Sometimes it takes a watershed event for us to burrow beneath our public self and into our authentic self for answers. The way we interpret and cope with our life changing happenings, weather a loss of “self” or a loss of a loved one, is relative to that authentic self image. If life is stomping you into the ground or if life would prove to be a mouthful to big to chew there are numerous avenues of help open to you.
With the cobwebby lives most of us lead every one of us have at some time or another been knee deep in hopelessness. Some of us have felt that we had no power to change things. Didn’t believe we could transform our environment no matter how many toxic people were in it. We thought it impossible to change how others treated us, our jobs, and even our bodies. This unlimited downside to our tribulations is in direct proportion to one little four-letter word – fear. How much fear can fill our hearts? Bunches! Confronted by life’s challenges and losses we may choose to face it flanked by fear.
It’s amazing how one wee four-letter word can induce so much misery. Fear produces such defensive reactions as anger, anxiety, guilt and shame which lends a hand in us staying in negative situations. In choosing to ride the wild wave of fear we subject ourselves to ceaseless self imposed tension to impress others. Fear just loves to slather itself all over our defeat! As it tugs us down a path filled with a lack of priority and direction we can only handle pressure in unhealthy ways. When you surround yourself with toxic people rather than nurturing people, you have chosen to box yourself in. Yes, can you believe it; you have actually chosen this! For those of us living with loss taking responsibility for accepting the pain is a Grand Canyon deep obstacle. What are we to do?
First of all, as an individual you need to realize you are truly the boss of you. It may be hard to except when you feel so out of control. However by accepting the truth that you in fact are in management of your present reality will start you on a road to an improved life. Sometimes you may reckon you frankly don’t have the energy to deal with life. If this is so, you may be too depressed for self-help and may need medical evaluation. Depression can perform some dreadful tricks on you. You find ways to hide depression and loss of self to others. As I have said in my book, grief and depression are the best acting teachers in the world. You learn how to put the “best foot” forward routine allowing the public to view the person you want them to see. It gets you through the day until you can climb back into your refuge.
Weather you are depressed or have the blues if you have a self-value issue you have constructed fear filled artificial invisible walls around yourself. Fear causes you to assemble these invisible walls with self-limitations. Think ardently to see if you can identify any invisible walls that you have built. Some of the most common walls are the following: “I’ve done all I can do” wall, “There is no way I can do this so why should I try” wall, and “I would or could do this if only……” wall. This last wall says that you believe something or someone has more power over your life than you do. You just succeeded in donating all your personal power away. Fear is accompanied by negative emotions generally manifested by negative self-talk. Negative brain babble takes away your focus and what you can control. You know there are some things that are truly out of your control such as nature, the past, and other people. What you can control is your thoughts, reactions and actions. Permit yourself to take responsibility for those thoughts, reactions, and actions.
The following are some suggestions to help you deal with a loss of self and/or complicated loss to get back on track to live a radiant life.
- Allow yourself to feel your pain. You can’t keep putting it off because it will only build up. You can’t ignore it for it will seep into all areas of your life. It may reveal itself as anger or despair but it is pain that you haven’t dealt with. You have to manage your painful emotions for they will become a boulder. A bolder made up from the past disappointments and losses. A bolder that has absorbed all that you didn’t deal with at the time. When another loss comes into our lives all the grief from past loss swells up in us. If it has not been dealt with we feel like we are drowning and what might have been an uncomplicated grief now becomes very complicated. You are dealing with a lifetime of losses not dealt with earlier.
- Self inquire to paint a self-portrait. Take an inventory of your most important relationship. That would be the relationship you have with yourself. What is your reality of who you believe yourself to be? Open up those deep-rooted notions about who you think your really are. Write down five positive things true about yourself. Write down three things you dislike about yourself. Define the artificial barriers you have you built around yourself.
- Define your visions. What do you want for your future? Break it down to three years, five years and ten years. Say it out loud. Commit it to paper.
- Define what really matters to you. What values would you fight for? What are those core values that make you – you? The very things that are important to you should motivate you to stay focused on your vision.
- What do you think is the purpose for you being alive? Once you know your purpose it is like a needle to a compass allowing you to find your direction through life no matter the difficulties. It’s a way to stay on course at all times.
- Take some time to yourself to think everyday and clarify your progress.
- Control what you can, eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, cut down on sugars and caffeine, keep alcohol intake down. Rest and move your body with walking or exercise routines. Learn breathing and relaxation techniques.
- Get outside every day. Look for the small miracles all around you.
- Understand that nothing changes until you do. If you change a domino effect takes place. Nothing else can possibly be the exact same even with the slightest change. Once you make a change in attitude or determination others won’t get the same result when they treat you the same way. Which will then cause them to change. Cause and effect can be a wonderful thing. The ball is then in their corner and they will have to determine what behavior to change in order to stay in your life.
- Work on developing the ability to express and adjust to the painful changes brought on by a loss. Remember you can’t escape them. You may be able to postpone them but one day you must deal with them or the negative health and behavior it will cause.
- Reestablish existing relationships in your life and understand that they may not understand your needs. Learn to talk with them rather than to them. An example would be if someone asks you how you are doing. Don’t lie. Tell the truth. Simply let them know if it is a good day or a bad day and thank them for asking.
- Find effective ways to cope with these life-changing losses by handling your pain. Some people write down their thoughts, their disappointments, their fears, and their sadness. Be your own audience and listen to yourself.
- Read inspirational books as well as self-help books. Take from them what you like and at least give it a try.
- Unless you are super person, you can only change one thing at a time. Prioritize.
- Practice making decision everyday. Any decision such as choosing to eat an apple over a piece of cake is a decision to be proud of. When you do decide to eat the piece of cake be proud of that decision also – just making a decision is good.
- Find what you are passionate about. Is it an idea, a value, an art?
- Stop embellishing what you say to others. Try to tell it like it really is. When life teaches us to become award-winning actors just to get throughout the day it is very difficult to tell it like it is. There are two types of people in this world. The ones who will take two steps forward to listen and befriend. The others who take two steps back. You can see it physically when you talk to someone. Watch and see. The ones who step forward are people who will help and listen. They deserve the truth after all, don’t you?
- Make a commitment to your metamorphosis. Remember that success to achieving your goals is not a matter of statistics. It is a matter of persistence.
- Get outside of yourself. Volunteer. Help others land on their feet when they have stumbled. Don’t hide your emotional scars. Having them doesn’t make you special or an outcast. We all have them. Share them so someone else may stand away from the shadows and come into the light. I personally find volunteering one of the best therapies in the world. Focusing on others is a soul enriching experience. I volunteer with people as well as with animals. It has become such a positive part of who I am and I highly suggest it to anyone who especially has a tendency to a reclusive temperament.
- Rank what you see as your problems. Focus in on what you can change. Focus further on the most important situation you are facing. Break down each problem into smaller problems. It won’t be so overwhelming when you divide the problem up so you can then conquer it bit by bit.
- Visualize your life the way you would like it to be. Write it down. Think about it in the morning when you get up and at night when you retire. Visualize a life that is brain food for the soul.
- Determine weather you are procrastinating on situations creatively or calculated. Creative procrastination sometimes is rooted in a perfectionist behavior. People will procrastinate on a responsibility because they have fear they won’t be able to live up their own high standards. Calculated procrastination is a warning sign there is a deeper problem. Sometimes with calculated procrastination a person will decide to do nothing thinking the problem will solve itself some way or another.
- When you feel panicked stay in the moment. Don’t think about what just happened or what is going to happen just stay in the moment. Concentrate on something concrete in front of you and breathe deeply until you feel the panic subside.
- Take responsibility that you and you alone create your own feelings. Value your uniqueness. Grasp how amazing it is that there is only one you in the whole world!
If you have lost someone and are having trouble getting to a life where your memories bring you pleasure rather than tears of regret you may be experiencing complicated grief. Complicated grief is identified by the extended length of the symptoms or by the intensity of the symptoms. It is not uncommon for the closeness of a relationship to the deceased to cause complicated grief. One of the elements is separation distress. Find a qualified health practitioner to help deal with these invisible wounds. The goal of grief therapy is to identify and solve problems the survivor may have in separating from the person who died. It is always a good measure to get a check up with your medical doctor. Do try to concentrate on the “golden footprints” in that relationship. Concentrate on the entire relationship with the deceased not the end of the relationship. Our loved ones no longer walk the physical path of life with us but they are with us everyday in our hearts and in our dreams.
No doubt life is a grindstone. That grindstone can beat you down or polish you up. It is the same way with the boulder of built up losses. You can use it as a stepping stone to a better understanding of life or you can crawl under it. The ultimate choice is yours. The avenues of hope and coping skills are out there. Life’s reality is that you limit yourself by what you believe. When the pain of not changing is greater for you than the pain of changing you will be ready to move forward.
Wishing you to find a reality where negative brain babble doesn’t rob you of life’s treasures. Your peace of mind, your self-discipline and your passions are waiting for rediscovery to lead you to a life of radiance.
Copyright Sherry Russell 2003
Updated: August 16, 2013