Whenever someone is affected by a major disaster there is an emotional reaction that you will go through. I can pretty much tell you that everyone goes through the same stages of emotion. I know I did, and later on I was able to come to the understanding that I had reacted to my failures by going through ‘The Grieving Process ‘and its 5 Stages.
Later as a life coach I’ve found that everyone who goes through crises and disasters goes through these steps. By knowing what they are will give you an understanding to the way that you have been as well as knowing what you need to do to get through so as to get life back on track.
You have to go through these five stages of grieving before you can think about becoming a winner once again. You won’t be thinking at your best while going through these stages, a lot of what you will be doing occurs on auto pilot. I assure you the quicker you can go through this process the better because once you have gone through them you then can move yourself and your life forward one more time.
These five stages of grief were originally brought to us by the Kübler-Ross model and it explains that “when a person is faced with the reality of impending death or other extreme, awful fate or major altering event, he or she will experience a series of emotional stages”.
I can account that losing your home applies, as does going bankrupt. Boy did both of these really happen to me. I’m glad to say the past doesn’t make the future, and all this is behind me and everything now is just great. But I know now that I allowed these 5 stages to take hold of me for too long. I hope by you seeing how they relate to your current circumstances you will now be able to move yourself forward and leave these stages behind you.
So take a look at these 5 stages and start to understand how you have been going through this process yourself so you can also understand what’s been happening to you. See if you can work out what stage you are right now, or confirm for yourself that you’ve come all the way through them. Also learning about these stages will make sense of the reactions you’ve demonstrated to this point and thus will give you some calm and understanding to why you have been like you have.
These are the 5 stages you will go through.
“I’m ok, every things fine, things like this can’t happen to me so nothing to worry about.’
When I first lost my home it didn’t feel real. This numb feeling came over me, and my brain just felt empty. I couldn’t come to terms with what had happened so internally I just denied it to myself. Everything just felt so unreal. It was as though I was watching a film about some other poor soul where in reality I was the main actor and I didn’t even know. I seemed to be living in a dream, only vaguely aware of what was happening around me.
This is the way things generally are during the early weeks of the grief process. It’s our natural protection against facing up to the full impact of our loss straight away. It helps us to survive the loss. In this stage life seems to make no sense, we are in shock so we tell ourselves this just can’t be happening, especially to us. We simply can’t come to terms with what has happened so we deny it internally, it can’t be happening, so it hasn’t happened. We will walk about in a trance not able to deal with our reality.
I remember so well just getting lost in my thoughts, walking around probably like a zombie, unable to make decisions or take action because I couldn’t let my mind come to terms with all that had happened.
“Why has this happened to me? It’s not right! I worked so hard it’s so unfair, why?”
Anger is defined as a strong feeling of discontent and aggression aroused by a wrong. This stage of grief occurs when the person who is grieving gets mad or angry at the person or events that they sense has caused their loss, but at times this feeling of anger isn’t constrained just at them. The grieving person may also get angry at his or herself or at the world and everyone around. By placing blame elsewhere is a subconscious way to ease their pain. This indeed is the painful part of this process while you’re trying to come to terms with what’s happened.
You are at your wits end, very delicate and fragile, like a coiled snake ready to strike out at any moment. Frequently those closest to you face the brunt of your anger. I know they did in my case. We tried to protect our kids from knowing the full extent of what was happening, but this then didn’t explain to them why I was on edge, a Mr Grumpy as they would call me.
Anger is a way to shift the problem by blaming someone, something or the system. It is a necessary stage of the healing process. I certainly had the right to blame others, my franchise organization and ex business partner, but again this had no benefit. Holding them responsible affected them not in the slightest and again left my focus in the wrong place. It’s my life and I needed to be looking at my way forward instead of looking back constantly thinking of the wrong that had been done to me. But everything was boiling over and my anger was nearly out of control.
“I’ll do anything to have my house back. I will give up everything else if…”
We are desperate to reverse what has happened, if only we’d been given more time to get things sorted is one the most common things people wish for during this stage. Alternatively you want to be able to go back in time to make changes that would have avoided this situation from happening. We would often give anything to stop what has already happened.
I remember sitting around day dreaming that I’d organized a raffle where you could buy a ticket for £20 and the winning ticket holder would have got my home. In my mind there would have been a flood of people willing to enter this to win a half a million pound beautiful home like mine. I can recollect how I’d played around with an excel spreadsheet hundreds of time, working out how many tickets I’d have to had sold to receive enough money to cover the capital I’d put into the house. Looking back at this I’m now smiling, but at the time it was just the act of a desperate man. After all the house had already gone.
I also remember sitting at motorway service stations having a conversation inside my head. Asking the question, what do I have to do to reverse what has happened. I was talking to god, or that’s what I’d hoped, promising anything I could if only he could put things back to the way they were. I was desperate to reverse the situation I found myself in.
Secretly, we go through this ridiculous process where we try to avoid the unavoidable by making deals internally with God or a higher power in an attempt to make a deal to indeed reverse this situation. If you let this situation go away, I swear that I will never again touch alcohol is the sort of thing someone may say. You desperately will try any form of bargaining to make your problems disappear. The problem is they’ve already happened.
We find all types of ways in our mind how this situation could have turned out differently. We play them over and over again. We try to imagine that we had done these things differently and hope that we suddenly find we have woken up from our nightmare and everything has gone back to the way it was. We convince ourselves that there is a possibility that we can prevent our loss bringing things back to the way they were. We have this belief in our mind that by giving something away, we can exchange them for the return of the thing we’ve lost.
This reminds me of the film Ghost Rider where a motorcycle stunt rider played by Nicholas Cage , in an attempt to cure his father’s cancer, sells his soul and becomes the devil’s bounty hunter who has to kill escaping demons. He learnt that making a deal with the Devil wasn’t going to help him in any way. So nor must you try.
“I’m so sorry, I’m a failure, why bother anymore; I’m ruined and there’s nothing I can do, so what’s the point of doing anything?”
You eventually will wake up to the fact that you can’t even strike a bargain with the devil. What’s done is done and there’s no going back or stopping things that have already happened. Now depression sets in.
Depression is defined as a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal, sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason. This is the stage when the person becomes sad and upset most of the time. But they are beginning to wake up to the truth.
When you lose someone or something that’s important to you, it’s natural to feel pain and grief. But you now have the feeling of hopelessness and despair which leaves you in an extremely depressed state. You don’t see how it’s possible for things to get better, you’re literally down and mentally you feel as down as is possible. You see no light at the end of the tunnel, everything ahead seems so bleak, with nothing to look forward to just a hard long struggle.
The thoughts and feelings you have about yourself are so negative. I had always seen myself as a success, and certainly as the bread winner for my family. It was my responsibility to house and feed my wife and kids, and now I was financially bankrupt and had lost our home. I was internally beating myself up, feeling I had let them all down.
The repossession had been the most traumatic, emotional and stressful event I had ever had to go through. I hated now having that uncertainty for my future. Worse letting down my family was so shameful in my mind.
I had so many questions reverberating around in my head.
What is going to happen to me?
How will my family get through this?
What am I going to do now?
The fear of the unknown was what was bringing me down so far and of course my self-worth had been badly damaged. I felt a complete failure. I felt so ashamed.
I know in my case I did everything I could to hide my true despair from my family. I distanced myself from them so that they wouldn’t see how dreadful I felt. I actually don’t believe they ever realised how much turmoil I went through. Holding myself responsible for moving them up to the North East and then putting them through all this.
The good thing about having reached this stage, is that it means that you have begun to accept the situation and what has happened. I now see it as being a mix of agony and ecstasy. The agony of my feelings and thoughts but the ecstasy that soon I’d learn to deal with my thoughts and what had happened then I’d once again move my life
“It’s going to be okay, I can’t fight it, I may as well find my way out of it.”
This stage is where the person becomes fully aware of their loss. Your emotions begin to settle down as you come to terms with what has happened which means you are getting yourself into a place where you can start to cope with things better.
Now you are slowly accepting what has happened, you start once again to look forward and begin searching for any opportunities and possibilities. You realize it is completely pointless allowing yourself to remain down any longer, knowing that it is time to move your life forward once again so you start getting on with your life.
This is your turning point. Now is the time that you can use the power of your mind to find alternative paths and solutions which can lift you back up again.
So there you have it, the 5 painful stages that you have either experienced or are living through right now following on from whatever disaster may have occurred in your life.
Maybe your life hasn’t suffered from some major calamity but instead you are going through a period of internal desperation caused by the fact you believe that you have got nowhere in life and you have reached the depths of despair.
You are best off going through this process as quickly as possible so as to get to the end and get started on rebuilding your life because once you have travelled through these stages you are then ready to lift off.
My strongest suggestion to you is to focus on your future and the progress you want to make. The mistake I made initially was to throw myself back into my existing business spending a lot of time trying to turn things around. But my heart wasn’t in it. Instead I should have asked myself ‘what do I really want to be doing with my life?’ I know later on once I started on the journey of doing things that I wanted to, that genuinely excited me, my life moved on in leaps and bounds in the direction I wanted. The difference was that once I found my passions and began to build a business around them, I was energized and driven with excitement.
I can look back now and remember how sad and disappointed I felt with everything that had happened. I had lost so much, yet I have gone on to rebuild my life successfully. This shows that no failure need be final.
I knew even at the worst time that there was still a happy ending waiting to be written. But this requires having the right mindset and getting up off your knees getting your mind into the right place and taking action. Once I did this then I began to write the new chapters of my life.
Just remember life is full of possibilities. Every morning that you wake up there are new opportunities awaiting you. So be ready to grab them. I was no longer dreading each day wondering what new disaster would strike once my mindset changed, instead I was excited about what I could do and how much I could accomplish.