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Good Grief! Is Grief Good for You?

Good Grief! Is Grief good for you?

Are you de-pressed? If unresolved grief is weighing you down, you might be “pressed down” by the weight of it. If the memories are a constant in your life (you think about it at least weekly), your life might be held in place like a boat with an anchor.

So what is grief?

Grief is deep distress at the loss of something valued or necessary, something taken from you without your agreement.

We can grieve the loss of people in our lives. We can also grieve the loss of a job, loss of a sense of feeling secure when incurring a major financial blow, losing the comfortable and familiar when moving, or the loss of our health. We may also grieve the loss of a belief: losing trust after a confidence or commitment was not kept, a broken promise. If grief stays unresolved, we add to our burden of grief that we carry around with us. It weighs us down or de-presses us.

Therefore, resolving grief and bringing closure will free us up, will give us room for more energy and joy in our lives.

Story: Resolve your differences – regularly

I was recently shown photos from a funeral. One of the photos showed two sisters who attended the funeral ceremony of their mother. The expressions on their faces were very different. One face was stricken with grief – the other was at peace.

Here is what I was told. One of the sisters spent time with her mother as her mother’s health was failing. They talked things out. When the mother passed away, there was a sense of peace and closure. Things were resolved. Her mother was no longer suffering in ill-health and in pain. Old emotional wounds had been healed.

The other sister had a lot of unresolved anger and grief. She and her mother didn’t speak. That daughter couldn’t bring herself to visit her mother in the final couple of years or even call her. Old grudges and anger and disagreements were never dealt with. Now that sister has deep lines of grief forming on her face. She is suffering.

Call to Action and Why This Matters:

To heal unresolved grief means that you need to bring closure to something you may have had no control over, something that is left unresolved. You didn’t choose the timing. You had unfinished business. You don’t know how to resolve the unfinished business. The other person isn’t there to resolve it, or you feel unable to take steps towards resolution. How can you move on?

First of all, recognize that unresolved grief weighs you down. To lighten the load is to be able to live life more fully. It’s like putting down a backpack filled with rocks. You can move more freely without it, run faster, have more fun, and feel unencumbered.

Secondly, get clear on where you have unresolved grief. Did you feel that a friend has betrayed your confidence? Was a promise broken? Did your job evaporate despite your best efforts and commitment to the company where you worked? Did a relationship end? Did you lose your nest egg in the recent financial upheaval?

Thirdly, where is the judgment? Do you blame yourself for making poor choices or do you blame others: your boss, the economy, your partner, your friend?

Sometimes when we become clear on what grief we are holding onto, it will start to release all on its own. Clarity can bring a certain amount of healing.

Next, welcoming grief into our life is a big step for many. We have been taught to suppress our emotions, or at least the “negative” emotions. We are supposed to be strong and not show our vulnerabilities. This may be even harder for many men than for women. So go easy on yourself. How? Set aside some time when you are undisturbed and in a comfortable place. Think of an area of your life where you feel you have unresolved grief. Try to feel it fully. Welcome it into your consciousness. Then ask yourself if you could let go of this unresolved grief and when. Repeat the questions until you feel done or feel a sense of peace. This particular line of questioning is inspired by materials from “The Sedona Method”. For more information go to http://www.sedona.com/

Taking it Farther:

There are many ways to deal with grief. Aurora Winter uses a series of questions starting with, “If you had known that your spouse was going to die young, would you have still chosen to be with them?” For many the realization that they cherish the time they did have, releases much of the grief. In her book, “From Heartbreak to Happiness” she chronicles her own story.

There are many resources to help you process your grief. Healing grief through regular healthy communication is probably best, when that option is still available. I can help you bring closure.

Contact me:

If this was helpful and you want more, I’m here for you.  Call to schedule coaching and start living the life you choose. Call Edith at 847.913.3900.

Perfectionism – Does it have to be a “Life Sentence”?

Perfectionism – Does it have to be a “Life Sentence”?

Are you a perfectionist? Does everything have to be “just so”? Are you afraid of making mistakes, of being wrong, of being blamed? Are you your own harshest critic?

One of Webster’s definitions for perfectionism is: “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable”.

If this feels like you, then you might feel
• fear of making a mistake
• fear of making decisions
• prefer procrastination and inaction to “wrong” action
• fear of being wrong
• fear of being found out or admitting a mistake
• fear of being punished for making a mistake
• fear of self judgment and harsh self criticism
• fear of seeing mistakes in others, especially people you care about
• condemnation of others’ mistakes and a sense of self righteousness

What’s the source of that? Let’s look into where we learned criticism, judgment and to condemn —- and how much it hurt. Maybe as children we just wanted to be loved. So we had to be perfect – as often as possible – or so we thought.

Do you feel guilty; that “it” is your fault? IF you had just been more perfect, then things would be different? Children often blame themselves for something they had no influence or responsibility for. Have you?

Story – My uncle died. I was sure it was my fault

When I was young – may be in first or second grade, my uncle died in a car crash. Technically he was my Mom’s uncle. He was one of the most important people in my young life. I loved him and felt loved and cared about by him. So how was his death my fault? It wasn’t, but I didn’t know that.

See – he had a laundry business and he picked up dirty laundry and delivered clean laundry in our little village. Sometimes he happened to catch me walking to my Mom’s work after school and gave me a ride up that steep hill to where she worked. That was really special. It didn’t matter that it was only a few minutes walk. He cared about me and showed it. Unfortunately I didn’t feel that from anyone else. So it mattered even more. When he died, I was sure it was my fault.

It was winter and he died in a car crash on that icy slope – I believe. And I believed that if he hadn’t driven there at that time, then of course he’d still be safe. And he must have been on that road because he was looking to give me a ride. It was the main road through town and I suspect now that he drove it often.

Then for a while I had the fantasy, that if I had just been there the way he was there for me, then he’d still be alive. I had heard that people get incredibly strong when there is an emergency like that. So I fantasized, that if I had been there, then I could have lifted the big delivery van off him and saved him. I was probably six or seven years old when it happened. It’s unlikely that he was under the car since he was the driver. But I didn’t think about that – until just now while writing this down.

How did I first realize that maybe it wasn’t my fault that he died? I was visiting my mother about 30 years after the accident and somehow the topic veered to our uncle. Well, she talked about how it was her fault that he died. I was incredulous! We both had the same idea and when we explored it, neither one of us realistically could have had any blame for his death.

Ask yourself: Do you have something in your life that you have blamed yourself for or been blamed for? Was it really your fault?

Call to Action and Why This Matters

If you are a perfectionist, you might have a HABIT of accepting blame – whether it is your fault or not. People around you will blame you. Or you will feel blamed. You may believe it, you expect it and accept it. So the cycle continues.
As a result you may avoid making decisions and procrastinate about taking action. You may avoid trying anything new. You may shy away from things like public speaking or anything else where people might be watching “for your next mistake”. You avoid and fear change. And because it feels terrible enough to make a mistake and blame yourself, it might be almost impossible to admit one when you really should say, “I am sorry. I made a mistake.”

This week, I encourage you to observe your patterns of behavior:
• why and when you procrastinate
• your willingness to try new things
• your ability to make decisions easily and decisively
• your ability to take reasonable risks

Taking it Farther

If perfectionism stalls your ability to move forward, you may want to look deeper. In what area of your life do you get stalled? Is there a clue in your past? Was there a traumatic event that caused you to become that way, or did you have an important person in your life early on whose lack of approval and constant criticism caused you to become shy and reticent to take any risks or make any mistakes?

Some people can heal this through journal writing or other self-help techniques; others may choose a trusted friend, a support group, therapist or coach to release this pattern over time. Others can change their HABIT of perfectionism with sheer effort of will. Whatever works for you – do it. I’m not saying to get sloppy, just to ease any stranglehold that perfectionism may hold over you.

You deserve to be free from constant self-doubt and harsh criticism by yourself or others. You deserve to be free to try new things, learn from your mistakes and “get messy”. Perfectionism doesn’t have to be a “life sentence”.

Contact me

Want more help? I’m here for you. Tired of holding yourself back? Get relief! Call to schedule some coaching sessions. Have questions? Call to get answers. Edith at 847.913.3900


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