The first step to working through any of the more difficult emotions is, of course, identifying it in the first place.
In the case of grief, locate that feeling in your body. What does it actually feel like? (Note: We’re not asking you to intellectualize what, or why, you’re grieving—just feel the feeling!)
From there, Beurkens says, remember that emotions do come and go with time. Sometimes we lean away from grieving because it feels too painful to face, but this only results in stifling those emotions, forcing them to pile up inside you. Trust that by dealing with your emotions now, you’ll be better able to move forward.
“That’s one of the things in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that we really work on with people, is this understanding that you are not your feelings,” Beurkens explains, adding, “Your feelings are happening to you in the moment, but they don’t define you—and what you’re feeling now is not the same way that you’re going to be feeling an hour from now or a week from now.”
With this understanding, we can move away from over-identifying with our emotions. Because if you become too preoccupied with grief, or if you never even honor the fact that you’re grieving something, it can start to impact the way you’re operating, from your mental landscape to your behaviors, Beurkens says.
For more tips on how to navigate grief and finally move forward, check out our full guide on how to let go of the past.