by Wendy Keller, author, speaker, woman who cares
Has life bashed you up pretty good? Are you feeling like the losses – romantic and otherwise – that you’ve had to face have left you pretty shaken? Unable to trust, to love, to open up again?
I had a fourth date last night with a nice man who very kindly told me how his first wife neglected him, his second wife abandoned him and his last serious girlfriend finally told him she was really married to someone else. Poor guy! That’s a lot of assault and battery on someone’s emotions!
It made me think about how we can all best handle broken hearts, lost loves, dealing with the death or departure or divorce of people we love(d). I firmly believe that a LOT of healing can take place if we choose to focus on releasing our pain and recapturing our lost pieces. Here are some ideas to get you started on the Road to Recovery. Apply them this weekend and see what happens!
1. Directly address your pain/anguish/sorrow or anger. Write a letter to the person who hurt you most, living or dead. Pour it all out! Say all the things you wish you’d said before, or wish you were brave enough to say now. This is what the grief counselors teach people to do to say “good-bye”. Start with the phrase “I’ve thought of some things I’d like to tell you…” and end with “I love you, I miss you, good-bye.” It works best if you write it out longhand and then READ it to another living person – ideally NOT the person to whom you wrote it. After my children died in the car accident in 1991, I wrote many letters, traipsed out to the cemetery and read it to their headstones. When Tony – the last love of my life – left me suddenly, I wrote him several letters I never mailed and read them to a good friend who patiently listened without commenting. Try it. What have you got to lose?
2. I recently learned a GENIUS tactic from my mentor Dr. Jack Lin. Dr. Lin said to take a piece of paper and divide it into FOUR sections. Mark the top left “Good” and the top right “Bad” In the top left, write everything that is GOOD about the specific situation you’re trying to deal with. If someone left you, for instance, you could write “Now I can eat dinner whenever I like; don’t have to stumble over his dirty socks on the floor; don’t have to share the covers…” On the top right, write down what’s BAD about it. “I miss having someone to laugh with; I’m lonely; I wish he was here to take out the trash on thursdays…” (Whatever!)
NOW comes the cool part! In the bottom half of the page, where you still have those two empty boxes, write down the OPPOSITE. If you were dealing with what’s good or bad about someone leaving you, write down in the lower two all the things that are GOOD about being in a healthy, loving relationship. And all the things that are “bad” about beign in a healthy, loving relationship (e.g., you have a set dinner time, for instance.”)
Be sure you got everything in every quadrant that you can possibly think of. Done? Good…
HERE is the tricky bit: Look at all four quandrants. Which is longest? Count how many entries you put into that specific one. 12? 35? Guess what? Now you have to WRACK your brain to make them all even. That’s right. Whatever number appears in the longest one, that is how many you have to force yourself to write into all the others.
Dr. Lin explained that by doing this, we force ourselves to see a broader, more balanced, more cogent perspective. Although he taught me this to apply to how to make a business decision better and more calmly, it works for this kind of emotional issues, too. Try it! You’ll see!
3. After you’ve done all this work, your brain will be tuckered out. Here’s the important Final Step: Do something really nice for yourself. Not something you usually do anyway, like taking yourself to exercise class. This has to be something your self likes but that you don’t normally do for you. Like, buy yourself your favorite flower. Lie in bed an extra hour reading a book. Hire a sitter and take your partner out to dinner or lunch. Drive up to your favorite lookout point. Something nice. And WHILE you are doing it, remind yourself that you are loved and loving, competent, capable, desirable and worthy. Heck, that might feel so good you decide to be nicer to yourself on a regular basis!
Apply these strategies this weekend – you’ll be amazed at your own results.
Sick of feeling sad?
Want to make this process easier on yourself?
Get a copy of my book, “When I Do Becomes I Don’t” on Amazon