Tag Archives: divorce

Should you Separate to Save your Marriage?

bed

A friend of mine told me recently that she and her husband had a trial separation a few years ago. I was shocked! I always thought of this husband and wife as the ideal married couple. I had no idea they ever had issues.

In addition, I was shocked that they decided to separate for a short while, and also that it helped bring them back together.

Long story short, the husband had been lying to his wife for several months regarding his standing in college. When the letter came in the mail saying he had lost his scholarship, she was so hurt. Not only had he been failing his classes, he had dropped out but kept telling her about how well he was supposedly doing.

It was a rough time for them. He had lost her trust, and he didn’t know what to do. It was hard for the wife to be in the same house with him because of the cloud of hurt feelings over her head. Things like this tend to get into every other facet of the relationship. She kept thinking, What else had he lied about? Or what will he lie about in the future?

In the end, they decided she would take the kids and stay with her family until he fixed things with school, and then they both would decide how to move forward.

It was not an easy transition to separate, and also it was not easy to come back together again. But the break gave her some space so she could forgive him, and the break gave him some space to focus on what he needed to change.

When she came back into their home, she could see the changes in him, and she appreciated his effort. He also was glad to have her home and vowed never to keep secrets from her again.

Marriage is not for wimps! And sometimes taking a break from each other takes more strength than sticking it out. Separation could even be the way to save marriage instead of leading to divorce.

You may be thinking, isn’t it counter intuitive to be away from someone you are trying harder to love? Don’t you have to be together to work on the relationship?

But, when you can’t say anything nice to each other, you can’t agree on things, or there are bad feelings that just won’t go away, sometimes spending more time together as a couple just makes things worse.

You may be ready for a period of separation if: Continue reading

One Woman’s Survival Story: Marriage Separation

woman

She didn’t know anyone whose marriage had survived separation, but here it was, staring her straight in the face. The woman, we’ll call her Wendy, had only been married a few short years but it was obvious that things were getting stale.

He wanted out. Separation. Relationship halt.

She didn’t see that coming. Aside from things being stale in their young marriage, there wasn’t anything major going on. No affairs or big fights. Nothing that would indicate that her husband was particularly unhappy with her. So when he wanted to move into another apartment, she was in shock. Now what?

When married couples contemplate such a move, it can be scary. Being separate typically means there are big problems, and big problems can lead to divorce. Separation just prolongs the questions. Will this work out? Will we find our way back to each other again?

Wendy kept their separation a secret save for a few who were closest to her. Mostly, she cried alone at her house, or at her desk at work. She cried a lot. Likely she thought about all the things she should have done while they still lived together. Regrets loomed.

Was it all too late? Continue reading

Wordplay Wednesday: The 100,000 Mile Ride

When was the last time you were expecting bad news? When was the last time you spent your day with a cloud of apprehension hovering over you as you waited for the other shoe to drop on your current life crisis? 15 year old Noah Silverman St. John was expecting his mothers, who had been married for 20 years, to tell him they were going to get a divorce. He was sure they were going to do it the night his mother Robyn came home and asked if all of them could go for a ride.

What happened is not what Noah expected, or the audience who saw his 2012 NPR Snap Judgement performance of the year when he told the story there at only 15 years old. The uplifting, beautiful way that Noah tells the story also landed him a guest appearance on the ABC Family show “The Fosters” where he told a slightly more polished version of the story. Both versions are worth watching and mesmerizing when you realize he’s still a teenager (seriously, he won’t graduate high school until this Spring. What?!)

What do you think of the videos? Tell us in the comments below

Should a Marriage License Have an Expiration Date?

Screen shot 2013-12-09 at 11.34.54 PMI was working out early morning in my local Life Fitness Club next to six guys (45-62 years-old) who were lifting weights before playing their regular competitive game of racquet ball. They forgot that I was in the room as I quietly did abdominal crunches and planks on the floor. Consequently, I overheard a conversation which made me sit up (forgive the pun) and pay attention as one of the guys, a cardiologist, said, “A marriage license should be valid for ten year-increments with the option of renewal just like a driver’s license.  And you know what will happen? The divorce rate will plummet.”

Another member of the posse, a dermatologist, was asked for his opinion and he confessed that he did not have one as he never spoke about relationship matters because his words might get back to his wife. Another guy, a venture capitalist, asserted if a marriage license could expire, then nobody would stay married. The local wedding caterer asked what the economic formula would be if the marriage was not renewed and what would happen to the children?

To their surprise I interrupted, “I think marriages will be better than ever! Around the 8th or 9th year married people will try harder, even campaign to hold on to their spouse for another ten years. The romance would rev up.” The proponent of the idea did not agree with me. He seemed eager to walk away from his 25 year relationship – if he could.

The parallels between getting a marriage and driver’s license:

  • You need an eye “I” exam- a certain level of good vision to see signs and changes down the road. Do you really see your spouse, the person in front of you, even though you finish their sentences and interrupt?
  • You must bring proof of identity. Do you know who you really are and where you are going? What do you do to support your authentic self?
  • Are you always in the driver’s seat, a passenger, or a bit of both?
  • You need your social security number; in other words, are you secure socially to go it alone or do you want your sidekick?

Couples can either grow together or apart; some of us go through the motions of living together, stuck in a marriage with a spouse who has become a stranger. Others experience life with a loving team mate, feeling happier and healthier. If you knew your marriage license was up for renewal, what would you do differently? What would you want the license to do?

How to Stay Married

Screen shot 2013-11-22 at 2.25.43 AMHow To Stay Married,” is a web series that is actually the delicious appetizer to the book I am writing, “Take My Spouse Please: how the rules of comedy will keep your marriage happy, healthy and thriving!” (Shambhala Press, January 2015).

After one particularly tough night with my husband, huddled up on the bed hugging a pillow, I remembered something people used to say to me all the time when I was a comic, “Stand up comedy? That is the hardest thing in the world to do, I could never do that, that is the hardest thing!”

 

Wiping my tears with a pillowcase, I didn’t think so.  At least a comedy set is over in two hours, max.  Being married, now that was something you could really lose sleep over.

I decided to consult a syllabus I used to teach a course in Stand up Comedy at UCLA for almost ten years and see if any of the tools I taught people who wanted to be comics, the other hardest thing to do in the world, would help me persevere in what is genuinely the hardest thing to do, staying married.

Turns out most of the lessons were spot on.  Listening, showing up, paying attention to timing, letting go of a bad night, these were all things that could absolutely help me in my marriage.

Then I decided to also go out and talk to long term happily married people to see how they did it.   Emphasis on happily.  Anyone can stay married, but I was looking for people to learn from and who could inspire me.

“How To Stay Married,” then, is filmed excerpts of some of the couples I interviewed.  The show focuses specifically on those key challenges in every marriage of handling money, fighting fairly, having sex, and continuing to surprise each other.

These couples certainly surprised me! They also made me laugh and inspired me.  I know you are going to love them. You can watch all four videos, starting with making sex a priority right here.

Tell us what you think of Dani’s web series in the comments below and pass along to the couples you know! 

Two Essential Questions Before Saying “I do”

Wedding ringsBy: Sasha Stone

Recently I caused a minor Facebook frenzy with the following comment:

“It is my observation that marriage for my generation is irrelevant and represents the death of love. I have a few examples in my life that prove otherwise, which is beautiful and wonderful. What about you? What’s your experience?”

I will admit, I did this partially to provoke people. I knew it would strike a chord and married people would get defensive. I was curious to see what that defense would be, because honestly, I would rather my observation be inaccurate. No surprise, most responses had a lot to do with romantic notions of forever, family, and devotion. Those that said their marriage was thriving sited communication, honesty, and respect. This, though, was my favorite response of all:

“Marriage is not just a piece of paper. It is not a piece of paper to prove love. My husband proved that to me well before we got married — which is why we got married in the first place! However, it does open up a lot of options legally – think about health care decisions, financial combinations, term life decisions etc…”

Why my favorite? Because this is real. This has a purpose.

Since my divorce in 2009 I’ve kept a close eye on my views on marriage, observing any changes and fluctuations that might occur and why. In the midst of my divorce, I felt fairly certain I would never get married again. Not because I was bitter and jaded, and not because I didn’t want to have a family, but because marriage had lost its meaning to me.

I got married very young (age 25), and though in love, we hadn’t really spent any time discussing our motives for taking such a huge next step in our relationship. There was the practical consideration of me being able to stay in the U.S., and the idea of wanting to be together forever. Beyond that, we didn’t really look at the deeper currents of why, and consequently nor whether this move was truly in the greatest good for either of our lives.

Whether consciously or not, I think many people get married to hold on to that relationship and that person forever, no matter what, even if there are massive gaps in values, vision, and priorities. As though somehow, having that official certificate guarantees your idealized vision of love and that the person will be yours forever. Clearly, divorce rates indicate otherwise, but people still seem to think, for them it will be different.

What happens all too often though, for my generation at least, is the paper gets signed and the relationship takes a nosedive. I know that is not the case for everyone, but it is strikingly common. I could probably write a 1000 page essay on this topic, there’s so much to it. But I am going to stick my neck out and say the main reason this occurs is because despite our social evolution, we still cling and grasp onto the romance saturated view of marriage that is fed to us through fairytales, both classic and contemporary. Our starving mind (our hearts are usually wiser) latches on to that idea and laps it up voraciously. Then we get married, and our socially evolved self revolts, does not want to accept the illusion of this arrangement, and suddenly, desperately, wants out.

Last year, I had the honor of officiating a wedding for a beloved student and friend (yes, that’s right, minister Sash). I had to be very thoughtful about it because I didn’t want to be a fraud standing up there, guiding two people into an institution for which I hadn’t yet made peace. So I asked the couple tying the knot to answer two questions for me (an assignment they had to do separately, without consulting each other).

#1) Why are you getting married?

Seems straight forward enough, but many people answer this question with something basically along the lines of, “I love this person, I want to be with them forever, and I want to build a family and life with them.” That is awesome! I say go for it, but guess what, you don’t need to be married to do any of those things (at least not in the Western world). Love and commitment are beautiful and wonderful, but you can be married and completely not committed. You can also be fully devoted and not married.

Dig deeper. What are some REAL reasons for making this massive commitment? I find the answers that are deeply spiritual, deeply traditional, and/or deeply practical to be the most compelling. If you and your spouse-to-be have those reasons in common, then there is a much more substantial backing to walking down the aisle than simply the forever story. You have no idea what life is going to hurl your way, but if you have super strong convictions about why marriage is essential to the progress and evolution of your relationship and life together, then you have a firm foundation to stand on.

#2) Why are you marrying this person?

Ok, here is where you get to be romantic and gushy. Still though, I encourage you to dig deep. What makes this person so highly unique and dear to you that you are willing to make a lifelong commitment to them? Get it all down. Be extremely personal, reflective, and specific. Then, when you hit those rough spots in your relationship, come back to this document and remind yourself what a precious being you have the privilege of sharing your life with.

Of course, there are many more questions to ask oneself, but this is not intended to be a guide on finding the right partner (when I figure that out I’ll get back to you ;). My intention is simply to draw your attention to two basic questions whose answers are often taken for granted rather than sincerely discussed.

Yes, I do believe in Love. I believe in commitment, I believe in family, and I believe that humans are meant to live their lives in togetherness, not isolation. I want love, I want babies, and I want to experience the crazy journey of being with someone for a very long time. Would I get married again? Only if the reasons for it truly make sense, and that if I decide to take that step with someone, that we have been openly thoughtful about it and see eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart on the why.

Take action now:

  1. Share your reaction to this article in the comments below.
  2. Send this to someone preparing to embark on the marriage journey. It might offer them a little guidance before taking the plunge.

Originally published on Sasha’s blog 

photo by: State Farm

Elephant in the Room: I Can Only Be With My Boyfriend If He Proposes

Gay-MarriageDear Cora,

I have been with my boyfriend for nearly 5 years.  I am 23 and he’s is 30. I am from a religious family so my mum and dad won’t allow me to live with him without being married. He lives quite a few miles away from me and works a lot so I only see him once a week and being away from him is breaking my heart. After  five years I want him with me every day and not just to see him 1 day a week for a few hours. I feel as though all I have done for 5 years is miss him. Do you think he will ever propose? He has been married before and maybe that is putting him off.  I don’t know where I stand, please help. 

Sincerely, 

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Oh, babe. We have a lot going on here and I think we need to break it down step by step to see what we can come up with.

The first thing that pops out at me is that you’re 23, stop talking about marriageYou especially shouldn’t be talking about it when you approach it as a method to see your boyfriend more often. That’s not what it’s about. Marriage is a serious commitment – it is promising to spend the rest of your life with someone. That means when things aren’t fun, when they aren’t paying attention to you, for better and for worse. Real marriage is about accepting that making a life together is hard work, and that you’re willing to commit to sticking it out together. It’s not a quick fix for missing someone. It’s a life-long, very serious, situation. If your boyfriend has already been married and it ended then he probably knows this better than anyone and his hesitation may be because he knows you two aren’t ready for that level of commitment.

Speaking of your boyfriend, let’s talk about him for a moment. Actually, no. Let’s talk about you, and your feelings for him. I agree that a few hours a week isn’t enough to maintain a serious relationship – especially after five years. How well do you two really know each other? How do you build something solid and lasting on mere glimpses of time? That is a conversation you need to have with him instead of asking when is he going to propose or if he wants to get married. You need to ask what do we need to do to make this really work? Your words and emotions are serious but the level of the relationship seems casual and I think it would behoove you to make sure that you are both on the same page before you continue on writing the rest of the novel.

Now here’s the tough part, but I think if you are able to take advantage of this last piece of advice you’ll find that the rest of it gets easier. It seems the deepest root of your troubles comes from the rules of your parents. While I think you may be too young to be thinking about marriage (at least in your current situation) you are old enough to be making your own decisions. I have no doubts that your parents want the best for you as only they know how – however, they can’t live your life for you. You are old enough to be making your own decisions about how you want to live your life. The hard part of that is finding a way to make your parents accept that, or having the strength to move on by yourself even if they don’t. What I think you need Anonymous is to start thinking about moving out on your own instead of with your boyfriend. You need to learn to stand on your own two feet – that’s what your 20s are for! To figure out who you really are as a person by making your own decisions and your own mistakes. With your own place you not only get the chance to figure out for yourself what you believe but it should allow you more time to see your boyfriend. You two can get to know each other on a serious level, figure out how you work as a couple that has to function with the rest of the world and whether it really does work.

Don’t sell yourself short of this opportunity to grow into your own skin by moving from your parents to your boyfriend. You need time to grow, lovely. Unburden yourself from those shackles. It’s a tough world out there and you have to dig deep to find the strength to choose and hold on to your own happiness. I’m afraid if you keep sitting around waiting for your parents or your boyfriend to hand it to you that you’re going to miss out on the wonderful things you deserve.

Best wishes,

Cora

Creating A Healthy Mindset After a Divorce

relationship difficulties

Divorce is a difficult time in anyone’s life. There is a feeling of rejection, of anger, of frustration and distrust. While these emotions are normal they also can create significant problems for us moving forward in our lives and relationships. In my book “The Law of Sobriety” I talk about how love addictions can occur when someone feels that they are empty inside and that their emotional needs are not being met. This is certainly the case when a relationship breaks down, particularly if you are not willing to let it go because of your own emotional needs.

This is often triggered in a divorce, especially if we see ourselves as defined by the marriage. It can be a major issue when the relationship is not healthy in the first place but is a result of our addiction to love, rather than a healthy love that is mutually developed. We have created a relationship in our mind that is not one of mutual respect; rather it is one of constantly giving and constantly fearing that the other person will leave. When the divorce happens our worst fears are realized and we may find that we spiral out of control, desperately struggling to cling to the relationship or immediately jumping into a new, and ultimately unhealthy, rebound relationship.

While a divorce is going to be challenging we don’t have to fall into the same trap of choosing a bad partner and simply getting into a relationship because we aren’t comfortable without someone, anyone, in our life. We can create a positive mindset around divorce using the principles of the Law of Attraction.

The following three steps can be used to help you take the time you need to be comfortable and love yourself, building your own sense of confidence and empowerment:

1. Be alone

If you have a love addiction being alone is a terrifying experience. You have to develop a comfort with yourself and see yourself as lovable, loving and perfect in your own way. Once you have the ability to be alone, you no longer jump into bad relationships out of fear of not having someone to complete your life.

2. Learn from past relationships

Thinking back on past relationships and looking for patterns in the partners we choose and the ways we approach a relationship is all part of learning. If you don’t do this introspection and reflection you are destined to keep repeating the pattern and finding yourself in unfulfilling relationships.

3. Develop the characteristics you desire in a partner

We have to first recognize and articulate what we see as positive in ourselves before we can create the thought energy to bring like people into our world. If we see ourselves as lacking, we cannot focus on what we want, only what we don’t have. This creates negative energy around these traits, exactly the opposite of what we want to accomplish.

Once we are able to get ourselves into a positive place we can then begin to look for a partner that will not be negative, neglectful, abusive or absent, and truly find the love we deserve. It all starts by learning to love ourselves and create that positive energy, through our thoughts, about what a great partner truly looks like.

***

Sherry Gaba LCSW, a psychotherapist and life, love and recovery coach, is featured on Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Sherry is the author of  The Law of Sobriety, which uses the Law of Attraction to help people recover from addiction; she is also a contributor to Conscious Entrepreneurs, and to several e-books: Empowerment Manual: Finding Purpose with Intention, Filling the Empty Heart: 5 Keys to Transforming Love Addiction. The e-books Relapse Prevention and Eliminate Limiting Beliefs can be downloaded free of charge at www.sherrygaba.com. Contact Sherry for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements.

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What Makes a Great Relationship?

cute penguin couple - exploredIt seems that everywhere I go, every conversation I choose to engage in, the relationship issue shows up as the central theme. If I thought monogamy was a hot topic, it seems relationships are a crackling wildfire. Generally, the feedback I’ve been getting, is that good relationships are few and far between. And, the longer people have been together, the more challenging it appears it is to stay together. How very sad to me.

I recently told someone (a somewhat disheartened woman in a 30-year marriage whose spouse’s hip pain had put out his fire), that I was finally ready to be in a great relationship. She smiled and said she admired my optimism, but our conversation made me quickly realize that I’d be wise to take off my rose-colored glasses and take stock of what’s going on out in the real world. If a good relationship is almost impossible, a great one, although an admirable pursuit, may not be attainable. I’m determined to keep hope alive though.

I admit I’ve been on my own, relationship-less, for many years. My principal relationship has been with myself for all those years. The obvious reason was for my own physical healing (most thought I would not be here to even tell my story). I was so far down that frankly, the only way was up. It was, even more importantly, about my personal spiritual growth.

I’m trusting this concept of personal spiritual growth isn’t big news to anyone anymore. It is part of our human challenge and condition. Anyone who ever watched Oprah might agree that she offered a great service by bringing these kinds of topics to the everyday consciousness. I believe it is an ongoing conversation that needs to happen for our human species to keep evolving. I’m sure this means different things to different people, but I don’t think we can easily ignore it anymore.

My personal belief is that all of us are here to experience and learn through relationships. These opportunities come to us all the time. With parents, children, friends, business associates and even the casual stranger we meet and connect with. Every interaction with another, offers us a chance to be in relationship.

No man is an island.” John Donne.

For me, I’m most curious about the one on one personal and intimate relationship. I remember many years ago reading Gary Zukav define the concept of a “spiritual partnership”. In his incredible 1989 book Seat of the Soul, he says, “A spiritual partnership is a partnership between equals for the purpose of spiritual growth.” I know this is what I want, but wonder where do I find the other who is ready for the same thing?

Zukav goes on to brilliantly explain his four “c’s” or guidelines for a spiritual partnership. Briefly, the guidelines are: commitment, courage, compassion and conscious communication and action. It is well worth reading their full explanations here. I learned much from his wise words and know these are what I see as keys to putting the “great” in a relationship.

I’ve actually heard that people make “lists” of the things they are looking for in their ideal partner and stick by that list until they’ve ticked off all the boxes. This seems like somewhat of a futile exercise to me. Personally I’m more about another person’s energy, than a list of must-haves.

I’ve also discovered many people say they are ready for a relationship, but in actuality may not be ready. I smiled when I got a recent Hugh MacLeod Gaping Void daily email. Subject line: Forever. Graphic and Message: It took forever before I was ready… to find you. The piece went on to say:

And as we all know, Mr. or Mrs. Right isn’t just floating out there in the ether like some abstract, platonic ideal. You too have to be ready. You don’t get the person of your dreams ’till you’re ready to be the person of their dreams first. The giving precedes the getting, always. It simply has to.

We do all know this, right? Thank you Hugh!

I’ve been asking for interesting, intelligent, creative, and spiritual men to come into my life, and I admit a few have bravely shown up lately. Age doesn’t seem to matter as much anymore. Not to me anyways. I know that in our youth-obsessed culture, if there is to be depth and meaning, it has to be about something more than just the external, the physical.

I was shocked to read that 96 per cent of all adults say they would change something about their appearance if they could. This is one of the factors that led philosopher Jonathan Zap to say,

Suffering associated with body image has reached such epidemic proportions in our culture that it must be counted as one of the greatest spiritual plagues ever to be visited upon mankind.

My recent observations would lead me to agree. A culture that has lost it’s ability to age gracefully, looking for the fountain of youth, hoping to find it using fillers, injections, implants, surgeries and more. It’s not even that hard to tell who is keeping it real anymore. Somehow, it is no longer okay to get older and look it too. This isn’t only a women’s issue, as men are playing catch up in this arena as well. There are lots of statistics, if one cares to check out who’s doing what to themselves in the name of staying young. Perhaps I might need to explore this more fully in another piece.

In regards to the every changing way we do relationships, it is sad to see that current statistics show 50 per cent of all marriages end in divorce. But, the actual statistical breakdown I found, shows even more startling results. The range of results indicates that divorce rates might be anywhere from 50 per cent of first marriages, 67 per cent of second, and 74 per cent of third, depending on the source. The odds seem to clearly be stacked against the possibility of successful marriage.

Enough to make me re-examine how a future relationship might look to me. As one of my men friends recently said to me, “Marriage is a contract two people try to make work.” And I tend to agree. Sometimes for all the wrong reasons if the statistics are correct, and with very discouraging results.

Many years ago Bob Dylan said, “The times they are a changin’.” And they are. Many of the institutions we have clung to for so long, including the traditional concept of marriage, are changing. And quickly. I feel grateful that I’m at a place in my life where I have total freedom and can take responsibility for every relationship I choose to be in.

I admit I’m still the little girl who believes in happily ever after, but I’m aware how that must start with happiness from within instead of looking for something out there to “complete me.”

If I can take anything from the brilliance of Marianne Williamson’s lecture “Relationships and Spiritual Adulthood”, it relates to this one line: “It is our job to affirm a person.” She explains, “It’s not our job to change a person. It is our job to celebrate a person. It’s not our job to imprison a person. It is our job to free a person.”

I see a bright and hope filled future in this. The more I do my own spiritual work, I can only draw closer those who are doing theirs as well. Somehow in my own seeking, I continue to trust I will be found.

We all deserve to be seen and loved for who we are, not a media ideal we will never attain. It is our individual responsibility to continue to explore and reveal who we are both as individuals and as a species. This will be the key to attracting the other who themselves is doing the very same work. As the Beatles said, “All you need is love.” Sound too simple? We all deserve to give and receive love. In many ways I believe it is that simple if we allow it to be.

So, let me ask you, what have you found makes a good relationship? Okay, dare I take this up a notch… What makes a great relationship?

Please visit me at:  www.beverleygolden.com

 

Originally published November 2011

5 Ways to Hit it Out of the Park When Life Throws You a Curveball

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 4.50.15 PMBy Dr. Andra Brosh

You know as much as I do that life doesn’t always go as planned. You can fantasize and dream about how you would like things to go, but the harsh reality is that your very existence on this earth is tenuous, and your reality is founded on unpredictability, not certainty.

Once this simple truth is accepted, you can focus less on manipulating and controlling how your life unfolds, and prepare yourself for the inevitable curveball coming your way. You may have already been up to the plate to receive one, but just like in baseball, you never really know when the next one is coming, so it’s always great to be prepared.

When something happens in your life that you didn’t expect, or thought never would, it’s likely to knock you off your feet. You might get blindsided by an infidelity or divorce, diagnosed with a life threatening illness, or realize that you will never be able to have children. Losing a job, your home, or a loved one will also rock your world to the point of capsizing.

These life challenges, and the many others that can strike at any time, are really hard to contend with, but they don’t have to wreck you. Whether you know it or not, you have been training your whole life to deal with these kinds of struggles. Just like your ancestors, you inherently possess the skills you need to deal with anything that gets thrown your way. You are wired to survive.

If you have already survived a serious life challenge then you know what to expect. This is where hindsight is truly 20/20, so be sure you learn what you need to know from the past so you can apply it in the future.

If you are just stepping up to bat, and realize at this moment that a curveball is headed your way, then it’s time to hunker down, and get ready to swing. If you are still “on the bench” and haven’t had to play ball yet, this is the perfect time to start thinking about how you will handle things when they arise.

Here are 5 ways to hit that inevitable curveball out of the park:

1. Take Pause

The experience of dealing with an unexpected life challenge is filled with frenetic energy, and a sense of urgency. Instead of making hasty decisions and going full throttle toward trying to solve the issue, take a moment to digest what has happened. Slow it way down, breathe, and sit with the reality of your situation before taking any action. Hitting the pause button is always a good idea when overwhelm and chaos are omnipresent because it creates a space for thoughtful reflection, better choices, and a more engaged process.

2. Remain Present

Worry will become your silent partner when you are dealing with a curveball. Projecting into the future is a natural human response to stress and uncertainty, and the human brain is always looking for what’s “next”. You may also become riddled with regret about what you could have or should have done in the past to prevent your present situation. Getting stuck in the past or the future doesn’t serve you in these times of crisis. The goal is to remain in the present, even though this feels counter-intuitive.

3. Maintain Integrity

It’s at times like these when your character and values are put to the test. Even if you are the most patient, diligent, and high-functioning individual on the planet, you are sure to become lost, disconnected and a blubbering version of yourself at a time of crisis. Staying true to what you believe, and paying attention to how you want to come across as you move through any transition will ground you in maintaining your most authentic self.

4. Reach Out

For most people seeking help at a time of crisis is justified, but you may have a hard time asking for support even in your darkest moment. It’s common to believe that you can solve all of your problems on your own, but you actually show greater strength by seeking the counsel of a professional. There are always going to be people who can offer wisdom and experience beyond what you can give yourself. Take advantage of the many great healers out there, and give yourself the gift of growing and learning from what feels like a rock bottom. Getting the tools you need to rise above will ensure that you come out the other side better then when you went in.

5. Be Honest

A strong defense against the pain of disappointment that accompanies being hit by a curveball is denial. Not accepting your circumstances, or trying to blame the world for what is happening to you is a way to avoid what you are dealing with. You may feel a sense of shame around your situation making it harder to find the self-compassion you deserve. Remember that you are not alone, seek out others who have experienced a similar fate, and acknowledge that like everyone else in the world, your humaneness makes you immune to a perfect existence.

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picofme2Dr. Andra Brosh is a Clinical Psychologist, writer, and thought leader. Her unique perspectives on life, love and connection stem from her own personal wisdom, and her knowledge of psychology and philosophy. Dr. Brosh’s work is founded on the fundamental truth that we are all wired to be relational beings, and that with the right guidance and tools everyone can find happiness and fulfillment in their interpersonal relationships.

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