Transitions are a natural process of our lives, yet we are not always ready for them.

We know transitions to be a period of time where change occurs, taking us from one state or a condition to another. We also know that they occur at varying times in our lives. Many of us are familiar with the norms of getting married and divorced, having children, saying goodbye to our loved ones for a moment or a lifetime, moving homes or countries, getting or losing a job, nursing an ailing and aging loved one. These are but a few of the many life transitions we may experience. What we seldom allow ourselves is the gift to get ready for them. With a transition comes completion of the state or condition before. Completion is an art.

So what do I mean by readying oneself for a transition through the path of completion? Think about it this way, we have structures in place be it within our society, legal system, or biology that affords us the ability to move to the next stage once we have demonstrated our completion with the phase prior. For example, we can not graduate from high school, college or graduate school without first demonstrating that we have satisfactorily completed the requisite course work. We can not remarry without demonstrating our legal completion of the marriage prior: by showing divorce papers. We move from childhood to adolescence when our bodies dictate the onset of puberty, thus biologically completing the phase prior.

These examples are tangible, socially accepted and understood. You may even think of many other such structural completions. However, what do we do in those events which require transition yet no formal structure for completion is in place to support with it's finality? What do we do with those emotional incompletions that we take with us into our lives year after year, sometimes for decades? And how do we know whether we are complete?

Some cues that you are incomplete may be:

(1) Persistent complaints about an event or person even though much time has gone by, yet you relate to it as though it was yesterday.

(2) Not moving forward while using the event or person as the reason for your “being stuck.”

(3) Finding yourself in relationships, whether they are intimate in nature or distant, that appear to end in the same unfulfilled pattern.

(4) Generally, that area of your life that is incomplete starts to have a hue of the movie “Groundhog Day.”

I have noticed that I tend to keep particular areas of my life incomplete because I get some benefit out of it. I know that sound’s radical and perhaps challenging to agree with, but please consider it for a moment.  If I hold another responsible for my “lack” or “inability” then I don’t have to be accountable for my lack of accomplishments and successes. If I hold another responsible for my unhappiness or lack of fulfillment, then I don’t have to be accountable for creating my own satisfaction. Though it may appear that I am at the mercy of circumstances outside of myself, the truth is that I have given up my role in the process of my life in those areas.

Completion is a powerful tool and a necessity on the road to the many transitions before us. Once we are complete, we are free and thus ready to transition emotionally. Transitions will occur in life anyway. Why not welcome them with a sense of freedom and ease?

I would love to hear from you and your thoughts about this piece. Please write to me at and let’s begin a conversation.  I welcome your comments below this post.

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About The Author

Banafsheh Akhlaghi's picture

Banafsheh Akhlaghi is a pioneering civil and human rights attorney, educator and social entrepreneur. She has learned through her work how decisions we make globally affect us locally. She immigrated to the United States from her native Iran with her parents at the age of five and started her career as a professor of Constitutional Law at the John F. Kennedy School of Law. Banafsheh has worked with the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM and was the director of the West Region for Amnesty International.

She has won several awards for her work, including the Fred Korematsu Civil Rights Award and was nominated for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Banafsheh was named “Top 100 Leading Lawyers in California” and “Top 100 Most Influential Lawyers in California” by the Daily Journal. She was also nominated for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2008 and received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from the U.S. House of Representatives the same year.

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