“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything,” — Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club.
Loss is one of the most painful feelings we can experience.
It’s so painful that most of what we do in life is designed to help us avoid loss:
- We squelch our passion and sense of adventure for fear of losing a steady paycheck, even if our job is unfulfilling.
- We become self-conscious and overly sensitive to what others think of us for fear of losing our reputation, even if this means being inauthentic.
- We sacrifice our dreams or freedom for fear of losing a comfortable relationship, even if deep down this makes us feel resentful.
But no matter what we do, each of us will have to lose something we cherish at some point.
When we do, it can leave us feeling empty, stagnant, and hopeless. We’re losing something that makes us feel secure, valuable, joyful, or loved. We’re losing part of our identity.
But although loss is painful, it does not have to be permanent.
Loss can be an opportunity if we choose to see it as such.
For one, we no longer have the burden of defending what we had before – it’s already gone.
Once we move past the initial devastation of loss, we can rebuild our lives in a more precise way. We can take what we liked and didn’t like from our past experiences and use it to shape our future reality – one that will be greater than before.
Over time, we may start to realize that what we had in the past was not perfect, but idealized.
We may start to realize that the idea of permanency in life was merely an illusion and that we should truly appreciate what we have now.
We may start to realize that our greatest limitation was the very thing we lost – the blanket we clung to for security and comfort.
Most importantly, we may start to realize that we didn’t need our security blanket after all, but that we can learn to find a sense of security from within ourselves.
If we choose to learn from and appreciate our past and to “get better, not bitter,” then we really haven’t lost much at all.
Instead, we have gained freedom and a chance to start over with greater wisdom and resilience than we had before.