Updated: Aug 13, 2020
Life is a cycle of beginnings and endings, yet our society has taught that beginnings are to be celebrated and endings are to be forgotten.
I disagree, endings should be honoured.
Let me give you an all too common workplace example:
A huge project that you've been working on comes to an end.
I once sat in a Monday morning meeting and after months of long hours pouring all my creative energy into a very large and very expensive tender submission, my boss takes out a red marker pen and strikes-through the project, saying"well, we didn't win that one"... "what's next?" (que: silent devastation)
or a more traumatic example: A relationship comes to an end. Maybe it's been coming for months or maybe it hits you out of nowhere like a mack truck. (que: loud wailing)
Either way, with any aspect of life, whether it be the ending of a project, the ending of a job, the end of the teams sporting year or the ending of a friendship, partnership or a relationship. If it's made a significant impact on our life, then chances are it's embedded into our daily routines and we have organically grown accustomed to having it in our life.
In order to honour that which was such a big part of our lives, we need to take a moment.
There is a growing trend when finishing a job to take a few weeks off before looking for another job.
When I was in my twenties, I found myself suddenly 'let go' from a job that I really loved. I was distraught, I felt like a failure.
All I wanted to do was sit by a fire, stare into the flames, question and process all the emotions that were crying to be heard.
So, I booked myself into a silent meditation program at a retreat centre. This was the best thing that I ever did for myself. It completely removed me from my life and routines just long enough to honour the ending, grieve the loss of my beloved job and return home feeling rejuvenated enough to start job hunting.
Give yourself the space and time to feel or even celebrate the emotion.
By processing emotion in a healthy way and not suppressing, burying, muting or using positive thinking to avoid feeling the emotion we are able to give the emotion a voice. The voice is actually our inner being ... what is it saying? I feel hurt, I feel betrayed, I feel lonely, I feel confused, I feel rejected, I feel sad or maybe I feel so happy to be rid of that job!...
I've noticed that when emotion is suppressed, it lays dormant in our body, bubbling up to the surface as unexplained anger, grief or shame. Sometimes released in unhealthy ways through violence and destruction or more subtle forms like self hate or feelings of unworthiness.
Feeling emotions can be uncomfortable and if prolonged can become unhealthy wallowing, so I usually give myself a set amount of time to process. It might sound something like this - "OK, when I get home from work, I'll pour a nice cup of tea and allow myself an hour to see what comes up, then that will be enough for today". Call me crazy, but I've found this to be a really honouring thing to do for myself.
Processing the emotions isn't enough, actually its only the first step in honouring the ending.
Reflection is also required.
Start a line of enquiry and extract the learning and insights from the experience, this way we won't make the same mistakes again.
What was wonderful?, What was awful? What am I most proud of? What did I succeed at? What did I fail at? What could I have said instead?
and the kicker...
How am I different for having had this experience/relationship?
Letting it all go.
Eventually, there comes a time when you just have to let it all go.
There's nothing more you can do and nothing else you could have done.
The experience was had, the emotions were felt and the lessons were learned.
This is where you have permission to stop dwelling on it.
It is now firmly in the past.
When I start seeking out a new job or looking for a new relationship - I have suddenly found a new clarity. I know what I will not settle for, I know what I would do differently, I have raised my standards and strengthened my boundaries. My courage has expanded. I can now speak from personal experience, I can see options that were not visible from my previous perspective.
The cycle Renews.
When the next door opens (and it always does) the cycle begins again, only this time you are not rebounding into another relationship or accepting a job that was exactly the same as the one you just left. You won't make the same mistakes, you've broken that pattern.
You are a different person, you have more clarity and you have taken your experiences and transformed them into wisdom.
You've changed for the better.
Let me know how you honour endings in your life in the comments section!
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