Grief is tough – there’s no doubt about it. But don’t ever think you are powerless over your journey or your life. At the end of the day, what are you focusing on? Ask yourself the question. It’s important. Your answer may well determine not only if you will still be standing, but whether you’ll survive or thrive.
You keep moving forward by putting one foot in front of the other and taking the next step. You don’t have to walk the next mile, or ten miles, or get through the next year. You just have to concentrate on taking the next step. And then take the one after that. And so on. Often, especially during grief, we try to think too far ahead, solve too many problems at once, and what we end up doing is borrowing trouble we don’t need to take on. If we’d just concentrate on the next step, it wouldn’t all seem quite so overwhelming.
I suppose you can call the grieving process (and life itself) a mind game of sorts. Maybe it is.
If you’re honest, when you break away all the fluff and look at the basics – who you are, what you do, and how you live your life depend on what you think. In the words of Henry Ford, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
We’d save ourselves a lot of unnecessary trouble and heartache if we’d pay attention to what we’re thinking and think on purpose. How many times have you heard the statement, “If you want to change your life, change your thoughts.”
I just listened to a portion of a TEDx talk about the way two different people faced loss in their lives. Both of them grew up in the same area, were approximately the same age, and both of them had suffered a number of devastating losses of close relatives (siblings and children) in their families. Both women had also lost their husbands. Given their backgrounds, the natural assumption would be that their attitudes toward loss would be similar – however, their viewpoints could not have been more dramatically different. One woman saw her life as being over, for all practical purposes, and she was ready and waiting to die. Her joy, if she ever had any, was gone. The other woman regarded loss as a natural part of life, and she had decided to continue to face her life with optimism, purpose, activity, involvement, and a heart that was full. The first woman had decided to do nothing more than survive. The second woman had fixed her mind on thriving.
Anyone who has faced profound grief keenly understands the challenges and pain of the grief journey. Grief is one of the toughest things anyone will face. Yet, grief is not the end of a satisfying life unless you decide it is. You are not powerless over your grief. Whatever you do, don’t buy into the mindset that you’re powerless and a victim. That is a dangerous and self-defeating lie. When those thoughts try to attach themselves to you, throw them off!
Only you can decide whether to survive or thrive for the rest of your life. Take one step at a time – and keep your thoughts focused on thriving. Face the pain of your loss and work through it, with the overall goal of thriving once again in your life.
© 2013 Judy Brizendine
Photo courtesy of fotofrenze