We are often afraid of letting go: situations, people, things that are not made for us (anymore), allowing the fear to ruin our life. Why is that? Let’s explore the dynamics related to the loss and the ways out from the circle of sorrow in which we are stuck
The word “loss” has many meanings: from being deprived of something, through being a loser, to the extreme conception of losing your hope (depression). All of these meanings are different and separated according to the context but they interlace between each other in each situation: to lose a person it means not only being deprived of her/him, but also having lost the “battle” to keep her/him with us and, we feel lost, hopeless to see her/him again. In conclusion, we can say that having a loss is like experiencing the grief for a death.
We can now see in details the dynamics behind the loss.
The dynamics of loss
“You have to get lost to find yourself.“
Fear of the unknown
Leaving is a little bit like dying, says the old saying. It is true also for the person who stays. The life changes for both, and they are forced to find new balances. We enter in the “domain of unknown”, where everything is not experienced, is little known. This is scary. We are always worried about something new. This is not necessarily bad tho: caution is desirable during the exploration of uncharted territory. The problem is when this caution becomes phobia of the unknown, getting us trapped in toxic situations.
We prefer out tiny room with stinky air, which we know very well in detail, to open the door and go out, breathing the fresh air of the boundless pasture that surrounds us, because we don’t know what is hiding there.
“If you don’t know it, kill it!” we could read in an old comic. The fear of what we don’t know pushes us to make extreme deeds and irrational acts, just to defend ourselves from the possibility of being hurt. Instead of considering the news as a positive potential from which we could get interesting opportunities, we prefer to assume the worst, as if the unknown could only give us danger, sorrow, grief.
In conclusion, we have the fear to lose what we know, what gives us safety, what is our comfort zone, at the expenses of the news, the unknown, which can have positive potential but, at the same time, forces us to go out of ourselves, to make an effort to pass our limits.
One of the common tendencies of modern humans is to have everything under control. Anything needs to be in its place, in the way we planned and decide for it. This makes us feel peaceful, worry less, able to sleep at night. We are no longer used to let things follow their nature, whatever it is. We can’t keep our door open to unexpected, considering its existence like something that is part of life. This happens because if we allow some situations to mess up our reality, such as being a low productive worker, paying no attention to our family or cheating our diet, we are judged from the others, sometimes in a way in which our relationships are compromised.
This constant pressure from society pushes us to follow specific guidelines. When life brings us outside of these lines we get into a crisis. The same story happens during the situations in which we have a loss: we have a partner and suddenly he/she leaves us, destroying our plan that was in our mind about our life. We pass from a controlled situation to a lack of direction. This mental sclerosis about the stability of the reality doesn’t allow us to accept the change. What it has just happened simply shouldn’t happen, it wasn’t part of the plan, it wasn’t contemplated. We reject it, as we are the only maker of our life.
In conclusion, we tend to plan our life in every detail and we feel, perhaps, lost when these plans are blown up.
Despite we know that the loss is something that cannot be undone, on which we have almost no power, we suffer from it. Sometimes even for years. This happens because we continue to “possess” this thing (it could be a person, a situation or an emotion) in our mind. A gap takes place between the reality (the absence of the thing) and what we desire passionately. This not acceptance of what it is makes us live with a constant sense of deprivation of something. So, even if we have lost our “thing”, in some way we hold it back. We persist in planning our life like this person is still with us, especially in our daily life.
We live our life as it revolves entirely around something that doesn’t exist anymore, hoping the space we left for it will be taken again by this “thing” we miss so much. We are afraid of getting rid of the stuff belong to who left us, as it will hurt him/her. We don’t start a new career path, hoping that our job which we have just lost, will miraculously be given back to us. We carry on giving energy to something that doesn’t exist anymore and this void that stands in its place is like a bottomless pit that could never be filled. Despite that, this “ghost” on we are attached makes us feel safe, loved, brings us happy memories, joy. This is why we constantly keep feeding it.
Some people live in their past, in a golden era of their life in which everything was more beautiful, happier, better. So, even if the body grows up and become older, the people around them change, life flows, they can’t let this mythical period go from their existence, blocking the present moment from pouring on them its wonderful presents which it brings with it.
Summarising what has just said, the loss triggers the following events:
- it projects us in the realm of the unknown,
- we lose control of the situation,
- we hold the “thing” back in our mind.
How to face the loss
Just like death, the loss is inevitable. Sooner or later people will leave, our kids will leave their home, marriages will fail, jobs are lost and friendships will change. The first step is to accept that we are experiencing grief. The loss, whatever it is, always generates an internal death. Acknowledge ourselves that we are suffering, that we miss that person, that we would have wanted to make a career in that company, is an important and fundamental step. Without this step, we can’t go on in the healing process. Secondly, we need to understand that rationality is not enough to face this situation. The rational mind has a minimum power over the unconscious mind. Keep telling ourselves this sorrow has no sense, that everything will pass, try to convince ourselves that things are now the way they are is ineffective. So, what to do? Here some hints about powerful tools.
Holistic therapies offer a wide choice of methods to solve every kind of problems. A brief list of them.
Meditation is, for sure, an efficient tool to develop self-examination and learn how to calm down our thoughts. Entering deep down into the unconscious we allow everything abides it to show itself and, therefore, to be listened and understood.
Shiatsu and Chinese medicine, working on meridians and energy lines, can be a useful tool to face the loss. Meridians of Lung and Large Intestine, related to the Metal phase, deal with the exchange between the inside of the body and the environment. In other words, they make the elimination of what is not useful anymore possible, making space for the new to come. An experienced therapist knows how to deal with it.
Yoga helps to root and be centred. This allows to concentrate and focus on what is, letting thoughts and fears, which twist the reality of here and now, go. Yoga is a very ancient discipline that works on the mind and emotions, before working on the body, thanks to the glands’ self-massage.
Asking for help
There is nothing wrong in admitting to needing help. The professional figures appropriate to overcome the loss are many. Which one is better for you depends on the kind of problem you have. For serious cases, psychological and psychotherapeutic accompaniment is warmly recommended. In situations in which the person just need a motivator, a life coach is perfect. If the person needs to be heard and to build up an empathetic connection, counselling is the best way. Sometimes is enough to open up with a good friend and let the emotions we hold back to come out.
Building up a new balance
What is clear, after a loss, that we need to find a new centre. Some parts of our intimate being have been messed up and it needs to redefine itself. The first step is to welcome this void that makes us suffer, let it speak, let it be. Then, take actions getting out of the daily life routine: these are concrete deeds that bring an end to an era and let a new one to come; in other words to end a chapter. These deeds can be everything, but they must have a deep meaning for us. Some examples: donate the clothes of our passed away beloved one, write a letter and then burn it, make a trip in a faraway country, taking a ritual bath at the sunset… Everything that seals an ending and a new beginning. One of the most serious problems of our society is that we have lost essential rituals for the transition stages of life. They are little initiations that empower us when we have to face big changes. We can still create some little rituals that give us the keys to pass through the gates of the existence as awaited guests, and not like wandering intruders.
The loss is never a loss, it’s always a benefit. Life just proposes us to have a different look to reality and still being happy. When we are blind because of the grief or the fear, being unable to see the gift we just got, we need help. To understand that the new is not necessarily bad, that we can’t control our lives and that we must let the life follow its path: let the people leave, the situations change, the past go.
The concept of loss itself implies that of possession: living is not based on having, but on love and it does not contemplate any loss. Everything flows in a constant and harmonious flow, an eternal dance whose cornerstone is that of transformation, of change. Music has a strong and weak beat, knowing how to move by following them is dancing in harmony with the very essence of life.
This help that we need to learn how to “dance” with the life can come from a person like a friend or a professional, can come from a holistic technique or from a ritual that seals the end of an era, opening a new one. What is important is to understand that happiness is not denied to anyone. Never.