The 50/50 of Life (and Life After Loss)

May 28, 2021

My coach instructor teaches that life is a 50/50 mix of positive and negative emotions. When I first learned that, I didn’t agree. My life prior to my loss was overwhelmingly good. I would say it was 90% positive emotions and 10% negative.

My life immediately after my great loss felt more like 99.99% negative emotions. In fact, the term “negative emotions” doesn’t come close to describing the horrific, debilitating pain. I bet you would agree.

Then I thought about life in general and the range of emotions that we humans tend to experience. If the negative emotions include things like boredom, worry and stress, then yes, I could see that life in general might be a 50/50 mix.

But the exact numbers don’t matter.

The concept is that life is not a bowl of cherries all the time, and that is perfectly okay. The most authentic human experience is to feel a range of uncomfortable to wonderful emotions. The uncomfortable, difficult, negative emotions are normal.

Yet this is not what we learn as kids. Children are often talked out of difficult emotions.

Don’t worry.

Don’t be scared.

There’s no reason to be nervous.

Stop crying.

So we grow up thinking that negative emotions are not normal. And we surely don’t learn how to process these feelings. So we reach for a buffer  in an attempt to numb it.

But if we knew instead that life is a 50/50 experience, then having negative emotions would seem normal and expected. We aren’t supposed to feel positive all the time. We can allow the negative to be there, knowing that these feelings are both normal and temporary.

Which makes negative emotions feel….well…… less negative.

There is no happiness without sadness. A favorite quote of mine is by Kahlil Gibran from his book The Prophet, “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”

So, in life after loss, it’s okay if you’re not okay. It’s also okay if you are okay. And sometimes you’re both okay and not okay, all at once.

My experience from my now 8 ½ year vantage point is that it is an intense mix of uncomfortable and wonderful emotions happening simultaneously. It’s emotional whiplash that sounds like:

I’m so proud of her for graduating/ her Dad should be here.

I’m excited for a new year/ I ache for my husband.

I’m thrilled to meet this new grandbaby/ Her grandpa  would have loved to hold her.  

While the duality of life after loss can be disorienting at times, it is perfectly normal.

The most courageous thing we can do in this life is to not reach for an escape button but instead, face and feel the difficult emotions and allow ourselves to fully experience the positive ones too. To let the sorrow carve deeply into our being and find as much joy as possible to fill it up.

It is, after all, the most authentic human experience.

If you are drowning in difficult emotions and can’t seem to get your head above water, I’ve got you. My private coaching program called Life Reconstructed can help. If you’re ready to invest in yourself and take confident strides to your healing, just click here and we'll see if it's a fit. 

Learn more about Life Reconstructed.

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