For those of you who have read Brain Drain, you remember the chapter that started with a dialogue from the popular Seinfeld episode about George doing the opposite and finding success. In the same episode, Jerry finds that everything always evens out for him, his buddy George, usually jobless and complaining, has now found a job and is cheery; his friend Elaine, usually gainfully employed and upbeat, is now without a job and pessimistic; Seinfeld loses $20, only to find it later in his pocket. He declares that everything works out for him, and Kramer declares him “even Steven.”
In life, we often see that happiness and joy is balanced with sadness and loss. The challenge is to find the balance and tip the scales in the direction of the former. For those of you who know me personally or are familiar with my writings, you are accustomed to the phrase, “I will always find a way, and a way will always find me.” This, in essence, declares my life to even out, even in the midst of disappointment or loss.
But, if you’re anything like me, you want your life to be more than just even. For many, though, just getting to even is very difficult. For example, what if you recently lost your job? Or perhaps, someone very close to you has died, prematurely, leaving you with an emptiness and a feeling of doom that you just can’t seem to shake? Getting to even may seem like a daunting task, and don’t even think about tipping the scales to abundance and joy.
Since, as I have written, our automatic brain (AB) is forever on the lookout to “protect” us from danger, threat, or vulnerability, when loss occurs, it fires on all cylinders. We feel vulnerable and fragile, thus triggering the AB, causing us to fight or flee. This brain being primitive, it causes us to react in ways that are archaic and counterproductive, actually preventing us from returning to even.
The fight reaction to such loss is usually anger and rage, and the flight reaction is withdrawal or depression. Neither is particularly helpful. What these have in common, though, is that both reactions are associated with AB-generated thoughts coupled with a universal question, “Why?” Of course, the “why” may be embellished with “why me?” Or, “why does this have to happen to me?” Or, “why is this happening to us?” Or, “why did he have to die at such a young age?” Why? Why? Why?
When experiencing loss of any kind, I believe the first step is to try to return to even. To begin this process, it is important to acknowledge the mechanics of your primitive AB. It will fight you every step along the way trying to protect you from further hurt, thus vulnerability. That is, as you approach an even state of mind, it will trigger thoughts as, “how can you be enjoying your life when John just died” or “don’t get too happy, look what will happen.” To keep you “safe,” your automatic brain will prompt you to ask the “Why” questions. In actuality, it is prompting you to ask questions that cannot be answered.
Once you are aware what is going on in your head, understand that you are not condemned by it. You possess a higher mind that will help you not only return to even, but will direct you to life-affirming abundance. This starts by asking questions that can be answered. Questions such as, “What am I going to do today to continue living a full and satisfying life, despite my loss?” “What am I going to do today to celebrate the life of John?” “What am I going to do today to believe in the power of my mind to allow me to be happy?” or with the loss of a job, “What am I going to do today to find a job (or start a business) that is consistent with my strengths?”
The operative phrase in each of these questions is, “What am I going to do today?”
In order to get your life back, you must take action. I am a firm believer that working on feeling better doesn’t get us the results we need. Instead, taking action and getting results is what makes us feel better about ourselves and our life.
So, don’t settle for even, but use that as your first benchmark to regaining your life. Ask questions that can be answered and take action–one new action step daily, just one. This will help you move forward and stop the incessant drain from your primitive AB. Soon, the cloud will begin to lift and eventually the scale will tip in the direction of happiness, abundance, and faith.Tags: grief, hope