Grief is a natural response to loss that comes with all kinds of difficult emotions, from anger to guilt, disbelief, and sadness.
Whether we talk about a breakup or a divorce, the death of a loved one or a miscarriage, or even losing your financial stability or getting fired from a job you loved, the pain of loss is overwhelming.
But often, when we go through these kinds of hardships, we feel like we have to toughen up, put on a smile, and try to find the positive side of whatever happened to us. Or at least, this is what we hear from the ones around us.
And while you know that this advice comes from a good place, from people who care about you dearly and want you to overcome this challenging moment in your life, you find yourself wondering: “Okay. But how do I actually do that?”
This is the Question that Ted Ryce will answer today in this special listener’s question episode.
Listener’s Question: “How do I stay positive in overwhelming moments of grief?”
So, if you want to find out the answer and much more, tune in for this new Real Talk Friday episode! Ted will share his own life experience of overcoming many tragedies and difficult moments. He will also speak about toxic positivity in grief and how it affects us negatively, the importance of the grieving process in our overall health, and much more. Listen now!
- Do we have to be positive in overwhelming moments of grief?
- How toxic positivity makes grief so much harder
- The importance of the grieving process in our overall health
- When do you need to hire a therapist?
- How to break the cycle of getting emotionally stuck
- Acute grief vs. chronic grief
- The downward spiral vs the upward spiral
- How do we prevent acute grief from turning into chronic grief?
- The link between chronic grief and compulsive behaviors
- Effective strategies to break the downward spiral of negativity
- A simple framework to level up your life
- And much more
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Podcast Transcription: Ask Ted: Learning To Stay Positive After A Loss
Ted Ryce: Do you struggle with positivity when the challenges start to pile on? Or do you struggle with keeping your positivity higher than overwhelming moments of grief? That was a question asked to me this week. And that’s what we’re going to be diving into and answering today on this listener Q&A.
What is up, my friend? Welcome back to the show. I’m your host, Ted Ryce, coach to entrepreneurs, executives and other high performers. And we’re going to jump right in and get to it.
So, someone asked me, “How do you keep your positivity higher than overwhelming moments of grief?” And I want to ask you, do you resonate with that question? Is that something you’ve asked yourself? Is that an expectation that you have for yourself?
And if you know my story, you know I have a lot of practice with it, a lot of experience, let’s say, with this topic, or let’s say the topic of overwhelming moments of grief. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ve got a lot of tragedy and loss in my family. My mother died when I was 14, my brother was kidnapped and murdered when I was 19. My sister committed suicide. My stepmom died from a heart attack, and my dad – I am the last person alive in my family, it’s like crazy when I think about it—died last year.
So, it’s something I feel like I have a lot of expertise, or certainly, at the very least, experience, to give context about this. So let me just dive right in and answer it.
How do you keep your positivity higher in overwhelming moments of grief? The answer is you don’t. That’s the answer. That’s the first part of the answer, is you don’t, you’re not supposed to. That’s denying yourself feeling the feelings that you need to feel. That’s what you might call bypassing.
And maybe there’s, I guess, people get this idea from the self-help world like, “Hey, listen, no, it’s not that bad. People are dying in third-world countries are starving to death, or there’s genocides going on or people are in slavery or human trafficking. So, whatever I’m struggling with, the death of my parents, or whatever it is, whatever is causing those overwhelming moments of grief, maybe it’s a divorce. Maybe you got laid off from your job. Maybe this Coronavirus thing has just gotten you crazy. Maybe someone died from the Coronavirus, whatever it is, you’re not supposed to keep your positivity higher than overwhelming moments of grief.
You’re supposed to grieve. That’s the first part. You’ve got to feel the emotions, you’ve got to cry the tears, you’ve got to let yourself feel it and you’ve got to go through it. Winston Churchill said, and I don’t know the context around why he said this exactly. I mean, it was probably during World War Two. But he said, “When you’re going through hell, you keep going.” So, you’re not supposed to experience something terrible and say, “Oh, well, let’s look on the bright side of this situation.”
I mean, there’s a time for that, but it’s not when it happens. You’ve got to cry, you’ve got to get it out. If you don’t do that, those emotions get stuck inside you. I don’t have studies; I don’t want to talk about studies or the scientific method or randomized controlled trials right now because I don’t have any to share with you. But I’ll share with you from experience, that they get stuck inside of you.
And if you don’t let them come out, if you try to choke them back, there’s going to be a consequence for that. And it’s not going to be a positive one. It’s going to be bad for you, bad for your health, bad for your relationships, bad for whatever you’re trying to achieve in your career.
So, you’ve got to feel the emotions, you got to go through it. You’ve got to cry your eyes out till you can’t cry anymore. You’ve got to feel those things. You don’t deny yourself that, especially this is a woman who asked me that, but it goes for whatever gender you identify as right? It doesn’t matter.
You got to feel the feelings go through it. Especially if you’re a guy. You know what a red flag for me is, even though again, this is a woman who asked this, but a guy is, “Oh, I don’t cry.” It’s like, really? That’s not being a man. That’s being a coward. That’s being a coward. You lack the courage to allow yourself to feel the emotions.
My dad was a total fuckup as a father, but at least he did not do that. He was a good friend. I love my dad but man, he wasn’t a great father. But at least, man, when I hear this from other people, he did not do that. He did not say, “Son, men don’t feel anything except the only acceptable emotion to feel if you’re a man is anger.”
And then if you’re really into self-help, I guess the only acceptable emotion to feel is positivity about everything, “Well, look at this. Well, it could be worse.” Yeah, slap those people. Actually, of course, don’t do that. I think it’s aggravated assault. Don’t do that. It’s a felony. But stay away from people who give you bad advice. So, you’ve got to feel the feelings.
And I’ll tell you, when my dad died, I cried like crazy. In fact, I don’t feel like I’ve cried enough. I’m looking for ways, and I’m one of those people like… again, my dad thankfully, never, never told me, “Hey, boy, real men don’t cry,” you know, or whatever. But still as guys— and it’s not just men, by the way, I feel like women go through the same thing, but in a different way.
I mean, hopefully, you have people in your life, whether you’re a man, woman, whatever, right? Just so complicated to talk in the United States these days, right? But whoever you are, hopefully, you have people that you can really share things with, and say what you’re going through.
And if you don’t, hire a therapist— pro-tip, because your parents might be like my parents. I mean, I could talk to my dad about some things when he was around, but I really needed to talk to a therapist. My dad wasn’t the guy to talk to. I mean, he was a…
Again, I love my dad dearly, and I miss him dearly and I’m grateful for the moments we have, but we have to recognize people’s strengths and limitations. And when we’re not getting—when we don’t have someone to talk to about those things we... Man, hire a therapist or join a support group, you know, do something where you get that support, it’s so crucial and critical, so that you’re able to talk about this stuff, so that you don’t keep it in.
And again, I want to repeat this again, if you keep it in, it’s going to get stuck, it’s going to create a cycle of getting stuck, you’re going to be going through life with this anxiety, this background anxiety that blocks you in your health, blocks you in your wealth creation, blocks you in your relationships, and you’re not sure why, it is because you can’t be yourself, because you haven’t allowed yourself to be yourself, which is to cry and feel the things that you need to feel.
So let’s switch gears a little bit, there comes a point when the acute phase of grief needs to end or else it turns into chronic grief. Again, this isn’t scientific studies from psychological logical journals here, this is from my experience, there comes a moment when that acute grief turns into chronic grief. In other words, this one event in your life that creates overwhelming grief turns into a bad rest of your life. One bad event turns into one bad day, turns into one bad week, turns into one bad month, turns into one bad year, turns into one bad life; happens to a lot of us.
That process happened to me, and I was able to reverse it, because there’s a downward spiral and an upward spiral. And the downward spiral is this: the negative feelings lead to negative thoughts which lead to negative behaviors, which lead to more negative thoughts or feelings, which lead to more negative behaviors.
And they just keep reinforcing themselves until you end up broke, fat and lonely, I guess. And that’s certainly where I’ve been and where I was headed. I’d been broke, I’ve been super lonely, I did get fat. I wasn’t lonely when I got fat, though. I wasn’t broke when I got fat either. But I’ve struggled with all these things. And those are the three major areas of our life.
So, let me get back on track and talk about like, well, how do we prevent this acute grief from turning into chronic grief? And I want to answer that question like this. When my dad died on October 3 of 2020, I went to his funeral—or not, I didn’t go to it, I paid for the whole thing and put it on and organized it. Well, I didn’t put it on but I helped organize it, beautiful moments.
And afterward, I went to Orlando, Florida to go ride roller coasters at Universal Studios. And I’ve talked about this on this podcast before but I want to come back to it because it’s such a powerful story.
Some of you have heard it and been like, “Oh yeah, that’s kind of crazy, man. I’m not going to ride no rollercoasters when I’m feeling bad,” but I want to tell you, that’s why you’re stuck in your life. And I’m not rubbing it in and I’m not saying I’m smarter than you. I work with people and people listen to this podcast all the time that are way smarter than me.
My dad was a lot smarter than me. He had an IQ of 140. That’s genius level, I am not. I don’t have that. This isn’t about IQ. This is about self-awareness. This is about looking at the results in our lives and taking responsibility for them. And so why I went on that roller coaster is this: when we’re caught in a cycle, in a downward spiral of negative thoughts, feelings and emotions, how do you interrupt that pattern to go up instead of to keep sinking down? You have to interrupt it.
“Well, I interrupt it, I watch Netflix”. But if you feel like man, I can’t watch enough Netflix, because it’s just not strong enough. Or “I have sex”. Okay, great. But you just have to have sex all the time. Why do you think people become sex addicts? Or “I do drugs”. Okay, but you can’t do drugs all the time. It destroys your health. That’s what I was trying to do in my 20s. I smoked marijuana almost every day for years, until my late 20s. From my late teens to maybe 28, smoked it, or at least I tried to…
I don’t know if I actually accomplished everyday but I definitely tried to be high every single day. Why? Because it calmed my emotions. But the problem was the next day I had to do the same thing.
Or why do you think people struggle so much with obesity? You think it’s really that they don’t know that they need to not eat a pizza and ice cream and hamburgers and fries? It’s emotional. And the bigger someone is, usually the more emotional stuff that they’re dealing with, in my experience.
And so how do we find something strong enough to break us out of that cycle? Well, I went to Universal Studios to create an experience. Now, I could have gone somewhere else, I could have done something else, but that’s what felt right for me.
Because part of what my dad and I shared was a love for theme parks. He kind of got me into that. I had all these Disney books. I went to Disneyworld more times than I can count. I had all these Disney experiences, watched the Disney Channel growing up. Love those movies.
And while I was in Orlando, I rewatched some of my favorite ones The Black Hole. What other Disney movies? So many great Disney movies, Tron. I rewatched so many of the Disney movies that my dad and I watched, you know, and that was nice, too. But I really feel like I needed something, a strong experience.
So, have you ever tried to be sad on a roller coaster? It doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Have you ever tried to be sad when you’re scuba diving? It doesn’t work! Have you ever tried to be sad when your skydiving? It doesn’t work.
Why do you think I do all that stuff, just so I can post it on social media? Well, maybe there’s some truth to that. But the real truth is that I do those things because they’re therapeutic. And this isn’t just my idea. It’s something that I’ve been doing for a long time before anyone ever told me about it, before anyone ever talked about it, I’ve been doing this. But if you want a great book, read or listen to The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk.
And I’m not going to try to spell his name. But search for “the Body Keeps the Score” and you’ll recognize his name.
Because the truth about grief is that grief is just another form of stress, but it’s an intense stress. And if it turns from acute stress to chronic stress, that’s going to fuck your health, and you’re not going to be able to exercise it away, you’re not going to be able to eat acai balls and drink spirulina smoothies to fix it, you’ve got to go to the root of the problem and fix it. You’ve got to have these experiences, these corrective emotional experiences to bring the activity in your nervous system back down.
And so, I went on roller coasters when he died, and here I am a year later and I’m going diving in cenotes. Now again, it’s not about me and what I’m doing. That’s just a story. That’s just an example. You can do the things that you need to do. And the key is this: you need to go after the things that scare you, that challenge you, that bring you into the moment. That’s how you’re going to recapture that moment of feeling alive.
That could be quitting your job, that could be starting a business, that could be having that conversation with your spouse that you keep pushing off because you don’t have the guts to get into the conversation. And it’s just been sitting there festering. And I’ve been there, I’m not pointing the finger. I was in my relationship with my ex-wife way too long. I love her dearly, but our relationship needed to end for both of us. It wasn’t right for both of us.
We stayed in it for a long time, longer than we, you know, from the outside, you could say we should have. But we worked through it, did what we needed to do, and now we’re both in a better emotional place. Not just me, but her too.
Because we did the hard work, we did the scary thing, which was breaking up the relationship and going on our own, knowing that we would still have to be talking together and running our business.
So, as I’m saying this, what are the things that you’re afraid to do? What are the things that you keep listening to podcasts and watching videos and scrolling on social media? Ask yourself, what do you really need to do here? What is really scaring you? What is the thing that is scaring you?
And doing those things bring you back into the moment because I’ll be honest with you, it wasn’t just about doing the skydiving or doing, you know, I went skydiving in Brazil a few months ago, went and rode rollercoasters when I was in Orlando, and also did indoor skydiving, when I was in Orlando at the I Fly, they’ve got this wind tunnel. So, I went and did that too.
And I do these things because again, they help bring me back into the moment. A lot of them include exercise too, and that’s helpful, but it’s really these strong experiences that gets you back into the moment.
And I want to share something else with you too. I want to share that it’s been a struggle to get back on top, it’s taken me a year to do it, and I’m a pro. You’ve heard all this shit I’ve been through, you’ve heard all the things that I’ve had to overcome. And it’s not really even overcoming them, it’s like integrating them into my life and moving on, so that I can enjoy the moment. And it’s been a struggle.
I spent eight months in Brazil, it was helpful, but I was still struggling when I was there. I went and spend a month in Miami felt better, felt good. I felt like I grew from being in Miami but still was struggling. One thing that I did in Miami that I don’t think I shared with you is I microdosed some psilocybin mushrooms. Listen, I’ll do anything to get to that next level, anything that’s healthy, and I don’t believe doing psilocybin—It’s just unhealthy if you get caught by the police.
But if you saw recently, Tim Ferriss shared something about how the FDA is trying to fast track psilocybin assisted psychotherapy, because it’s such a game changer for people who are suffering from depression.
So, I’m not the type of person—for me, my risk tolerance is that I’m not the type of person to wait around for the FDA to approve it. I’ve taken plenty of mushrooms when there was no talk about this when I was in my teens.
And so, I don’t believe in macrodosing, except in really specific situations, but I experimented with micro dosing, and you know what, it helped. And then I came to Mexico. And when I first got to Mexico, I was annoyed like crazy, because as soon as you get here, it’s the gringo hustle.
I’ll have to share another podcast about what I learned about the culture here in this area of Mexico. But as soon as you get here, when you’re a tourist, you walk out of that airport in Cancun, and if you’ve been to Cancun, or Playa Del Carmen or Tulum, you know exactly what I’m talking about, you get hustle, hustle, hustle, people are trying to get as much money from you as possible. And there’s an edge to it. That’s a bit different.
Now, it’s a beautiful place to come and it’s worth it, but just know you’ve got to deal with a little bit of that. And of course, if you stay at a resort and get a pre-arranged taxi or shuttle, it’s not a problem. But I live in Playa Del Carmen for a month or a couple months at a time, so I have to deal with more than that. And on the streets, you deal a bit more with that, the taxi, there’s no Uber here, you’ve got to negotiate with taxi drivers, and they’re always trying to rip you off. They’re trying to charge you double, triple or quadruple.
And I was really annoyed when I got here. And then I went diving in a cenote. I went scuba diving in a cavern. The cenotes are the underwater caverns that are all over this area of Mexico that are literally world famous in the diving community because they’re so accessible and so beautiful.
And I did one dive and it just changed everything for me. That experience shifted my nervous system and brought me back to the moment, and I’ve been good ever since I’ve been enjoying my time here ever since. I’ve gotten into better shape since I’ve been here. So, I’ve been doing my other things too. It’s not just that I have these, what you might call peak experiences with the scuba diving, but also, I’m showing up to the gym doing my exercise, I’m doing my meditation, I’m doing my work. But I’ve been doing my work, and it still took time for it to happen.
And so, if you’re struggling with moments of overcoming overwhelming grief, know you’ve got to go through that, what you might call the acute phase of grief, and you’ve got to cry it out, and you’ve got to do your best to let the emotions out and to talk about it and to slam your fists on the wall and scream, why me at the heavens and whatever else you feel like you need to do. And then you need to start getting back into moving on.
Because if you find that experience starts to dictate your mood, your life, you know, you’re walking around with a resting bitchface, you’re walking around with that sour look on your face, that salty look like life hasn’t been kind to you. It’s not about the life. It’s not about what’s happened to you. It’s about how you’re dealing with it. Find better ways.
And what I’m telling you is true. Try what you need to try. Feel the feelings, talk to therapists. The ones that get you to cry and you feel safe with are the best. Join a support group, challenge yourself, go after… Conquer your fears, do the things that scare you. That’s how you get back to the present moment. That’s how you build confidence again, that’s how you overcome the chronic… That’s how you stop that acute grief, turning into chronic grief and dictating the rest of your life. And it takes work.
And if you’re not willing to do it, well, the sad truth is a lot of people won’t, and they’ll be stuck and they’ll die stuck. And at the end of their life, they’ll probably have a ton of regrets. I know my dad did when I watched him die. That was a strong experience. I don’t want to go out like that. I love my dad dearly. But man, he went to the grave with a lot of baggage, a lot of baggage, and there’s no need for that. But we’ve got to do the work that we need to do to make that happen. And the results are the results.
And sometimes you can be doing what you need to do, like I shared, I was doing for the past year, I went to rollercoasters, I did skydiving, I did indoor skydiving, I did a lot of different things. I learned Portuguese in Brazil, I travelled around, I saw different places and came to Mexico, went to Miami, did all this stuff.
And it’s just now a year later that I’m starting to feel back on my game. And so sometimes it takes a while and sometimes you’re working and it feels like it’s not working. You’re like, “I’m doing all this stuff, I’m doing all these things and I just don’t feel like it’s working.”
But you have to know, hey, listen, am I doing the things that are healthy for me? Am I trying to get my sleep? Am I getting regular exercise? Am I getting outside having my circadian rhythm set by the sun, if you live in a good environment, that is? I know we’re coming up on winter here, so in Europe or the northern latitudes, it might be a bit tricky, but doing your best get a saddle on them, do what it takes to put you back in the game, because there is only one life.
And once you start to really internalize that, it won’t feel like work anymore. It’ll feel like no, this is the path. This is what I…This is the path. And certainly, if you want to step up with your health, with your business, in your career, with your relationships, this is the way forward. And there’s always going to be a part of you, your nervous system will want to be comfortable and to stay stuck.
But your soul, for lack of a better word, needs growth. There’s a part of you that needs growth. And there is no point where you can stop growing. There’s no point where you make it, there’s no summit, there’s no mountain where you reach the top, it’s just the climb all the way into the end.
Sorry, if you’re looking for the summit, looking for the place that you could rest, but there’s not.
But sometimes the work is not working, sometimes the work is getting out of the hustle that you’ve been in to create wealth and to finally get some joy in your life. Sometimes that’s the work you need to do. So, what’s key here is self-awareness. And on that note, I would ask you, what do you feel you need to do right now after listening to this, and break it down, make it easy.
There’s health, wealth, and relationships. Where are you on a scale of 1 to 10 with your health 10 being the highest, 1 being the lowest? Where are you with your wealth? Where are you with your relationships? I’ll tell you, I ask this stuff on breakthrough calls. And if someone has a lower number in their relationships than they do with their health, I’m like, “Well, why were you here talking to me, instead of a therapist?”
And if they really want to join the coaching program, they better have a good answer to that. because I’m not going to… Part of the coaching is making sure we’re getting to the root of the problem, making sure that we’re really finding the solution. And if I’m not the solution, then I want that person to go after the solution.
So what area is scaring you the most? What area do you need to step up in the most, and go do that. Go do whatever is coming up for you right now go and take action on it. Don’t listen to another podcast. Don’t pick up your phone and start scrolling on social media or getting back to emails, go do something for yourself, go level up. That’s the best advice that I can give you. It’s the constant practice of levelling up in your life.
And as you do this, I promise you, life gets easier. And I can also promise you this, if you don’t do this, life gets harder. You choose the easy things to do, life gets harder. If you choose the hard things to do, life gets easier.
And for me, I like an easy life. And I tried doing the easy things, and I got the hard life as a result. And so now I’m focused on the results. And I want that easy life, to be honest, so I do the hard things now. That’s why I do everything.
People look at and say, “Oh, God, that’s so hard.” It’s like, “Ah, have you tried the opposite? Oh, that’s way harder. If you haven’t suffered enough there, just wait.”
So anyway, again, focus on what you need to take action on. Focus on what this brought up for you, what listening to this episode brought up for you. Go take action on it.
Hope you have an amazing weekend. Love you lots. You can do this. Go crush it, speak to you on Monday.
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