As writers, we often deal with what Steven Pressfield, in the War of Art, called resistance. Basically, it is our own self-sabotaging behaviors that keep us from getting the Work-in-Progress finished. Whether you are an artist, a writer, a dancer or any form of creative expressionist, as a sensitive soul you are subject to this foe.
Whether you are a sensitive soul or not, if you have experienced a major loss you will enter the stages of grief. Resistance exists in those stages.
Grief has a form of resistance called denial. It is smart. Grief knows the minute we start to accept loss, that despair will take over. Since despair sounds like such a horrible thing, we resist it with everything we have. The truth is that despair is the first sign you are moving toward acceptance and healing. We don’t need to fear it.
Ah, but resistance in the form of denial doesn’t know that. Grief and Loss have adopted denial as the major weapon against despair. And it’s a sadistic weapon that turns on you, jabbing you in the most vulnerable places. Every lie you’ve every believed about yourself will emerge.
“I deserve this loss.”
“I’m a bad person.”
“I don’t deserve happiness.”
“There is something wrong with me.”
“I’m not good enough.”
“It’s all my fault.”
“I can’t cope.”
“I’m too weak, frail, fragile…”
Recognizing the lies is hard when your thoughts are clouded by pain, questions, and confusion. But these lies will lead you down the path of depression where ruts are formed in your psyche. Once you fall into the ruts, it’s very hard to climb back out. NOT IMPOSSIBLE, but difficult.
If you find you are already there, stuck in a cycle of self-deprecation, you can take steps to end the cycle. If you are just entering the stages of grief, these steps can help you recovery more quickly.
Emotive Educational Activity: 3 Confront Lies
“I can’t do this.”
Grief crawls out of the shadows and pokes at you. Often it will lie to you and make you feel the situation is too big. Try to recognize the lies for what they are.
Speak: I will recognize lies. I will not be deceived.
Write: Make your own list of lies you have heard from loss and denial over the last few days. Beside them, write the truth.
Action: Today we are going to shop. Find something tangible to represent the loss. Choose an object that will fit into your palm or that you can wear or place in a pocket. Some ideas: an inexpensive bracelet or ring, a coin for your pocket, a lock of hair, a dried flower petal, a cheap locket. Make it something you will not mind losing, but also not mind having on your person. It will be with you for a while. You can shop around your house, Macy’s is not required. Once you locate your memorandum, associate it with a good memory. (For me it was a glass beaded bracelet on elastic. I associated it with fishing trips I had taken with my dad.) Now, put it on, pocket it. Every time a lie assaults you, touch the memorandum and let the beautiful memory remind you of the truth~ Joy is real and mine for the taking.
LaDonna Cole RN BSM CART is an RN Psych Nurse, specializing in Grief Recovery. She writes therapeutic stories to motivate readers through the journey of grief to recover joy. See more of this Grief and Loss series here.