There seem to be seasons in life that have more than their normal share of loss. I’m writing this while traveling to grieve the loss of another family member with my husband Bill’s family.
Research has shown that those who see loss and hardship as a normal part of life fair far better than those who, when experiencing it, see themselves as especially hard done by.
That almost feels backwards doesn’t it? Is research suggesting that we be pessimistic? Those who expect all kinds of difficulty do better?
I believe the secret is not in what they expect to be coming but in what they expect of themselves. If I think that my life should be easy and then it isn’t, I am tempted to feel hard done by.
If I expect that life will be full of difficult situations - to love is to lose - then when difficulties come I accept them as part of life and see myself as a normal participant.
Is that pessimistic? Actually, I don’t think so. In reality, expecting hardships and accepting loss as normal allows me to see the blessings and the abundance that is also mine.
This is not an expectant stance that sees negativity and loss everywhere but a realistic view that accepts that we cannot escape loss.
How can we move ourselves in to that more resilient way of seeing the world? If you feel victimized by life when the inevitable hard things happen, how can you move to a more powerful place?
- Embrace grieving. When stuff happens, feel it. Own it, wear it, write about it, talk to a friend or therapist about it. Compared to minimizing it, this actually helps you get through the grief period more effectively and quicker. Think of grief as a certain quantity of emotional processing or detoxing that needs to happen for good resolve. I can resist it and it will take longer. I can ignore or repress it and carry it around having it impact me in subtle ways for a long time.
- Actively notice the good in the tough situations. I can think of a few really tough situations in my life where I can’t see the good. Not very many though. Seeing the silver lining doesn’t make the situation easier but it helps us see life less as black and white and more in the vibrant colors that it is. The abuse I have endured will never ever be ok or justified. However, there are many people I have been much more effectively able to support, listen to and help as a result of the pain I have suffered.
- Get aggressive at self-care and self-compassion. If you have been reading my blog for awhile you will see some themes here. This point though, cannot be overemphasized! I’m thrilled to have had my amazing niece (Rebecca) introduce me to the work of Dr. Neff (in Austin, TX). Recently Brenda, our incredible colleague, shared an article and a link to a very helpful self-compassion assessment tool.
Let's encourage each other with this - share the test, support each other's self-compassion growth!
How might you feel at the end of a WHOLE DAY of being kind and loving to yourself?
Posted on Thu, April 7, 2016
by Marilyn Orr filed under