I have a friend who inexplicably broke up with me. There’s something in this that still feels open and charged. Maybe if I knew the reason why I could close this chapter. But right now it still hurts. And it takes from my energy. It’s common for us to use this language of “putting to bed” and “closing this chapter” but recently I read some Gestalt theory and I understood it even more.
“We are compelled to complete the picture of an experience… We need closure in any interaction in order for it to be satisfying and complete,” says John Leary-Joyce, Gestalt Practitioner and author of The Fertile Void. The theory goes that we are hard-wired to recognise a whole or meaningful pattern – a Gestalt — rather than see the bits it’s made up out of.
What still feels unclosed for you? Chances are its dragging at something in you, slowing down however infinitesimally your own flow. Sometimes just naming these things can help a lot. Write down as many as you can. Write down the ones that intrude into your thoughts. Or the ones that you remember at 3 in the morning. Or the ones that turn up in your dreams.
Once you have a list, think of how you can bring them to closure. Sometimes it’s as simple as crossing off something on a to do list. Either doing it or deciding that this is something you’ve decided not to do. To complete the picture with my estranged friend for now I have a smooth stone on my window sill. It is to mark the place, to remember what was, and to maybe hold a space for a future conversation. Sometimes closure can be about letting go or throwing out stuff. I’ve done special walks and final dinners, I’ve written poems and burnt objects. And of course completing the pictures of our experiences is where coaches can help a lot too. So start with any item on your list, and be sure you will have your own creative way of closing off and freeing yourself for the big stuff in your life.