Man enjoying the inner freedom

“The beginning and the end reach out their hands to each other”
—Chinese proverb

Endings can be tough. When someone or something pulls the rug out from under you, you may find yourself drowning in a sea of emotions ranging from grief and anger to fear or blame.

Whether you’ve experienced a recent loss or are struggling with a painful ending you’ve never come to grips with, you can get unstuck and move forward by taking two important steps. First, learn to challenge the myths about endings that may have settled, unquestioned, into your mind and heart. Then pull out your toolkit [provided in part two of this article] and choose the right tools to help you move beyond the myths to the magic of letting go—of honouring the ending and releasing energy-draining regrets. Here are some of the most dangerous myths that can keep you trapped in the past plus some powerful tools that can free you from pain and help you move on more quickly.

Myth: If an ending comes into my life, something must be wrong.

Magic: Endings are a natural part of life’s cycles. I honour myself by accepting them and the transformations they bring.

Woman looking outside through the glass window
By refusing to accept the ending, we prolong our pain and push away the good that is in store for us

We’ve all been told that change is good for us. At least that’s what sages, psychologists and management gurus say. Why, then, do we tend to dig in our heels and so fiercely resist the changes that inevitably come to our doorsteps? This is because, for one, we cling to the false belief that endings are not natural—that if an ending comes into our lives, something must have gone terribly wrong.

Yet that’s not what nature teaches us. Each day, each season, each full moon comes to an end to allow a new cycle of regeneration to begin again. Endings are not exceptions to the rule; they are the rule. Our inner and outer worlds are governed by that same cycle of change and transformation. Every one of us takes part in the universal dance of transformation as our outworn habits, relationships and ways of seeing give way to new ones.

Although it might not seem so at first, every ending has its purpose and its gift. To help you awaken to this truth, when you experience an ending of any sort, think of it as a graduation or a promotion. Graduations not only signal the end of an era in your life but also celebrate the beginning of a new one. That’s why they’re called ‘commencement’ exercises.

Endings, like graduations, often come because we are ready for a new lesson to begin or have exhausted the opportunities that our current situation has to offer. Endings show us that we need a change of scene to bring new people and new possibilities into our lives.

That is exactly what a friend of mine experienced when she broke up with her boyfriend of six years. For quite a while afterwards, she had gnawing doubts that saying goodbye had been the right thing to do, even though her ex had treated her badly and even cheated on her. It took her months to let go of regrets and see that this ending was good for her. She had, in fact, become root-bound in that relationship. Like a plant that atrophies in a pot that is too small to contain its growing root system, she had run out of room to grow in the relationship. Her partner’s immature behaviour was simply life’s way of moving her to more fertile ground. In reality, she had been promoted—and he had been fired.

Once she finally accepted her ‘promotion’, she could experience the gifts it brought with it. She had more energy, made wonderful new friends, and even mustered up the courage to find a new job where her talents were appreciated and she could grow.

My friend’s initial reaction is typical of what we all tend to do when faced with an ending, whether it’s a deteriorating relationship, a job change, or even the prospect of finding a new place to live. When an ending is in the wings getting ready to walk on stage, we may develop a desperate urge to hold on to what we are comfortable with. We frantically want to ‘fix’ the situation, when our inner self is asking us to transcend it altogether. But we only prolong our pain by refusing to accept that the ending is really choreographed by our own soul for our own good.

If you catch yourself reacting to an impending ending with resistance, bitterness or anger, take a moment to compassionately remind yourself that endings are not only natural but necessary. Take the time you need to grieve and process a serious loss, but then look forward with wonder and expectation, knowing that you needed to turn off the road you were travelling on to meet that something new that is awaiting you. Take a page from the I Ching, the ancient book of wisdom, which advises, “When the way comes to an end, then change—having changed, you pass through.”

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A version of this was first published in the April 2015 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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