“Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.”
― Haruki Murakami
Each and every one of us will experience numerous losses throughout our lifetimes; some we feel we can handle, others we feel we just can’t. So what do we do in such situations, when we feel we can’t move forward and regain our emotional freedom? Let’s take a brief look below; bearing in mind that everyone experiences loss differently and there’s no one right path to restoring emotional freedom.
Firstly, what do we mean by Emotional Freedom?
We all have the capacity to experience emotional freedom, however, each individual will experience it slightly differently. There is no set checklist and there’s no 12 point plan to achieving it! However, to give you a sense of what we are all striving towards, we like this definition by psychiatrist Judith Orloff:
[Emotional freedom is] the capacity to give and receive more love. Becoming free means removing counterproductive emotional patterns and viewing yourself and others through the lens of the heart.
So let’s take this definition as our starting point and take a brief dive into understanding some of the steps you may need to take to regain or develop emotional freedom after a loss.
Step 1 - Acknowledging the Loss
For many people, acknowledging the pain they feel after a loss occurs naturally; however, other people may struggle to allow themselves to experience their grief. Starting the journey towards emotional freedom means fully recognising the extent of a loss you’ve suffered in the first place. Many people aren’t familiar with the term ‘disenfranchised grief’ but essentially it occurs when a person is denied their right to grieve or, the significance of their loss is downplayed, either by themselves or by their support network. If grief is unacknowledged or trivialised it is difficult to move past.
Disenfranchised grief is not uncommon, even in our modern psychologically-aware society. If you’ve experienced any of the following losses, ask yourself, did you allow yourself time and space to grieve?
- Loss of a much loved pet
- Loss of a home - whether by choice or necessity many people identify strongly with their home environment and can feel uprooted and grief-stricken when they lose this
- Loss of a relationship which doesn’t conform to societal expectations (for example same-sex relationships in many situations/cultures)
- Loss of health - this can also equate to a loss of independence and constriction of personal freedom - a very significant loss indeed
Step 2 - Accepting the Loss
Depending on the nature of the loss you’ve experienced, this step can feel ineffably hard. If you feel that it’s impossible to accept the loss you’ve suffered, we strongly recommend you seek professional support to help you find a way through this most challenging of circumstances.
Step 3 - Being Kind to Yourself
When you suffer a significant loss it can feel like your whole world has fallen apart; your sense of self is blown away and everyday activities you used to enjoy become too much effort. How can you possibly be kind to yourself, especially if you hold yourself, at least in part, responsible for the loss you’ve suffered? Again it’s important to seek professional support if your grief is spiralling into depression; grief and depression often co-exist but they are not the same thing and require different responses. If you are grief-stricken, the last thing you need is to be beating yourself up over it! We cannot stress enough that it’s at such times that you need to be the most kind to yourself that you’ve ever been. Reframe your self talk, listen to compassion meditations, focus your attention on small moments of beauty. It may require all your effort but try your absolute best to be compassionate to yourself.
For dedicated, professional support, contact Hart to Hart Counselling today.