It took me a while to understand a simple truth about loss and healing. Happiness lives inside of us. It is not dictated by circumstances. Even though I’d seen thousands of grieving people have internal experiences of healing, my own loss gave me a very different perspective. I had to go through my own full circle of loss and recovery before I could discover the truth.
This discovery that happiness is a choice we must repeatedly make, day in and day out, rather than an event-based experience, set me free from my attachment to loss and enabled me to shift my focus toward living my life. Once I saw this truth, I chose to become happy again.
When we go through a huge heartbreak, we’re likely to hold on to that loss with all our hearts and souls, and base all our unhappiness on the details of that loss for a while. It’s easy to confuse unhappiness over the loss of someone we loved with sadness over the current state of our lives. Even if a loss took place years before, we tend to still talk of it in the present tense, as if it is affecting us right now– because it is. Memories connected to strong emotions have an immediacy that’s incredibly powerful. Unfortunately, because of it’s magnitude, loss shadows reality in such a way that we can miss seeing all sorts of other reasons for why we aren’t happy.
We can fail to recognize that one specific loss–as important as it was–isn’t, and couldn’t be, responsible for all of our unhappiness. Many things contribute to our level of happiness.
One of the biggest factors I’ve seen that keeps people from choosing happiness is their inability to detach from their former self. Detaching from loss can only truly happen when you’re able to shift your identity enough that if, in the future, you were to meet the person you lost–or even meet yourself!–you would have to get reacquainted, or reintroduce yourself, as the case may be. The further away we move from being the person we were when the loss occurred, the less pain we experience. This type of shift of identity can only happen when the brain is experiencing new habits and routines.
A true, sustainable shift into a new life is not just the feeling that follows an “aha” moment, or when we say yes to taking a particular action once or twice. It’s the continuous momentum of an action-oriented life, the nature of which is the byproduct of developing new neural pathways.
These new thoughts and actions will eventually bring forth a new identity, one that represents the next evolution of you as someone who both underwent a severe loss in the past, yet has been having experiences in the present ever since. Being a fixed personality is an illusion. Your evolution won’t ever stop.
Remember, you have to choose happiness, part of which is about detaching from your grief. You also need to become aware of your personal power to navigate your feelings of grief. You may not understand yet how powerful you are…but you are, and you’ll sense it very soon. You are now becoming a warrior of life, shifting your focus to a perspective that contains life as its primary ingredient. As a warrior of life, you’ll be someone who knows how to endure, fall down, get up, have experiences, and learn through commingled tears and laughter.
It’s likely that one day soon you’ll cry with joy when you recognize how you are changing and being to experience new feelings, new relationships, and a full-blown new life.
In my book Second Firsts I take the readers on a journey out of the old life and into a new one. Teaching everyone how to use their brain to create the life they so deserve. We have all the tools we need right within us. And no I am not talking just talking about our heart and soul, but about our brain maps, our thoughts and the words we use to create our world every single day.