Is Fear of Loss Preventing Your Happiness?

depressed woman

Do you experience a feeling of lack in your life? A lack of love? A lack of abundance? A lack of friendship? A lack of success? You may be experiencing an inner protection strategy that prevents you from having ‘anything’ to lose because of a deep fear of loss.

Like me you may be looking at your life wondering why isn’t it working? Why do I make so much effort and yet very little changes? It can be so hard to not understand why our lives don’t seem to work the way we want them to.

Death and Loss

I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my life. From age 4 throughout my younger years and into my adult years where I couldn’t manage to keep a friend if I tried. It was like I just attracted very unavailable people into my life over and over again.

If they were not emotionally unavailable, they were physically unavailable. I struggled so much to understand why people who were friends were only able to make time to experience our friendship once every 2 months and with some once every 3-6 months.

It frustrated me greatly when friends would say, ‘If you are a friend you are a friend, you just pick up where you left off when you last saw me’ but these same people were speaking about friendships that had developed over time, friendships where trust and intimacy had grown, not relatively new friendships. So, I really fought against this for a long time.

And as I moved into my forties, I made a friend who for the first time since childhood I really genuinely loved and cared for and I could see the possibility of it developing into a long term friendship, but alas, once again this person was unavailable, both mentally and emotionally and physically. So, I never got the chance to deepen the friendship and we parted company.

PROTECTION NO 1 – I Stopped Trying

I am a loyal friend, deeply committed and anyone who is to be my friend would have a good person who had their back, but after this friendship ended, I just stopped trying. I guess in a way I just gave up, decided that alone is what I am meant to be. Little did I know underneath all these unavailable friendships was a deep fear of loss. I had set myself up because of early life losses to protect myself from pain. Somewhere inside of me was an inner child who thought it best to have nothing or no friends than to face the pain of loss.

However, by protecting myself from the pain of future loss, I began to miss out on so much. I stopped seeing opportunities for friendship, with people who were available. I just could not see them, because I was protecting myself on every level. Not just friendship.

PROTECTION NO 2 – I Stopped Loving Fully

heart lock

Aside from a feeling of loss in friendships I also experienced a lot of painful loss from deaths in my family.

In my teens both my grandmothers died in the same year, one I tried to save by giving mouth-to-mouth that was a painful experience as a teenager. 

And in my twenties my father died suddenly.

My father’s death was probably what you could call the final nail in the ‘feeling of loss’ coffin.

From this moment on, I seem to live a more restricted life. For around 10 years I grieved, but beyond this I seemed to protect myself from joy, love, peace and freedom.

The pain I felt from my father leaving this planet was so incredibly heavy that I did not realise until recently that I had stopped myself from loving fully. I had shut a part of my heart down because I did not want to feel that loss again, but by doing so I have been living a half-life.

For when we fear something so deeply, like loss, to try and save ourselves from feeling that in the future, we may prevent ourselves from inviting in people who we can love. Because if we truly love again, that inner child believes we will be in pain again because people leave and everyone dies someday.

So I attracted unavailable men and those I couldn’t love fully, I held my heart back.

But what also happened was those I deeply care for, like my best friend Michael whom I love so much, I found I was living almost daily in a perpetual state of grief and pain. Afraid often he would leave me, due to our large age difference. Sorrow had become my middle name. So by trying to prevent the pain of loss I ended up feeling the pain of loss on a daily basis instead.

I stopped my happiness and life in an attempt to keep loss away from me.

The ironic thing was I was in deep loss anyway.

I was not fully allowing joy.

I was not fully allowing peace.

I was not fully allowing love.

I was trapped in my own fear.

Much like if someone tells you there is an elephant in the room and they ask you to forget it is there, you can’t help but think about that elephant in the room. So here I was fearing loss on every level and by doing so in pain most of the time.

Protection No 3 – I Stopped Success

stumble make it part of your dance

And from an early age I made sure I did not receive, do or be someone who succeeded in what they wanted to succeed in. I created and was inspired by temporary projects. In a way my dreams and desires were like relationships. I was inspired by my shadow fears to create projects that were unavailable long term. They had no standing ground to last for long. So, I never got to experience the feeling of a passionate purpose, because somewhere inside I believed I would lose anything I could enjoy, so inside of me was a resistance to feeling a sense of purpose or success.

So instead I chose not to allow anything to work – ever!

Protection No 4 – I Stopped Money

It is true, if we fear loss it can mean that we also do not allow ourselves to have anything that we can hold onto. So, we could be as rich as they come but if we feared loss, we could never enjoy that abundance. Or we could be as poor as a pauper because we may feel valueless or undeserving in some way, so we keep money away. In other words, any type of life satisfaction would be too dangerous and so like success, we protect ourselves from receiving it.

When Self-Protection Began….

I was fearing loving others because I felt if I did and they died or left me that I would die in that pain of grief once again.

Little did I know that my entire life had become one big grief journey. Trying to stop loss also stopped life.

I lost my passion for life, I lost joy, I lost abundance, I lost freedom. I was trapped in a protection of my own making. A protection I did not even know I was doing until now.

My inner child was trying to protect me from pain by keeping me away from any potential sources of pain, but by doing so also keeping me away from any potential sources of joy and love.

Working through this now, I am starting to realise how much keeping me safe from pain has been stopping my happiness.

And instead of forgiving the part of me that has been protecting me by keeping ‘the good stuff’ from my life, I was beating that part of me up. I was growing so frustrated with myself that no matter what I tried to do, be it in relationships, friendships, purpose, money, passion and success never worked and I was blaming myself for this over and over again.

This was not the way for change to happen. I needed to forgive the part of me who was only trying to keep me safe, the only way she knew how.

Somewhere along my life journey I had been taught, be it by others or by life itself that relationships and receiving meant extreme pain and loss. So it’s perfectly understandable that I would try and protect myself from having to experience this again. It is very human.

My Pain Strategy

So, this was my pain strategy:

  1. Only allow people into my life who have intimacy issues or are unable to commit to friendship
  2. Invite emotionally unavailable men into my life
  3. Keep money away from me because I may experience the pain of losing it
  4. Don’t let myself love fully, only a little
  5. Make sure I don’t succeed because I may lose it

Luckily…after 40 years I now have started the journey to understanding this pattern. I also have my friend Mike who has stuck by me, every time I tried to push him away, who knew exactly what I was doing, before I knew I was doing it.

I know this is a journey and I have no idea how this will all turn out, but for change to happen I need understanding first and foremost. To know what is happening.

My future strategy?

I don’t have one at the moment, because right now this is all fresh and new to me. It has literally moved from my unconscious into my conscious thought.

Apart from osteopathy and acupuncture as my own self-care rituals, I am doing more EFT (emotional freedom technique). Brad Yates below was a great trigger and understanding in all of this.

To finally know that the very thing I feared the most was the very thing I was feeling anyway, regardless of trying to keep it at bay, so it’s time to release this pattern of protection from pain.

Trying to Stop Pain Created Pain

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Kelly Martin
Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin, author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ is a dedicated writer and blogger who fearlessly explores life’s deepest questions. Faced with a decade of profound anxiety and grief following the loss of her father and her best friend Michael, Kelly embarked on a transformative journey guided by mindfulness, and she hasn’t looked back since. Through her insightful writing, engaging podcasts, and inspiring You Tube channel Kelly empowers others to unearth the hidden treasures within their pain, embracing the profound truth that they are ‘enough’ exactly as they are.

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