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7 Reasons Why Experiencing Grief Makes You A Better Person

7 Reasons Why Experiencing Grief Makes You A Better Person

Grief can be all-consuming. I’ve lost both parents and can tell you it leaves you lost and broken. Grief comes in many forms not just in death, but it can also present through the significant loss of a relationship, marriage or job. When you’re suffering through grief you feel like you are living in an alternative universe. It’s horrible.

It can leave you barely functioning and curled up on the couch in shock. You move forward because you have to, it’s the circle of life. People try to be kind and tell you that as time passes things will get easier, and it does to some extent, but you will never be the same person that you were before. Your reality and world has been altered and you have to learn to live in this new world, minus the loved one, significant relationship, or career.

When I looked back on my life and how I dealt with grief before, I realized that I had changed significantly in ways I would have never expected or have experienced, had I not gone through such a loss. I was surprised at the life lessons that I’d learnt in such a short period of time. Through grief I’d learnt to look at life differently.  Here’s why experiencing grief changes your life and makes you a better person:

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1. Your relationships become stronger

When grief strikes, you really do find out who your real friends/family are. I’d always hear people say this to me, but never thought much else about it. When tough times come, grief sorts out who is there for you and who isn’t. This can have a further grieving effect on you through the loss of friends you thought would be there to help support you. You now see your relationships in their true light. If you didn’t realize it before, you realize now what amazing people you have around you, and you aspire to be the kind of friend that they have been to you: a brilliant one. Every relationship you have becomes more important and valuable. It changes how you and makes you want to become a more invested, attentive, giving person in relationships.

2. You get your finances in order

This is a weird one. After going through probate after a death, or even through a divorce situation where finances are divided, you learn how important it is to manage money. You find yourself paying off debt quicker, wanting to prevent negative consequences if something ever happened to you.

You manage your budget, realize that your savings account needs to pumped up in case of emergencies, and you are to become more financially savvy than ever. Grief teaches you that monetary issues don’t stop upon death, divorce, relationship breakdown, or career loss, and it’s important to put yourself in a good financial position in case anything unexpected was to happen.

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3. You become healthier

Before I went through my experience of grief, I thought I was 10 foot tall and bulletproof. Life was awesome. Yes I had extra pounds, yes, I needed a dental check up ,and yes I definitely should have been exercising more, but hey, I’ll get around to it, right?

Watching a loved one pass from the effects of their deteriorating health, makes you realize the importance of looking after your own health. Keeping healthy has never become more important in order to keep disease and sickness at bay. Grief kicked my butt hard, and I found myself spending more time in the vegetable aisle at the supermarket, and getting regular check ups at the doctor to keep everything in check. The need to focus on becoming healthier was immediate; it changes how you think, feel, and treat your body.

4. You become more spiritual

When you are faced with grief, you tend to look inside yourself more to seek answers. When we can’t find those answers we look to our higher power for comfort and solace. You re-evaluate your values and responsibilities. You meditate, you pray, you seek calmness and soothing. You become much more in touch with your spiritual side and incorporate that more into your daily life.

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5. The little things don’t bother you anymore

This was actually a godsend for me. I am a worrier. Pre-grief I used to get hung up on the little things, worrying constantly about the small details. When you lose a significant person in your life, you realize that the only things that really matter are the relationships you hold with other people. The decision about whether to buy a black car or a white one, or travel from Sydney to London via either Bangkok or Hong Kong, doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. You don’t sweat the small stuff.

6. You make an effort to make more memories

Sitting, watching someone pass or walk out the door and leave you, leaves you with only one thing to hang onto: memories. Memories are an important part of grief. They allow us to keep the loved one alive in our mind and hearts. In time you are able to sit back and remember all of the great times, funny moments, and the life you shared together. You realize the importance, therefore of creating more memories, of working less and holidaying more, of life experiences and spending more time with those you love. Making memories becomes a very high priority and one that will change your life significantly.

7. You love more completely

The significance of the loss you feel through grief would make it understandable if you never wanted to love again. Ever. Why love when you will lose eventually? It shows you pretty fast that your love for people is worth every second, so you tend to love more completely, more freely and deeply. Grief is born out of love, and to love someone so much that you are consumed with sadness is only a testament to the love you felt for them. You find yourself showing more love, and falling in love a bit more easily, because you know now just how worthy you feel to have been blessed with it.

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I know from experience how difficult it is to wade through the grief process. The longing for the person or situation to return, the sadness, the unanswered questions, the ‘some days are better than others’ feeling, and the advice people who try to comfort you without experiencing the situation themselves. I’m not going to tell you that it gets better with time, but what i will tell you is that grief changes you. You look at life in a new light,  you value it so much more, and become a better person because of it.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

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