Friday, May 16, 2008

Loss as a spiritual path

I’ve been speaking with a lot of people about loss lately --

loss of net worth (values of homes are down nearly everywhere, values of some portfolios are down)
loss of projected sales (retail sales volume is off 2% or so in the last few months, year over year, and if you factor in inflation (supposedly running at 4% or so, but if you take out the fake adjustments of the Clinton and Bush administrations, really running at about 7.5%), actual sales are way down, and they affect many businesses
loss of a business (a few people have already thrown in the towel)
loss of a job (all those real estate, construction and finance jobs that grew with the bubble are going away)
loss of a home (we’ve all read about the subprime crisis, and the Alt-A one (those exploding payment loans to people with good credit, whose reset peak is scheduled for 2009) is still building, and will probably be worse)
loss of the nest (last child leaving home)
loss of a family member, friend or colleague (who left his or her body permanently)

And I’ve lost a few things, too — a good tenant, a good repairman (now gone flaky after 3 years of good work), and probably some 60 year old trees (to the Americans with Disabilities Act!). And of course, as a homeowner, I’ve got that loss of net worth thing going on, as well. So I got to feeling a little overwhelmed.

As I thought about myself and others, I realized that generally, two things are going on:

Feelings of loss for what you had and/or expected, and/or
Fear about the future

I don’t really want to talk about the fear today; I’ll do that another time. But let’s talk about the loss, and let go of it, so that you have more energy to deal with the fear and the action steps you need to take to create a life/home/business/job you love. Not to mention that negativity, including sadness, tends to shut out the very things you choose to create, so letting go of sadness will in itself help create what you choose.

When there is a loss, some people experience a loss; others experience devastation. Why the difference? And what do you do about these losses?

The important thing to focus on after acknowledging a loss (and losing something you dreamed of or expected, but never had, can still be a huge loss emotionally), is to appreciate what you still have:

The value of your house went down? You most likely still have the house. And even if you lose the house, you are probably still going to live somewhere. So appreciate where you live for its non-financial qualities.
Sales went down? Appreciate the sales and the customers you have, learn to work with what is working, and grow that — perhaps in a new, more satisfying direction.
Business or job loss? You still have useful and marketable skills, probably among other resources.
You’re a brand new empty nester? You still have a family, just in different locations.
Someone you’re close to left their body permanently? You still have a relationship with that person, although you may have a harder time perceiving it (see “Death is Another Country” at

But sometimes, that appreciation just doesn’t cut it. What’s going on?

What’s going on is that you’ve identified with whatever it is that you’ve lost. I think this is what the Buddhists refer to as attachment (I’m not Buddhist, so if I’m wrong, would one of you please correct me?) How do you get non-attached? How do you shift?

First, you have to figure out exactly with what you’ve identified. So if the value of your house has gone down, are you identified with the house? The number that is your financial net worth? The fact that perhaps you’re not as good an investor as you had thought? Try these on as statements, that is, “I am my house”, or “I am the value of my house”, or “I am my net worth”, or “I am a bad investor”. Perhaps one of these will feel true, or perhaps you need to keep trying. That alone may shift your energy. If it doesn’t there are many modalities that can help you let go of the belief. I have a few I like to use with myself and clients, including EFT (, which you can learn on your own.

Next, figure out what you’d like to believe instead, for example, “I am who I am”, regardless of the external.

Third, install this belief, including working with it as an affirmation, and using EFT or other energy techniques.

And if you need help, call me! :)

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