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What You Need to Remember to Deal With Loss in Life

What You Need to Remember to Deal With Loss in Life

Unfortunately, we all deal with loss in life. No matter what form or severity, coping is rarely easy. The lack of healthy coping measures can exacerbate the pain, especially when the loss is as drastic as a loved one dying.

There are some crucial things to remember when dealing with loss. A good place to start is understanding that…

You’ll never completely get over your loss. Instead, you’ll adapt, learn, and become a stronger you.

It is difficult to relate to any kind of pain. Even if there are similarities between occurrences, everyone deals with pain differently.

That’s okay. There’s no “correct” or “appropriate” timetable towards healing. Everyone’s will be different. Friends and family may encourage you to “get over it” by occupying your mind and staying busy. While healthy distraction is positive (as I’ll elaborate on in a bit), there’s no need to rush how you think you should feel. Your feelings are meant to be felt as they occur in the moment and no one else knows them better than you. Cry if you want to. Scream if you want to. Flail your arms madly in the air if you want to.

Be kind to your mind and realize that there is no “normal” when it comes to dealing with loss. Plus…

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It’s okay to not want to talk about it.

Again, everyone handles pain in a different way. Many experience a “roller coaster” effect of feelings, where your emotions vary from day to day, or even minute to minute. One moment could feel like the healing process is working, the next could feel like a deeper regression into sadness. There will be days that you feel like going out and about with friends and days where you won’t feel like emerging from the pillow fortress in your bedroom. These varying emotions are also okay, but listen to them attentively. There’s no need to pressure yourself into coping in a way you think is “proper” because “everyone else does it that way”.

Do what you feel is right and when you finally feel up to chatting about it, remember that…

Your friends are friends for a reason. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them.

Many of us do not voluntarily ask for help when faced with uncomfortable struggle. We all consider it a burden to our friends, family, and other counterparts when we ask for help. When the shoe is on the other foot, and friends ask us for help; there is no false sense of burden. Even if your friends are not well versed in loss or particularly gifted at giving advice, they will always listen. Even the worst friend has two ears (in most cases). If you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to put your guard down and open up about your pain, you unconsciously give others permission to do the same.

Also, it’s a really nice reminder that there are people who will always have your back, because…

Opening up doesn’t make you weak.

I’m an eternal optimist, almost to a fault. Despite that, I understand that life just flat out sucks at times. And, frankly, there won’t be a suckier time in any of our lives than when we deal with loss or death. It will be the low of the low for most of us. But, as previously mentioned, it’s unavoidable. Embracing your feelings honestly and being willing to talk about them is the first step towards healing and empowerment. Emotions are a lot like a bad infection: You can pretend it’s not there, but it’ll get a lot worse before it ever gets better. Spiritual strength and emotional growth happen when we don’t hide from our feelings, but learn to manage them.

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You can’t outrun pain. It’ll always catch up to you. So…

Be kind to your body.

When cloaked in a veil of darkness it’s easy to forget about personal hygiene and appropriate eating habits. Neglecting showering, eating, activity, and regular sleeping habits is detrimental on all fronts to your health and well being.

Activity of any kind takes your mind off the negative, so it’s especially smart to…

Do the things you love most.

There’s no easier and mentally healthier way to remind yourself that good things still exist than doing things you truly love. It doesn’t matter what it is, staying active towards your dreams and immersed in your deepest desires will do wonders when dealing with loss. Wouldn’t your lost loved one still want you to keep doing the things that make you happiest?

But if you suddenly lose interest in a passion, why not…

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Explore something new.

Travel. Cook. Try a new hobby. Take some time off “work” to work on yourself. Even if it’s just exploring a new neighborhood or trying a new food, incorporating new stimuli to your environment will keep things fresh and remind you that there is a lot of life to still experience. My grandma (may she rest in peace) always used to tell me, “Life is for the living.” Some of the most substantial breakthrough moments exist slightly outside of your comfort zone.

Don’t be afraid to explore that, even if you’re in pain. But whatever you do, I strongly encourage that you…

Don’t mask your pain in external variables, particularly substances.

There’s an idiotic association in our culture of sadness and substance abuse. In film, television, and other mass medias, we see characters who’re experiencing death or heartbreak drinking heavily in some dank bar alone or getting wasted on heroin in a back alley. This has effectively desensitized us to the real life threat of alcoholism that can be kick started by a tragic life experience. Many people mask their pain in drugs or alcohol, but it never works. It has literally a zero chance of successfully helping you cope. Your problems are still very real when the high wears off, and the high always fades. Don’t prolong your grieving process. You deserve more.

Instead of looking at as a means to an end, remind yourself that…

You’re a richer person because of them.

Instead of dwelling on memories of yesteryear, be thankful in reminiscence that you had them in your life. Cherish the memories instead of refusing to let go of them. Celebrate their life by continuing their legacy and making them proud. Do good by them by celebrating their life more, opposed to constantly mourning their death. It’s good to be thankful for the time and memories you shared together.

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Because when you really get down to it…

The end of anything is a new beginning.

Stories end, relationships end, personal preferences end. No matter what ends, we always go on. Whether still in mortality, or something ethereal beyond our comprehension, there’s always more to be written of your story…

Featured photo credit: Calmly / Hiroyuki Takeda via albumarium.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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