There is no doubt about it, grief is heavy. The Grief Recovery Handbook® defines grief as the conflicting mass of emotions following a significant emotional loss. I don’t know about you, but I can certainly recall many times my grief has felt like a ton-weighing mass taking up space in my gut and head. It still baffles me how emotions can feel so heavy!
As I have used The Grief Recovery Method® to unravel the mass of grief inside me, I have discovered that one emotion in particular weighs much heavier on my mind and gut than others. That emotion is regret. Nothing can take me down or break my heart like regret. Why? Because regret is all about me. No one outside myself can do or say something that I feel regret over. Regret is 100% about my actions or inactions.
What behaviors and such have I found bring me regret? I regret the compliments I never gave, the boundaries I didn’t lay, the chances I didn’t take, and the pain my shortcomings caused. I regret not showing more appreciation for a person’s kindness, not making more time for my loved ones, not owning up to my wrongs, and for wasting time and energy on things that don’t matter. Most of all though, I regret not loving and caring for myself better. I regret all those nights I went to bed without brushing my teeth, the sunscreen I didn’t wear, the rest I didn’t prioritize, and the pints of ice cream I binged on. The thing that hurts the most about not better loving and taking care of myself is that I feel I failed to honor the people who love and care for me.
One of my favorite motivational quotes is, “Discipline weighs ounces and regret weighs tons” – Jim Rohn. I love this so much because I have experienced the validity of its practical application. Sucking up my laziness or pride and taking disciplined action does require some discomfort and effort, but it is nothing compared to the discomfort of avoiding the action and later feeling regret. Even thought the emotions of regret can be soul-crushing, I do believe they contain an important silver-lining. Once I was able to recognize the behaviors and attitudes, or lack thereof, that brought me regret, I could make the decision NOT to do those things again. Nothing has been a more effective motivator for changing my harmful behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes than the pain of regret. If that isn’t a silver-lining, I don’t know what is!
So how do any of us really learn and grow? The pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of change. Sadly though, somewhere in our lives, the majority of us have learned that pain is bad and must be numbed or relieved at all costs. One needs to look no further than the endless advertisements on television for pain-relieving goods and services. I think it’s pretty safe to say that we humans are not big fans of pain (masochists being the exception). Seems like we would much prefer comfort, denial, or self-righteousness. You may think that’s pretty harsh, but I know it is true. I actually find it funny that so many people spend endless energy campaigning for change, yet when that change comes, they run as far from the pain and discomfort as possible! I’m chuckling to myself just thinking about it! Humans are nothing if not humorous.
If you can find the courage to look at yourself, face your regrets, and embrace the resulting growing pains, I know that you will find yourself stronger, more confident, and wiser than before. Fears will disappear and a new fire for life will burn inside you–at least that’s what I have experienced. When you are ready, Uprooting Grief and The Grief Recovery Method® will provide you a safe and supportive environment where you can use the correct information and tools needed to make your personal transformation a reality. I have not seen the process fail yet! So, I do hope you will take a deep breath, stop resisting the beneficial growing pains found in facing your regrets, and get excited for how awesome you are going to be when you come out the other side. ❤
If you have ever traveled on an airplane, at the beginning of the flight, you have probably heard stewards say something along these lines:
“If an unexpected change in cabin pressure occurs, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead compartments. Please put your oxygen mask on first, then proceed to help others with theirs.”
For many of us, including myself, these instructions seem counter-intuitive. We may feel like we want to help others first, and then tend to our own needs afterwards. We may even feel like “putting on our oxygen mask first” is selfish and morally wrong. I truly believed this and behaved accordingly most of my life. The result was going around feeling drained and empty. Thankfully, I have recovered from this belief!
There is great value and wisdom to be found in the statement “put your oxygen mask on first”. Why? Because if you’re not fully functioning, you aren’t going to be able to give a person in need the full care they deserve. For example… Take firefighters. No firefighter in their right mind would run into a burning building full of smoke without protective gear and his or her oxygen tank; and I believe one would be hard-pressed to find a firefighter carrying their oxygen tank unsecured, into a burning building, planning to put it on later! The thought just seems absurd! A community needs their firefighters to perform at their best, which means they need to have mental and physical strength–neither of which are possible without oxygen. I mean…seriously. If I were trapped in a burning building, I would certainly hope there were strong, healthy, mentally sound people coming for me!
I really like how Jesus teaches this principle in the Bible. Matthew 7:5 reads, “First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Reflecting on these past four years I see I had quite a few metaphorical wood shards in my eye, especially before finding Grief Recovery and becoming certified.
If you have read my bio, you know that I have been dealt more than my fair share of loss. As a student in my first Grief Recovery class, I learned that grief takes up a ton of emotional energy, and that it is cumulative and cumulatively negative. Once I learned this, my misery made sense. So many dots connected. The losses I had accumulated brought me to complete and profound exhaustion. For years it was like I had been dragging around a bag of boulders. Obviously, the tools and information I learned growing up for dealing with loss weren’t working. I found there was an enormous amount of grief I needed to unpack. Thank God Grief Recovery gave me the information and tools I did need that very first class!
Shortly after beginning my Grief Recovery practice in May 2016, I experienced a string of losses that just wrecked me. It was one after the other, after the other, after the other from about June 2016 until recently. Car accidents, financial hardship, job losses, romantic breakup, health issues, injuries, two moves, and having my hometown rocked by the mass shooting of October 1st, 2017. Even now, I am bracing myself for some impending family losses. Needless to say, I felt like I was drowning for a long time. Somehow, during that time, I managed to pull off two Grief Recovery support groups. I decided afterwards that I needed to take a hiatus in order to stabilize. I felt like God was sending me a loud and clear message that I needed to “put my oxygen mask on” first.
Since then, I have used The Grief Recovery Method to work through more than a dozen losses. Each time, the grief fog lifts a little more, I see a bit clearer, walk a little lighter, and find more room in my heart for love. I wish I could say that I have healed all my grief, found a handsome prince, inherited a castle, and am living happily ever after, but unfortunately, that’s not how life works. We humans all share one thing in common, the experience of loss, and I am no exception. Losses will continue to happen throughout our lives. It is inevitable.
Using the tools of Grief Recovery, in combination with other tools I’ve acquired, to work through the losses of these last two years, has prepared me well to begin comforting and guiding grievers in the Las Vegas community. If I hadn’t done the work and put my metaphorical oxygen mask on first (it was a lot of work!), re-launching this practice would not have been possible. I learned so much about grief, self-care, priorities, relationships, spirituality, leadership, and other things pertaining to the world of recovery while searching for my own. Now, because of my experiences, painful as they may have been, I feel stronger, smarter, wiser, and more confident than ever.
I cannot express how thankful I am to the Grief Recovery program for the healing and opportunities it has given me. I have seen my students heal and transform before my eyes, and it is miraculously rewarding. I promise to continue the practice of “putting my oxygen mask on first” so that I might show others both how to recover from loss, and help others who need to.