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The Way of Transition: Embracing Life's Most Difficult Moments

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  327 ratings  ·  38 reviews
William Bridges' lifelong work has been devoted to a deep understanding of transitions and to helping others through them. When his own wife of thirty-five years died of cancer, however, he was thrown head-first into the kind of painful and confusing abyss he had known before only in theory. An honest account of being in transition, this uncommonly wise and moving book is ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 6th 2001 by Da Capo Lifelong Books (first published 2000)
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Jul 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who says "I don't know what the fuck is going on"
Well, I guess I loved this anyway. Sometimes he is annoying and you want to punch him for being a post-hippie perfectionist and name dropping Ram Dass and saying "transition" over and over. But then he says how things really went for him and how communal living got annoying and everything he thought was perfect and magical and The Answer revealed it's disappointing reality, and then balanced out to be okay.

He gave a name to the shitting-your-pants "oh God, what is happening, who am I, will it a
“When I am ninety, I’ll still be discovering, as if for the first time, that the way of transition simply involves following your path, letting go when it is time, being open to the neutral zone when that is what you need to do, and embracing the new form when it emerges from the shadows at the edge of the present.”

This is one in a series of books I have read lately about personal growth and self improvement. My retirement has caused me to be introspective as I try to understand what my next cal
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this. Now.
Mary Hodson
Secular and humanistic perspective of moving through the change process. Mainly autobiographical in relationship to dealing with loss and grief. Helpful perspective in the importance of letting go and ending/the in-between process of being in a 'neutral zone'/the moving towards a new beginning. Overall a book that gave general observations but felt empty in the help it could give. ...more
Barry Bridges
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Profound wisdom regarding the journey through transitions, current state-letting go-future state, is shared as Bridges navigates the slippery path exposing his deep loss. Understanding change vs. transition is simply the beginning of the journey. There is so much quotable and so many deep paragraphs it is hard to capture in a single review or summary, you must, absolutely must, make the journey through this book yourself, and discover your own journey.

Bridges is essentially the Father of change
Oct 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone grieving over a loss, has moved alot, or feels like they are living in a limbo state
Shelves: personal-growth
Endings & losses are the commonest first sign that people are in transition. Signaled by one of several experiences:

- a sudden and unexpected event that destroys the old life that made you feel like yourself
- the "drying up" of a situation or a relationship that once felt vial & alive
- an activity that has always gone well before, suddenly & unexpectedly goes badly
- a person or an organization that you have always trusted proves to be untrustworthy and your whole sense of reality comes apart
- an
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed Bridges' story of his own transition through the grief of losing his first wife. He is less successful when he opts rather heavy-handedly to tell the story of change by way of Greek myth (Demeter/Persephone, Odysseus) or fairy tale ("The Wizard of Oz"). I found especially interesting his explanation of what he calls the neutral zone, that mental/emotional space in which we find ourselves when we've ended one portion of our lives and the other hasn't yet fully materialized. Life here ca ...more
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure I'd be able to get through this book, as about 1/3 of it is specifically about his wife dying from cancer. But it proved to be a helpful way to process such a painful experience. While it's not a How-to book (darn it!), it does leave me with much more peace & confidence about the journey that I'm on - that it's okay not to have a plan per se, but to live each day as it comes, figuring out my path as I walk it. ...more
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This absolute gem of a book is the distillation of over 35 years of writing, speaking, and teaching about the differences between transition and change and how to skillfully navigate them in your life. Don't miss his first book, Transitions. It is a little more helpful to read them in order, but not necessary to profit immensely from his insights. 5 stars and above!! ...more
David Geller
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous. Bridges takes his perspective on transitions from the intellectual to the personal. He really shows us that transitions are experienced. Our next chapter is not figured out intellectually, it is discovered emotionally. He shows us we need to trust that our capacity to experience the challenges of the neutral zone, and that we will discover our next new beginning.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My priest shared this with me when I was in the midst of my own transition -- leaving my job, walking the Camino in Spain and setting out to learn what is to come next. It was so useful - deeply meaningful personally. For those who like business books, the ideas in here would make for an incredible book on change management. There are some excellent quotes that address it directly... with a little imagination you can absolutely apply this to major periods of change at work.
J Crossley
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
William Bridges has written other books about managing transitions (Transitions-Making Sense Out of Life’s Changes and Managing Transitions). In this book, he speaks of transitions as he works through his wife’s death from cancer. This book educates not only with how to manage transitions, but with the personal struggle Bridges as he manages his own transition.
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a fitting read for this passage in my life. Bridges offers quite a number of helpful images and frames for transitions. Ironically I sometimes found in his writings words I've spoken along the way. Very helpful! ...more
John Tarnoff
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Personal, revealing, candid, and insightful - especially valuable for those looking to understand the process of recovering from loss or change.
Kathi Crawford
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
I read Bridges' Transitions in graduate school and finally picked up The Way of Transition. I'm so glad I waited and that I picked up this book this summer. I feel a new relationship with the transition I'm in the midst of and a feeling of camaraderie with Bridges and others who have gone through uncomfortable and renewing shifts in their lives. Bridges used his own theory of transition and paired it with stories of transitions he has experienced in his adult life. The end result for me is bette ...more
Susan Burris
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is the what I will send instead of a sympathy or condolence card. It covers every kind of transition from death of a loved one to a career shift and anything in between. It is told through an intensely personal story and much of it is beautiful. The rest of the book is helpful and thought provoking. The events in life when we lose something (a job, a marriage, a loved one) are hard and they are horrible to go through but through his words, you can see that hope and growth are also poss ...more
Barbara Sands
Oct 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Questers
Bill Bridges has dealt with transitions the better part of his life and has led groups in dealing with it as well as businesses preparing for it. This is a personal view of transition over a few years by an over-60 man who found reason to doubt what he had been teaching. It is an ultimately revealing and completely naked book. Some may doubt the wisdom of some of the revelations, but they form the basis for the profound transition that follows.
Sep 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people undergoing change
Shelves: musthaves
There is a symetry to transitions that doesn't appear to the naked eye... Bridges holds the lantern that illuminates the meandering, often stark and fretful path between the island of "what was" and the lush landscape of "what is possible" now.
This is book to own as a touchstone for all of life's deep and meaningful changes!
Kathleen Gordon
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is very good until about two thirds of the way through it. Then, after the author describes his difficulties in life, and the efforts he takes to regain some semblance of control over his life, the fairy tale ending occurs. I don't like fairy tale endings. In real life, I have almost never seen them happen. This cheapens the book in my opinion. ...more
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
More memoir than guide book, still I found it very helpful, and would recommend it to older readers undergoing difficult transitions (perhaps also useful for younger readers needing to cope with the transitions of elders, but I think a certain amount of grey hair is needed to fully appreciate this particular book). Not a linear book, so don't read this if you want to proceed directly from A to B. ...more
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author explains that whenever we experience a loss in life--whether death, loss of job, move--we experience a transition from the old life to a new life. Some people try to grasp onto the old life out of a sense of false security, but those who can accept the transition period that leads to a new way of living end up gaining a life more fully lived.
Engaging story and explanations.
Feb 26, 2013 rated it really liked it

This is a very good book and feel that the thoughts and advice it contains helped me immensely. For those of us experiencing "transitions" in life, especially those trying to recover from a broken relationship, I highly recommend it and it's positive perspective on what we are going through.
Bob Lehto
Sep 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
I read this book in 2004 and found it very inspiring. I've decided to re-read it since my company is in the process of being acquired and I am experience "change." ...more
Jun 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
For anyone making a transition, personal or professional, it is an excellent read. Teaches lessons in overcoming our personal blocks to letting go of a hurt and moving forward..
Marie Farrell
Oct 27, 2010 is currently reading it
I just started this, but so far I'm already quoting from it. It's a great source now to feel less alone during very difficult situations in life. ...more
Carlos Alonso-Niemeyer
Jun 04, 2011 marked it as to-read
I don't rmmember who recommended it
But I will add it to my list
Oct 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
Good book about how life meanders.
David Roberts
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great story by the "man who wrote the book on transitions," who now returns to share his learnings from a most moving personal transition. ...more
Sandy Peckinpah
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
LIfe changing for me. Especially since I had experienced the trauma of a similar loss.
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William Bridges is an internationally known speaker, author, and consultant who advises individuals and organizations in how to deal productively with change.

Educated originally in the humanities at Harvard, Columbia, and Brown Universities, he was (until his own career change in 1974) a professor of American Literature at Mills College, Oakland, CA. He is a past president of the Association for H

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“We resist transition not because we can't accept the change, but because we can't accept letting go of that piece of ourselves that we have to give up when and because the situation has changed.” 7 likes
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