Looking Beyond The Fear of Goodbye To Make Room For Something Better That You Never Expected.
Think about the last time you faced a big change and had to say goodbye to someone or something you valued. Maybe it was breaking up with a partner. Or suddenly losing a job. Or being diagnosed with a chronic illness or losing someone who died.
How many times did you toss in bed at night replaying the situation over and again, only to feel even more unclear of how to move on? How often did you resist saying goodbye and accepting what had changed because you didn’t want things to be different?
Facing change brings up fear. We fear losing an attachment to someone or something we value. And if we lose that attachment, we also face an ending of what we had.
As a society, we don’t embrace endings well. When something ends, we enter the awkward and ambiguous space of the unknown, a place where most of us don’t like to hang out for long. We try to hold onto what was (the past) for fear of facing what has yet to be (the future). And as a result, we reinforce our fear of saying goodbye to what has changed, making it harder to embrace the opportunities that come with it.
To create a new collective story about goodbyes, we need to change how we view change.
We need to look beyond the negative associations and accept that with every change comes an ending. And that an ending, whether it be of a life, relationship, job, or limiting belief, means a death of its existence in that state.
Death is a topic that frequently gets associated with the ending of someone’s life. Dealing with death tends to bring up feelings of pain and suffering, something that we’re fearful of. But death surrounds us at every moment.
Your body’s cells are dying as they are renewing. Nature goes through infinite cycles of birth and death. Relationships come and go. When you start a new chapter, the previous one ends.
Death is an unavoidable part of life, yet finding ways to meet it with an openness to saying goodbye remains a challenge. We aren’t commonly taught that death is a place for both grief and joy, that endings are beautiful entryways to something better that you never expected. As a result, it can be easy to avoid dealing with it and view death as a taboo topic. When you avoid what you fear, the fear grows.
When you accept that every change, including the ending of life, is a death and an opening to a new opportunity, you take the charge out of what you fear.
Looking at change as a part of life that everyone faces, rather than a horrible and unacceptable ending you can’t get through, will allow you to trust your resilience and invite it in more. This takes practice and faith, especially when you’re facing a major change that’s rocking your world.
But the more you embrace the notion that change, endings, and death are interrelated, the more you can accept their natural, necessary role in your life. You can create room for all your emotions to be expressed rather than suppressed, which frees you from holding on to pain so it doesn’t fester inside and keep you gripping to the past.
With practice, you develop a stronger ability to self-soothe, which gives you more confidence to face any kind of change and trust that you’ll move through the experience and come out stronger for it. You learn that while change will often bring loss, the grief you feel is part of what will help you heal.
By looking beyond the fear of goodbye, you can get to the heart of change and loss and feel the full emotional spectrum—from grief to gratitude—to create an experience that honors everything you’re going through. You create room to weave the experience into a new story that propels you forward in life.
You create room for something better that you never expected—the healing experience of a Good Goodbye.
About the Author:
Dr. Gladys Ato is a clinical psychologist, personal growth & leadership expert, speaker and author of the book, The Good Goodbye: How to Navigate Change and Loss in Life, Love, and Work. Recognized as a Latina leader by Hispanic Executive magazine and a Women Worth Watching in Education winner by Profiles in Diversity Journal, Dr. Ato has been featured in NPR, NBC News, Thought Catalog, Elephant Journal and other publications. Meet Dr. Ato, and receive your (free) copy of The Good Goodbye Blueprint, a 30-page roadmap to thrive after a change or loss at drgladysato.com.