Grieving Your Way to a Good Life: Using Self-Compassion to Transition from Old Beliefs, Behaviors, and Thoughts to New Ones.

As petals became metal, and tears began to settle, the dirt covered yesterday to make room for tomorrow.  In life, when we have to say goodbye to someone we love, we partake in certain rituals to expedite the grieving process.  Family and friends come together to acknowledge the passing.  Kind words of condolence are placed on the hearts of those beholden with the most grief. At last, we bury this person to say farewell, and begin to try to live life without them.  As much as we love the people that we lose, we cannot go with them. It is just not our time. 

In many ways, our hardships, especially those driven by antiquated thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors, are difficult to give up because we have such a deep relationship with them.  They have grown old with us.  They have kept us company for many years.  Whether they have helped us or hurt us, they have been there.  And like the loss of human beings, we simply feel awful about having to give them up.

One of the most considerate parts of self-compassion is that it gives us room to sit with these behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs, and to slowly say goodbye to them as they pass from our attention.  It is important to honor them.  Like it or not, they have gotten us this far, and while they are not helping us now they have our thanks for yesterday.  Similarly to losing someone, letting go of these thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors makes room for people and a life that would not be possible with them in it.  This insight does not make it easier to let go, but it does honor you, and your experience.  It also makes room for kindness like that of fellow mourners, who despite your great loss want you to know that you are deeply loved and still deserving of a beautiful life.

Because we understand how painful it can be to lose someone, it takes little to persuade us of the importance of the grieving process.  It is also painful to give up that which has served you, and to give up the idea that you already possess the skills necessary to live aptly through your suffering.  Give yourself permission to not only grieve this loss internally, but externalize this suffering in your conversations with supportive others.  It is not just the listening of others that helps us let go of that which fails us.  It is their silent wish that we live a good life.  It seems like such a small thing, but is love really anything more than wishing someone a good life no matter what befalls them?  Genuine love is a drawn out meal with infinite, small courses.  Each course says, “I hear your pain, your joy, your grief, your anger, your fears, your disappointment, your malcontent, even your soul’s torment, and I wish you a good life anyway.”

If you are to truly practice self-compassion and move from practices that fail to fulfill you and make you whole, and move towards practices that guide you towards well-being and freedom from unnecessary suffering, you must hear your own suffering multiple times a day, and still wish yourself a good life.  When you find yourself falling in to the same routine that has brought you suffering, notice it.  Acknowledge how it has helped you in the past.  Grieve giving it up for more effective ways of living well, and give yourself the kindness that we have come to expect for all who feel aggrieved.  This ritual will help you face the harsh reality of your companions’ (old thoughts, beliefs, behaviors) passing, and it will make room for new relationships (new thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors) that are more befitting your current life.

Loss is loss is loss.  Wherever loss goes, you will find the heart hurting.  Don’t use your mind to rid yourself of conflicting feelings that arise when you are confronted with giving up old ways of thinking and behaving.  If your heart is hurting, you must go to it, instead, to begin to heal.  Notice the old behaviors. Honor their role in helping you get this far.  Grieve their loss, and bring great kindness and warmth to your experience, so your new thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs can mirror your ongoing wish that you live a good life anyway.

365 Days of Kindness.  Self-Compassion.  Day 57.  In the Books.