Often, a separation or divorce brings up some very difficult to manage emotions. We usually blame our ex-partners for all our difficult hurt feelings. It must be their fault that you feel sad, mad, bad or even glad.
May I suggest that your feelings are actually much more under your control than you realize? Emotions are your choice. Difficult feelings will not completely disappear, but I find it very comforting to understanding that you have some control over your own emotions.
Feelings work like this:
- Circumstances happen and create a ‘situation’.
- Your beliefs dictate the story you tell yourself about the ‘situation’.
- This story is your version of the truth – it really is just your story or narrative about the ’situation’ according to what you believe and how you interpret things.
- The story you tell yourself will affect how you think about the situation.
- How you feel will be dictated by your own thoughts.
- Then you react to your own story. You respond from the interpretation of the situation, with the actions you deem are appropriate to take, or you decide to take no action at all.
- This reaction, or lack of action, will dictate the results you get.
- So, it is really all about what story your thoughts are creating – HOW AND WHAT YOU ARE THINKING – that will dictate how you feel in any given situation and how you will respond.
- If you stop for a moment between the ‘situation’ and the ‘story’, can you change your thoughts, feelings and actions? YES, you can change your interpretation of the situation!
- Try not to take everything personally. Often things have much less to do with you than you think. Try to understand the actions of the others involved. Feel empathy for them and things will be much easier to handle.
So, in summary – you decide how you will feel about any given situation by telling yourself a story. Is the story true? Are things perhaps different than what you see? What were the true intentions others actually may have had? Examine your assumptions and look for other possible explanations.
Byron Katie developed an amazing and original tool around managing feelings that you can use whenever you are finding a situation difficult to manage emotionally. Her tool is called simply ‘The Work’. ’The Work’ is a process that asks questions then uses some ’turnaround’ questions that can completely change the story you are telling yourself.
Try it! I use an app called ‘The Work of Byron Katie’ which takes you through the entire process on a smartphone. If you would rather get the paper version, Byron Katie’s website is simply thework.com – please check it out. You can find Byron Katie’s Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet here.
My favourite parts of ‘The Work’ are these three questions:
- Is it true? How do you really know it is true?
- Does this thought bring peace or stress into your life?
- Who would you be without the thought?
Let me know what you think about how knowing the way you are thinking about a situation can change how you feel, how you act, and ultimately your results.
Please contact me if you would like help navigating your separation or divorce. I can help you better manage the overwhelm.
I also manage a private Facebook group where we can connect and you can be kept up to date with challenges, products and all sorts of other resources. Please join me in ‘Growing Through Divorce‘.
I do offer a strategy session.
Take good care of yourself!
The Separation Project Coach