Anticipating loss: a unique kind of pain

Anticipating loss: a unique kind of pain

June 12, 20241 min read

Nobody likes a “worrywart.” Someone who “borrows trouble.” Yet we’re all both from time to time. For somebody, the November elections will represent terrific loss. One side will feel powerful and victorious, the other… not. The angst is already palpable.

We all anticipate loss at some time in our lives. Depending on how other losses have affected us, we may withdraw, lash out, or freeze. Those are neurobiological reactions that take a lot of deliberate thinking, kind self-talk, and radical self-acceptance to decrease and replace with at least neutral content in your head. Yes, I know you talk to yourself, and you should be kind to you.

When we anticipate loss we “make up” what it will be like. How we will feel, what the loss-shaped hole in our life will be like. We rehearse it. We repeat the rehearsal and in many ways, we help bring just that pain into being.

Should we look at the pending loss with pleasure? Joy? Probably not, except in a very few situations. We can, however, create a place in our head that mimics the Zen koan: ‘“Barn’s burned. Now I can see the stars.”

That unique kind of pain of the anticipated means we spend time living outside of reality. We construct one that is already painful, already frightening, and our hope is in the future we choose to create.

We could choose to think there are stars to see, you know?

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Elizabeth Power

Elizabeth Power, M. Ed., CEO of EPower & Associates, Inc. , is a sought-after speaker, facilitator, and consultant. EPower & Associates is the parent organization for The Trauma Informed Academy(r). "All we do is help people with change, resilience and self-care, and learning to live trauma responsively. And everything is done from the trauma-informed perspective," she says. "Even courses directly about working with trauma are about change."

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