When Feeling Sad is Good
Note from Eileen: The past 15 plus months have seen all of us grappling with remote work challenges, job loss, the loss of precious family and friends. At the same time, some of us have been gaining new skills in technology, reconnecting with family, discovering a hobby and more. My colleague, Dr. Marcia Reynolds, offers a fresh perspective on loss AND gain. Enjoy!
We often relate grieving to the loss of a person. Did you know you can go through the cycle of grieving when you sell or give away something that was a big part of your life, such as a home, car, or your child’s clothing? You also may grieve when you don’t get something you hoped for. If you ignore the signs of grieving, your emotions can hijack your brain. You feel sad or irritated and don’t know why.
Grieving is painful but a natural part of living a full life. It is an important element of being resilient. When you acknowledge the ache or emptiness in your heart, you can fully process the loss, and then go forward with courage and strength.
Grief Can Be Difficult to Identify
Ten years ago, there was a week where I didn’t want to get out of bed. I dragged my body around all day. I’m usually very productive in the morning and stay busy until night. I thought about seeing a doctor for depression. I decided I would first call my coach. She asked me if I had lost someone or something I cherished. I said, no. Then she asked, “What had you hoped you would be doing now that didn’t happen?” I immediately knew what was going on.
I remembered that a year before when I published a book for women leaders, Wander Woman, I told myself I would give myself one year to see if I could shift my business to coach and teach women. It was 2010. The recession cut funds to women’s programs. Many women lost their jobs and had no money for their personal development. I couldn’t afford to keep trying to make the shift.
My coach helped me realize my dream had died, at least in the form I had imagined. I knew I needed to grieve the loss so I could move on.
I committed to giving myself the space to grieve. A week later, the idea for my next book came to mind. I eagerly responded to work requests for coaching both men and women. My energy was back. Grieving allowed me to let the past go, making room for the success that followed.
How to Move Through the Tunnel of Grief
When you experience loss due to personal events such as the ending of a job or relationship, or due to systemic incidents such as the pandemic, your brain slows down to help you heal. You might have little motivation to wake up or your energy is drained early in the day. Your anger may be triggered by minor events at work and at home.
Try to identify the loss of something you loved or the hope you had that something would happen but didn’t. Talk about your experience with someone who won’t judge you or advise you what to do while they listen. Let yourself have a good cry. Tears can help wash away the past so you can see a path forward more clearly. Some people find comfort in gardening, listening to music, hiking or walking along a beach as they let the past slip away.
When I processed the loss of my dream about my coaching business, I went from feeling numb and mildly depressed to acceptance, and then I began the process of renewal. Today I run a very successful international coaching and training business that fills my heart with joy.
Healing from grief requires time to reflect. Be gentle with yourself. Gifting yourself space to be sad will give you the breath you need to move on when the pain fades away.
Dr. Marcia Reynolds, Master Certified Coach, is a world-renowned expert on how to evoke transformation through conversations. She has delivered programs in 41 countries and reached thousands more online. She has four award-winning books: The Discomfort Zone; Wander Woman; Outsmart Your Brain; her latest, Coach the Person, Not the Problem. Read more www.Covisioning.com.