The Sixth Stage of Grief – Finding Meaning

The Sixth Stage of Grief – Finding Meaning

Grief and loss can be challenging for many of us. I don’t think I really knew too much about it growing up. However, later on in my life (maybe from about 30ish), I became acutely aware how much loss I had experienced (without actually realising it).

A few years back now, I wrote an article called – Coping with Grief and Loss – Insights in to the Grieving Process. If you are interested, please click here to read it. Today, I wanted to elaborate on that post and share about the Sixth Stage of Grief as it resonated with me when I heard it. However, before we start, let me share with you –

  • What is Loss?
  • What is Grief?
  • What Types of Loss Can Cause Grief?
  • The Original Five Stages of Grief,
  • The Six Stage of Grief – Finding Meaning, and
  • Some Insights in to Finding Meaning.

Let’s get started…

 

What is Loss?

Loss is being parted from someone or something that is really important to you. Loss can come into our lives in lots of ways, and it affects each of us differently.

 

What is Grief?

There are a number of definitions about grief, including –

  • “…intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.” ~ Google and Oxford Dictionaries
  • “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.” ~ Dictionary.com
  • “deep sadness caused especially by someone’s death” ~ Merriam-Webster
  • “The normal process of reacting to a loss. The loss may be physical (such as a death), social (such as divorce), or occupational (such as a job).” ~ MedicineNet.com

 

What Types of Loss Can Cause Grief?

Honestly – any type of loss can cause grief as grief is a reaction to a loss. Some examples of loss that can cause grief include –

  • Losing or leaving a job,
  • Death of someone you love,
  • Divorce or relationship breakup,
  • Retirement,
  • Selling the family home,
  • A pet passing,
  • Getting injured (especially if an athlete),
  • Loss of health,
  • A significant person in your life getting sick or ill, and
  • Loss of a friendship.

 

“The pain of the soul and heart is much more powerful that the pain of the body” ~ The Prophet.

 

The Original Five Stages of Grief

In her book On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross discussed what the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy, and their own families. The book is a discussion on some of the key emotional reactions to the experiences of the dying.

If you choose to read the book, you will see there are 5 stages that are described. The stages are used so the author can clearly articulate the experiences of the people she was learning from and they overlap. The five stages of grief are –

  1. Denial and isolation,
  2. Anger,
  3. Bargaining,
  4. Depression, and
  5. Acceptance.

You can see a visual of the diagram here.

 

The Sixth Stage of Grief – Finding Meaning

David Kessler has created the Sixth Stage of Grief. The sixth stage of grief evolved from the work of Kübler-Ross work after Kessler became a protege and friend of Kübler-Ross. They wrote two books together (Kessler 2019). In his book Finding Meaning – The Sixth Stage of GriefKessler clearly articulates the five stages –

  • “Denial: shock and disbelief that the loss has occurred, 
  • Anger: that someone we love is no longer here, 
  • Bargaining: all the what-ifs and regrets, 
  • Depression: sadness from the loss, 
  • Acceptance: acknowledging the reality of the loss.” (p. 1)

After Kessler experienced a significant loss of his own, he came to realise there was a six stage – meaning. Meaning –

“allows us to transform grief in to something else, something rich and fulfilling.” (Kessler, 2019).

Finding meaning takes time and depends on the loss and the situation / person. However, over time, finding meaning can help to start to find a path forward. Meaning can take on many forms, including gratitude for the time you had with loved ones to acknowledging the fragility and value of life. Kessler (2019) says that people –

“who are able to find meaning tend to have a much easier time grieving than those who don’t. (And) they’re less likely to remain stuck in one of the five stages.” (p.3). 

Some Insights into Finding Meaning

It is important to remember that grief and loss is complex process. For me personally finding meaning in my own experiences of grief and loss has been useful. However, for some of the losses it took me a long while to discover any meaning, so be compassionate to yourself!). A few insights that might help with finding meaning include –

  • We all respond to changes in our life in different ways – there is no right or wrong way to find meaning. There is also no timeframe to grieving and / or finding meaning.
  • You are the only one who can find the meaning.
  • Being able to acknowledge and accept the significance of a loss is important and helps to find meaning.
  • “Meaning doesn’t require understanding. It is not necessary to understand why someone died in order to find meaning” (Kessler 2019).
  • “Your lost is not a test, a lesson, something to handle, a gift or a blessing. Lost is simply what happens to you in life. Meaning is what you make happen.” (Kessler 2019).

 

Over to You…

I hope this has given you some insight in to the sixth stage of grief – finding meaning? If you have any questions, please ask them below or contact us. Also feel free to join our toolkit, to help you live with an open heart!

 

References –

Kessler, D. (2019). Finding Meaning – The Sixth Stage of Grief. New York, USA: Scribner.

Kübler-Ross, E. (1969). On Death and Dying: What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy, and their own families. New York, USA: Scribner.

Reclaiming My Courage By Acknowledging and Navigating Fear

Reclaiming My Courage By Acknowledging and Navigating Fear

During the past few weeks, more changes and opportunities for transformation continue to present themselves in my life. Yes there are the obvious changes being presented with our current situation with the pandemic, however I also have a number of others.

In the past, these changes would have sent me straight in to fear, worry and panic as I didn’t know there was a gap as you can see by the image. Over many years of practise, I have remembered I have a choice in each moment of each situationI find myself in and I can those choices from a place of fear or a place of love (i.e. my courage).

Freedom to Choose

 

Why I Created a Fear List…

Many years ago I created a fear list. I created it like a reverse bucket list as I knew fear was one of the emotions that prevented me from living a whole-heartedly connected life. So we are are on the same page, fear is –

  • “…an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” – Google and Oxford Dictionaries.
  • “…an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events.” – Wikipedia, and
  • “to be afraid of (something or someone)” or “to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

 

Identifying and Acknowledging My Fear

Wondering how I identify my fears? It is simple really – I have a number of them identified on an excel spreadsheet. However, I also stay alert each day with my feelings and have learnt to be able to identify when I am being triggered around things. For example – not having enough money to pay expenses.

When I discover my fear, I acknowledge it and use some self-compassion and mindfulness techniques I have learnt over the years. For example – the STOP Technique.

 

The STOP Technique – One Way to Acknowledge and Navigate Fear

One strategy I continue to use to interrupt fearful thoughts so I can choose to respond rather than react, is the STOP technique. This technique, helps me interrupt the ‘automatic pilot’ by bringing you back to the present moment. A brief description of how I use the STOP technique is –

  • S – stop. I stop to interrupt my fearful thought pattern or ‘automatic pilot’ by coming back to the present moment,
  • T – take a breath. I then take a breath and focus my experience of the in-breath and the out-breath (when it feels OK to do so),
  • O – open to observation. I connect to the experience of this moment and inquire with a sense of curiosity –
    • What am I seeing?
    • What am I feeling?
    • What am I sensing?
    • What am I hearing?
    • What am I smelling?
    • What am I thinking?
  • P – proceed. I then proceed and reconnect with my surroundings and the activity I was doing in the moment.

I have also used this process to journal, so I can untangle from the fearful thoughts.

 

Over to You…

How do you identify and navigate your fear? Feel free to share any comments below.

Ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards your freedom and opening your heart, why not join our Toolkit?

Figuring Out Emotions Using An Emotions Diary

Figuring Out Emotions Using An Emotions Diary

One of the skills I am passionate about developing is emotional literacy. There are many reasons why, however one of the main reasons is because I knew I needed to relearn. One of the main ways I have learnt to figure out my own emotions is by using an emotions diary/ journaling guide. However, before I share how I started to figure out my emotions using an emotions diary, let’s discuss emotional literacy and why it is important.

 

Why Develop Emotional Literacy?

Emotional literacy is the building block of emotional intelligence. Subsequently, when we develop our own emotional literacy we can access and develop important information about ourselves and others and process any emotional baggage (don’t worry we all have it!), take better care of ourselves and look after wellbeing.

 

What is Emotional Literacy?

Just as learning to read and write begins with literacy of letters and sounds, learning to interpret and manage feelings begins with emotional literacy. The term “emotional literacy” was coined by Claude Steiner in 1979.

The definitions of emotional literacy include –

  • “To be emotionally literate is to be able to handle emotions in a way that improves your personal power and the quality of your life and – equally important, the quality of the life of the people around you. Emotional literacy helps your emotions work for you instead of against you.” ~ Claude Steiner
  • “Emotional literacy is the ability to put feelings in to words so that those feelings can be understood within some sort of psychological context.” ~ Tian Dayton
  • “… lets us sort out all of those feelings, name them and begin to understand their causes and effects. It is the basic building block of emotional intelligence.” ~ Joshua Freedman
  • “Emotional literacy helps us precisely identify and communicate our feelings. Naming them helps us identify our unmet needs; communicating them helps us identify those people who voluntarily assist us in meeting our needs. The key to emotional literacy is using simple, clear and direct three-word I messages like – ‘I feel sad.'” ~ Steve Hein

After reading the above, do you agree that emotional literacy could be a useful skill to develop? If so, read on as I share one way I have been figuring our my emotions using an emotions diary.

 

Figuring Out Emotions Using An Emotions Diary

To develop my own emotional literacy, I chose to create an emotions diary. I used this diary regularly, not just when I was going through a difficult time. It also helped me to understand and learn to manage my emotions more effectively on a day-to-day or maybe more accurately on a moment-to-moment basis (and yes I still journal with it).

An emotions diary is basically keeping a journal or ‘notes’ on your emotions. You can write about the name of the emotion/s, shifts in them, what was going on at the time or leading up to you noticing the emotion, whether or not you thought the emotion/s was appropriate and were any other people present. Also, I chose the word emotions instead of feelings as it resonated with my intention more. Basically an emotions diary is an empowering way to reconnect with your self and explore what is going on within you.

 

An Example of An Emotions Diary

There are a number of pre-made journals available, for me I like to keep things simple, so all you really need is some paper and pen/pencil. Following are the key aspects I include in my emotions diary –

1. Date / Time:

I include the date and time so I can look back on how I have changed and evolved over time.

2. Description of Emotion:

Trust me, I know naming an emotion can be challenging as learning to identify and label an emotion are skills in themselves, so when I started I just did my best and when required used these “primary emotions“. I then also like to add – does this emotion feel good or bad? Up or down? How intense is the emotion on a scale of 1-10 (1 = low intensity and 10 = high intensity).

3. Event / Situation:

Was there an event or incident that led up to the emotion? If so, I write them down. I include (if relevant), where I was, who I was with and what was going on.

4. Physical Sensations:

What did I notice going on in my body and where did I notice it?

5. Behaviour / Action:

What behaviour and/or action did I take? Was this behaviour / action a reaction or a response? Was this appropriate? What helped me cope with this emotion?

6. Moving Forward:

Is there something I can learn from this? Is there anything I can do in relation to the event / situation and/or emotion? If so, what? How can I move forward and/or release this experience?

 

Over to You…

Remember, figuring out our emotions using an emotions diary can take a while, It is not something you master over night, it takes time to see results (and I continue to learn). If you choose to start to use an emotions diary, I recommend taking your time, bringing your self-compassion with you and discover what works best for you as we are all unique.

Ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards your freedom and opening your heart, why not join our Toolkit?

5 Reasons Why I Started to Judge Myself Less

5 Reasons Why I Started to Judge Myself Less

Why do we thinking that self-judgement can help us in life? Or why do we allow it

Women who dare to start the adventure of looking after themselves often share with me how much guilt they feel. Comments like “I can’t go to the gym, I have to ______ “, “I really wish I could, but I ____ ” or “I shouldn’t have ____”.

Well, what if we looked at this a little bit differently and recognised that when we look after ourselves, we actually have more to give other people?

In this post, I am going to share –

  • The Gift of Mindful Self-Compassion
  • What is Self-Judgement?
  • 5 Reasons Why I Started to Judge Myself Less

Let’s get started…

 

The Gift of Mindful Self-Compassion

Before we start exploring self-hate and self-judgement, we need to make sure you have some mindful self-compassion. Therefore I am going to share a few definitions of self-compassion with you.

In his book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions Christopher Germer refers to self-compassion as “… simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.” 

Dr Kristin Neff in her book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, refers to self compassion as having three components –

  1. Self-kindness – be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental.  
  2. Common humanity – feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering (i.e. experiencing our imperfections). 
  3. Mindfulness – that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain and exaggerating it.

Also, in the The Force of Kindness, Sharon Salzberg wrote – “this kind of compulsive concern with “I, me and mine” isn’t the same as loving ourselves… Loving ourselves points us to capacities of resilience, compassion and understanding within that are simply part of being alive.”

 

What is Self-Judgment?

Yes, this is probably self-explanatory, however just so we are on the same page 🙂 There are many definitions of self-judgment including –

  • “the act or fact of judging oneself” ~ Dictionary.com
  • “Self-judgment results from thoughts individuals have about themselves and the meanings attached to those thoughts. The thoughts, hence, produce related feelings such as anxiety, anger, and depression. Judgments (The process of forming an opinion, or reaching a conclusion based on the available material.) people make about themselves can become habituated as they are used to explain and validate unhelpful thoughts (e.g., If I am harsh on myself, other people will not be as harsh) and they might, accordingly, be intended to protect people against emotional pain, failure and rejection.” ~ Springer

Subsequently, I am glad I started to develop emotional intelligence and self-compassion towards myself.

 

5 Reasons Why I Started to Judge Myself Less

After reading the above on self-judgement (thinking), I am hoping you can see there is a more useful and compassionate way to move towards your dreams. You may even beginning to think self-compassion looks like a good option and easy enough to transition towards. However, the research indicates it is a little harder than it first seems. Well for many people anyway, particularly women.

Why do we find it so hard to show compassion towards ourselves? Maybe the following reasons, which I have included under myths and realities about self-compassion from Dr Neff’s book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself can help us change our perceptions around self-compassion.

Reason 1 – Self-Criticism Can Cause Us to Feel Insecure:

Myth: “If I’m too self-compassionate, won’t I just be lazy and selfish?”

Reality: Despite being socially acceptable, self-criticism is not a helpful strategy to helping us fulfil our potential. It can actually do the cause up to feel insecure and inadequate.

Reason 2 – We Are All Worthy of Compassion:

Myth: “I am not worthy of compassion.”

Reality: Everyone is worthy of compassion – as we have all made mistakes, no one is perfect.

Reason 3 – Know Your Challenges Are Important:

Myth: Self-compassion is just a form of self-pity or self-indulgence.

Reality: Self-compassion means I think my problems are also important and worthy of being attended to as well as your problems. Self-compassion is about being with our challenges and seeing them as they are not numbing them or pushing them away, which is more self-indulgent.

Reason 4 – We Are All Similar:

Myth: We have to earn the right for compassion.

Reality: According to the Dalai Lama, “Human beings by nature want happiness and do not want suffering. With that everyone tries to achieve happiness and tries to get rid of suffering, and everyone has a basic right to do this.. Basically, from the viewpoint of real human value, we are all the same.”

Reason 5 – There Are Other Ways to Motivate Ourselves:

Myth: Self-criticism is an effective motivation strategy 

Reality: self-criticism is not a helpful strategy to feel better despite it being socially acceptable. In fact, it can cause you to feel insecure and inadequate.

 

Starting the Adventure of Practising Self-Compassion

There are many ways to start practising self-compassion and they are unique. For me it has been a challenging process and something I needed support in remembering how to do it. I love the following quote from Brené Brown that I have found useful to remember as I continue to BE whole-heartedly ME

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.” ~ Brené Brown The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.

Over to You…

Can you see how knowing these reasons how might be able to help you judge yourself less? Do you have any questions? I hope my short explanation on the reasons why I started judging myself less can help you start to untangle from any self-judgement you may have.

Ready to reconnect with your heart and start living a more connected and whole-hearted life? Then click here to receive the toolkit 🙂

 

References:

Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. USA: Hazelden.

Germer, C. (2009). The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and EmotionsNew York: Guilford Press.

Neff, K. (2011). Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. New York, USA: HarperCollins Publishers.

Salzberg, S. (2010). The Force of Kindness: Change Your Life With Love and Compassion. Canada: Sounds True Inc.

I Am Me by Virginia Satir

I Am Me by Virginia Satir

Virginia Satir was an American author and therapist,whose work was done under the umbrella of “Becoming More Fully Human.” I Am Me was written for a thirteen-year-old girl who apparently asked Virginia about what it takes to lead a fulfilling life.

 

I Am Me by Virginia Satir

“In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me
Everything that comes out of me is authentically me
Because I alone chose it – I own everything about me
My body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions,
Whether they be to others or to myself – I own my fantasies,
My dreams, my hopes, my fears – I own all my triumphs and
Successes, all my failures and mistakes Because I own all of
Me, I can become intimately acquainted with me – by so doing
I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts – I know
There are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other
Aspects that I do not know – but as long as I am
Friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously
And hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles
And for ways to find out more about me – However I
Look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever
I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically
Me – If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought
And felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is
Unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that
Which I discarded – I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do
I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be
Productive to make sense and order out of the world of
People and things outside of me – I own me, and
therefore I can engineer me – I am me and
I AM OKAY”

 

Over to You…

What do you think after reading that poem? Does it promote curiosity of different ways to lead a fulfilling life? Anything you would add or does it resonate with you like it did with me? If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?

 

Reference –

Satir, V. (1995). Making ContactCalifornia, USA: Celestial Arts.

 

Starting to Transform the Shame from Being a Professional Tennis Player

Starting to Transform the Shame from Being a Professional Tennis Player

As they say – life is a daring adventure or nothing at all. On Saturday 12/1/19, I travelled to Melbourne and a flood of memories came back to me from my tennis career. I decided to share what I was feeling on my personal Facebook page, and also the Habits for Wellbeing FB page and Instagram and this is what I wrote after the introduction above…

 

Transforming the Shame from Being a Professional Tennis Player

“You see – it’s 25 years since I reached the 3rd of the Australian Open Singles event, played on Centre court and was featured on A Current Affair (yes I was 21). And I have been to the Open once from memory after I finished playing in 1997 (it may have been twice, however didn’t check – I went to receive my Elite Coaching Course graduation, which co-incided with the coaching conference and why I am not sure if it’s once or twice).

I didn’t realise until this past week how much shame I have carried with me around my tennis career. I’ve realised now how much I had taken on board other peoples stuff (i.e their opinions, beliefs etc.) and deep within me, had the belief that I was a mistake and a bad person because I did not live up to other people’s expectations of me around tennis.

Trust me, I did my best and I now know I am not a mistake or a bad person for not living up to your expectations (thanks to the support of my coach) and I can finally be proud of what I did as a tennis player 🎾

Why do I share this with you?

Because these past few weeks I’ve been hearing the judgements come up around the performance of players. Those judgements are yours and rarely do they have anything to do with the player. I can only imagine the players are doing their best as I did. We really never know what is going on in another person’s life, unless we are privileged enough to be apart of it. 

I also share this as I know shame is a debilitating emotion for many and it cannot live in the light – it only lives in the dark ❤️

I’m super grateful I’ve been able to learn the difference between my stuff, other people’s stuff and the bigger picture. As well as what is my responsibility (and other people’s). And I really hope other athletes can as well and have the courage to work through to the core of their own story and be who they are.

Remember you are a human being, first and foremost and not a machine. Being an athlete comes down the list 💕❤️”

Following are a couple of photos from that day 🙂

 

Over to You…

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to share them below.

If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?

 

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