aesmael: (writing things down)
 Grief and getting over people are on my mind recently. When people die, or are lost from your life, our culture hasn't given me much to get to grips with that but time.
Time helps but I do not think it is a complete answer. There must be techniques for processing absences in ways healthier than others. Coming to terms with non-existence, accepting lost possibilities. Having memories + associations good and bad without being undone by them. Self-directed guilt and blame about feelings and their performance.
Maybe there really is no such thing, or my understanding so lacking I don't even comprehend what I am talking about. Of course we could always add more time but that is going to happen anyway until I die.
Our stories say there are healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with loss and continuing in our lives. But so far I can't recall actual substantive advice about how to distinguish or switch between.
"Talk things out", "think of good times instead of bad" or "lots of people react like that, it doesn't mean you're a bad person" are probably good seeds but they are neither trees nor orchards. I want to know about the soil, the sunlight, the water and fertiliser. What creatures devour the roots and which are here to frolic or nibble peaceably?

Date: 2016-11-03 18:50 (UTC)From: [personal profile] leakinglavender
leakinglavender: (Default)
So grief is an emotion, like any other. The trick is *regulation* -- anything that can be expected to impart the cogntive skills needed to regulate intense and disruptive emotions is at least potentially helpful.

The other thing that helps is having a conceptual framework and social support that can lend meaning and context to the loss, though you've identified that as an area where your culture hasn't given you much to work with (which is bad luck that happens to some of us). I'd add that your *immediate* social environment doesn't seem well-prepared to provide it either -- put simply, your family don't seem to be people who can help you with this very well. That could and likely will change in the future, as your environment does, but it's hard to bank on that, and I've never had too much success building alternatives without the help of other people to make it real... so I suggest focusing on the more immediate problem above.

I'll say that mindfulness techniques, when I can be bothered to employ them, are one of the more effective tools I've learned for handling intense feelings like grief, fear, and so on. The goal of such techniques is to redirect one's attention onto some aspect of the body or the environment -- not in order to avoid the emotion, but to anchor your perceptions and thoughts in something immediate rather than the past or the future.

You want to do this because racing thoughts fuelled by intense emotions kind of work like a self-referential loop. It's very seldom that we can follow these thoughts to any good conclusion, so practising mindfulness is basically practising de-escalation, breaking the loop, so that one literally anything else, in the moment, other than cycle.

Focusing on one's breathing is a very common technique, and one I've used with you at least a couple times? "Ten deep breaths" is one variant, so is "focus on your breathing for one minute, pay attention to nothing else." Examining an object that's sensorily-interesting is also effective -- you just try to experience the thing and take note of how it feels/looks/etc. In combination especially.

These techniques aren't magic bullets -- they can help you re-center in the moment, but that's all. Sometimes you have to do them again and again as the thing recurs. Sometimes you'll lose the struggle and get caught up in the loop again. Sometimes you'll forget that they are possible, or not WANT to engage in them when you're feeling intensely. The key to remember is that these are exercises, and that the analogy is "doing difficult stuff with the goal of strengthening over time." They get more effective the more you use them, and they start to become reflexes after a while.

There are times when we need to grieve, or have the emotion, but when you find yourself being torn apart by it and it's debilitating in severity or frequency, you may need to intervene actively.



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