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Endings Are Just Beginnings

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Endings Are Just Beginnings

How to move beyond breakups, layoffs, and unspoken words.
Patricia  Spadaro
Patricia Spadaro More by this author
Jul 02, 2011 at 10:00 AM

The beginning and the end reach out their hands to each other.

—Chinese proverb


How often do you think about a past event with sadness, regret, or anger? Whether it’s a bitter breakup, a surprise layoff, or words we regret having said (or not said), constantly wishing we could magically change what has already happened only keeps us stuck and brings us a lot of pain to boot.

While you probably know it’s unhealthy to hold on to the past, you may not realize why. Here’s one reason that should be at the top of the list: When you choose to live in the past, you’re operating with less than 100 percent of your energy in the present.

Holding on to anything for a long time takes energy and attention. Constantly bending your mind backwards in time is no different. Whether you’re consciously aware of it or not, refusing to let go and move on divides your attention and saps your energy. It’s like trying to water your garden with a hose that has holes in it. Only a trickle of that precious life-giving nutrient can come through. If you’re tired, depressed, or unexcited about life, hanging on to old regrets at deep levels could be a hidden factor.

One way to reclaim your energy is to plug the holes and say goodbye to those energy-draining regrets. Rather than facing endings with bitterness, regret, or even hatred, try these four energy-boosting tips and tools for honoring the endings in your life so you can let go and move forward more quickly.

1.  Be grateful for the gift wrapped up in the ending. Graduation ceremonies are called “commencement” exercises because they mark not just the end of a level of schooling but the beginning of a new era. Life is a schoolroom and our endings can be graduations, too, though at first they may not feel that way. Endings can be life’s way of showing us that we have learned one lesson and are ready for the next, or that we’ve exhausted the possibilities one situation has to offer and we need a change of scene to bring new opportunities. Every ending holds its own gift. Opening your mind and heart to receiving it, even if the gift is not evident right away, will help you greet the new beginnings waiting for you.

Try this: Use this affirmation to remind yourself to keep facing forward: I am open to discovering the gift, the new beginning, wrapped up in this ending.

2.  Stop blaming yourself. One of the subtle reasons we don’t move on is that we blame ourselves for unhappy endings. Like children whose parents argue, separate, or abandon them, we may lay the blame at our own feet to make sense of what happened. “What’s wrong with me?” we ask. “Why did I let this happen?” Perhaps you could have done something to prevent what happened. Perhaps not. Either way, life is a learning curve and our endings are some of the best teachers we’ll ever have.

Try this: When confronted with an ending, a rejection, or a dead end, contemplate the take-away lesson by asking yourself: “What did I just learn about myself? What did I learn about the way life works? And how will I apply what I learned to the rest of my life?”

3.  Accept what is and let go of the need to know. Have you ever felt that you must see justice done or understand why something happened in order to move on? The truth is, you may never discover the why behind an incident. Does that mean you should wait to forgive and to be at peace? The Buddha once cautioned a student full of lofty questions not to become like the man who is shot with a poisoned arrow but will not allow the doctor to take it out until he knows the name of the man who wounded him, his height, what kind of string his bow was made of, and what kind of feathers made up its shaft. We all get hit by slings and arrows of outrageous fortune from time to time. Is it more important to know “Who was responsible for this? And how can I pay them back?” Or will you heal more quickly by taking out the poisoned arrow, honoring the ending, and setting yourself free?

Try this: Letting go is a step-by-step process and it is not always easy. Acknowledge your pain. Don’t ignore your feelings, but don’t allow your life to be hijacked by them either. Once you’ve given yourself time to process your emotions and grieve, whenever you notice your thoughts starting to wander along the twists and turns of the past, gently bring yourself back to the present. You may have to do this again and again. That’s okay. Be patient with yourself.

4.  Create a new story. “He hurt me, she betrayed me, he cheated me”—those are all snapshots of what may have happened to you at one moment in time. By retelling and reliving that old, sorry tale, you are acting as if that moment in time defines the whole story of your life. It doesn’t. You get to choose how the rest of your story will unfold.

Try this: Stop talking about and dwelling on the people you believe hurt or betrayed you. Ask friends to stop bringing up those memories as well. Instead, focus on and talk about the positive aspects of your life right now and the wonderful things you are looking forward to welcoming into your life. You are the author of the next chapter in your life. Claim your power to create your new story.

About Author
Patricia  Spadaro
Patricia Spadaro is the internationally known author of Honor Yourself: The Inner Art of Giving and Receiving and coauthor of other popular works on personal growth and world traditions. She is dedicated to inspiring and empowering others to l Continue reading