Holistic Divorce Counseling

Holistic Divorce Counseling Nicole S. Urdang, M.S., NCC, DHM. Free support, resources, and comfort for all life's issues and transitions.

How to Handle: “Get over it already.” July 23, 2009

There seems to be a prevailing philosophy that all grief should disappear in a short time.  Its mantra, “Get over it already,” is uttered incessantly, whether you just broke-up, lost a job, had an accident, or buried a loved one. What’s the rush, and whose healing schedule are you on? Surely, not theirs. Grief work (which can include anger, anxiety, depression, remorse, resentment, and feelings of worthlessness) has no timetable.  It is as unique as your fingerprint; yet, there seems to be this belief that moving on as fast as possible is the only right way.  Of course, with this mandate saturating our culture, anyone who takes his or her time to fully grieve is left with the double whammy of having endured whatever sparked the grief and feeling like a failure because they haven’t “gotten over it” yet.

We all know plenty of people mask their misery with drugs, alcohol, random sex, and a plethora of other addictions. Could this possibly be healthier than dealing with it? In some circles as long as someone keeps their pain under wraps, and puts on a happy face, everyone can just party hearty.  After all, it’s no fun being around a grief-stricken soul; and it’s even worse feeling ineffectual because you can’t make them happier.  No wonder there’s such a deep societal desire to “get over it already.”

So, what is the best response to: “Aren’t you over that already?” (Especially, when it’s delivered in a tone that seems to imply, “What’s wrong with you?” and, puts you on the defensive).  In a perfect world, where everyone has their wits about them 24/7, it might be utter silence accompanied by a slightly quizzical look. This would circumvent the the knee-jerk defensive response to what sounds like a criticism.  A simple “No” might suffice, but you risk the person replying with, “Well, you should be!”  If there’s a little two year old inside you, and there is in almost all adults, he or she is likely to take offense at being told what to do.

Henry Ford II once said, “Never explain, never complain.”  Perhaps that’s the best guide. Unfortunately, if the person exhorting you to “get over it” is a close friend or relative, you might feel a vested interest in sharing your true thoughts and feelings, if for no other reason than not having them ever utter those words to you again. You might even share how you’ve decided to give yourself a cosmic permission slip to take all the time you need to process your grief.

If you’re feeling particularly honest, you could say: “When you ask that question I feel denigrated and judged,”  letting your comment hang in the air and putting the onus on the other person to respond.

Or, you might try: “One of the things this whole experience has taught me is that I can take whatever time I need to let go and forgive. I may never completely get over this. I’ve decided to make that OK, too.”

Then there’s the very direct approach: “I don’t find that a helpful question,” or, “Please don’t ask me that.”

I generally like to assume the best (or, at least some neutral motivation) on the part of people saying, “Aren’t you over that, already?”  Perhaps, they want to propel you to healing faster, because they don’t like seeing you in pain or they feel helpless in assuaging your misery. It really is all about what they think and feel, and their projection of what they believe they would do if in your shoes.  While understanding the genesis of their comment can be helpful, it doesn’t really solve the problem of the best response.  Clearly, that depends on your mood, with whom you are speaking, and your stage of grief. (Contrary to what Elizabeth Kubler Ross said, those stages do not follow linearly, and can come back to haunt you in all sorts of disorderly and unpredictable ways.)

You could say, “Perhaps, if you had this experience (divorce, break-up, death of a loved one) you would have already worked through your grief, but I haven’t. Part of my journey is making it safe to allow my feelings to evolve.”

A deeper issue here is having the courage of your convictions and the confidence to express them.  The only way to build confidence is by doing difficult things.  Assertively standing up for yourself can be very challenging, especially when you feel beaten down by life; but, that’s the time to practice speaking your truth. It will not only build confidence, but you might feel a new lightness from unburdening yourself and being authentic.

In a perfect world, people might have the sensitivity and awareness to say, “I am so sorry this situation is painful and difficult for you,” and just leave it at that.  But, if they continue to say, Aren’t you over that already?” perhaps responding with: “I appreciate your desire to see an end to my suffering. Thank you for your sympathy and concern.” could be liberating, and keep you from reacting defensively.

No one likes to feel judged, put-down, or chastised. If you know that question pushes your buttons it’s best to get away from it as quickly as possible, especially with acquaintances.  If you want to explain how you really feel to friends or family, that’s different as you have a long-standing bond with them, and presumably many years of relationship ahead.

Copyright Nicole S. Urdang

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Awaken To Awareness: Tips For Dealing With Life July 5, 2009

 

Transitioning from the person you were to the person you are becoming is like birth: messy, painful, and unpredictable.  Allowing yourself to awaken to awareness, as the yogis say, can be a real boon to the process.

What does awakening to awareness really mean?  It’s when you let all the material that lies just beneath the surface, in that pre-conscious terrain it’s so easy to avoid, be front and center where you can deal with it.  Because the more you know yourself the more authentic you can be; and, greater self-awareness helps you make better choices in all aspects of life.

Here are a few techniques to get you started:

 

WRITE A LIST OF ONE HUNDRED:

It can be a list of 100 Things I love, 100 Things I am Happy I Experienced in Life, 100 Things I Fear; whatever speaks to you.

It’s a great conduit to the unconscious if you scrupulously adhere to the following directions:

1. Count out 100 lines on a piece of paper.

2. Write your title at the top.

3. Set a timer for 20 minutes.

4. Write as fast as you can, without stopping to censor yourself.  That means, write anything that comes to mind, even if it’s the exact same thing you already wrote.

5. Look over your list and notice the number of times certain themes appeared. Since you have a hundred, figuring out percentages should be easy.

 

DREAM JOURNALING:

I already have a chapter on this, so please scroll down on the right side of the page and check it out.

 

BRAINSTORMING:

1. Write a word, or a few words, in the middle of a blank page.  Whatever names the issue is that you are trying to understand. It could be as specific as “job” or as global as “Who am I?”

2. Allow your mind to wander. Write the next set of words in a circle around the central word.

3. Focus on each of the other words and write whatever new words they generate. Do one at a time, group by group.

4. If any one of those words trigger something new add another branch of words from that starting point. Exhaust all possibilities before going to the next new branch.

5. At the end of the exercise you will have many different avenues to pursue.  Some will be some will be useless and some will be gems.

 

ACCESSING THE LITTLE SIX YEAR OLD INSIDE:

1. Find a photo of yourself when you were a little child.

2. If you have a stuffed animal go get it.

3. Have a pad of paper, unlined is preferable, and some crayons or colored pens or pencils.

4. Ask the little child inside: “Honey, what can I do for you? What would you like?”

5. Then draw and/or write the answer using your non-dominant hand (if you’re left handed use your right hand).

6. Act on what you discover. If the little child inside wants more rest, give her rest; if he wants more fun, give him fun; if she wants to feel safer, make a safe haven for her.

 

MEDITATION:

A wonderful way to let the floodgates loose as all manner of material will float into your consciousness as you sit with yourself.

The easiest meditation is Vipassana:

Just sit comfortably on the floor with a cushion under you, or on a chair.

Focus on your breath. Notice where you first feel your inhale, or where you can feel the beginning of an exhale. It could be the tip of your nose, the back of your throat, or in your lungs.

When your mind wanders, and it will, re-focus on the breath.

Check out the annotated bibliography on the right (and the links on the bottom right) for more meditation books, CDs, and free podcasts.

 

MANTRA:

Use the Om Gum Ganapatayei mantra (https://holisticdivorce.wordpress.com/category/mantras-for-emotional-healing/) to remove obstacles, and notice what emerges.

Be especially attentive to what opportunities present themselves.

 

One more thought.  My constant focus on being your true self is not just based on yogic philosophy, but decades as a holistic psychotherapist. Denying your true nature is like hiding your light under a bushel.  It’s not beneficial to you or the world.  If you are generous, be generous. If you are an introvert, remember to take time for yourself; it’s how you replenish.  If you’re an extravert make social plans to revive your spirits.If you love reading, read. If you love sports, play or watch them. Stifling your natural tendencies will only submerge them where they can morph into something far less pretty.  Revel in your unique self.

 

Copyright Nicole S. Urdang

 

 
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