We get a divorce or break up a relationship and we lose. Our house burns down and we lose. We get laid off or fired and we lose. We get a serious illness and we lose. All those other events that friends and family go “oh, no” can probably be included.
Certain human experiences get listed as losses. But losses can also turn out to be a first step to wins. This usually isn’t part of the narrative. It might be more interesting if it were.
THE STORY OF LOSS
Let’s say that a love relationship ends. It’s customarily treated as a loss if not a complete failure or a downright tragedy. But is it tragic or a failure if a bit later another relationship replaces it, one that is even better for the new you? Or if the end of a relationship prompts an unforeseen change that ultimately results in a major life breakthrough, is that still a loss?
It’s all about perspective!
I have heard of many people who at one time “lost everything” in a disaster, yet years later they were very thankful for the wins that the “awful” experience inspired. The loss put their life on a different path that turned out to breed a previously unimagined success.
Some people learned through the crushing pain of bankruptcy how much they relied on status and materialism for their happiness. When they were humiliated through sudden poverty, through their financial losses, they learned how much they had missed simple pleasures and that the best things in life aren’t things.
Losses still do bring pain and suffering, but they bring gifts, too. That should be part of the narrative.
THE DRAMA OF THE LOSS
Pay attention to someone who has just encountered a big loss. It might even be you. Notice how other people respond to it. What do they say? How much of the talk intensifies the drama of the loss?
“Oh, you poor thing! How dreadful! That must be terrible! You must feel awful!”
While this may sound like a helpful dollop of sympathy, the polite thing to say, the loving thing to do, it also amps up the intensity of the loss. The more one slathers on the sorrow and the pity, the more likely we are to feel sorry for ourselves. That leads to thinking like a victim and not bouncing back.
I’m not saying to be stingy with compassion for people under siege from a recent event that they deem a big loss. I’m saying not to stay stuck in the soap opera or melodrama. It doesn’t help them.
When it’s your loss, consider tweaking your perception of losing. Allow yourself to feel sad or angry but don’t get caught up in glorifying the loss through constant story-telling where you see yourself a victim. Rather, keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunity. The more you look for the gift in your circumstance, the more likely you’ll find something positive.
At least that’s the message I’m telling myself as I recover from my losses.