Loss as a Tool for Change

What makes starting a new job so anxiety-inducing? What makes sticking to a diet so hard? What makes shifting to a life of purpose and meaning feel so heavy?

The power of loss.

When we start anew with anything in life, a new job, career path, diet, or relationship, we tend to focus on what we give up, what we are losing, instead of what we gain.

Maybe these questions sound familiar:

“Will I make as much money in my new job? Do I really have to give up all of these foods? Will this relationship be as good if not better than my last one?”

Any change inherently comes with loss. A new diet comes with the loss of a previous lifestyle. A new job comes with the loss of a previous identity. And it is human nature to focus on what we are giving up, instead of what we are gaining. It’s rooted into our very core survival DNA.

Using grief as motivation

But what if we are able to use loss as a tool for change, a force for good?

Anyone who has experienced a significant tragedy, loss of a loved one in their lives, or traumatic event, knows just how powerful loss and the accompanying grief can be. However, when confronted, dealt with, and processed, this grief, this loss, can become a powerful ally.

According to Eric Martin, Founder of Adaptive Change Advisors, “when we don’t process grief or openly talk about it and when we repress it, our heart hardens. When this happens, we are no longer in the best mindset to be optimistic towards change and life’s endless possibilities.”

I really enjoy the Pablo Picasso quote, “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” I do believe that we need to take these negative experiences into our lives and really embrace them to do better or learn from them. We need to openly talk about our losses, our grief, but also our fears and anxiety about change. We never get over a loss, but in turn, we let it become part of who we are. We must use grief and change as one of the most powerful tools, frame it in the right way and use it as motivation to do something impactful.

At age 28, I lost my mom, my best friend, to pancreatic cancer. She was only 60 years old, healthy, active, and gone in a matter of months. As one of her primary caregivers, this experience was incredibly traumatic and her loss devastated me. I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to recover, and at times I didn’t feel like participating in life anymore.

But at my lowest of lows, leaning on the support of loved ones and family, I decided to use this grief, the power of loss to motivate me, to push me even harder. It was in this time that I realized we never “move on” from trauma, but we “move forward”, together. I was ready to move forward, with a new and more motivated version of myself than ever before, carrying everything my mom gave me and all the lessons she instilled.

girl in the sun happy

Positive thoughts = positive impact

Individuals, organizations, and companies deal with loss constantly. The loss of a client, a department, an old identity, an old product, or even an old way of thinking or doing business. These losses are even more pronounced in our current time of global pandemics, climate change, and globalization. However, by recognizing these losses, embracing them, opening our hearts to recognize that we are all dealing with our own grief, we can come together to solve our most pressing challenges and lean on one another now more than ever.

When we change our inner voice and our mindset, that’s when we really start to see change. There is a little practice that I like to do when I am experiencing some sort of negativity in my life. I found by changing the words “have to” with “get to”, my perspective changes. Instead of complaining and saying things like “I have to do this…” and instead say “I get to do this,” I feel more gratitude that I have the opportunity to make each day better and have a positive influence on the people around me.

When we face challenges together, when we all move forward as one, we have the power to confront and embrace change head on – leading to a more prosperous, inclusive, and healthier tomorrow.

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