Loss Processing It's our choice — how to respond

Last week everyone was in shock. I kept hoping that we’d wake up and find this was all a bad dream. So if you’re at all like me, it may be just setting in that it’s our choice — how to respond.

Maybe you, too, have been scrambling to get stocked up, to create new work habits, and to check in with friends and loved ones. Limiting my news in-take helps. And I’ve been focusing on project work because it helps me stay grounded and reminds me that I can make a contribution.

But over the week I had a realization. I found I was having . . .

An acute awareness of loss

If you’re like me you are missing—or mourning—your . . .
Sense of control
Predictable routines and schedule
Sense of safety and health
In-person connections with others
Sense of financial stability
Planned activities and trips for the foreseeable future

That’s a lot of loss.

The big A-Ha for me in this is how many attachments I had to my predictable life. (And I’m talking the “predictable” life of a freelancer!) I’d been taking so much for granted.

But life doesn’t come with guarantees. (Well, actually there are three: there’s going to be pain and uncertainty, and life requires ceaseless effort.)

So one of the “gifts” of this crisis is the opportunity to learn how to let go.

Not fun, I know, but worth doing so that we can then focus on what actually matters most, instead of fretting over what’s, at least temporarily, gone. The sooner we can get to a place of accepting the new normal, the sooner we can see clearly our options for making positive change.

I recently heard the LA-based therapist Barry Michels, the co-author of The Tools and Coming Alive teach this tool and it’s perfect for the time we’re in.

Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of the Tools that Barry and his co-author Phil Stutz teach. When practiced regularly, the tools help shift me out of whatever negative thought maze I’m in so I can then choose how to move forward.

Try the Loss Processing tool.

It’s an active visualization to help you shift your state of mind from being “attached” to moving forward and dealing positively with what’s in front of you. It uses imagery and symbols to help us experience the changes we can and need to make.

1. First, think of something you’re really attached to

Something you feel you cannot live without. Something that you don’t ever want to lose but that at some point you might have to. Maybe it’s a person or a possession, your home, your health, a job, or your life’s savings.

Whatever it is, imagine it right in front of you and feel all the feelings of clinging, and wanting, and resisting letting go. And imagine that inside that’s the way you’re actually living your life—it’s not a relaxed state, it’s very tense.

2. Next, let go and fall backwards.

Feel as though you’re falling from a great height, almost like from a skyscraper. As you fall, say to yourself, “I’m letting go of . . . [the X, Y, or, Z of whatever you chose].”

Now that you’re falling backwards you’re going to have to let go of everything so say to yourself, “I’m letting go of everything that I’m attached to.”

3. See yourself plunge downward into the center of a gigantic sun.

The center of the sun is a strange place because there’s no there there. It just radiates outward 360 degrees for eternity.

In falling into the sun you become one with that energy. Feel the flow of energy inside you radiating out in all directions. Say to yourself, “The only thing I ever truly possess is this flow of infinite energy that comes from inside.”

What does that feel like?

For me, the letting go is of course, painful, and the fall feels for a moment terrifying and then actually a little freeing. And the plunging into the sun is a metaphorical death and re-birth. It’s the hero’s journey, it’s the Phoenix.

The beauty of the Loss Processing tool is that it gives us practice and real-time help letting go. We all get attached to things in the outer world and we lose sight of the fact that inside we have a source connected to infinity—our creative energy, the flow state. The tool helps us with letting go so that we can create a path forward.

We are all going to come through this crisis one way or the other and we get to choose HOW.

There’s no crystal ball: we can’t know what’s coming but it’s our choice of how to respond.

We can either resist change and let the fear overtake us. We can rail against all that’s gone wrong and all that we’ve lost.


We can choose to accept the circumstances and deal positively with it—to regroup, find solutions, offer help, and become the artists and the people we are meant to be.

It’s our choice — how to respond. What will you choose?

I’d like all of us to come out on the other side of this pandemic feeling proud of how we showed up—for ourselves and for each other.

My heart goes out to you and your family—stay healthy and use the Tools!

And if you’ve got a question about working with me to help you create an action plan in these uncertain times, check here.

Here’s to your forward motion,

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well

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