Category: <span>Hopelessness</span>

Grieving 2020’s losses

Grieving 2020s losses
When we do not process significant losses, we struggle to move on

Most people would agree that 2020 was a challenging year. Some might even express their discontent more strongly and state that it was “a terrible year”, or “the worst year ever”. Referring to the year just gone in such a negative fashion unavoidably leads to high expectations for 2021. But what if the changes we are anxiously expecting do not materialise as soon as we would have liked? Are we emotionally prepared to accept the circumstances in a more patient, centred manner?

For the majority, the answer is no.  That is because most of us have not grieved 2020’s losses yet. When we do not process significant losses, we struggle to move on. If the concept of grieving last year’s losses feels too abstract to you, imagine 2020 as a life changing event such as moving in with someone you love. Before the move, both of you plan everything together, excitingly. You envision a cosy and beautiful place you have created together. You see friends coming over for dinner and having a wonderful time. Then, as you are getting ready for the big move, one of you loses their job and the other gets diagnosed with a serious illness. Suddenly, you are forced to put everything on hold. And, what is worse, you have no means of predicting when things will get better or if you will ever be able to make that dream come true any time soon.

Such losses make us very sad and very, very angry. Because we were raised in a culture of emotional neglect, however, neither of these emotions are addressed and dealt with in a healthy fashion. Despite not connecting and processing them adequately, we do feel them, make no mistake. Even though emotion phobia is so prevalent, the sadness and anger we carry remain stored in our bodies, which tends to damage not only our emotional, but also our physical health. With regards to relationships, life dissatisfaction and built-up anger are usually projected onto others, an unconscious process which also damages their quality.

Therefore, if you want to face 2021 with a fresh attitude and protect the health of your relationships, I highly recommend fully grieving 2020’s losses, such as the missed opportunities of moving and interacting with others freely, travelling, meeting up with friends and family, socialising with colleagues and neighbours, dating, meeting new people and making new friends, finding a new job, moving and all the other activities and events that colour our existence. If you need help processing any type of loss, please keep on reading the following articles:

How to process emotional pain

5 self-soothing techniques for healthy grief processing

For healthy healing: what types of loss can cause grief?

For healthy healing what types of loss can cause grief
Realisation of traumatic events and their effects may cause grief

Our ability to deal and overcome the losses we experience relies greatly on our willingness to tolerate and accept grief. As most of us were raised in a culture of emotional neglect, grief tends to be ignored, repressed or even strongly dismissed depending on the context from which arises. As grieving is a biological healing process with might result from any type of loss, the deeper our understanding of what is meant by “loss”, the better our awareness of our need to grieve. To help you expand your knowledge on the meaning of loss and connect with your grief in a healthier way, here are 17 types loss that can cause grief beyond the stereotype:

  • Moving to a new house/flat, city or country
  • Losing body parts, be it due to accident or surgery for health reasons
  • End of loving relationships of any kind
  • End of friendships
  • Death of family members, loved ones, pets, colleagues, neighbours and/or acquaintances
  • Loss of material goods which have impact on quality of life
  • Loss of power to make decisions or sense of empowerment and autonomy
  • Change in professional situation, such as promotion, demotion or retirement
  • Being fired or made redundant
  • Realisation of lack or even inexistent sources of emotional, financial and/or social support
  • Loss of self-esteem, be it through traumatic events (abuse, neglect) or significant change in life circumstances (academic, professional and/or social/relational)
  • Loss of identity, be it through psychological, emotional and/or physical changes
  • Loss of money or change in financial situation
  • Realisation of traumatic events and their effects
  • Cutting contact with family members or significant others
  • Radical change in life routine, such as the ones experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Change in health, as through chronic illness diagnoses, for instance

Because true healing from losses such as the ones mentioned above tend not to materialise without conscious and healthy grieving, changing the way you view and experience grief is a key element to processing it fully and wholeheartedly. Even when those around you are not able to understand your need to grieve, grant yourself the right to grieve. Trust your body as your wisest guide to connect with painful feelings such as anger, shame, guilt and sadness and embrace them autonomously and without judgement.

3 rigid beliefs about dating and relationships that are damaging your love life

3 rigid beliefs about dating and relationships that are damaging your love life
When we suffer the effects of relationship trauma of any kind, we often start seeing ourselves, the world and others through a very biased, negative lens

Most of us who have a history of relational trauma struggle or have struggled int the past to have a rich and fulfilling love life. This is because relational trauma is one of the most painful and hardest to overcome. When we suffer the effects of relationship trauma of any kind, we often start seeing ourselves, the world and others through a very biased, negative lens. As a matter of fact, one’s traumatised and overprotective brain has the potential to harm or even destroy our ability to find fulfilment in life through loving relationships. In order to raise your awareness of dysfunctional thinking that might be making you unhappy, here are 3 rigid beliefs about dating and relationships that are damaging your love life:

1- I need to feel 100% confident and centred to start dating again

This is one of the most common perfectionist beliefs that, even though idealistic and incoherent with human nature, still leads to a lot of loneliness and life dissatisfaction. As social beings who are wired for connection, our healing path is through it. Nobody is perfect and a 100% anything, especially when it comes to relationships. We all learn together and from each other, with time and experience.

2- I cannot get hurt again

If this is what you repeat to yourself when you consider dating again, you suffer from emotion phobia – or a great fear of emotions such as sadness, anger and shame, for instance, as well as feelings of rejection and abandonment. We are equipped to handle painful emotions and overcome our grief. So yes, you can stand your pain, get over a relationship that has not worked out and try again with a better fit.

3- If I am to get involved romantically again, the relationship must work

As we learn mostly through experience and trial and error, if you consciously stop yourself from trying because you are too afraid of “failing” and feeling unlovable, your love life will suffer as a result. As in the professional and academic realms, success in your love life requires practice – what truly promotes knowledge and change – not inertia.

If you have identified with the above, I urge you to stop wasting precious time and start challenging negative thinking that is damaging your love life. When you embrace your imperfections with courage and tolerance and, therefore, every part of you and your humanity, you become more emotionally mature and prepared to face the challenges of modern dating.

4 reasons why feeling sorry for yourself helps you grow

Intolerance against negative feelings is so widespread, that it is acceptable to feel sorry for others, but not for oneself. The belief that supports that rigid, all-or-nothing mentality, often equates feeling sad or even depressed to an act of self-victimisation, as if melancholy were solely a means to deceiving others or attracting attention to oneself. Those who identify with that perspective struggle to validate their own suffering, especially when persistent. Contrary to popular belief, however, never truly accessing the root of emotional discomfort does not make it go away, but it tends to extend its life unnecessarily. To help you let go of the prejudiced notion that feeling and expressing vulnerability is always a sign of weakness, here are 4 reasons why feeling sorry for yourself helps you grow:

4 reasons why feeling sorry for yourself helps you grow
Feeling sorry for yourself may work as a wake-up call to make positive life style changes

1- You become more emotionally aware and whole

When you allow yourself to feel without judgement, you naturally become more receptive and mindful of your emotional states. Learning how to live at peace with your feelings, in turn, boosts emotional congruence and confidence, which also means giving a powerful voice to your authentic self. As a result, you feel more connected with the whole of you: your mind, body and true identity, leading a more fulfilling and rewarding life.

2- It motivates you into taking action

Feeling sorry for yourself may work as a wake-up call to make positive life style changes. That is because life dissatisfaction and disappointment tend to lead to a process of intense self-evaluation and reassessment. There is nothing quite like hitting rock bottom to motivate one into adapting to new circumstances, repairing relationships and replacing bad habits with healthier ones.

3- It helps you improve emotional health

Increased awareness and respect for negative feelings enables you to quickly identify what is wrong and do something about it. As physical pain, emotional discomfort is there to warn you of potential dangers to your wellbeing. When you address your own inadequateness in a conscious, mature manner and without shaming and blaming yourself, you feel more centred and stronger. Your ability to deal with whatever is bothering you proactively – and even ask for help if needed – increases, which influences emotional health positively.

4- You become more compassionate and tolerant

The extremely biased connotation of “feeling sorry for yourself” reflects a culture of emotional neglect and intolerance. Thinking badly about yourself for feeling disheartened only promotes self-contempt and a self-criticising attitude. When you start embracing and honouring all your feelings, however, you not only become more understanding and empathic towards yourself, but others. Consequently, you also connect more easily with those around you and relationships become more functional.

It is not human to feel good or happy all the time. Therefore, it is not shameful to feel sorry for yourself when sadness takes over. Nobody should feel guilty for expressing genuinely felt negative emotions. If you would like to feel connected and live a more authentic life, it may be time to let go of your prejudice against feeling and expressing negative emotions, such as fear and shame. An all-or-nothing mentality that wrongly assumes that if you allow yourself to feel the full intensity of your sadness or even cry, “you will never stop”, keeps you emotionally stuck and hinders your personal growth and development. To fight that tendency, start acting “as if” you do not care about how others perceive your pain and dare to be yourself, whatever that means.