Monday, March 12, 2012

How to Survive When Everything is Out of your Control

One of the hardest aspects of relationship loss, and divorce is the feeling of having no control over the process. The fear that comes along with uncertainty and unpredictability can add stress to an already overwhelming situation. In addition, any influence you may have once had with your ex has disappeared, and they may even be working against you. The natural response is to resist and push against what you don't like, yet this is not usually the most helpful approach.

After a relationship loss, it is common to get stuck trying to control the uncontrollable. Spending time thinking of all the things the ex should be doing differently is a diversion from painful feelings about ourselves. Unfortunately, using energy in this way just prolongs disentangling from the former love partner. It is not our job to be judge and jury when it comes to our ex - or anyone else for that matter! However, it is our job to understand, have compassion for, and heal our own pain,

Surviving during the process of disentangling requires redirecting focus to ourselves over and over again. It helps to remember that we are not usually upset for the reason we think we are, and it also helps to expect that others will always behave how they want to behave. All we need to notice is how we feel, the thoughts we have, and then to take steps to genuinely soothe our own upset and fear. Finding an oasis of certainty, comfort and stability is much needed. A trusted friend, a favorite place, being out in nature, returning "home", seeking out old friends, and taking part in spiritual practices can all reprogram our brains to slow down.
What are your favorites?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Caution! Valentine's Day Approacing

For people who have been separated, divorced, or bereaved, Valentine's Day can be a difficult 'holiday' to navigate.  Unlike the winter holidays, where we might be surrounded by friends and family, Valentine's Day can be lonely for those who have lost a loved one.  It is easy to form the impression that the rest of the world is paired off, and this can lead to an acute awareness of aloneness.  
Added to that, our neurochemistry and biology conspire to move us toward bonding with a special someone, and that chemical cocktail creates a resistance to allowing bonds to break.  One of the key hormones that affects feelings of bondedness, and belonging, is oxytocin.  Interestingly, studies show that a single touch...think pat on the arm.... can increase oxytocin levels, and hugs or massage can have significant effects on the amount of connectedness we experience.  
Perhaps Valentine's Day could become a day for people to hug more!