Do you catastrophise?

These last few days have been ‘odd’ for me.
I realised that I was grieving, but couldn’t think of why I was doing that. There had been no deaths in my circle of friends and family and yet, there was a sense of loss in me.

It took a while for me to realise what it was all about.
Before I could do that, I had to just let it be. Our conditioned reaction is to get into ‘doing’ something, actually anything, to avoid feeling bad. Sometimes, the opposite is true and we just need to let things be.

Allowing to let it be and getting on with my day meant that I wasn’t fighting the feeling any more. Of course, it wasn’t pleasant, but I could just observe it. After a while I started to get a sense of what it was about.

I was grieving for a future loss. The thing I was grieving for hadn’t even happened yet – and perhaps never will. Yet there was still a sense of loss being created because of the thoughts in my head that I was coming to the end of a (working) relationship.

This got me to wondering how many other times I have suffered over something that has not happened, but I think it may happen – and so create the feelings. In effect I was suffering because of a picture of loss that I had in my mind. Crazily, it was a picture I had myself created, and could also change!

We are all creators of our feelings, and we can create the good feelings just as easily as the ‘bad’ feelings by the picture we hold in mind. We have forgotten this basic truth and so end up creating suffering when we could be creating pleasing feelings.

Where in your life do you do this? Where are you suffering BEFORE something has happened, even when there is a chance that it may NEVER happen! And even if the worst were to happen, the depth of your suffering is entirely within your control. Perhaps, instead of being taught to catastrophise everything, we should be looking at the positive in everything, if only to reduce and, perhaps, even eliminate suffering. Then again, in today’s society, someone may accuse you of holding onto false hope! On the whole, people are happy with seeing you suffer rather than be happy – it makes for better news.

Go on then, if you’re going to catastrophise, at least enjoy it.


What Fabrice Muamba can teach you about loss

This last 2 weeks saw the outpouring of Grief in two very different contexts.

The first involved an unexplained coach crash in a road tunnel in the Swiss Alps; twenty eight people died, with twenty two of them being children returning home from a school trip.

This obviously caused huge pain and suffering for those closely involved with the dead – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, other close family, friends, classmates, teachers, emergency service personnel, etc. It is a long list.

The second incident involved the player, Fabrice Muamba of Tottenham Hotspurs  collapsing on the pitch during a football match in a competition. This was played out in front of tens of thousands of people. He was administered to on the pitch in front of the crowd, his fellow team mates and the competing team mates. There were a whole range of responses from the thousands involved. Some of the players on both teams, who perhaps knew the stricken player well, were clearly distraught at witnessing all this and were wondering around aimlessly or being consoled by others. There were others, who were involved in the resuscitation attempts that just got on with what they had to do; there was no time to do anything else. There were the spectators who reacted in stunned silence initially, as it became clear there was a serious incident taking place on the pitch. Some took up to chanting the player’s name. Others were in tears at what they were witnessing. Fabrice Muamba survived what turned out to be a heart attack (at the young age of 23) but is in intensive care with an uncertain outcome at the time of writing this.

Two different outcomes in very different contexts.
One major feeling/emotion being felt by thousands: Grief.
Everyone reacted to this feeling according to their programming to date on how to deal with Grief.

  • Some showed it openly and wept in public
  • Some had to ignore it and get on with the task at hand – the rescue workers and paramedics in both situations
  • Some looked dazed and had blank and/or uncomprehending looks on their faces, as if they literally could not take in what was happening (in case it overwhelmed them)
  • In the case of Fabrice Muamba, some chanted his name (some of them, to distract themselves from feeling the feelings being churned up by what they were witnessing)
  • And a whole load of other reactions.

This shows the many ways people deal with Grief.
Grief is a feeling associated with loss. It could involve the loss of:

  • a person (friend, partner, lover, parent, child, etc) or,
  • a thing (job, competition, pet, a treasured possession).

It is a feeling we all experience, but are rarely taught how to deal with.
In response to it. we have developed a whole range of, mostly unhealthy, approaches to dealing with it – approaches which keep the Grief trapped in the body for a much longer period of time, and ultimately leads to prolonged suffering.

Let’s be clear – Grief affects everyone at some stage in their life. It has to be dealt with, and sometimes that is not possible in the immediate aftermath of an event which leads to loss. It’s what happens in the following days and weeks that will dictate the amount of suffering a person will undergo.

Sometimes talking about it and counselling is not enough, and therapy takes too long to provide immediate relief.

I am very fortunate to have come across the tools of Emotional Intelligence, and particularly the SOAR method. They have helped me, and my many clients over the years, deal with all manner of situations which have resulted in Grief.
My own experience of using the tools came from the death of my father. It was sudden, unexpected and instant (a massive heart attack); I was the only member of the family not present when it happened, so I didn’t see him again until several days later at his funeral. For the first time I got a chance to use these tools in such a situation for myself. I was astounded that Grief could be dealt with within days, instead of weeks, months or years. It has left me with all the great memories and an appreciation of my father without the sadness and loss. In effect, I felt the pain of Grief for a short period of time, but did not have to suffer from it.

Where have you felt Grief?
Are you still feeling sadness and loss around that person or thing?
If you are, you do not need to. You can move beyond whilst still retaining all the good things.

Maybe it is time for you to stop being a slave to your emotions and become a master of your emotions? If it is time for you, there is help available, both with myself and others. Find someone, and start to live fully again.

We have no choice in that we will all die one day and loss and sadness are a part of life. On the other hand, suffering from Grief does not need to last – that is a choice we do have, even if it is not something we feel we are capable of.  There is help out there.

Go on then, make it easier on yourself today.