Beyond the Reading

Beyond the Reading: Seeking Closure

In the simplest terms, closure is that feeling you get when you have finally accomplished something. It has all come to an end and you are awash with relief, contentment, or even a quiet calm. Sometimes closure can involve a need to have answers to questions that would otherwise go unanswered.

Today’s reading was urging us to seek closure. But even more than that, it was encouraging us to accept closure, to recognize an ending as something necessary and not something that we need to stop from happening. That’s the point where things aren’t always so clear – if we initiate the ending, does closure come easier for us?

That urge we get when we want a situation to wrap up nicely with a bow on top…that want we have for things to just fit well into whatever box or category we have – that, in psychology terms, is the need for cognitive closure.

It’s a funny thing, this need. It can impact us in all sorts of ways. It can cause stress and anxiety propelling us towards making decisions we might not otherwise make. Researchers have found connections between the need for cognitive closure and stockpiling food (with subsequent waste of that food) during the pandemic (Brizi & Biraglia, 2021), with endorsing conspiracy beliefs (Marchlewska, Cichocka, & Kossowska, 2017), and accepting harmful gender stereotypes (Baldner & Pierro, 2019).

Now this is by no means causation – having a need for cognitive closure does not mean we will do all, or any, of these things. But it brings up an interesting idea – this need for cognitive closure has some of us do things we maybe wouldn’t normally do if the situation was different.

In Gestalt psychology, closure is when your mind finishes an image for you so that you think it is whole. We know that our mind is able to fill in the blanks with lots of things. If we are reading something and certain words are missing vowels or letters, we somehow are able to read it as the word that we know. This idea of filling in the blanks – what if we do it with more than just words and images? What if we are doing it with situations in our lives when we think back and try to remember?

Don’t let your want (or need) of closure distort the situation. Don’t fill in the “blanks” with what you think it should be. Accept the ending as it comes. That way you’ll be paying attention when the next door opens.

Image by Tama66, found on Pixabay.com – check out his amazingly gorgeous images here.

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