Crises and upheavals as an opportunity: Transitional rituals - learning from the crisis


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For many, a crisis is difficult and insurmountable. Experience shows, however, that this is often a transitional ritual, at the end of which there is a new beginning, just like an initiation rite.

Crises and upheavals as an opportunity: Transitional rituals - learning from the crisis


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Birgitt E. Morrien 86Birgitt E. Morrien is a senior coach and PR consultant for leading companies in the media and communications industry.

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Crisis as a powerful means of transformation

Brigitte Breternitz says: To stand before the point, no longer know which step should be the next or could be because of the economic situation, meant for me the beginning of the very great crisis. I thought my work was plain and meaningless. Self-doubt and perplexity soon became the bear-the-day feeling accompanying me throughout the work. Despite my endless energy, I was powerless.

Joachim Faulstich speaks extensively in his highly readable book The Inner Land of such experiences, which he describes as a “powerful means of transformation”.

The classic among the books dealing with such processes is undoubtedly Les rites de passage by Arnold van Gennep.

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Initiation rituals on the way to growing up

The basic work of cultural anthropology, published in German as “Transitional Rites”, describes the basic scheme of initiations in a way that can also be applied to professional and personal crises.

Initiation rituals, such as the admission of young people to the status of adults, have followed a three-part scheme since ancient times: separation from the old, change within the uncertainty “between the worlds” and finally arriving at the new.

Crisis pattern: farewell, uncertainty, new beginning

It is precisely this pattern that we can observe in crises: a period of farewell to the past follows a period of uncertainty, in which there are no fixed values ​​for orientation.

If this section is experienced with all anxiety and hope, a light may appear on the horizon: a new idea, new offers, new ways of further action.

Archaic Initiation

The crisis has ended, a new section is attracting and celebrating - and as has always been customary in the initiation rituals. How long the individual phases last is very different.

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In ancient traditions, where the youths of a determined day are banished from the village, perhaps rehearsals of their bravery, and finally brought back into the village after a time of deprivation as adults, such processes are clearly defined.

There is no schedule in life

If, on the other hand, it is the life that imposes such change times on us, there are no schedules. I know cases where a crisis, even accompanied by a coaching, caused years of failure.

But at some point the success came, and then more than ever dreamed of. He seemed to have ripened in secret, and had probably had to put away a great deal of the old man, who had no more voice, until he could shine brightly. However, most people, especially when they are professionally supported, are able to go through the three phases a bit more quickly.

Pause on the way forward

I personally know crises very well. My life is also characterized by apparent mistakes, deconstructions and decisions that could be described as mistakes afterwards. What have I learned from it? Well, many mistakes are “right mistakes” that I made not against my better knowledge, but in the current certainty of doing the best.

Again and again the dissatisfaction, burglaries and painful phases brought me to pause, to rethink myself and my will and ability, to re-establish the route of the trip and to break up again after a break with fresh courage.

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Excellent with breaks

Today, like many of my clients, I describe myself as “broken”. I am thankful for these phases that have made me a significant part of who I am today.

In addition, I learn that others can take courage to meet a woman who is positive about crises and who has mastered them.

Away from the crisis

Since I understand my coaching approach as a way out of the crisis, it is absolutely necessary that I myself know how it feels to be in crisis.

With the deeper knowledge of the crisis, which I have outlined here, it is certainly easier to pass through such a challenging phase.

Crisis as an opportunity - also in practical implementation

Even if you already have the knowledge of the nature of crises and you have at least theoretically learned to understand them as an opportunity - while you experience them, this knowledge seems abstract and it is good to read about it again and then, for example, to realize that it always the three phases described by van Gennep.

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With the methods of the DreamGuidance they are not only accelerated, but above all also in a depth through life, which makes a more powerful and personally more coherent re-launch possible.

Do not wait for the crisis, get started!

And good news: if you are doing well at least, you do not have to wait for a crisis to start a great change.

Rather, you could take already nagging dissatisfaction, too frequent time pressure, stress or quietly in the heart glowing longing as a sufficient occasion for an active reorientation.


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  1. Bernd

    Good grades and speedy study - that's what career counselors and HR professionals always recommend to find a job. What is often concealed: Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer guarantees to find the right job. There you should start with your blog.

  2. Jan Khemmanivong

    Helpful, good further tips. I'm looking forward to reading more.

  3. Caro Lemcke

    Thanks for your great article. This is a really important topic and it is good to see that it gets attention here. Keep it up!

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