Banishing melancholy and other keys to moving on through life’s stages

If you avoid nostalgia, grudges and baggage from the past, it will be much easier to focus your energy on building a positive future. Here are eight strategies that help

Ricardo Tomás (con fotografías de Getty Images)

Everyone has a hard time accepting the end of a stage in life, due to the difficulty of “letting go.” It can be the end of a relationship, a job status, or even our very existence.

In any case, before our time on Earth is up, we are going to experience many endings and, depending on how we deal with them, they can remain as a festering wound or as a memorable climax that helps us move on to another phase in a healthy way.

Peter Jackson’s recent documentary The Beatles: Get Back, about the final stages of the band, shows that the conclusion of a story can be beautiful and usher in a new period. Contrary to the belief that the end of the Fab Four was not very friendly, the almost eight hours of footage – culled from the 60 hours that were shot – show many moments of good humor, enjoyment, creative discussions and, as the end of the party, the last concert on the rooftop of Apple Records.

With that same spirit of celebration, there are eight things we can do to help us move on.

Appreciate what we have lived and what we have learned

If we can value the stage we are leaving behind, we will be able to walk away with positive energy. Although the end was difficult – something very common in sentimental breakups –, if we do not want to carry that emotional baggage with us all the time, we must make the effort to focus on the positive aspects of the experience, even if they are few.

Forgive others and forgive oneself

Among the worst burdens when starting on a new path are pending accounts. This includes nurturing our grudges against others and feeling guilty for not having done better ourselves. Apologizing is necessary, even if it is in writing and addressed to no one in particular. And forgiving yourself helps, too.

Banish the melancholy

Especially when a change of stage happens against our wishes, it’s easy to get stuck in the past. We can afford nostalgia when enough time passes, but now is not the time to evoke the days of yesteryear. Nor is it time to play at editing our own life story with “What would have happened if...”. We need all our available energy for the projects that we can start now.

Be the protagonist of change

Paraphrasing a famous text by Buddha, motivational author John C. Maxwell said: “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.” Everything that begins has an end, and something new comes after it, like waves that follow each other in the sea of existence. We can drown in the surf, wishing we had never left dry land, or we can surf.

Aim resources at new projects

Just as a useless effort leads to melancholy, as the philosopher Ortega y Gasset used to say, a well-directed effort leads us into the future. Once we have left a stage behind, another journey begins that will require us to invest time, talent and enthusiasm. Instead of trying to explain the past, the big question is: what do I want to do in the future?

Find different actors

When you leave a party that you will not be returning to, it is neither necessary nor advisable to take the guests home. On the contrary, and especially if the exit has been bumpy, it is advisable to start meeting new people who, in addition to not reminding us of who we were, will accompany us in the construction of what we are going to be.

Put the future on your agenda

It is natural to feel exhausted at the end of a long period, with the sensation of finding ourselves in no man’s land. It happens, for example, in the first days of people who have just retired. That is why it is important to put what we want to do from now on on the agenda.

Be a late bloomer

Every change creates possibilities. Just as pensioners recover their time, the end of a relationship opens the door to meeting new people. Without the breakup of The Beatles, many Lennon songs would never have existed. There are passions that bloom late. To finish celebrating the change of stage, we must ask ourselves: what could we not do before, and can do now? In the answer lies our immediate future.

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones”

This is the first line in Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion, and the Appetite for Wonder, a book by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. in which he added: “Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia.”

Dawkins goes on to say that among the unborn there are certainly poets greater than Keats and scientists greater than Newton, yet we are the privileged ones: “We won the lottery of being born against all odds.” And how dare we whimper, he asks, about our inevitable return to that previous state from which the vast majority never escaped?

Francesc Miralles is a writer and journalist specializing in psychology.

More information

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS