The tender stirrings of spring are drifting through the air. Nature in her glory is pushing new life forward. With each new leaf and tiny, budding bloom we see the beginning, with an awareness that winter is coming to an end. Spring is welcomed by many as a time of new beginnings, a clean slate upon which to draw hope. Nature seems to manage these transitions without too much ado, but for humans, transitions can be a bit more challenging.
The hidden dynamics of endings and beginnings
Whether it’s the end of a professional role or the end of a personal relationship, we must tend to endings in a special way if we want to fully engage with the promise offered by a fresh start. When an ending is left unresolved, it can create a hidden effect that we carry forward with us as we move into a new relationship. How we end affects how we begin.
When people leave their jobs or relationships with unresolved feelings connected to the comfort of belonging, or with resentments about giving too much, or carrying a sense of sadness if they felt that they were an excluded member of a team or group, then these same patterns will tend to show up with them in the next job or relationship. This is the nature of primary emotions: they hang around until they are acknowledged and tended to. Not only do they follow the one who is leaving, quite often they leave a ghost in the system they have just left. The person is partly present in both the old and the new relationship, but is fully present in neither.
Acknowledging the end
There are different ways of acknowledging the end of a relationship, and depending on the circumstances, different relationship dynamics may need to be attended to.
In relationship systems, there is a natural precedence that it is helpful to acknowledge. Who or what comes first takes precedence over who or what came later. So for a second marriage to work, all that needs to be tended to from the first marriage must be resolved. Otherwise the same feelings and emotions will surface and threaten the second marriage. This can be challenging where the break-up causes conflict in the first marriage relationship. It can take courage, guidance and time.
Similarly, with work, if our desire is to flourish in a new role, it is necessary to address any feelings about the previous role, and any relationship dynamics which remain unresolved. This may require us to accept what we have gained from the earlier role, what we are grateful for, what we have given, and what we must leave behind.
Once we can respect these natural orders, and end our relationships consciously and with respect, something settles within us and around us. By closing one door, we allow another to fully open, and we have permission to step through it with our complete selves.
Life is a perpetual cycle of beginnings and endings, some arrive each hour, some each week, some tri-annually, while others traverse the entirety of our lives. Whichever they are, when we have the presence of mind and heartfelt respect to attend to them, we give ourselves permission to move through life without all our emotional baggage coming with us everywhere we go. The resulting ease and freedom is palpable. We feel it, and others can sense it in us. By respecting beginnings and endings, we travel lightly through life.
Zita Tulyahikayo and James Pereira QC are coaches and co-founders of the Libra Partnership, offering coaching and other performance enhancing services to lawyers, barristers, law firms and chambers. The full Loving Legal Life series can be found here.