Grief has always been one of the major areas of emotional health for counseling and therapy. But the kind I seem to end up dealing with the most is one that most people may not even identify as grief. We’re all familiar with the grief that comes from a loved one dying, from going bankrupt, catching a major disease, having your house burn down, or losing a close relationship, etc. Let’s deal with that first.
I’m sure you’ve heard that grief is healthy and to an extent, that is true. Grief is a form of empathy, which is like a measuring stick for love. Empathy means the ability to feel someone else’s pain, to put yourself in their shoes. In fact, if you don’t grieve over something that you should, it may indicate that you’ve shut yourself off emotionally. You may be narcissistic, or you may be in so much pain that you can’t get out of yourself to hurt for anyone else. However, I’ve seen many therapists say that grief is healthy when they’ve tried everything to help a grieving patient as a way of covering their rear.
I’ll give you an example. I had a client once whose father had just died. They had been best friends, and his death was unexpected and tragic. He called me because he was supposed to give his father’s eulogy but was so devastated that he didn’t think he could make it through the first three words. I gave him a code to heal the source of the unreasonable part of that grief. Several days later, he called me to tell me that after doing the code several times on the plane to the funeral, his thoughts and feelings had shifted completely. He said that before, whenever he thought of his dad it was in a wooden box and it broke his heart. Now, he started to remember all the wonderful times they had together and reliving those. Yes, he was still sad about his father and would miss him greatly, but he was also more joyful and grateful than ever for the time and influence he had been. That’s the difference between healthy and unhealthy grief.
But there’s another kind of grief that’s not so obvious. I recently saw an article on unexpected things that can cause grief, but I think all of them boil down to this—which is something I see in about 9 out of every 10 people I talk to. Whenever you imagine something happening, your experience simulator creates a memory of it. For example, if you imagine going on a skiing trip with your family, you’ve already made a memory of that before you ever leave. Based on the latest studies, that imagined memory is full of lies and errors, but your unconscious mind treats it as if it were the real thing. So when you actually go, your unconscious mind has already taken ownership of that perfect, imagined version of the trip. It’s like something has been taken from you and you become frustrated, anxious, and to some extend you experience real grief because of something that was never real. Dr. Dan Gilbert addressed this in his wonderful book, Stumbling into Happiness, where he said that expectations are a happiness killer. For this sneaky type of grief, you need to quit allowing your experience simulator to run away with you.
You have a mechanism inside of you called psychological adaptation that, when functioning, allows you to adjust and be happy in almost any situation within about six months or less. That’s why most therapists give six months as the typical healthy grieving period. But for most people, this mechanism is malfunctioning because the heart and mind are already too negative. The good news is that you can fix it. Whether you’re in grief right now or not, be wary of false expectations, and use Trilogy and Memory Engineering to fix the erroneous memories you already have.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!