The trap of loose ends

Füzes Nóra | psychologist, junior consultant

Füzes Nóra | psychologist, junior consultant

I must have done something right this year, because I managed to spend a few relaxing hours with my friends before and during the Christmas bejgli craze. Typically, our meetings have ended in memorable conversations in the past, but this year there was one that was somehow particularly important.

As we approached the end of the year and the beginning of the new one, among many other “psychological” topics (you know, childhood, etc!), a new one came up: the impact of unfinished or unfinished events on our daily lives.

In our everyday lives, we pay relatively little (or no) attention to our unfinished life events or relationships, even though their impact often affects our well-being for decades. A basic need in the human psyche is the need for closure, for things to have an end as well as a beginning and a middle.


As long as there is no closure, a small part of our brain will always be preoccupied with this one thing, which affects the big three – emotions, thoughts and behaviour.

You may be wondering what counts as unfinished business. The short answer is: everything you feel is. The significance of things depends not on how significant I or anyone else thinks they are, but on what they mean to you. You might just want to take your used items to a collection point for a thousand years. (This is not an emotional issue, so go ahead and don’t put them in the mixed waste.) Maybe you need to write an email that you keep putting off, even though it would be so nice to get it over with, or maybe you need to take action to unblock a relationship. No matter what the event is, whether it’s material or emotional, personal or work-related, small or big, if you’re not right on the end of it, some part of your mind will always be there.

What about those life-changing issues, situations and conflicts that should have been resolved years or decades earlier? Or what about those relationships that you don’t feel guilty for breaking, yet you can’t get over it? If you’re thinking about such an event right now, there are 3 paths for you.

1) You do nothing and something will happen, as Fodor Ákos said “It’s a sure thing that sooner or later this or that will happen one way or another.”

2) You go down the road of closure alone. Be calm, you don’t have to do it in one step! You might just write down some thoughts for yourself first about how you would go about it. You might talk it over with someone else and then take action. Either way you can do it, in small steps or in one go, it’s brave of you.

3) You seek help from professionals to get you started on the path to renewing a relationship or life situation, letting go of procrastination, guilt and anger.

Neither path is a panacea, but it does hold the possibility of closure, letting go and grieving, and renewal.

Which will you choose?