition taking place? Does it involve other people? What is the arena in which the transition is happening? Is this happening with a marriage? Between parent and child? At work? 3) How much is this transition affecting my life? How is it affecting my relationships? My roles? My routines? My self esteem and self image? Looking at who you're discovering yourself to be after the transition is key to analyzing the impact it has on your life.
Once you've journaled or talked through the answers to the three questions above, it's time to develop coping strategies.
Here are five ways to cope with major life transitions: 1) Be willing to change.
Flexibility in life is critical to managing change.
When a major transition occurs, it's important to see this as something that is happening FOR you, not to you.
In this way, view the transition as a way to develop and transform.
Be willing to redefine roles, routines and relationships.
2) Focus on your psychological resources.
What are you good at? What about you is strong, centered and capable? Stay tuned into the things that make you resilient and seek support for the rest.
3) Develop your inner circle.
Create that group of 3-5 close friends (not a spouse or immediate family member) who you can call crying at 3 am and say: "Remind me who I am", knowing that this group of people will be able to speak an uplifting word and help you reframe the situation.
4) Build a convoy of social support at work, home and in the community that keeps you deeply connected to a variety of social supports.
Get out of the house, away from your laptop, and off of your cell phone.
Connect with real people, face-to-face.
5) Trust yourself and expect the best.
No matter what happens, know that you can handle it.
Find ways to re-affirm to yourself, "Out of this situation only good will come.
" More than anything, view transitions as normal, continuous movements through your life.
Whether you expect them or not, know that you will thrive through them.
Be flexible, be positive, and be willing to change.
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