About a month has passed since my grandmother passed away and I left my girlfriend. As time passes, things get better they say. But do they really?
There is a reason for so many people never getting over the loss of a loved one and entering a long period of depression. Luckily enough, I am quite sure I am avoiding such a reaction thanks to my approach to sadness.
The automatic response we have to a sorrowful event is to hope to get back to a “happy state” as quickly as possible. As a result, we end up pushing further and further any negative thoughts. On the surface, it would seem like a rather good solution: if you don’t think about it, then it isn’t there. Right?
Unfortunately, that is the wrong approach to such situations because it means we are trying to be happy without processing the experience fully.
Of course, letting ourselves fall prey to sadness without restraint is also a common pitfall. We just delve into the past, remembering all the good times and how much we miss those.
Like most people, I have done so numerous times throughout my life. After all, it took me about 3 years before I really got over my first ex.
Luckily, there is a way out and it is rather simple in theory. It comes back to one idea.
We notice the highs only when feeling low.
This can be interpreted in different ways but the most important is that we cannot feel “happiness ” without experiencing sadness. Does this mean we need to feel sad often if we wish to be happy? No, it doesn’t.
What it means is that a balance between happiness and sorrow needs to be established.
If we set as a starting point the fact that what we lost is not coming back, there is only one path: forward. Are you planning on feeling depressed for the rest of your life? I highly doubt it, so you will have to decide the future will be positive.
Of course, in a negative period of one’s life, it might feel almost impossible but to combat the sorrow, you need to remind yourself constantly of the opportunities ahead of you.
Yes, I am now single and miss my girlfriend. But I also recognize the now-absent attachment to Japan to stay close to her. If I want to, I could move somewhere else. I also recognize that I now also have more time to work on my long-term goals. I would have rather handled those with her next to me but if that won’t happen, then I have no choice but to move forward.
However, as stated above, staying positive and pushing down my feelings of sadness will not allow me to process the situation.
In order to process the situation, it is important to do two things.
1. Allow sorrow once in a while
One evening per week, I will press play on my music player and listen to a specific song that triggers melancholy for me. From that point onwards, for the rest of the evening, I allow myself to cry, look at pictures and think about all the great experiences I had with my — now-ex — girlfriend.
It allows me to slowly but surely accept the past without getting stuck in it. Then, the next morning, I can start a new day fresh and ready to look in front of me instead of back.
2. Share your thoughts
In a world full of beautiful Instagram stories and Facebook posts, it has become complicated to let ourselves be vulnerable. This is unfortunate since it is through putting words on feelings that they become “real”.
Whether you prefer writing those online or discussing it with your friends face-to-face is your choice. (Mine is both.) But without true, vulnerable, exchanges, you cannot expect yourself to move forward.
In my own process, I’ve found myself twice talking while crying in the middle of a bar. Saying it makes me feel uneasy, but I can assure you it was very therapeutic.
Life isn’t supposed to be all good. It’s also full of negativity. In reality, that’s what makes it difficult but interesting. Hardships are, well, hard to live through. However, you shouldn’t give up and get stuck in the past nor ignore it altogether.
Life is full of unexpected developments, whether positive and negative. And only by accepting both can ever hope to have an overall happy one. Isn’t that what you want too?