Monday, 20 January 2014

Coping with Endings- a Reflection

Coming into the New year we tend to focus on new beginnings and goals- wanting to lose weight, getting that job promotion.  Often we struggle however, to come to terms with unresolved endings from the previous year(s).   Instead of allowing ourselves the space to process our emotions, we often put our psychological baggage to one side and carry on regardless.  I often describe this denial state as a bit like adding logs to a fast flowing stream- eventually it creates a large dam and our ability to feel balanced and ‘flow’ with life gets inhibited.  Allow this to happen for long enough and you’ve got a very strong pressure to contend with!

We can all be guilty of just breezing though painful experiences like divorce or redundancy and not really acknowledging the impact on us at the time.  Or, on the other hand, we may allow ourselves to drown in the pain of loss and not be able to move forward or let go. 

Letting go isn’t easy.  I myself am currently processing a a lot of changes, mostly positive though equally unsettling- moving house (twice), starting another business and am about to welcome the arrival of my first child.  Initially, this sparked off a lot of fear as I’ve had to surrender to the fact that my life will never be the same, and nor will I.  As Anais Nin said: ‘Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through.  Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it.  This is a kind of death.’  Embracing endings is like stepping out of the chrysalis and into the light so we can stretch ourselves and live a deeper, more fulfilling life. This can be terrifying.

The temptation to resist out of fear can be strong though, as can the sense of wanting justice or consolation for our loss or pain.  What this only achieves is more pain and frustration for ourselves, which only disempowers us further.  Because change often happens organically, we are inevitably forced to take action at some point- write that letter, sign those divorce papers. Once we have taken ownership and control of the ending (as much as possible), we then allow space for new energy and create ground for those beginnings to flourish.   

This year, I encourage you to join me in my goal to ‘let go and live’ more fully in the present, not allowing the past to pull you backwards.  More simply, allow a bit of space to just be with your thoughts and feelings each day and practice surrendering to them, rather than judging or denying your experiences.  See how differently you feel doing this for a few weeks.  For inspiration on being more present, try reading Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh.