The Closure Myth: How Stories We Create Keep Us Stuck

We often struggle to get “closure” on troubling situations, such as job loss, rejection, or betrayal. The idea of closure is to obtain a sense of resolution to a situation – to lock it down so we can move beyond it.

We can struggle for a very long time to get closure on situations that did not go as we’d hoped or expected. Many years ago, while listening to a colleague talk about her need for closure from a toxic work relationship, I had an epiphany. I said, “You have all the closure you’re going to get!” She was shocked, then relieved. My words jolted her out of a rut she’d been stuck in.

I started to use the same tactic on myself. When I’m ruminating about “needing closure”, I tell myself: That’s all the closure you’re going to get.

The thing about wanting closure is that it’s an external state dependent on the actions of others. My ex owes me an apology. I’ll be fine once my boss realizes his mistake and tells the rest of my team I was right. So-and-so is going to realize what a big mistake they made. <Insert your desired closure story here>.

In this way, we write scripts about what closure looks like. It’s usually an expectation expressed as entitlement, or vice-versa. But we don’t get to write stories for other people. When we do, we get stuck, endlessly replaying the stories in our minds while we wait for others to get on our script. And that’s not likely to happen.

The few times external closure has come to me, it’s come quickly, or in a surprising way that I couldn’t have scripted anyway.

“That’s all the closure you’re going to get” is crazy simple, but it works. Once the mind moves out of the expectation/entitlement rut, it’s free to do other things. It will find new paths, it will get creative, it will discover peace. Openings hold more possibility than closings, anyway.

What’s your entitlement?

Think about an interaction or situation that you’re wishing to have closure on. Tell yourself the closure story you’ve created – what are you waiting to happen? Then, look in the mirror and tell yourself: “That’s all the closure you’re going to get”.

Keep telling yourself that until the story releases itself. Where does your mind go now? Pay attention.



Progressive Tense Cards (2)

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