How to Grieve Your Past Self
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Do you find yourself undergoing a significant life change? Do you ever feel like you're not the person you used to be? It's fine! The past is gone, and it doesn't have to define your present. In this article, we will discuss how to grieve your past self so that the new person you are today can take over. We'll talk about what you need the most in order to move forward, why you may feel guilty or ashamed for letting go of your old self, and how you can release these negative feelings. Let's get it started!
Step One: Recognize the past self.
This is when you are able to pinpoint exactly who it is you are grieving, which can help you feel more connected with your present self. If you don't know what your old self was like or have trouble identifying her, try looking at pictures of yourself from that time period in order to jog your memory and discover how much has changed since then. This is when you are able to really understand that she was once a part of your life, but no longer exists in this capacity anymore. Once you have a clear picture of themselves back then, they're ready for step two!
"No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear." - C.S Lewis
Step Two: Express your grief over the loss of this aspect of yourself or this period in your life.
First, you should recognize your feelings and embrace them. It might be uncomfortable. However, embracing emotions makes the entire grieving process more manageable and less overwhelming. If you're not sure exactly what this means, try talking about your past self with a friend who knew her well; chances are she'll have plenty of advice on how to get through each step!
Second, you need to find peace within yourself by accepting that 'change is part of life'. This doesn't mean all change is good or bad - it simply means we must learn how to adapt in order to survive. You'll feel more at ease with the new person you're becoming if you can accept that your old self is gone.
Third, it's only natural for you to feel guilty over letting go of your old self. Try to understand why she was so important and what made her significant in your life. This way, you can grieve her loss without feeling too bad about it. This is when you are able to fully understand the value of your past self in order to be more content with moving forward.
"Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve." - Earl Grollman
What are the five stages of grief?
The five stages of grief were first defined by a psychiatrist named Elizabeth Kubler-Ross back in 1969. She wrote a book called "On Death and Dying," where she identified five common grieving stages experienced by most people. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote that book after her own experiences with terminally ill people. As it turns out, we become much wiser when we think our lives are in danger.
Yet, fear can take over when we’re going through the worst phases of our lives. We tend to forget about all the things that were once important to us. We also forget that we matter, and that we deserve to be alright despite the circumstances. Understanding grief as a natural emotion will also help you overcome the fear of moving forward. So, here are the five stages of grief for you to consider:
Remember, there is no particular order for these stages to take place. Moreover, not everyone goes through all of them when processing grief. Some people might experience only one or two before feeling healed. Either way, grief opens up the doors of our soul which means each person has to take their own unique journey.
"The five stages - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance - are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stopping on some linear timeline in grief." Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
The Five Stages of Grief
When Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross created the philosophy of the five stages of grief, she reflected on the feelings that terminally ill patients and their loved ones had to go through. Later, the five stages of grief were also used to describe how people react to losing someone they love.
Still, you must understand that “loss” is a lingering feeling that can come from anywhere - internal or external. It can also take us down many different paths depending on how we deal with it. Grasping the stages of grief should, therefore, help you grieve better rather than grieving for no reason.
Stage 1: Denial
Denial is a defense mechanism that usually happens when we face something scary or unpleasant. It’s used as a way for the mind to protect itself before a crash. Feelings of numbness replace your sense of reality, but you’ll have to grow more sensitive to the situation eventually. And while this is a natural stage of grief, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Just remember that you will be okay in the long-run, and that hiding behind denial and fear might feel like it’s helping even though it’s not.
Stage 2: Anger
Because we don’t have to feel grief, we deny it. Feeling grief means accepting the realities of the situation, which can be extremely hard for some people. In those cases, we transfer our feelings of grief into the frame of anger, resentment, or blame. Those emotions then become so intense that we have trouble comprehending it, often shifting the focus to other people or even ourselves. However, after this stage subsides you may gain a deeper understanding of yourself and start to grasp why you acted or felt the way you did.
Stage 3: Bargaining
The “what ifs” will start to emerge during this stage of grief. It’s your mind, body, and soul’s way of trying to make sense of the emotions you’re feeling and reality you’re experiencing. Fortunately, thinking this way does not make you at fault for anything. In fact, it’s a natural part of the grieving process and it can even help relieve stress to think about how things might have been.
Bargaining is a way to attempting to regain control of the situation. Religious people often pray to their God or ask for signs while this is happening. That’s because grief makes us vulnerable. The good news is that entering this stage means you’re beginning to passively accept what has happened.
Stage 4: Depression
The depression stage usually happens once you’ve fully accepted your reality - when there’s no one else to blame nor a better circumstance to adopt. This is typically when overwhelming emotions such as sadness and hopeless start to become more prevalent. You begin feeling everything more acutely, thus this is the most dangerous stage of them all. Most of the time, we stay frozen in this place because of fear, guilt, loss, and pain. It can be scary to look for a way out, so don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
Stage 5: Acceptance
Acceptance may seem like the end of grief - the stage where you finally move on and find the best version of yourself once and for all. However, that’s not really how things normally go. Instead, the acceptance stage happens when you stop blaming yourself for what happened. It’s the realization that whatever took place was out of your control, and that it most likely happened for a reason. Unfortunately, this stage is not a promise of brighter days all the time. There’s still a lot of work to be done when you get here.
Well, here you are ready to say goodbye to your old self and embrace the new. It’s time to bury past trauma and grow into the person you were always meant to be. The five stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance - are each an essential part of the healing framework that helps us achieve greatness. Grief is, therefore, a tool to help us identify what we’re feeling and process it productively.
We look at grief with fear in our eyes. We think about the person we’ve become and see pain, not progression. Grief is a soul-searching journey that can end in two distinct ways. Either it destroys your innate beauty, or it helps transform you into an experienced butterfly. Either way, it will always be a difficult path with many bumps in the road.
Some days, you may feel like you’ve got this under control. Other days, you may feel weak or numb. Every emotion you experience is legitimate, natural, and expected. So, don’t blame yourself for feeling vulnerable. The day you can look grief in the eye and use it for self-discovery is the day you embark on a healing process that ends the punishment.
Someday, this will all be just another chapter in your life, or perhaps the doorway that writes a whole new chapter filled with contentment and success. Regardless, it’s only the beginning - not the ending - and you will feel like smiling again soon.
OUR FAVORITE PODCAST EPISODE ON THIS SUBJECT:
HEALERS: Grieving the old you with shamanic practitioner Mimi Young