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How long to get over divorce - Adele Theron - NakedDivorce

How long does it take to get over your divorce?

Ever wondered just how long it’s going to take to heal from your divorce? I know I did when I was going through my divorce. 

I was also given this challenging and critical question live on-stage by my interviewer recently, and I wanted to share my answer here, and also go into a little more detail and a little more science than I was able to at this live event. So here goes…

First of all – I need to define what ‘Getting Over Divorce’ actually means?

Getting over divorce is like having an orgasm…

In this regard Getting Over Divorce is a bit like having an orgasm… It’s hard to define, but you know it when it happens!

My clients often describe this as feeling ‘themselves again’, ‘complete’, ‘in-control’, ‘the best version of themself’, ‘the real me’, ‘empty and free’.

There are many different expressions but there is also a similarity between them.

What I see is a real and healthy sensation of clarity and void of emotion which I shall call ‘space’ or ’emptiness’. A mental space that was previously full of sometimes rage, confusion, anger, loss, sadness and more has been vacated that provides the space for opportunity and hope.

They realise that the future IS back in their hands, that they ARE in control, and that EVERYTHING is possible, and achievable. It’s a very special moment.

3 friggin years! That’s not acceptable.

A lot has to happen to allow this kind of transformation to happen, and when it happens it is like a switch has been flicked. It is not a gradual and slow process. There is also 7 years of intensive work which goes into creating the environment for these kinds of breakthroughs and transformations. It’s no accident.

If I may return to the unlikely orgasm analogy, there may be some gradual build up before, but when the breakthrough happens it happens very powerfully and very profoundly. You will absolutely know when a breakthrough has hit you.

That said, this does not mean that you will never ever think about your ex-partner ever again. It does not necessarily mean that you think your ex-partner is your best friend BUT it does mean that you are past it. You have accepted that your divorce happened, and that it will always be a part of your history, but very critically it is NOT a part of your future.

Traditional Therapy

When I was going through my divorce I spoke to several traditional therapists. The three I spoke to all used a similar ‘calculation’ to give me an answer to this question – here’s their maths…

1 year of marriage = 6 months of therapy (min 1 session per week).

Additional connected trauma will extend the duration further.

So at 5 years of marriage, plus the additional trauma that I had as a child (I was born without fully developed hip sockets), and the infidelity (18 affairs), it would take at least 3 years of on-going therapy.

3 friggin years! That’s simply not acceptable. Given my background in corporate change management and my commitment to producing results quickly, this antiquated thinking just didn’t jel with me.

3 critical elements

I now know that there are three critical elements that dictate the duration of time it takes to heal from divorce. They are;

  1. How motivated you are to do the necessary work to transform
  2. How evolved emotionally and personally you are, this may include how exposed to personal development you have been in the past
  3. How intensive the coaching / therapy is

For the purposes of this article I will focus entirely on number three – intensity…

Another approach

Let’s take a different look at this same question using a different topic. Let’s look at fitness…

How long does it take to get ‘fit’? It’s hard to define, right? You could argue it takes years, or indeed a lifetime of regular work to get ‘fit’.

The work is in reality never ending.

This is the thinking of the traditional therapists. It’s ongoing, often a lifelong pursuit. There is no finish line, there is no agreed result, there is no end date. The work continues indefinitely – or until you run out of funds.

Now let’s ask a slightly different question – let’s ask how long does it train to run a marathon?

Because we have given the question more definition, we can better answer it. A few questions also may arise:

  1. Are their variables that effect your training?
  2. Does everyone improve their fitness at exactly same rate?
  3. Will they all achieve the same race time?
  4. Do they all start from the same position?

The answer to all these questions is of course No.

However, we can still say with some justification and a significant amount of proof that if one trains 2-3 times per week, one can get fit enough to complete a marathon with 6 months of training.

3 times the intensity can equal 5-10 times the results!

Aside from the initial fitness level the biggest influencing variable that defines how long it takes to achieve the result is one thing. “Intensity”

Intensity

It stands to reason that the person that trains once per week will not advance at the same rate as someone that trains three times per week.

It is also worth noting that at just once per week the fitness levels progress at a very slow level indeed. I would argue that anyone only training once per week will never ever ever ever be fit enough to run a marathon. Think about that…

At three times per week, the fitness level does not increase at three times the rate – it increases exponentially. SO you might even progress at 5-10 times the rate.

So very realistically 3 times the intensity can easily equal 5-10 times the results.

The Science

Scientists tell us that most of the universe is filled with nothing.

Tom Stoppard explained the emptiness of atom like this, ‘if the nucleus is like the altar of St Paul’s Cathedral, an electron is like a moth in the cathedral’. Even in something as small as an atom, it is mostly full of nothing.

If all the ‘emptiness’ was removed, the entire human race could fit into a volume less than the size of three sugar cubes (ref: http://www.physics.org/featuredetail.asp?id=41). Isn’t that amazing??

So if we could remove all the emptiness out of a the transformational healing process is it not possible to condense that down from 3 years into just a few weeks? In a word Yes!

Heal in just 21 days

The Naked Divorce’s most popular course is completed in just 21 days. We achieve this because it’s intensive. Work and exercises are completed each and every day. It’s a demanding course, it takes energy, commitment, focus and support to complete it.

To be absolutely clear, I am NOT saying that we can achieve 3 years of therapy in just 21 days. What I am saying is – you achieve much greater, much bigger results, with much more mental fitness in 21 days than can ever be achieved by 3 years of non-intensive traditional therapy. We have many participants who were stuck in therapy for over 6 years who finally healed within the Naked Divorce.

The reason I created this programme is because no one has 6 years of life to spend it suffering. Time is the one commodity you can NEVER get back. So rather than wait for time to simply pass whilst assuming it will heal the wound – just get on with the process intensively and MOVE ON. There is life to be getting back to.

When 21 days it just too long

A year ago I launched the Naked Divorce Haven Retreat. A seven day version of Naked Divorce for our elite/ executive class participants who really don’t have the luxury of time to be suffering. Where, and yes you have guessed it, the course is even more intensive.

This is for the high achievers, for those that are very committed to their better future. We have a lot of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, country managers, business owners, judges, lawyers, doctors, etc. that join us on the Divorce Haven Retreat (I’ll reveal the most popular profession that attend a little later).

We achieve this by defining the space, the location and the environment better. All consultations are completed face-to-face, in-person, and in private. As a result the intensity is much higher.

The results are even more powerful, even more profound, and even more swift. For total disclosure I should point out that whilst the retreat is only 7 days, we do start build-up work prior to the retreat, and there is ongoing support afterwards included so it does take a little more than just 7 days to achieve the full result.

This reality of course is very confronting to traditional therapists. I’ll be open and tell you that many do not believe in this process. Not one of these doubters have actually done the course!

You also might like to know that the most popular career of all our customers are, did you guess?

Yes therapists, and physiologists. Now doesn’t that say a lot? We have had psychiatrists send their patients to us (with doctor’s notes), medical professionals who advise patients to do our programme and psychologists who do the programme quietly without ever saying anything about it.

Here are a few words from what they said about the course…

Testimonials from therapists and physiologists that have completed the Naked Divorce programme:

“Really, really cool experience. Utterly life-changing”
Cecile Fontan, Psychologist

“Naked Divorce was the answer to my prayers”
Elizabeth Q, Emotional Therapist

“You can’t go very far without dealing with your emotions rather than suppressing them”
Dr Sindiyo, Clinical Psychologist

“Incredible structure… I really did experience a complete state change by the end of the course”
Mandy, Life Coach and Financial Therapist

“I am simply blown away by the powerful transformation”
Stephanie Burton, Love Coach

“Incredible experience. I learnt more about relationships from Naked Divorce than in 22 years practicing as a psychologist”
Dr Ayse Sahin, Clinical Psychologist

“The more time you take to heal, the more self indulgent you get. Better to do something like Naked Divorce to focus on healing”
Dr Nea Clark, Clinical Psychologist London

So, the bottom line is if the award-winning Naked Divorce is their chosen programme for healing and they refuse to take the time to heal, why aren’t they telling you that healing faster is possible? Possibly because the average person going through divorce therapy spends USD 6,799 to heal from divorce…

Food for thought.

Get busy living and take positive pro-active action to get over your divorce.

 

With lots of love and lightness

Adele

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3 ways you’re dooming the relationship before it begun

Have you been single since what seems like forever – and miserable about it?

If so, you may be falling into one of these common self-defeating traps.

 

1) You raise the wrong bars too high

I’m not suggesting you settle for something or someone that just isn’t right for you. I’ve talked before at length about why it’s so important to know what you need in another person.

… But read that carefully: not, what you want.

What you need.

Things get muddled

Remember the Attraction Pyramid I mentioned a few posts back? How in most situations we automatically approach attraction the wrong way around, by starting with health and status markers (how they look and signs they are dominant in a particular context), then whether we have an emotional connection, and then exploring the more logical basis for a relationship, i.e. whether we are really compatible for the reasons that genuinely matter?

Well, this is part of the same problem.

Sometimes, this is straightforwardly shallow. Obviously, if your priority near physical perfection or a certain size of bank balance, rather than someone with whom you connect and share values, you’re unlikely to have a meaningful relationship any time soon.

More insidious than this

The way we draw up lists of things we’re looking for in a partner tend to be woefully superficial because our needs are incredibly complex – too difficult for us to put into simple terms. Instead, we end up using stand-in symbols that are far from perfect because we assume they mean the same thing.

For example, you might decide that you want to be with someone who works in a similar profession as you, so that they ‘get’ what you do.

But the underlying need could be that you have someone to whom you can unpack your day – who makes you feel safe and supported and able to express your worries.

Equally, it could be that you need someone who motivates you – someone to bounce ideas off, who is really interested in what you do, fuels your excitement and is more likely to suggest a solution to a problem than complain that it’s keeping you at work until 10pm.

Or it could be that you simply assume your shared experience will equal shared outlook, interests or passions.

Simply going out with someone who is also a teacher or a doctor or an actor or who runs their own business or whatever it you have on your list might mean that they understand where you’re coming from and can give you what you need. But that’s no guarantee.

Much better to look out for signs that they are that kind of person, rather than just presume it goes with the territory of a certain career.

Little imperfections

People say things that are a bit awkward or embarrassing sometimes, especially when they’re nervous. A mildly annoying habit or trait, an anecdote that doesn’t quite come off, a slight personality flaw that means they’re not, in fact, perfect – for the most part, these are just signs that you’re not out for a drink with a robot. They’re not reasons to throw in the towel.

And obviously, anyone you have a relationship with will inevitably have different opinions on everything from books, film and music, to politics and philosophy, to the latest iPhone model. You don’t have to agree on everything, all the time.

Clear in your head

… Instead, you need to have clear in your head what it is that you do absolutely need to agree on.

If a sense of adventure and exploring new places is what makes you tick, a relationship with a total homebody who prefers routine and certainty is unlikely to work. Alternatively, if you know that the most important thing for you is stability and closeness to your family, there’s little point kindling things with someone who clearly finds that stifling, no matter whether they tick all the boxes when it comes to having a safe, well-paid job and a mortgage.

It’s not about lowering or raising your standards. It’s about figuring about which “standards” are absolute essentials for long term happiness and which are simply the icing on the cake.

2) Upset when people you don’t like reject you?

This is probably the most common type of self-destructive behaviour that long-term singletons slip into, and it usually makes them feel like they’re at their very lowest point.

It sounds like the other end of the spectrum to demanding perfection, but the two often go hand-in-hand. Why? Because once you’ve decided that your perfect person doesn’t exist, the next stage is often to say, f*** it, clearly beggars can’t be choosers – I’ll give anyone a chance.

Then, when it doesn’t work out, you’re so horrified by the you’ve been rejected by someone you didn’t care about anyway that this pushes you into another whole layer of depression. Even your “last resorts” don’t want you! Are you really that undesirable?

Incredibly unhealthy

This is incredibly unhealthy for so many reasons.

Firstly, this is no way to view other people, male or female.

It’s sad that language we hear day in, day out (“You can do better” “S/he’s punching above his weight” and so on) reinforces this idea that there’s some magical scale out there somewhere that everybody’s positioned on. As if the goal is to land someone further up on the scale and dating someone further down it means they should be somehow grateful.

What an ugly way to see the world. And, just as importantly, what a load of nonsense.

What do you need in a person

Yes, you need to know what it is that you need in a person. What you are attracted to. What the deal breakers are for you, personally.

But this isn’t a universal scale. It’s a list of things that matter to you.

And that other person you’re meeting with? They don’t simply exist to bolster your ego. They can probably tell that you’re underwhelmed and are understandably put off by that.

Meanwhile, they have their own list. A list that might look startlingly different to yours.

This means that, where you might naturally assume that you are the more desirable person in the equation because you’re more conventionally attractive, have a better job, are smarter or wittier – whatever – these might not be the criteria they are really concerned about right now. They might be looking for things that are totally different.

All you’re doing when you go out with someone you’re already unenthusiastic about is put two people through the misery of being judged on rules they can’t meet, don’t care about or don’t understand.

And you wonder why this leaves you feeling crap about yourself?

3) Turning a fling into a disaster?

You’re trying to turn a perfectly fine fling into a disastrous long term thing. This is not about slut-shaming or telling you at what point in your relationship you should sleep with someone. You’re a grown up and can make these decisions for yourself!

I’m also not talking about one-night stands that are fun in the moment, but that you never expect (or try) to take anywhere.

I’m talking specifically about a dalliance that’s so obviously founded on physical attraction, will only ever be about that, and should really have run its course.

… But now that it’s started, you feel like you need to keep it going.

The trouble is, even if you think you’re cool with just keeping things casual for now and seeing where things end up, that’s rarely what happens.

Let me explain

I have so many friends who are jaded about dating, because they say their new flings fizzle so fast.

Mostly these are women who say that, even if they aren’t sure yet if they’re looking for something serious, the guys they’ve been hooking up with go quiet all of a sudden for reasons they don’t understand.

One friend told me recently that she was left feeling pretty crappy about herself and annoyed with one man she’d seen a few times.

She’d made it clear that she wanted to keep things casual for now and, at first, he seemed okay with this – but then he bailed.

My friend couldn’t understand why a straight, warm-blooded man would behave like this. After all, isn’t that what all men want? Was she that unattractive that even a “fun fling” was turning her down?

Here’s how I see it

We live in a culture that constantly tells women that men are always after sex. That, if this on the cards, they’ll never say no. And if they can get it without emotional investment or commitment, so much the better.

(This works in both directions, by the way. Men grow up hearing that women ultimately want a relationship out of them, and that sex is, on some level, a tool used to “land” one. Many men are thrown when a woman they’ve been sleeping with says no, they don’t want to take it any further after all!)

But is that actually the case?

Okay, the desire to get laid drives a lot of people’s impulsive decisions, whether they’re male or female.

And while many relationships are passionate from the outset – which can be amazing – passion isn’t the same as just wanting to get someone naked. It’s about being excited in their company, about having a spark, about finding unexpected things you have in common (or don’t) and how that heightens your attraction to them.

If you’re going to spend any amount of time in each other’s company, you need to know that you have more to talk about than what’s below the waist.

If you don’t have the other elements in place, no matter how much fun the sex is, you’ll both get bored pretty damn fast, or, worse, you start projecting more meaning onto the situation than it deserves.

The longer this drags on, the more you retro-rationalise your conquest by telling yourself (and your friends) that maybe you do like this person. That they make you laugh. That they’re quite sweet really. That hey, maybe it could turn into something longer term.

Even when you know in your heart that you’re clutching at straws.

Even when you know that, if you were being rational right now, you would never have gone for someone like this.

Even when you know that they only reason you’re getting attached is that they’re here now and hey, it’s a hassle to get to know someone knew or you feel bad about upping your “number”.

Right?

Emotional or sexual rejection

No one likes to be rejected, whether it’s on an emotional or just a sexual level. Whether they wanted a relationship with this person or not. It’s a blow to our confidence. And if you know you’re going to get hurt, it’s just not worth putting yourself through this for something that’s meaningless in the long run.

Because the problem with trying to shoehorn something all about sex into something more substantial is that makes you emotionally vulnerable without any of the upsides.

To go back to the attraction pyramid for a moment: you’re taking a fling based on the flimsiest part of the pyramid – health and status – and allowing its failure to hurt you, when the only relationships you should be investing that kind of energy in are those that have firm foundations.

Relationships with a logical base

Relationships should have a logical basis in the things that matter to you – and that you need to feel happy, supported and safe. This isn’t about moralising. This isn’t about making you feel bad.

It’s about taking a good look at the kinds of relationships you have in your life and asking yourself why you’re trying to keep them alive. Whether it would make you happy for them to succeed. And if not, whether it’s worth the potential pain of having them fall flat.

Then, using these questions to figure out what kind of relationship or person would be worth the potential heartache – and making sure you don’t get sucked in by ones that aren’t.

 

Adele

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A Tale of Two Singletons: Part Two – Let Down Your Long Hair

This is the second part of a two-part series. To read the first part, click here.

The other eternally single friend

In my last post, I talked about one kind of eternally single friend that we all seem to have: the type who we know is awesome, isn’t shy about meeting people and always seems to have the next hot date lined up – but somehow, never ends up in a “proper” relationship.

In this second part, I want to talk about the “other” type of eternally single friend. The friend who is just as lovely and amazing, but never seems to meet anyone at all.

I know someone just like this. Let’s call her Jennifer.

Jennifer is a great friend and a great all-round catch. She’s clever, she’s fun, she’s cultured, she’s pretty. Professionally, she’s doing very well, with an interesting job in a highly competitive field. Despite a humble start in life, she’s carved out a great future and she has every reason to feel proud of herself. Prospective partners have every reason to be impressed.

So why is it that I can count on one hand the number of dates Jennifer has been on in the past three years?

Why is it that she hasn’t even had a whiff of a serious relationship since the last one ended years ago?

Negativity and disappointment

The thing with Jennifer is, we all know she’s awesome.

But does she believe she’s awesome? Does she hell.

Ask Jennifer what she’s up to and she will play it down. Play it down to the point that you’d think her career was about to go off a cliff, when in reality she’s doing better than just about anyone in our friendship group. In a field she’s always dreamed of working in and that’s she’s genuinely passionate about.

Five minutes into catch-up drinks with Jennifer and she will tell you how much weight she’s put on (she hasn’t). Or how bad her skin is at the moment (it’s not). Or how boring she’s been lately (her life is one big social whirlwind). How she’s doing so badly at whatever project she set herself, or how bleak things are looking, or how she’s worried about being irresponsible and overspending (again, she’s a deeply practical and organised person who gets more done than just about anyone I know).

Jennifer’s friends can obviously see past this. We sigh and roll our eyes and tell her to stop being ridiculous. But we still love her.

Because we know that Jennifer is what I like to call a Rapunzel.

She builds a huge tower of negativity around her to protect herself against disappointment.

We know that to get to the “real” Jennifer – the fun, brilliant, witty Jennifer – we have to do the emotional equivalent of getting her to let down her long hair, so that we can climb up.

Jennifer’s exes reflect this. They were all long-term friends before they were boyfriends. People who took the time to really get to know her. Who made that long, arduous climb, even when she made it tough for them.

But that’s not how most dating works.

When you meet someone new, or head out a first date, you don’t have the luxury of five years’ friendship behind you. This person has no idea what is on the other side of the wall. All they are seeing is the wall.

And why would you go to all that trouble when you have no idea if it’s worth what’s beyond?

Sure, if you’re a Rapunzel, you can blame your date. You can dismiss the opposite sex as shallow and not recognising your worth. For failing to get to know the “real you”. But why make it so hard for them to see the “real you” in the first place?

After all, would you go to all that trouble to win around a stranger who might turn out to be totally wrong for you anyway? Would you jump through all these hoops for someone you don’t even know yet?

Because the thing is, too, that all this negativity is kinda selfish.

Watch your emotional state

When we meet or go out with someone new, we tend to be nervous. We want to be put at ease, to relax, to feel comfortable chatting and opening up.

But as emphatic animals, we quickly “catch” the emotional state of the person we’re with. So, when the other person does the opposite – when they project a mood that makes it feel inappropriate to be cheerful, happy and positive – it puts us on edge.

That’s not to say that you have to spend an entire relationship pretending to be happy. You don’t necessarily even have to spend an entire date pretending to be happy.

As you get deeper into conversation and start to trust one another, it might feel perfectly fine to start touching on subjects that are a bit darker, rawer, more serious. Vulnerability is a big part of intimacy, and as a relationship blossoms, you will inevitably reveal things to one another that frighten you, are painful to you, or that paint you in a less-than-confident light. Revealed at the right time, these things will bring you closer together.

.. But that’s very different from making this your opening gambit. Launching into a stream of
negativity in the first few minutes is exhausting, even alarming, for the other person. It makes it impossible to take any pleasure out of the situation. It will probably make them want to escape pretty sharpish.

And, worst of all, it makes you even more convinced that all this misery is justified, because It makes you even surer that you’re unlovable.

Pinpoint the problem

Excessive self-deprecation is largely about diminishing yourself before anyone has a chance to do it for you, so when someone seems to agree with your poor-self image, that only encourages you to keep jumping the gun.

And that makes you even more likely to keep building up your negativity wall.

But it’s the negativity wall that’s the problem – not you.

Take a recent date of Jennifer’s. She met up with a guy with similar interests. Who she’d been chatting to through a dating site for a while, and seemed really keen. He was witty and interesting and good-looking, and he clearly thought she was, too.

They met for a drink. The conversation was flowing and Jennifer thought it was going fine. She didn’t even realise how unrelentingly negative she was being until the guy looked at her in bewilderment and said “Jesus. Who hurt you?”

Needless to say, the relationship did not progress.

What should I do?

If you don’t stop yourself from building up your negativity tower, pretty sure you’ll find yourself stuck Inside. You won’t remember how to actually get out of it. You might forget that you’re even in it.

Like Jennifer, you’ll stop noticing that you’re being miserable about everything. You might have stopped noticing the effect this has on other people.

And then, from a relationship perspective, you’re really in trouble. So where do you start if you’re a Rapunzel? How do you learn to let down your long hair? The easiest way to begin is to stop making everything about YOU.

Be positive!

If your bad feelings are dominating the conversation, stop talking about yourself so much. Ask the other person lots of questions. Get them talking about what they’re excited about and interested in. Do your best to be excited about and interested in it, too. Bounce off their enthusiasm. Notice how it feels to be talking to someone who is passionate and positive about something. Notice how it puts you at ease.

And then, when the conversation comes back around to you, work on mirroring this mood. (As a side note – there’s loads of evidence that mirroring another person’s behaviour and body language actually builds rapport and helps people warm to you, too!).

Don’t fake passion for things you hate, but rather focus on the things you really like and why they make you tick, rather than ways in which they might be lacking. Allow yourself the pleasure of being upbeat as you talk about things that make you happy. Pay attention to how pushing yourself to focus on the positives actually changes the way you feel.

You don’t have to talk yourself up, but that doesn’t mean you have to put yourself down.

Plus, if you can’t refer to your achievements without feeling sick to your stomach (and if you’re British, you’re probably familiar with this phenomenon), talk about what you enjoy about your work instead. Talk about what you loved about that last book you read or that last film you saw. Talk about something really fascinating or exciting thing that you heard or read about today.

So Rapunzel, go ahead and let your hair down. You will enjoy yourself much, much more – and, of course, so will your date.

Adele

 

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Still Single and Putting Up with It? You Might Be Hiding a Self-Destructive Secret

If it’s been many months or years since your divorce, have you started dating again?

If not, why? Because you genuinely want to be single? Or because you still haven’t healed and recovered from the trauma of the breakup? Because you’re not yet over your ex?

When people ask you questions like these, do you get defensive and angry? Do you insist you’re fine? Or, at the other end of the scale, do you sigh and tell them you couldn’t dream of it – you’re not ready – it still hurts too much to move on?

If you’re single for any other reason than because this feels right for you right now (for example, you firmly want and need your own space, company and freedom to do your own thing at the moment) the chances are that you are actively choosing to drag out your suffering. And if that’s the case, you really need to ask yourself why.

Why are you resigning yourself to the idea that you can’t or won’t heal?

Living in pain and misery saps the lifeblood, the joy, the vitality out of you. It takes all the sheen off your existence. Holding on to your suffering represents an active choice to life a less awesome and fulfilling life. So what are you getting out of it that could possibly make up for something so horrible?

You might be shocked by this question.

Perhaps you’ve never really thought of yourself as clinging to your pain. Probably, you’ve never thought about, or admitted to yourself that you actually get something out of it. After all, you’re the victim of the situation, right? You’re the martyr. It’s your happiness that’s being sacrificed. You’re the one that’s been hurt and can’t heal. You’re the one that needs the pity.

Delicious, isn’t it?

But it feels so good….

Few things are as emotionally intoxicating as having the moral high ground. For as long as you feel hurt and wronged, you also feel yourself to be above reproach. Perhaps you also have external validation – sympathy, hugs, attention, a free pass to sit around in your PJs and eat ice cream.

Or perhaps it’s internal: the more pain you feel, the more real, intense or important the love was or the more profound the breakup. … And, of course, the more justification you have to avoid putting yourself in an emotionally vulnerable situation again, even if that means a life of loneliness and pain.

Any of this sound familiar?

In your heart of hearts, do you think you might have chosen not to heal because, in the short term, the payoff seems worth the pain? If so, I’d like you to try a little exercise.

exercise

Take a look at the cards above. Which statement in the black box is closest to how you feel right now?

Now look at the statements under the black box. Note any of these that you agree with that are interfering with your healing process, or that you know are side effects of failing to heal.

Finally, read the words above the box. These represent all the things that we miss out on by holding on tight to our suffering instead of moving on and getting better. Which of these are you lacking as a result of your pain / do you feel the lack of most sharply from your life?

Imagine five years were to go by. Or ten. Or the rest of your life. What would it mean to you to never experience these things again in all that time? How much duller would life be? How would it affect your happiness, your memories, your relationship with your kids, family members and friends? Is losing all that worth those perks below the line?

If not, it’s time to let go and start your healing process. Now. There’s no more time to waste.

Adele

 

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Six Reasons You’re Doomed to Marry the Wrong Person

“If anyone can show just cause why this couple cannot lawfully be joined together in matrimony, let them speak now, or forever hold their peace.”

Ever heard that at a friend’s wedding and secretly listed all the reasons in your head why this union is so obviously a bad idea? When half of marriages end in divorce, it’s clear that an awful lot of us are messing up somewhere along the line. Here are 6 of the biggest reasons why.

1) You Don’t Know Yourself Well Enough

Each of us is bonkers in our own unique way. You inevitably have habits and neuroses and personality traits that drive other people – even the people who love you most – round the bend. Perhaps there are things you’re deeply sensitive about, that make you fly off the handle irrationally. Ways of handling stress or challenges to your beliefs that don’t paint you in the best light.

The point is, like everyone else on the planet, you have ways of being difficult, or frustrating, or unreasonable, or annoying, or for want of a better word, a bit nuts. If you don’t know what they are, and you don’t consciously seek out someone who a) seems well equipped to handle your particular variety of quirks and flaws and b) who is nuts in ways that you can cope with, you’re in trouble.

2) You Invent Too Much of Your Partner

It takes a long, long time to work out how another person really thinks. In the early stages, that mystery is part of the thrill. All you have to go on is how that person looks and moves, their body language, their voice, and those scattered tidbits of their views and personality that they consciously curate, or accidentally let slip, when you’re together. Pushing someone – especially a man – too hard, too soon to open up is frowned upon or dismissed as needy or overbearing.

But what you don’t know, your imagination will invent, and if you find yourself walking up the aisle with someone whose beliefs, motivations, boundaries and internal life you’ve never really teased out, but have rather filled in from your own assumptions or romantic ideals, the reality of who they are may well prove to be a shock.

3) You Give Your Gut Feeling Too Much Credit

Sometimes it’s good to listen to your intuition. When you have a creeping feeling that someone is lying, for example. When you get the feeling they might hurt or endanger you. When something just doesn’t feel right. So much language between humans is unspoken, and these interactions are as meaningful as what we choose to put into words.

But our instincts aren’t sacred. They’re imperfect. They’re shaped by habit, by unconscious bias, by the false comfort of repeating behavioural patterns, even when this is bad for us. Instincts are, also, driven by things like lust and desire, or a craving for companionship, or learned behaviours from our parents and peers.

Your gut feeling tells you what feels most appealing right now, but it doesn’t tell you why. It doesn’t tell you whether this course of action is truly conductive to your emotional health, your security or your happiness in the long run.

4) You’re Petrified of Being Single

Loneliness is a terrible matchmaker. Fear of solitude nudges us towards all kinds of unfortunate decisions. It encourages us to mentally gloss over all the good reasons that someone isn’t right for us. It leads us into situations where we’re more miserable stuck with someone else than we would be if we’d just stayed on our own.

Plus, it puts unbearable pressure on the early stages of a potential relationship.

Rather than sounding out a friendship, rather than really listening to what that other person has to say, to learning how they think, and forming a healthy connection, you’re fretting over whether this will be the person who finally saves you from your shitty singledom. You’re making the situation all about you even as you lose touch with what you actually need.

It’s not a healthy place to be in at all. There isn’t an easy fix to this. It’s understandable to want a family, to want companionship, to want intimacy and sex. To want to grow old with someone.

But if you conflate your attraction to one person in particular with these needs as a whole – if you avoid asking whether the person you’re marrying is the right person to share these things with – it’s easy to see how you can end up making the wrong choice.

The important thing is to be honest with yourself about who you are, who your partner is, and how you fit together, rather than trying to shoehorn another person into your ready-made dream for the future.

5) You’re Not Sure How to be Happy

Here’s the great irony. So many of us expect to be blissfully happy in our marriage at all times, but we have no idea how that actually works. In fact, most of the time, we seek out relationships that mimic the type of bonds we experienced as children, because our minds equate familiarity with safety.

Rather than selecting potential spouses based on their potential to bring us genuine happiness, we find ourselves recreating relationships we recognise, even when these involve dynamics of control, humiliation, cruelty or emotional neglect that have made us miserable in the past.

After all, when in your life has a relationship (of any kind, with anyone), made you feel 100% happy – safe, secure, and content, with no fear, pain, frustration or resentment creeping in? If you’re answer is “never”, how will your brain recognise the signals it should follow to build a relationship like that?

It can’t do what it’s never been shown how to do before. You’re going to have to intervene, consciously stopping yourself from going down the same painful paths – choosing a partner wisely, even when your instincts protest.

6) No One Teaches Us This Stuff

Where did you get your relationship advice growing up? Unless, or even if, your parents were a perfect model of domestic diplomacy, no doubt you’ll have drawn your ideas from elsewhere. Maybe even from magazine advice columns? From novels, music or art? From (whisper it) Disney movies?

The thing is, these fantasy versions of idealised relationships were dreamed up by people who, in most cases, were no closer to figuring out the secrets to a happy marriage than you were, at 13, poring over their tropes about “finding the one” or “not settling for less than you deserve” or how “true love conquers all”.

There’s a reason fairy tales and romantic comedies end at the couple’s wedding: marriage isn’t the end of the story, a joyful vignette that’s perfectly preserved for the rest of your life. It’s the beginning of a long, hard slog of tough decisions, sacrifices, negotiations, disappointments, real and perceived betrayals.

There will be dull moments. There will be miscommunications. There will be fights. Being happy together and staying in love takes concerted effort, empathy and patience on both sides.

If you’re unwilling to accept a relationship that needs work, that occasionally leaves you feeling let down or frustrated, or in which either of you lacks absolute, eternal, unwavering certainty in your love for one another, don’t get married: get a dog.

Adele

 

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5 Simple Steps That Will Make You Happier Today

Everyone’s looking for that one big secret to happiness.

We’re all after that magical thing that will transform our lives, our outlook and allow us to feel peaceful and content. But I’m going to let you in to a secret of my own: reality is much more mundane than that.

There is no magical happiness formula. There is only learning to manage your feelings and take simple, practical steps to nurture your emotional health.

If that sounds disappointing, it shouldn’t be. In fact, it’s empowering.

You don’t have to keep searching for some external source of happiness that may or may not fall out of the sky and fix your life on your behalf. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you’ve had the tools you need to lift your mood in your possession all along. You just need to learn how to use them.

1) Give That Shitty Feeling a Name

You’re not happy, you know that much. But what are you feeling? Be precise. Are you angry? Sad? Disappointed? Frustrated? Wounded? Resentful? Frightened? Anxious? Don’t just stop with a definition: use descriptive and metaphorical language to express the experience. For example: “I feel trapped”, “I feel like I’m moving through fog”, etc. Know your enemy!

Pinpointing and describing an emotion will help you to prevent it from overwhelming you.

It diffuses that helpless, blind panic that a powerful emotion can trigger. Why? Because these emotions are controlled by the limbic system, which operates instinctively. Trying to suppress an emotion means fighting against your limbic system – a battle you’re doomed to lose.

However, using language to conceptualise your emotions is an intellectual activity, not an instinctive one. It activates your prefrontal cortex, naturally shifting activity away from the limbic system and reducing arousal in that area.

Next time you feel yourself getting dragged into a downward spiral of negative emotions, take a moment to write down exactly how you feel. You’ll be amazed at how much calmer and in control you feel when you can put your emotions into words.

2) Practice Being Grateful

Gratitude does crazy things to the brain… in a good way. Identifying and noting down what you’re most grateful for every day releases dopamine and raises levels of serotonin, the happy-hormone. I mean, people take party drugs to get a hit of this stuff, but you can get a burst of it without the downsides, just by saying thank you to the universe. How’s that for a bonus?

Take a few minutes every day to list the things you’re grateful for.

Avoid vague, general things like “my family” or “my friends”, but actual, specific things, like “The card my 5-year-old made for me at school today” or, “The good luck text my friend sent before my presentation.” Counting your blessings is a great way to pull yourself out of a pit of misery.

3) Do Nice Things for Other People

Like gratitude, selflessness gives you a chemical buzz. Little acts of generosity, an un-asked-for favour, a kind word or compliment, even a cup of tea… making another person unexpectedly happy will reflect right back at you, cheering you up and putting a tiny little spring in your step. Plus, when you’re totally wrapped up in your own head and problems, shifting your focus to someone else’s happiness for a moment can be a genuine relief.

4) Hug the People You Love

Did you know that we’re so excruciatingly sensitive to perceptions of social exclusion that we experience rejection as physical pain?

Physical affection has a profound effect on our emotional health. Physical and social isolation go hand in hand, as far as our brain is concerned, and the best way to counteract that is to incorporate physical intimacy as much as is appropriate.

With family, partners and close friends this should be easy enough – a hug, a kiss, a stroke of the hair or holding hands can help raise your happiness levels no end. But even with those less close to us, simple interactions like shaking hands, patting on the shoulder or exchanging a kiss on the cheek at greeting helps to establish a sense of intimacy that keeps us chemically buoyant and staves off a sense of isolation.

5) Make a Decision

Nothing will make you miserable like indecision. As Dan Gilbert explains in his excellent TED Talk on the science of happiness, we all think we want more choices, but leaving the door open to too many possibilities doesn’t make us happier at all. In fact, it makes us deeply dissatisfied.

I get that you want to avoid mistakes, but very often, it’s better to just make a decision – even an imperfect one – than to um and ah indefinitely over a choice and make yourself miserable in the process. Sometimes, you need to go for “good enough” instead of torturing yourself over whether it’s “the best” or (the non-existent) “perfect”.

Making a decision and moving on keeps you active and energetic. 

It can feel like a physical load has been lifted from your shoulders. Sick of deliberating? Force yourself to make a decision fast. Today. Make your choice and make that the end of it. 

Now take a deep breath, and smile. 

Adele

 

What daily rituals do you follow that raise your spirits? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice in the comments section below.

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Life’s Too Precious to Waste Wallowing in the Past

How many times this week have you mentally replayed a fight that you had with your ex?

I want you to answer honestly. Maybe not an actual fight – maybe you pictured what you would or should have said to them. Maybe you picture a confrontation you never had, or the killer blow you wish you’d delivered at the time.

Now how much of your life do you think you spend like this trawling through negative memories and reliving the things that make you feel angry and bitter? Dissecting, analysing, obsessing — does any of it make you feel happy or put you at peace? Of course not.

Resentment is destructive. Resentment is the thing that keeps us rooted in a broken, ugly past.

Start living today

Life is too short to start each day with the broken pieces of yesterday. Your breakup was miserable enough the first time, right? If you could somehow go back and spare yourself all of that pain, wouldn’t you? Then why do you inflict it on yourself time after time?

Why are you voluntarily repeating those experiences every day of your life? It doesn’t matter how many times you conduct that fight with the imagined version of your ex. The outcome will never be different.

It doesn’t matter how much time you devote to dwelling in the past, the present is still the present. And if you don’t stop wallowing and start living, you won’t just have lost out on yesterday – you’ll lose today, too.

Do you really want to give that to your ex? After all, as the saying goes, resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. It’s time to stop drinking the poison. It’s time to stop letting resentment rule your life.

Time to let go

Easier said than done? Of course it is. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t practical things you can do. Here are 6 powerful steps to take today.

Declare an amnesty

Make the decision to stop waging a mental war with this person and with yourself. Recognise that enough is enough before you start to tackle your feelings.

Admit to yourself that you’re an addict

Resentment gives you a rush. That intoxicating sense of letting your rage run wild, if only in your head. The buzz of taking the moral high ground, feeling yourself wronged – and righteous. It’s chemical. It’s a hit. That’s why you keep coming back. And you need to stop before your addiction gets out of hand.

Accept that your resentment is futile

No matter what happens in the confines of your mind, it will not change the past. Neither will it influence other people, past or present. It can’t stop them rejecting you or force them to give you the things you crave. The only person it controls is you.

Get to the bottom of it

Time to get it all out. In one column, list all the reasons that you resent your ex. Every tiny thing they did, or that irritates you about them. Don’t censor yourself: it doesn’t matter how small or stupid or irrational, write it down.

In the next column, write down exactly why you resent this thing. How does it make you feel? Why does it upset you? Why does it make you feel threatened?

Is it possible you’re confusing the way this person makes you feel with how someone else made you feel in the past?

Finally, in the last column, be brutally honest. Did you tell them how this was affecting you? Did you stick up for yourself? Could you have managed the problem better? Is there any way in which you contributed to this problem? Were there ways in which you misread the slight or blew it out of proportion?

Forgive where you can

First, forgive yourselffor ways you may have let your past self down and ways in which you secretly believe you were weak. Next, forgive the object of your resentment for the things you can bear for things they might not really have done out of malice, or things they simply messed up on.

Forgive the things that upset you because they dragged up old feelings and insecurities, rather than because they were intrinsically cruel; forgive him or her for those things that, ultimately, no longer matter.

Make an action plan

Resentment doesn’t make you stronger, but decisiveness does. Plan what you are going to do to stop yourself from getting hurt like this again. How will you respond assertively to nip things in the bud? This is where you will really take control. It’s where you’ll really start healing.

Getting over resentment won’t happen overnight. It’s a process. But it’s a journey you need to begin, and soon, if you want to avoid your past swallowing up your future, too.

Adele

 

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This Is What Happens When You Stop Making An Effort

How did you picture relationships when you were a kid?

Did you imagine the fairy tale of falling in love, making a commitment and living happily ever after? If so, join the club. Disney has a lot to answer for when it comes to preparing kids for real life.

Stories about falling in love always end with “I do” – but we all know that’s where the hard work begins.

Relationships need nurture and care; not just in the first flush of romance, when you’re falling in love, or on your honeymoon. Forever. Relationships are hard work, even the happy ones — especially the happy ones.

Here are 10 practical ways to keep things fresh.

  1. Don’t Treat Your Partner Like Part of the Furniture

    Picture this: when you and your partner are at home by yourself, how do you behave? Do you act as if you were on your own, reading your phone as you slump in front of the TV without talking? We all want to feel comfortable, but there’s a difference between “relaxed” and “lazy and indifferent.”

    Your partner is not an extension of yourself. They are not a fixture of your home. They’re the person you found interesting and exciting enough to share your life with. Don’t ignore them.

    Put down your phone, turn off the TV, and do the things you can only do with another person – have a chat, play a game, or make something together – whatever floats your mutual boat.

  2. Keep Trying to Impress Them

    There’s no point in cooking a nice meal, being witty and interesting, dressing well or bothering to make yourself sociable and agreeable when it’s “just” for your partner, right? Wrong.

    If there’s one person you should be trying to make happy, make laugh, and make proud of you, it’s the person you’re planning to spend the rest of your life with.

    When you’re willing to make more of an effort for just about anyone else in the world than for the person you love, you’ve got a long, miserable future of resentment, jealousy and hurt feelings ahead of you. Plus, you risk your partner forgetting what it was they liked so much about you in the first place.

  3. Have fun

    Go on dates. Travel. Keep an eye out for shows or exhibitions that you know your partner would love. Pop open a bottle of wine and talk, laugh, debate, make up – whatever keeps the sparks flying for you.

    Make sure your free time together is spent creating shared memories, not just ticking off mundane tasks. You didn’t fall in love by spending your Saturdays bickering over which bedsheets to buy in Ikea, and you won’t sustain your love that way, either.

  4. Make Your Thoughtful Gestures Little and Often

    One of the biggest mistakes that people (especially men) make is this: they let things slide until their partners get upset and say they take them for granted, are never spontaneous, or that they don’t made them feel special.

    Then they panic and try to make amends with some grand, expensive and totally unnecessary gesture – a gift, a holiday, even (true story) a marriage proposal – before reverting to exactly the way they were before.

    Here’s the thing: “thoughtful” doesn’t mean extravagant. It means that, once in a while, you bring your partner a cup of tea in bed, or you do their share of the housework before they get home, or you surprise them by popping by their office to take them for lunch.

    It means picking up some flowers or a bottle of bubbly to celebrate an achievement, or remembering to text them before a big presentation to wish them luck. These are the things that make a relationship richer and stronger in the years to come.

  5. Don’t Make Your Relationship Your Emotional Dumping Ground

    Your partner is not your psychiatrist, neither are they your parent. They don’t have to listen to you rage or moan indefinitely, and chances are they won’t choose to.

    This doesn’t mean you should hide your feelings when you’re hurt or unhappy, nor does it mean you shouldn’t tell your partner when they’ve done something to upset you.

    But a lot of the time when we’re in a bad mood we’re not emotionally vulnerable nor have we been wounded by our partners; we’re just in a grump. And if you drag that toxic waste into the sacred space of a relationship, you poison the thing that should be your sanctuary from all this day-to-day crap.

    Rather than launching into a rant, imagine when you walk into your house that you’re at a friend’s birthday party. Take a deep breath, shrug off the mood and focus on being the warmest, kindest, most fun and generous-hearted version of yourself.

    By the time you get around to talking about that shitty thing your boss did (if you still care), you’ll find you have far more of a sense of humour about it, anyway.

Adele

 

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How To Cope With Rejection Without Getting Crushed

It’s over

No matter how secure and confident you thought you were, hearing the person you love(d) say that they no longer want to be with you is a shattering experience. Even if you feel the same way, rejection is still hard to bear.

Another person has just told you that they’d prefer not to be with you. How can that not hurt?

Friends might tell you that you’re better off. They were never right for you. You’ll be happier. Perhaps all these things are true. But it doesn’t matter, does it? All you can think is: I wasn’t good enough.

Such is the power of rejection. In fact, whether you’re rejected by a partner, a prospective employer, or someone you reach out to in friendship, research suggests that the pain stings as sharply as a physical hurt. And the worst part is that you turn this pain back in on yourself.

Rejection becomes shame

Shame makes us behave in horrible ways. It can make us violent, vicious or self-destructive. Prison psychiatrist James Gilligan once said:

“I have yet to see a serious act of violence that was not provoked by the experience of feeling shamed and humiliated, disrespected and ridiculed… all violence is an attempt to replace shame with self-esteem.”

I’m not saying that feeling shamed by your rejection is going to turn you into a criminal, but it can certainly make you volatile and prone to lash out. And by moving the battleground inside yourself, shame makes it impossible to heal.

So how do you stop this happening? First, take a good, hard look at what rejection really is.

It’s not always about you

Jia Jiang, who literally wrote the book on how to handle rejection, spent years researching the subject firsthand. He learned that rejection is only partly about you.

It’s mostly about the other person: their headspace, their circumstances and, often, their hang-ups. They’re not an authority on your value as a partner or human being. They’ve made a decision based on their situation, what they feel they need – and whether they believe you’ll offer that.

They could well be wrong. And even if they’re right, if what you offer isn’t what they’re after, that doesn’t mean it’s bad – it means you’re offering it to the wrong person.

Of course, that’s not to say your actions aren’t a factor; things you’ve done may have spurred on your breakup.

The important thing is recognising the gap between what you do and who you are; the gap between guilt and shame.

Guilt is feeling that you shouldn’t have done something. You shouldn’t have lost your temper. You shouldn’t have lied. You shouldn’t have cheated. We can cope with guilt because it’s attached to quantifiable things: we can choose not to do them again, meaning we can cut them off from ourselves.

Shame is different. Shame is not a horror of what you did, it’s a horror of who you are. You didn’t just raise your voice; you’re hysterical. You didn’t just tell a lie, you’re a liar. You didn’t just cheat, you’re a cheater.

Once you’ve decided that you’re the type of person who does these things, it’s very, very hard to stop doing them. You might loathe yourself, but you can’t help it, you think. It’s who you are.

If you let rejection shame you, you risk doing one of two things: You risk lashing out in anger to claw back your self-esteem, or believing that you deserve shame.

Neither of these will help you handle and heal from your trauma. Neither will help you repeating they cycle again when a new relationship comes around.

Instead:

  1. Take a good, hard look at the reasons for your breakup, distinguishing between the things you both did and the ways your personalities, attitudes or beliefs grated.
  2. Be gentle but honest with yourself about the things you did that might have been damaging. Forgive yourself for these missteps while recognising that they were the result of choice, not fate, and resolving to learn from your mistakes.
  3. Don’t shut yourself off: all you’re doing is rejecting yourself before anyone else has a chance. Remind yourself what is great about who you are and what you offer as a person – as well as what you really value and desire in a partner. When you’re ready, be willing to take the risk.
Adele

 

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