the gift of loss what we learn when we lose

The Gift of Loss: What We Learn When We Lose

In Think Well |

On February 25, 2017

When you survive a painful loss, you suddenly realize that that the answer to “what’s the worst that could happen?” is usually not as bad as you had imagined. You don’t come out of something like that unscathed, rather you see that your worst realized fears won’t kill you. The process indeed can make you stronger. My story, regardless of the details is the same as many other people’s. Whether it’s losing a relationship, a loved one, or the security of a job, loss is never easy. In my case, surviving the pain of the process broke my fear of change.

It destroyed my need for stability and comfort.

What a gift!

We all naturally get roped into seeking an unchanging, comfortable life that ironically and predictably never comes. Because life is dynamic, always moving and always changing. Why do we fear that so much? Why can’t we accept change as part of the normal human experience?

We end up exchanging our time earning money to pay for insurance policies against every conceivable change. Fire, auto, flood, disability, medical, property, life. Does anyone else find irony in the fact that we pay for policies that reward bad luck? (I’m not suggesting we ditch them all, it’s just an observation.)

The path to realizing that loss and pain can create an otherwise unattainable gift isn’t easy. It takes time and a spirit of resilience. Especially in the case of of being wronged by the universe or someone, because the allure of self-pity is strong. There’s something desperately powerful and indulgent about being the victim. We subconsciously feed off of the feeling that someone owes us…something.  But if we can release the hidden strangulating power of the victim mentality, it frees us to see possibilities and opportunities.

In my case it took forgiveness. I finally got to the point where I no longer wanted the adrenaline hit of hate. It was stifling my growth and I wanted and needed to let it go. So I chose to forgive. And it immediately changed the course of my life for the better.

Interacting with patients one-on-one is an interesting process. As a doctor who tries to listen intently, I’ve started picking up on certain underlying signals when people describe their problems. Recently I had a woman mention her ex-husband four times during her five-minute case history review. It wasn’t that he had physically hurt her. But that experience had left an indelible imprint on her life. It became part of her identity and actually, holding those negative emotions was likely contributing to her pain.

I want to be very clear: I don’t bring this up to prove that I recovered ‘right’ and my patient did it ‘wrong.’ I don’t judge her. I have no idea the painful depths of that experience. And each person is on their own part of the journey.

However, I think this raises a lot of questions for your consideration.

What painful struggle or sudden change have you encountered? Did it stunt your growth or create an environment to cultivate new opportunities? Does change scare you or do you thrive in the shifting landscape of life?  Are you holding anger, guilt, shame, doubt, blame, or other negative emotions that repress growth?

I’d encourage you to examine your life and talk with a trusted advisor and rewrite your story.

Is there a painful part of your experience that you could repurpose into a gift?

Yours in health,

Dr. Scott

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Last modified: April 9, 2018

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