Sometimes we’re excited when things end – a long day, an arduous meeting, a traffic jam. However, just as often endings can be tough, and something we need to stave off as long as possible. We assume endings are something to fear, and avoid them at all costs.
And this can be true. Some endings are the worst. The loss of the ones we love the most, the loss of spaces we created to feel like home, the loss of an opportunity to do the work we were meant to do – these are hard losses. If you’ve ever experienced one, I’m so sorry. You already know it’s harder than you ever could have imagined. For those of you who haven’t, you will. Such is the nature of life. No matter your income, your weight, your grades, you will feel loss and it will be terrible and there is little you can do to stop that.
So what do we do? How do we get back up and embrace our new, post-devastating loss reality? Do we still make coffee in the morning? Do we still head off to work? If it’s all futile, what, prey tell, is the point? We should probably just move into a cave, hunker down, and make sure we avoid anything that has the potential to hurt us like that again.
Such is the nature of life. No matter your income, your weight, your grades, you will feel loss and it will be terrible and there is little you can do to stop that.
Living with fear isn’t anything we mean to do. We don’t start our day thinking, “how can I be really scared, or sabotage myself, today?” Fear sneaks in with careful disguises. It’s a by-product of “smart” decisions, “careful” planning, and “using your head.” The goal is not to make zero mistakes, but to live in a way that guarantees mistakes. And then try not resist the lessons from those mistakes (or maybe even celebrate them? No? Too soon?). Don’t you always learn the most from your mistakes? I know I do. Mistakes mean I ask better questions, I see flaws easier, I know what to avoid. Mistakes mean we’re trying.
Because the truth is that you’re already right. Most of the things you are afraid of happening will happen. You will make a mistake at work. You will say something stupid in front of a person whose opinion you value. You will accept a job for the higher paycheck and a later week realize you don’t want to be there.
And guess what? Life will go on. You will be fine.
Most likely, you’ll be better off because you lived through it, learned something, and survived. If we know that pain will happen, after the initial shock has worn off, can we then choose how it will affect us? Maybe instead of letting it shame us, thank it for it’s moment of teaching, the lesson in humility, or appreciation, or perspective. And then? Keep it moving.
Living in fear of doing the wrong thing or making the wrong choice will mean living in fear all the time. If we already know pain is not something we can avoid, instead of building a life designed specifically to avoid it, let’s consider another approach. Fear of sadness or disappointment is futile because the world can be a sad and disappointing place. Trying to outrun or outsmart these feelings is a losing battle. But life doesn’t have to be sad and disappointing all the time, which is what living in fear of these those feelings will inevitably lead to.
Maybe instead of letting it shame us, thank it for it’s moment of teaching, the lesson in humility, or appreciation, or perspective. And then? Keep it moving.
If we assume sadness and disappointment are not only temporary, but may contain something for us, we don’t need to avoid them anymore. We now have something we can use. Or, if there’s nothing useful for us in our sadness and disappointment, they still will pass.
Trying to avoid or mitigate loss can create more pain than just the loss on its own. Michael Singer writes about this so beautifully in his book The Untethered Soul, claiming that when we try to resist pain, we actually close around it and trap it in our bodies. Resist the pain is actually what makes it stay longer, instead of letting it move through.
Holding on to pain and enduring it over time proves how capable you are of handling the future blips of surprise discomfort. If you’re someone who is currently experiencing shame, panic, or stress, it is almost certain that the pain of the initial incident was much less than anything you’re experiencing by punishing yourself.
That is how I know you’ll be able to handle any pain life will throw at you.
Because you’re probably harder on yourself than any other person would be. Your idea about what it will be is so much worse than any reality it could present. You’ve already put yourself through so much, and you’re still here. You don’t have to do that anymore. Give yourself a break. It’s not only allowed, it’s the best thing not just for you, but for everyone. It is not selfish, it is what will lift you up, and that will lift up the people around you. And that’s where the real beginnings start.
Related Reads: Can Changing One Thing Really Change Everything, How to Speak to Your Career Change Gracefully, Getting Unstuck and Making Real Life Changes, and The Power of Boundaries and Reconnecting to Self.
SARA KRAVITZ helps women find jobs they actually like. She is a career coach, author, and speaker who helps helps people understand (but, like, really understand) that this doesn’t have to be life. You can climb out of every hole. It might be awkward and uncomfortable at times (in fact, you can probably guarantee it will be), but there’s always a solution. (Even for you.)
You can download her international, bestselling book, Just Tell Me What I Want, for free here.