Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
– Dr. Seuss
Life is filled with endings, big and small, and the attitude we take towards them exerts a profound influence on our well-being. The paradox is that if we loved the experience its ending feels tragic while if we hated an experience its ending feels liberating. We can’t get away from the yin yang nature of life, as much as we might like to.
The idea of perception having more to do with an outcome than the event itself is central to CBT; it turns out that at least in this quote Dr. Seuss is a cognitive behavioral therapist. The fact that you are disappointed and sad is proof of an experience having been enriching, and along with legitimate feelings of grief and nostalgia you can feel happy and proud that you had the chance to go through it.
Of all the strategies I have used to help people dealing with grief, this is the one that has always had the most impact. The emotional pain you are feeling is a testament to how special something or someone was to you. Little caring, little grief. Lots of caring, lots of grief. You can’t have it both ways. The finality, the irreversibility, the irrevocable nature of endings makes them difficult to bear, but you can look back and smile too because your feelings tell you in no uncertain terms that you had something great. Not everyone can say the same.
Don’t forget that an ending also means a beginning, maybe not the beginning you hoped for or expected, but a beginning nonetheless. This beginning has a much better chance of being nourishing to you, starting you down a path that leads to many more life-affirming experiences, if you can feel joyful about your ending, if you can smile because it happened, considering it proof of your engagement with life and people and of your potential to get back out there and create more of the same.