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Discussions about the Smooth Divorce Transition process

Divorce Recovery and Loss: Don’t Grieve It If You Didn’t Lose It

When it comes to divorce, we endure significant losses… and yet all too often we continue to add imagined losses to the pile. The more we do this, the more we distort our vision of reality, making it virtually impossible to see and solve the divorce recovery challenges ahead of us. Let me offer some quick insights on this very common reaction.

Intangible Losses Are Harder to Grieve than Tangible Losses
Loss comes in two types – tangible and intangible. Tangible losses hurt. Losing the house, car, financial security, or the comfort of the daily family routine is not fun. But at least the nature of the problem is clear and how to solve the problems is known.

Intangible losses in the form of lost hopes, dreams, and cherished beliefs cause the most havoc. They are not as clear cut, or obvious and, therefore, are most vulnerable to exaggeration and distortion. For example, some of the most common laments I hear from recently divorced folks are,

“I will NEVER find true love again. I will ALWAYS be alone.”
“My best years are BEHIND me.”

These people assume their original dream of living a fulfilling life with someone they love and want to grow old with is now utterly IMPOSSIBLE. The loss feels overwhelming. And a typical reaction — for anyone — is to jump to the conclusion that we will NEVER realize our hopes and dreams without our ex as our partner.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Are You Grieving Images or Dreams You Haven’t Really Lost?
If you take anything away from this article, let it be this: We don’t have to grieve anything we didn’t lose! By focusing on actual losses, we avoid wasting time and energy on the imaginary ones.

When dealing with the loss that comes with divorce, figure out what you are truly going to lose, and then grieve ONLY what you actually lost.

Ask yourself, “Am I really going to lose all of it? Or, just a part of it? Could it be that I am not going to lose it at all?” This is one of those times when a friend can provide a “reality check” to help determine if your assessment of the losses is accurate.

Do this, and your transition from divorce hell to a satisfying, successful life after divorce will be easier, faster and less traumatic. You will feel some much needed control over your recovery from divorce.

And you will discover that the romantic vacation on a remote island… is still quite within your reach. It just might happen with someone else.

Journaling: its role in your divorce recovery.

Part of the Smooth Divorce Recovery process includes daily journaling with a book that I’ve specially-prepared to address a different divorce recovery issue each day. Why is this an integral part of our process? Here’s an explanation drawn from “The Benefits of Journaling for Stress Management,” by Elizabeth Scott, M.S.:

Journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge. It’s also a good problem-solving tool; oftentimes, one can hash out a problem and come up with solutions more easily on paper.

Journaling about traumatic events helps one process them by fully exploring and releasing the emotions involved, and by engaging both hemispheres of the brain in the process, allowing the experience to become fully integrated in one’s mind.

The Smooth Divorce Recovery process features structured journaling focused on the following daily tasks:

Daily check-in: Clients choose from a matrix of words to gauge their feelings on that day. The rest of this exercise helps the client understand the reason behind having these particular feelings.

Reconciliation thermometer: Clients record the intensity of their desire to reconcile with the ex, on a scale of 0 to 100.  They also record the intensity of desire to NOT reconcile, from 0 to 100. Combined with journaling, the Reconciliation Thermometer is a way to shed light on irrational beliefs about having forever lost our hopes and dreams.

Someone to talk to: When we are immersed in this emotion-based process, often we can’t see our options or understand the reality of the situation as clearly as when the pressure is off. We need someone whom we trust to help us handle this life transition effectively. However, it can’t be just anyone. The instructions in the journal helps Smooth Divorce Recovery clients identify the right person for this important role.

Disaster Fantasy: This is just as it sounds, and in completing this part of the journal every day, clients learn to confront irrational fears and negate their power over the decision-making process.

Positive Affirmations: The structure of this journal encourages clients to continually repeat positive affirmations with conviction and passion in order to chip away at even the strongest resistance.

Combined with the Smooth Divorce Recovery process, journaling is a powerful and essential component to structured and significant recovery – the kind of that lets clients get past the pain of a divorce and move on to the rest of their life.