Identifying the Common Themes of Major Changes


There’s that old saying that change is inevitable in life.

Yet, that doesn’t mean that change is always easy. In fact, it can be very hard, even when it’s a positive change. 

What if you could respond better to change if you knew the common themes of major changes?

Of course, you can’t predict the events in your life that will bring change. However, you can be better able to cope with the change when you already have an understanding of what change is.

Whether you are mourning the loss of a loved one or beginning your life as an independent adult, be ready to anticipate the life transitions ahead.

Such as...

Experiencing Gain and Loss

The first themes to consider when it comes to life transitions are gain and loss. Most basically, gain is when we acquire something, and loss is when we lose it.

Note, though, that this doesn’t have to refer to an object. For instance, it is possible to gain and lose the love of someone close, such as a romantic relationship.

Everyone, through the course of their lives, will experience both gain and loss. The emotions you experience from these events are important, as they can influence how you cope with gain or loss in the future.

If you remember that these are common themes in everyone’s lives, then you will feel less alone and perhaps even understood.

Feeling Happiness and Grief

Another set of themes to consider during major life changes are happiness and grief.

There are many reasons why you could feel happiness: 

  • Accomplishing a goal

  • Feeling understood by others

  • Being loved by friends and family

  • Pursuing activities that bring you joy

  • Having enriching life experiences

  • Helping others

Many people actually spend their whole lives searching for happiness. Interestingly, this search can actually cause them to feel anxiety, depression, and even grief. 

Of course, other forms of grief include experiencing a loss. For instance, losing your job, someone close to you, or your home, or experiencing some other kind of setback. You grieve because you remember what you once had but is now no longer there.

Although grief is a natural emotion to have, it’s possible to get so wrapped up in it that you feel you cannot come up for air.

Knowing Triumph and Strife

Triumph is another way of thinking about an accomplishment. There are many instances in which you may feel this way. 

For example:

  • Graduating from school

  • Landing your dream job

  • Finishing a marathon

  • Winning a game with your teammates

  • Getting a raise at work

  • Pursuing a goal for a long time and finally reaching that goal

On the other hand, when you experience strife it can lead to exactly the opposite of triumph. Where there was the feeling of success, there may now be an aura of failure. If you've experienced a time of plenty, you may now be penniless and times are lean.

Putting Together These Life Themes

When you really think about it, you have to admit that you'll probably experience all of these themes at some point in your life.

Sometimes, they will occur at the same time. For example, you could feel triumph from your professional success, yet also grief because you have lost a relative to an illness. You could feel the loss of being let go from your company, but at the same time, happiness from the love and support of your partner and family.

If you can accept that you will experience these different themes during your lifetime, it makes things a little easier when they happen.


If you are struggling with any type of life transition, a therapist who is trained to understand the complex dynamics of life transitions can be extremely helpful. They can provide a safe place to express what you are feeling and help you find the healing, support, and direction that you need.

Click here to read more about Life Transition Counseling.