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I left what seemed to be a cosy, comfortable, affluent partnership of 33 years to brave the big wide world and live on my own as a poor church mouse. I felt stifled, repressed and held back in my marriage. But that was all in my mind because there were no outward chains attaching me to my home or husband. Then, unknown to me, I went into transition which took three years before finally going through the door and feeling incredibly....FREE. Transition is one of the major changes in our lives, if we are to believe William Bridges and Martha Beck.

I wanted to make this the subject of a THOUGHT item because November 2006 marked exactly 4 years since I acted on my inner desires and, boy, has my life changed incredibly! And, in answer to the unasked question, I have NO regrets, despite the ups and gloomy downs, none at all! I am not saying that there is nothing that I miss. I just do not wish to rush back to them because I am a different person from the one who enjoyed those benefits.

Furthermore, the worst thing in life is to have 'regrets' because they cause you to doubt your instincts - which are ALWAYS right - and they use hindsight, the refuge of the perfectionist, to judge past situations using present parameters, skills and information.

According to Martha Beck (Finding Your Own North Star), we have two selves: an essential self which we repress as much as we can because of a lack of self-belief and social conditioning, and a social self dictated by our childhood rearing, peers, work colleagues and society at large. Our essential self might want to be a rocket scientist but our social self, with all those negative voices of displeasure, will hammer home the point that we will never make rocket scientist: not good enough, inadequate, simply stupid, not as good as our brothers or sisters, etc. So we deny our essential self, making do with being a secretary or builder, constantly feeling uneasy, insecure, anxious, unfulfilled and fearful until our essential self can bear it no more and has to act. Usually with something tragic (like a breakdown or loss of job through redundancy), the loss of whatever we are clinging to. And so on...

Three Forms of Change
To remedy that kind of unhappy situation, change comes in three forms: "shock, opportunity and transition". Shock is usually external to wake us up (like natural disasters), opportunities will pop up when we least expect them but are often huge challenges (and we live a life of regret when we ignore them) while transition begins slowly and unnoticeably and gathers momentum over time to something massive. But all three types have one thing in common: death and rebirth.

We have to virtually kill something first before we can accept change: like our old ways of thinking, our old friendships, old relationship, ways of doing things, old comfort zones etc.... No one can bear to do that and neither do some of our significant others when we do begin the process. Because everyone fears any kind of change or death. Yet death is an essential part of life. Winter has to die before we can get spring and spring has to depart before we can enjoy the glorious summer! Unless we allow it to happen (it is NOT painless, but inevitable) we will be stuck in constant fear and grieving for much longer than is necessary.

As I said, I went into transition, then experienced the shock of losing all my cherished attachments when I moved out. In fact, I still wonder how I came through it all. In the space of just two years I lost my mother, my father, a young sister of only 36 (years leaving three young children behind), and my long marriage. Today I am on Stage 3 of the rebuilding process, having allowed the death of the old me and the rebirth of something entirely fulfilling and affirming. I have lost some of my controlling ways and now appreciate that whatever is happening at this moment in time is what was meant to happen. I just work towards my goals and leave the rest to a higher power. The lack of stress has been phenomenal and the smile of genuine happiness feels isincredible.

A Great Future
Having allowed myself to begin dreaming again, it is now time to put those dreams into action which began with my last book, 10 Easy Steps To...Finding Your Ideal Soulmate! (for all the single people out there looking for the right partners as well as those stuck in unfulfilling relationships and seeking answers), and continuing with my next one, Growing Older Disgracefully due shortly. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful I feel now. For a start, I would not have been sharing this with you were it not for my change!!

I would have still been living that fearful life, worrying about my age and how badly off I would be, living in regret, resentment and remorse, while my precious life rattled by. This is not a rehearsal for me. I have no other life. This IS the real thing and what propelled me out of my house was the knowledge that I owe it to my Universe, whoever put me here, to do justice to that time. There is a little statement which says: "Often we are so busy looking longingly at the closed door behind us we often miss the open one ahead." Believe me, the hardest part of any change is the decision. Once you make that dreaded decision, the Universe just falls into line to deliver your desires, often in the most roundabout and unusual ways.

So, what are you preventing from dying in order to be reborn? What part of yourself is still being repressed and fossilising NOW because of your mortgage and responsibilities, your fears and anxieties? Which YOU is desperately trying to get out of that locked door in your heart or head?

Isn't it time you found out?

About the Author: ELAINE SIHERA (Ms CYPRAH is a British writer, media contributor columnist. The first Black graduate of the OU and a post-graduate of Cambridge University, Elaine is a consultant for Diversity Management, Personal Empowerment and Relationships. An intelligent, confident expert. Elaine is the author of: 10 Easy Steps to Growing Older Disgracefully; 10 Easy Steps to Finding Your Ideal Soulmate!; Money, Sex & Compromise and Managing the Diversity Maze, among others (all available on Also the founder of the British Diversity Awards and the Windrush Achievement Awards.

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