Sunday, August 25, 2013

Grief; The Joy Grabber

Grief; The Joy Grabber

Have you ever had a wonderful success, or gotten a promotion, only to find yourself sinking into the dumps?

Have you ever been in a conversation and suddenly find yourself spiraling into a funk for no apparent reason?

Have you ever wondered why you can’t just be happy?

The answer is simple, the resolutions, not so much.

The answer is that you have been grabbed from behind by change without the awareness or tools to process what it means to you.

Ask yourself what isn’t in your life that was there as short a time ago as a year, let alone 5 or 10.  Then ask the other side of the question, what is there that wasn’t a year or so ago.  All that change means the loss of something; the unconscious doesn’t distinguish between good or bad loss, just that “something is different”.  It is disorienting at the least and devastating at the worst, depending on the extent of the change.  What is hard to realize is that all the change in our lives requires a constant redefinition of ourselves.  Such as, yesterday I was an employee; today I am on food stamps, or yesterday I was pregnant, today I’m a mom.  Or for me, I once was a mom, now I’m a bereaved parent.

When the goal in life is “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, these down times are unsettling.  Most people just beat themselves up for being weird and assume there is something wrong with them.  We create all sorts of “hope trips’ to explain our malaise, such as, when I get my promotion, then I’ll be happy, or my new car will make things right.  For women the hope is, that when I get married and have a family, then I will be happy, for men, if only I could get enough sex, then I would be happy. 

It is our inability to deal with loss/change that is the joy grabber. 

How did this happen?  It’s a control thing actually.  “Control yourself!” is a phrase I have heard since I could understand language.  And of course I have learned to control myself, as most of us have.  So when I was confronted with the sudden, shocking death of my daughter I was unprepared to be that “out of control”.  Over the years since then I have relearned how to control myself, but not completely. 

Actually I learned how to manage my feelings, which is quite different then merely controlling them.  Managing feelings means letting myself experience them and then making a choice about how to express them.  Like, for example, getting a promotion, being thrilled, excited and eager to implement my new ideas and systems, then in six months to a year wondering why you feel so irritable, angry and out of sorts.  You certainly don’t want to go back to the old job, but can’t seem to move forward in the new position.   That’s the joy grabber, grief, undercutting your ability to not only enjoy life, but to keep moving forward. 

Grief, the joy grabber caps our success, happiness and all around ability to understand how to grow.

The way out of this quagmire is to say good-bye to the old so you can be in the present with the new.  Works like magic every time.