In the epoch we inhabit, recognizing closure is often underestimated. Your acknowledgment of it, however, is vital.
It’s understandable. We’re navigating through a period of unending change and uncertainty, so it’s fitting to evaluate ourselves based on the chapters we’ve successfully closed rather than the ones we’re planning or hoping to close.
But let’s delve deeper.
What’s even more crucial than your acknowledgment are the signs that point towards this closure. This implies that recognizing closure does matter, but only if it leads you to identify the signs that indicate you’ve genuinely moved past a certain phase in your life, improving your wellbeing and the quality of your future.
In the following, I’ve outlined seven signs that prove you’ve genuinely closed a life chapter.
1) You no longer feel the pain
Consider your emotions right now.
The silent tears that once fell freely have dried. The heartache that once clenched your heart has eased. The emotional turmoil that once consumed you has subsided. While reading these words, you’ve realized a sense of tranquility within yourself.
Being human requires us to acknowledge that we’re not in control of our emotions. We’re experiencing them instinctively.
It’s crucial to relinquish the illusion of control that comes from believing we can dictate our emotional responses. We can’t. Our actions do, and they are most potent when they occur without premeditated thought. When we act instinctively.
If you can stop depending on your willpower and start creating conditions in your life to let go of the past, your healing will become apparent from the peace in your life. You won’t need to struggle so hard.
You will be able to abandon the idea of controlling your healing process.
Once the pain eases and tranquility sets in, it naturally leads to a phase where you begin to appreciate your past experiences. This shift from pain to appreciation is a key sign of closure, as it marks a transition from emotional turmoil to a reflective understanding of the past.
2) You’ve grown to appreciate the experience
This realization came to me after years of introspection and personal growth.
Most people advise that moving on means “forgetting the past” or “erasing the memories”. While this is often suggested, it’s not the true embodiment of closing a life chapter.
Instead, genuine closure comes from becoming an “observer” of your past. It comes from appreciating your experiences. As numerous philosophers suggest:
“Observe your past. Don’t interfere—no attempts to rewrite it, no efforts to erase it—simply appreciate whatever the past has taught you. Don’t hold onto it, don’t clutch onto the memories; don’t do anything at all on your part. You just be an observer, and the magic of observing is healing. As you observe, slowly the past loses its grip on you; but you are not becoming forgetful, you are becoming more conscious, more present.”
When you try to “erase your past” all the time, you give too much power to your memories. You surrender your instinctive strength.
Now, I give less power to my memories. Sometimes I revisit painful experiences. Other times I’m recalling pleasant memories. I don’t fret about this anymore.
As you start to view your past experiences with appreciation rather than regret, you’ll find that these experiences no longer define your identity. This evolution signifies a crucial aspect of closure, where your past becomes a source of lessons rather than a blueprint for your future self.
3) The past no longer defines you
This one can be challenging to grasp.
“Living in the past” stems from the notion that our previous experiences shape our present and future. However, the truth is that our past is what gave us lessons, not a predetermined blueprint.
Let’s break it down.
Consider your current state. You have endured heartbreaks, fought battles, and faced disappointments. All by yourself. These experiences have shaped you but they don’t define you.
If you’re going to move forward, it’s essential to accept that you’re not tied down by your past. You’re evolving instinctively.
It’s crucial to discard the illusion of being defined by the past that comes from believing your previous experiences set the course for your future. They don’t. Your current actions and choices do, and they are most influential when they occur without the burden of past experiences. When you act instinctively.
If you can refrain from depending on past experiences and start creating conditions in your life to live in the present, your growth will become evident from what happens in your life. You won’t need to struggle so much.
You will be able to let go of the idea that your past controls your future.
When you stop allowing your past to dictate who you are, it leads to a profound shift in perspective. This change in how you view yourself and your experiences is a pivotal moment in the journey of closure, indicating a deeper understanding and acceptance of your life’s journey.
4) Your perspective has shifted
I embarked on this article by discussing the importance of acknowledging and appreciating the past.
The reality is, acknowledgement and appreciation also influence how we perceive our past experiences.
In my experience, I used to dwell on my past mistakes. I would obsess over what I could have done differently.
My intentions were good. I believed that scrutinizing my past was a means to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
But when I got so engrossed in this, I fell into the trap of believing that my past mistakes were more significant than my current progress. I lost touch with my present achievements. I became frustrated and was probably not such a pleasant person to be around.
If I evaluated myself based on my intentions, I wouldn’t question my attitude.
Instead, because I don’t focus solely on my intentions, I can evaluate my perception and change how I view my past. I am learning to move forward and value the progress in my life.
Your perspective on your past is what matters, not the intentions that drive your perception.
A changed perspective often manifests in tangible changes in your daily life, such as the creation of new routines. These new habits symbolize your progress and growth, showing that you’re moving forward and opening new chapters in your life, further solidifying your sense of closure.
5) You’ve created new routines
I’ve always been a creature of habit. My daily routines were something I held onto tightly, especially during times of change or stress.
For instance, during a particularly painful breakup, I found solace in my regular morning runs and evening yoga sessions. These activities provided a sense of normalcy and control in a world that felt like it was spinning off its axis.
However, as time passed and the pain began to lessen, I found myself more open to trying new things. I picked up painting, an activity I’d always been interested in but never seemed to have the time for. I also started exploring different genres of music, something my former partner and I never agreed on.
Looking back now, it’s clear these were more than just new hobbies. These were symbols of moving forward, signs that I was closing one chapter and beginning another.
The shift was subtle and gradual, but undeniably there. My old routines didn’t vanish overnight, but they slowly morphed into something new – a reflection of the person I was becoming, not the person I once was.
In retrospect, creating new routines was an integral part of my healing process – a sign that I had genuinely closed a painful chapter of my life.
The development of new routines is closely linked to the cultivation of emotional resilience. As you adapt to new activities and interests, you’re also building strength and adaptability in facing life’s challenges, a key indicator of having successfully closed a previous life chapter.
6) You’ve developed emotional resilience
Research in the field of psychology has long established the role of emotional resilience in helping individuals adapt to significant changes in their lives. Emotional resilience refers to one’s ability to adapt to stressful situations and bounce back from adverse experiences.
Here’s the key point:
This concept encourages us to reflect on our emotional responses, understand how we react to change, and learn from these reactions to build emotional resilience.
For those navigating through closure, developing emotional resilience can provide a sense of stability. It’s a reminder that we are part of a larger journey, one that includes both ups and downs.
Building emotional resilience allows us to see our journey as a series of experiences, all of which contribute to our growth and can provide a sense of purpose and understanding.
The emotional resilience you develop allows you to revisit past chapters without the risk of reentering them. This ability to look back with understanding and acceptance, yet without a desire to return, is perhaps the most definitive sign that you’ve truly achieved closure.
7) You can revisit without reentering
It’s a common belief that closing a life chapter means never looking back. Yet, the true closure isn’t about severing all ties with the past but about changing our relationship with it.
Reflect on your past chapters, the ones you’ve genuinely closed. Can you think about them, revisit them in your mind without feeling that you’re being pulled back? Can you appreciate those times for what they were, understanding they are part of your journey, without wishing to go back and relive them?
This is the subtle but profound difference.
The ability to look back at past chapters of your life with a sense of understanding and acceptance, without a yearning to return or a need to change anything. It’s about acknowledging that the past has shaped you but doesn’t hold you.
When you can revisit your past chapters without reentering them, that’s when you know you’ve genuinely closed them.
In essence: It’s a journey of self-discovery
The complexities of human emotions and personal growth are often deeply intertwined with our inner journeys.
One such journey is the process of closing a life chapter, a phase that has profound implications for our personal and emotional development.
This transition, experienced by all of us at various points in our lives, acts as a catalyst for self-discovery and introspection, playing a significant role in shaping our identity.
For those moving past life chapters, this journey might be a key factor in their personal growth. The process can potentially evoke a sense of fulfillment and peace when they engage in activities that signify moving forward.
Whether it’s embarking on new adventures, forging new relationships, or embracing newfound passions, the underlying journey is enhancing their experience.
As the acclaimed poet Rumi once said, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
Each closed chapter, each ‘wound’, is not just an end but also a beginning – a place where new light can enter and illuminate the path to self-discovery and growth.