The Emotional Roller Coaster!

Whether you love riding roller coasters or want to stay as far away from them as possible, the emotional roller coaster of divorce can take your breath away. You fly from grief to rage to confidence to depress to determination with such force that if makes your stomach flip. When I was divorcing there were days I could swing through this cycle three or four times before breakfast.

Please know you are not alone, you have not lost your mind, and sometimes like a roller coaster ride, all you can do is hang on. And when you do, interesting things start to happen.

  • When you are forced to feel all these emotions, you can become honest with yourself, and honesty is vital. It may be the most important asset you have.
  • The purpose of our emotions (as Harold Kushner writes) is to help us feel and participate fully in our lives. Our culture tends to make us feel there is something wrong with pain, and it must be drugged or denied or avoided at all costs. But many times the best medicine is a good cry.
  • You can’t heal from emotions you don’t acknowledge. Suppressing your emotions can cause you to yell at the checkout person in the grocery store. Or if this pain isn’t acknowledged and is kept buried deep inside, you can get physically very ill.
  • Emotions are powerful teachers. They force you to look back at your history and look down into your heart, and they demand that you pay attention. When you pay attention you will discover lost pieces of yourself. Some will be broken and some will have been hidden. Don’t throw them away. Embrace them. They are treasures and have been waiting patiently for you to reclaim them. These pieces of yourself may have been silent for years, but they have much to teach you. They will whisper, You are a survivor. You are strong. You have value. You will no longer be diminished.”

It’s Not Failure!

Image copyright: 123rf/Pop Nukoonrat

Failure is not a word that fits for much of life thanks to the judgment that oozes from it.

Have you ever heard someone say they felt like a failure because they were in the process of divorcing? Have you ever felt like that yourself?

Maybe you are, or were, in a marriage that didn’t work and couldn’t last.  Maybe you tried desperately to keep it together or felt for a long time that something wasn’t right. Or maybe you were blindsided and shocked when your partner announced they were leaving and it was over.  However your divorce began, you may have found yourself overwhelmed by pain, fear, grief and confusion.

Why would anyone judge this as if it were a grade on a report card? This is a situation where human beings are struggling to find their way. It is not a failure. It’s life and life is filled with choices and change, with loss and grace.

Often people say things happen for a reason. I would encourage you to take this one step further and create a reason for what happened. When you have sufficiently recovered from your divorce (or any life trauma), you can choose to grow, to learn, to make a difference in some way. You can make the choice to be more compassionate with yourself and with others and strive to heal and look to the future.

We are always falling down and getting up. We are always bumping into old thoughts and certainties that no longer fit us. The more we experience life, the more we reevaluate and change our perspectives.

It’s not failure. It’s growth, it’s change, it’s a gift.

Breathing Lessons

The following is a guest post from Roxann Keyes of Center for Life Design.

Our lives are getting busier and busier, full of things to do, places to go and people to see. We often don’t have time for the fun stuff, let alone the stressful, hard stuff.

I find more and more that I am talking to many of my clients about the importance of the breath and breathing properly, because I can see they are holding their breath. It is the simplest way to keep yourself calm during stressful and traumatic times.

There is a saying: “Hold your breath, hold your pain.” The human body, as an organism, is always working toward homeostasis, or balance. When we don’t address the things we should, our body will. If we don’t manage our stress, our bodies will give us pain, either physically or emotionally, in the form of headaches, stomach aches, anxiety, depression, overwhelm, fatigue etc. as a way to make us slow down and pay attention.

When we hold our breath, our breath is shallow and we use our chests to breathe, actually also use our neck muscles to help us breath. This makes any neck, shoulder issues worse and creates even more tension.

Chest breathing keeps us in the sympathetic nervous system—the stress response fight, flight, freeze. Instead, breathing from our belly engages the parasympathetic nervous system—relax, digest, restore.

What is the proper way to breathe and why is it so important?

The proper way to breathe is to bring the breath all the way down into the belly. Rest your hand on your belly. Your hand should rise and fall with the breath, as if you were blowing up your belly like a balloon. It is easiest to practice this at night when you are laying down, before you go to sleep. Taking a full belly breath engages the diaphragm, which, when engaged, massages the internal organs and helps them do their job better. This allows the neck and shoulder muscles to relax and release their tension. Belly breathing also allows us to be calm and stay calm so we can make better decisions.

To create different patterns of thinking, behaving and produce different results, we need to go into the unknown, do something we haven’t done before. We must do what we are most likely afraid to do to make and have a change in our lives, only this will give you a different experience. A daily practice of proper breathing is the simplest way to start. A start to healing, a start to change.

Mind Training Basics for Resilience Through Difficult Times

The following is a guest post by Rev. Pauline Kaplan, MS, LP.

When we encounter difficult passages in our life through divorce, basic mind training can be a welcome refuge. The idea of refuge instantly brings a sense of relief to our soul and hope to our spirit. Modern mystical practices regularly inspire this “refuge” through an inner perspective of training the mind towards acceptance, contentment and peace. We can tune in like a mystic through four key components of mind training basics.

Basic mind training includes mindfulness, positive outlook, resiliency and generosity.

 

1. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is an attention-training method that teaches the brain to register anything happening in the present moment with full focus, but without reacting. It is a soft presence, aware and recognizing how things are.

 

2. Positive Outlook

A positive outlook quietly shifts negative thoughts and attitudes towards life working out for the good of all. The glass is half full—even if we don’t feel positive—our long view holds the heart of life eventually looking up and working itself out. It is much healthier for the body as well.

 

3. Resiliency

Resiliency is the ability to regain your center after being knocked for a loop. There are many factors that contribute to resiliency and some may thwart resiliency such as abuse and addiction. Staying healthy, lifting the corners of your mouth in a gentle smile and looking upward toward the ceiling with your arms in the air are a few instant mood lifters. Self-care is key to a resilient mind and body.

 

4. Generosity

Generosity keeps your heart tuned, not just to handling your own circumstances of suffering, but to offer something to another, thus demonstrating a prosperous spirit. Sometimes generosity is more like a martial artist. Getting out of the way of another’s negativity, lack and judgement brings spaciousness to all parties. A natural generosity arising from doing less.

 

Mind training might be easier than you think by playing with these basic but profound tools of consciousness. A refuge from the waterfall effects of divorce can be yours while you create your future more imbued with positivity, generosity, resiliency and mindful awareness.

(Reference: The Emotional Life of Your Brain-Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D.)

You’re Confused? Hooray!

Lately I’ve been quite confused. It’s not the usual confusion of wondering why I walked into a room, or where I put my car keys when I’m holding them, or which direction to go when my GPS has recalculated one too many times.

What’s confusing is that I’ve not been myself lately. I’ve been feeling out of sorts. It’s like I’m not able to get traction in my life.

When I shared my feelings with a friend, she clapped her hands together and said, “Hooray!  That’s wonderful!” I responded, “What? Why would you say that?”

“It’s simple!” she said. “You’ve been working hard to discard your limiting beliefs. Now you no longer fit the image you’ve had of yourself and that can be tremendously confusing. But as a result, you’re growing into something new and expanded. That’s wonderful—and truly a reason to celebrate.”

The more I thought about her words, the more comforted I became. Aren’t we all doing our best to learn and grow? Wouldn’t it make sense that the more we discover, the more we will reevaluate our beliefs and discard those that no longer serve us? Wouldn’t it make sense that our insights and understanding expand?

As we embrace more and more of who we truly are, our sense of self and of the possibilities life offers broadens and deepens. And as we begin to redefine ourselves in a more compassionate way, we clarify our purpose and how we choose to journey through life.

May we each continue to learn and grow, and when we experience times of confusion, let’s celebrate!