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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Transforming Grief: Helen Keller's Words of Wisdom

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Dec 10th 2012

griefHelen Keller once said, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.” Here was a woman who had significant doors closed being blind and deaf. She had every reason to keep staring at those closed doors, but she was able to know the way the mind worked and made the choice to open to possibilities making her one of the most extraordinary people of our time. In our times of loss, how can we capture a bit of what she had? 

It’s important to have the understanding that our brains have been crafted for thousands of years to pay attention to things that are potentially dangerous. That’s not just physical danger, nowadays that means socially too. That is why our brains are filled with self-judgments and limiting beliefs in order to keep us safe, so we don’t try things that may lead us to some form of perceived failure. 

If we fail we’ll be rejected which is a source of danger to the brain because if we were rejected by our clan back in the day we would not have survived alone. 

When something difficult in life happens whether it’s the death of a loved one or any other form of loss, it’s natural to keep staring at the closed door and for a while, it’s healthy to stare at that door with the eye of self-compassion. This is a sense of understanding the grief that is there with a sense of self-support. 

That self-compassion in itself can be seen as a door opening to us if we’ve never developed that skill before. 

Eventually, it’s time to begin looking at what doors are open to us, what have we learned from this experience, what are our opportunities now? 

If we keep Helen Keller in our minds we can begin to chip away at the deep seeded beliefs that we can’t get up from under the loss and open our eyes to what we can do. 

We can all heal from loss and in fact at times they can even become Sacred Wounds that enrich our lives. 

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living  wisdom for us all to benefit from. 


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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