1997 Article

New form of life and career counseling creates clarity around issues of change

By Eve K. Bernshaw

Have you felt powerless around the need to make certain decisions? Has the fear of change or transition created concern, or an adverse effect on your life? If so, you are not alone. Every day millions of people experience various forms of anxiety or fear, while attempting to make decisions. Most of them, just like you, may not know that effective and functional decision-making is a learned behavioral skill.

If you find yourself identifying with these feelings, or simply wish to sharpen your decision-making skills, it may be time to ask yourself this simple question:

How and why do I react to change in the way I do?

As you attempt to comprehend your unique relationship with change, you will automatically start to develop a powerful decision making skill. The skill is functional choice, where you begin to instinctively choose decisions that create function and growth, subsequently creating a freedom from the fear of change.

There are many ways to measure the depth of our emotional maturity. One way is in examining how we solve problems and make decisions. Another way is the manner in which we deal with transitional experiences, when and how they are dealt to us. Our comprehension, responsiveness and overall coping ability continue to grow and change at every stage of life. We accumulate knowledge and insight, by absorbing the teachings and beliefs we inherit from others. As we are maturing, we supplement that base of knowledge with our own, first hand experience of success and failure, with all the accompanying feelings of joy and pain that arrive with each reward or consequence.

For most people, decision-making equates to knowing what to do. As long as we are operating within our scope of experience and know how, all is well. We start to feel inadequate when our knowing what to do, has been compromised or skewed, by our limited experience. At this point, our decision is stymied. We revert to whatever means of default decision-making (survival), is available to us. The results usually indicate that an experience of inadequacy triggers fearful or negative beliefs, which control and produce a range of insecure reactions. Not a surprising result, considering how few of us have had training in deliberation, or even the basic, parental guidance in the fine art of decision making.

Insecure reactions range from uncertainty and doubt, to blinding fear. Fears, or self-limiting beliefs, either are born of an inherited source or are self-created. In either case, all beliefs are simply instructions, ideologies and convictions. Beliefs are taught to us, or created by us, for one very important reason. Beliefs keep us safe.

Originally, fear protected us. Our primal instinct of fight or flight lives on today in our inheritance of beliefs from generations' past. The offspring if those ancient beliefs still inhabit corners of our psyche, creating realities that still exist in current day behaviors.

Upon close examination, we find many inherited beliefs, no longer serving us in any positive way, yet they remain. Until the source and purpose of those beliefs are acknowledged, lives are held in bondage, clinging to erroneous fears that painfully control decisions, without reason or even hope of an intended purpose.

Emotions surrounding change can range from anticipation to debilitating paralysis. Clients often described a transition block as feeling hesitant and uncertain. They feel stuck or unable to move. Like an obstacle in our path, this type of emotional barrier suspends decision making, by blocking our ability to focus. Even the anticipation of a block can trigger anxiety. Just imagining judgmental criticism can trigger us, when our confidence and self-esteem are low. That form of anxiety usually shows up, not coincidentally, as we are being summoned to perform or produce in an unfamiliar role.

Our ability to understand the core issue (beliefs) behind our fear of change is the key. The optimum goal of decision-making is to operate out of functional intent, rather than being driven by an imagined (fear) belief of what may happen. We create an outcome by our ability to continually choose functional decisions that create our intention.

Understanding this paradigm creates a new perspective. Freedom from indecision and fear of change is available for those who dare to question the source and purpose behind their beliefs. As we understand the role our beliefs play in every decision we make, we realize we have the power to choose between beliefs that create function and fulfillment, or beliefs that control our life, based on fear.

Example of a successful transitional experience

Imagine the process you currently use in making decisions. Break it down step by step. Compare it to the following example of a successful transitional experience.

Notice that this process is circular, dynamic and exponential in design. Remember: A successful transitional experience occurs when a functional decision is made from intent.

Having an ability to focus on an intended result or goal, concurrent with initiating necessary decisions that change and adjust, whilst progressing forward in a measured, proactive manner. Realizing that the natural product or result from this process is a dynamic, collective knowledge and confidence acquired from all previous transitional experiences. Knowing we have allowed all previous, accumulative experiences, perceived to be either successful or failed, to educate and enlighten our ability to expand our ever changing, dynamic understanding. Knowing that as we continue to focus on the re-created, intended result, we continually see it changing and becoming a new and modified intended result. Through our choice of decisions, we dynamically have been creating what we intended every moment, and indeed have succeeded.

If you have recently questioned the validity of your decision-making process, ask yourself who was manning your emotional helm at the time? Have your decisions been intent driven, functional and proactive, or have you turned on your emotional autopilot, defaulting responsibility to a habitual or programmed process? Have you surrendered to assumed conclusions, based on old, inherited or self-created fears?

Take a moment and consider the following examples of fear based decisions, and the significant life changes that could have occurred, had decisions been based on intention and functional choice, rather than fear of consequence.

The career change dreamed of for years, and dismissed.
The creative venture painfully put on hold for fear of an unknown future.

The unacknowledged reasons behind the dissolution of any relationship.

The overwhelming power of an unknown future, holding the freedom of recovery in irons.

The postponement of any action once thought significant. But because of little attention and unclear intent, its memory finally died, all but forgotten.

Being brought up observing a traditional family behavior of unending grief or sadness as a child, you never questioned, you just assumed, that you too were predestined to a life of sadness.

Everyone has felt the fear of change and transition or imagined failure in our lives. However, when the fear of change controls or dominates our life, it may be time to consider a new way of looking at our decision making process. It may time to accept a new level of responsibility in this creative & dynamic experience called life. By learning to create functional decisions from choice, rather than consequence, we can automatically add more options for unlimited growth and freedom, in all areas of our life.

c Copyright 1997-2012 E.K.Bernshaw All Rights Reserved

Transitions Counseling/Consulting 858-344-1229

Author's Bio: 


Eve K. Bernshaw

Author of TheTransitionProcess™
Founder, Transitions Counseling/Consulting

Eve K. Bernshaw, author of TheTransitionProcess™ (TTP) develops and facilitates training programs using this unique decision-making process.

She has been called a career counselor/consultant, a teacher and an emotional midwife in the work she does with individuals and groups. She is a resource consultant for corporate organizational programs, Human Resource Departments, and outplacement groups.

She has taught TTP to executives as well as high school students, retirees in back-to-work retraining programs through DOA, and facilitated TTP in various college programs for welfare-to-work Title V recipients.

With a focus on making TTP more available within the community at large, she is currently developing a mentor-training program using TTP template.

Bernshaw developed TTP originally for her corporate consulting clients. With over 25 years in the corporate financial and marketing arena, and as a business development consultant, with a specialty in new venture development planning, she worked for organizations, and the new entrepreneur client. She noticed more and more of these executive clients were unable to focus on the planning process. Many of them had recently been displaced because of down sizing, or forced to take early retirement. The one thing they all had in common was being stuck in indecision, with varying degrees of corporate burnout and depleted self-esteem. These clients were the first to successfully utilize the simple decision-making techniques that would eventually become known as TheTransitionProcess™.

After researching the field of traditional career counseling, searching for tools to assist these clients with their professional transition, she found no specific decision-making process/tools outside the therapeutic environment. She began noticing a significant void in traditional career counseling, and a lack of focused support in acknowledging the anxiety surrounding a client’s experience of change and transition in the workplace.

TheTransitionProcess™ was created as a template for functional decision-making. These clients were not only experiencing success by using TTP in their professional development endeavors, but as they applied the process to challenging personal issues they found clarity there as well. It became apparent that TTP had a wide range of application beyond the career counseling and business consulting fields.

TTP became a new form of cognitive humanistic career consulting and was added to, and became the primary focus in Bernshaw's consulting service. In addition to workshops, seminars and support groups, she trains and coaches professional counselors and psychologists interested in facilitating TTP within their specific modality. As a writer and speaker, she also donates TTP to nonprofit organizations and support groups within the recovery community.

Bernshaw is an AIP Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with applied expertise in clinical and medical hypnosis.

Bernshaw utilizes TTP effectively to mediate pre/post divorce settlement work as a referral resource to family law firms. She also facilitates preliminary evaluations for referral on interventions for individuals and families with recovery challenges. With her hospice experience, she uses TTP in working closely with individuals and families dealing with long-term illness and our death and dying transition.

She is available for classes/workshops and lectures worldwide through various Speaker Bureaus or scheduled through the Transitions Global Office. 858-344-1229. Email you inquiries to