How do we deal with loss? And what are the best ways to process it? This is a massive topic that will affect us at some point or another and is something that I’ve dealt with both personally and with a few clients that I’ve worked with recently. I think that there are some key things that we can perhaps draw upon, not from an NLP perspective, that could be helpful in allowing us to move on as swiftly and comfortably as possible.
The first thing that happens is, of course, that really annoying thing of just having to wait. Time is a healer – it’s just that sometimes you’d like the time to pass by a little bit faster so that you can get to healing a little bit quicker. And that is, in some respects, possible – but what you have to accept is that your progress from one day to the next may feel very very minimal! What you have to get good at doing is not just thinking about how you were today compared to how you were yesterday; you also have to get good at backtracking a little bit further. Obviously the closer to the time of the loss happening it’s going to be less easy to do, but as the days and weeks pass by you will be able to begin to make those positive comparisons between how things were at the very beginning and how you are now. You will start to notice that progress over time and, although it’s uneven progress you will start to get better at recognising it.
When I talk about uneven progress what I mean is that it peaks and troughs from one day to the next. There’s gonna be an ‘oh I feel so much better today’ day and then the next day or in the next moment there will be a ‘no, no I’m still not there yet’ – but overall the progress is happening. Nothing travels in a straight line; nothing is on a directly upward trajectory. It may look that way from a distance – you might look at other people and go ‘huh, they seem to be doing really well’, but actually they’re not! There is still peaking and troughing going on but only they will know about it, and only they are experiencing it.
Another way in which we can manage loss a little better is to compare what we’ve been through. Have you ever had a really weird dream that, when you woke up the next morning, it’s slightly disturbed you or it maybe left you feeling really sad? I’ve had dreams before where I’ve cried in my sleep and woke myself up with the crying. You wake up it felt like it was so real and your maybe even upset for the rest of the day, but ultimately you reach a point where you go ‘it’s okay, it was just a dream’. Now, I’m not saying that we want to move on and forget things that have happened, or people that have been part of our lives that we’ve lost, but it can be a useful frame for when you just need to get yourself out of the funk! Feeling that sadness and discomfort will affect your productivity and your ability to connect. What can be helpful is to put that sadness and discomfort into a ‘really bad dream’ frame, because if your brain can learn to accept that it was just something that happened and it wasn’t actually as real as I’m making it out to be, then it can lessen some of the discomfort that you’re experiencing at that moment.
Another way of lessening your discomfort is with distraction – good old-fashioned distraction! Keeping yourself busy by doing stuff that you really like can help you to move on quickly within a decent period of time; especially if it involves some sort of reinvention or creation. Even things like clearing out your wardrobe of all of your old clothes and donating them to a charity shop can help shake that sadness and stagnant misery. Small positive changes can promote bigger positive changes! This doesn’t take away the sadness, but it helps you to move through and past that sadness so that you can start to live in a healthy and happy way all over again.
Part of loss is change and part of change is also evolution. Things evolve; who you are now is not the same you that you will be in a few years time – your ideas, your values and all of the things that make you you will have slightly shifted, or they’ll just have an extra layer of something else. For that reason, loss isn’t always as bad as it seems at the time. Sometimes loss gives us an opportunity to go through a change – an evolution – and to come out the other side of it as an even better person.
If you are experiencing a sense of loss in your life at the moment my thoughts and my love are with you and know that you won’t always felt this way. You are going to get better every day and in every way!
By Gemma Bailey