Recently I asked readers of LWOT if they had any questions they’d like answered, or things they’d like me to write about – it was awesome to hear from everyone.
One reader asked:
“How do you deal with topics of an emotional nature that affect you, but that you cannot explain rationally?”
In other words: X happened, and it makes no sense to me. How can I reconcile this?
How do I get closure?
Where Does The Desire For Closure Come From?
The reason why you want closure is that you have some emotions that are not being really “heard” which turn into anger, frustration, depression, and rage. There are also psychological triggers being hit.
When someone breaks up with you and they don’t explain why, there’s anger and frustration – What did I do wrong? Don’t I deserve more notice? How dare you abandon me!
You can see here that the person’s primary trigger of abandonment is getting hit, so they start getting upset. Nobody likes to be left alone.
When a loved one dies – Why didn’t I spend more time with them? What’s wrong with me? I can’t believe they’re gone. I didn’t even get to confront them or talk to them about X. I miss them. This isn’t fair.
We are logical creatures demanding reason and science. Sure, maybe the person was old or affected by disease – but it’s still not a good enough reason. Why did they have to leave now?
The most powerful thing a person can learn, is how to live life without ever getting closure Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational
But life isn’t perfect, and doesn’t always go the way you want it to.
We’re always looking for a tool or method to bypass painful emotions or situations, but that doesn’t work. As I say ad infinitum on this site – You can’t get rid of any emotions. You need to feel all of them and then choose a plan of action afterwards. You don’t have to stew in them (and in fact being super mindful of them could be screwing you over), but they aren’t going anywhere, they demand to be heard.
The action to take here though is a bit backwards – it’s accepting the situation fully.
See when you want some form of closure, you’re refusing to accept the present state of life, and also that humans have free will. Yes, even in death, a person can pass away whenever they want to.
And sometimes, even unknowingly, people will hurt you.
People are just trying to get their needs met, and unless they’re super co-dependent, they’ll place their needs above yours – as healthy adults should. Sometimes, that means hurting you.
In fact, this wanting something to go your way and for people never to hurt you comes from a child-like psychology. Kids want everything to go their way and complain when they don’t get what they want.
But that’s not life unfortunately. Shit happens.
But ask yourself in the case of a break up, would you rather someone stay with you when they put half their heart into it and don’t truly care for you? Or, can you be grateful you’re now almost FORCED (if you want to have a partner) to find someone who truly cares for you.
You don’t get to chose everything that happens in life. Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. You can put up defences to shield yourself. You can try to calculate, create, etc. and then all your plans will go to shit when life throws you a curveball.
But it’s not the measure of a person when everything’s going well, but when everything goes to shit, and how they react.
How To Get Closure
So if closure comes from refusing to accept the present or acknowledge the free will of others, what can you do?
It requires constant practice and is easier said than done, but you need to accept each moment, moment by moment, exactly as it is – your emotions, the weather, your situation, what your friend said to you… accept, accept, accept.
“But Noam, that doesn’t help me deal with my break up.”
Yes it does. Accept that the person chose to leave. Accept that it hurts and you’re going to be sad for a while. Know that life goes up and down and that you WILL be happy again. But right now you’re going to feel a bit hurt, and that’s OK.
Sometimes if you have things left unsaid or have rage inside (such as with unresolved issues with a parent who passed away), a therapist can act as a “medium”, so to speak, between you and them. You can release the emotions you felt and get closure in that sense. It’s not the same as talking to them, but you will feel better. You could do this with the person you were dating too.
We want closure because we want the last word in. We want to know the reasons why something happened – but sometimes we don’t get to have all the answers, and knowing them might make things worse.
We want closure because we didn’t say everything we had on our minds when the person was around.
So start saying everything you feel inside to people RIGHT NOW. Leave nothing on the table. No regrets. If you express everything in your heart to people in your life you’ll feel far less un-resolved when the eventual passing away of the relationship or person happens. Gather the courage to do it.
You can turn any situation that happens to you into an opportunity by learning to work with your thoughts and your mind.
Mastery Of The Mind can give you the tools you need to face your fears of vulnerability, get over your feelings regret, and learn to accept the present as it is. Learn more about it here.