Are You Struggling to Overcome a Loss? By Robin Trimingham
"Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."
As most of you know, I am a big believer in living the moment and making the most of every day. However, sometimes the excitement of moving forward can be overshadowed by the fear of what we are about to lose – or think we are about to lose as a result of making progress.
This idea that loss is an essential part of evolution is something that I struggled to come to terms with in my earlier life because I could never understand why the “loss” part was so painful if the what was to come part was going to be so wonderful.
It took me years to realize that the pain I was feeling was simply a recognition that I valued the person, or the thing, or the job, or the situation that I was losing so much that I was allowing myself to imagine that nothing better could ever be waiting to take its place.
Obviously, when you are merely the observer to someone who is struggling to come to terms with a loss it is easy to say that they should just “get over it” or be more optimistic because you don’t have a personal stake in the situation. But that sort of comment often just makes the situation worse because the person in pain often doesn’t realize that they are imaging things and they then proceed to imagine that their feelings don’t count, or they are being dismissed. Fun times indeed.
As silly as all of this may sound, a fertile imagination will build a fire with whatever fuel is at hand and go to any length to keep it going because the thing it fears most of all is having nothing to think about.
There are spiritual gurus out there who will tell you that the nirvana of enlightenment is the complete absence of thought, and maybe for them it is. I question, however, whether this a realistic goal for most of us in the age of internet where we are constantly bombarded with stimuli to react to and process. What most of us need is an effective means to become the master of our own house – to control our thoughts and harness our mental resources (aka our imagination) as effectively as possible.
For example, I wish I had realized years ago that the best way to combat obsessing over a loss is to focus my energy and my wild imagination on envisaging a time and place when things will be ok and then working out a series of steps to get myself to that destination. By writing down a massive list of all the things that I need to do to accomplish my chosen objective (the more detailed the list the better) not only am I occupying my thoughts by generating the list, I am harnessing all my imaginative energy in an effective and efficient manner.
Does this level of problem-solving take self-discipline and practice? Of course, but imagine having a brain that solved any problem you could imagine with ease. That’s what I am working on as I chop wood and carry water. What are you working on?
By Robin Trimingham