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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Three Top Thoughts on Letting Go and Moving On

Uploaded: Sep 26, 2019
You Can’t Make Yourself Let Go or Move On--So Be Kind to Yourself

     While it’s uncomfortable, you need to let yourself feel your feelings of loss, regret, anger, questioning, and so on. Otherwise those feelings will get bigger and stronger. Give yourself time to integrate the loss. Then you can move on.
     Feelings are like road signs; they let you know that you need to attend to something. We don’t park our car under the “Curves Ahead” or “Yield” signs, but if we don’t heed them, we’re bound to crash.

Don’t Ruminate
     It is important to try to figure out what happened, and what your part was in it. This leads to growth and hopefully you can extrapolate what you learned from this situation to other areas of your life. You are like stones in a tumbler, getting polished in the grit.
     However, if you ruminate, then you feel worse. You know the narrator that sits on your shoulder and won’t shut up? It needs to be befriended in your life so it can quiet down. This will allow you to hear other thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
     If you find yourself ruminating, hold up an imaginary STOP sign (in full color). Look around and name to yourself what you see in detail (e.g., a magnolia tree in bloom, green, waxy leaves, a red Mustang).
     Take breaks from your loss; or conversely, schedule 30 or 45 minutes to focus on your loss and then go back to other things.

Get Other Perspectives
     Talk with someone that can be attuned to the intensity of your thoughts and feelings. And make sure that person is a “friend of your relationship.” By that, I mean to choose a person that will tell you the truth as they see it; not to trash the other person involved, or just build up your ego (the hard part of being a great friend).
     For a change of scenery: Get off your device and into the same physical place with others (you are regulated when together).

Your Brain is Wired to be Sensitive to Loss; Your Reactions are Normal
     The brain is comprised of three parts: the reptilian brain that manages food, breathing, and so on; the limbic or emotional brain that manages safety, and the cortical, or thinking brain.
     The human brain’s oldest survival technique is to check and make sure you are safe (from a predatory animal, foul food, etc.). The reptilian brain knows only life or death, and time is irrelevant.
     Loss of community, in an evolutionary sense, likely meant death. Your current brain registers loss as such. That’s part of the intensity and tendency to ruminate when something goes wrong between you and a friend.
     Connections in your brain create neural pathways – ruts, if you will, that provide instantaneous judgments for your safety. This happens in your emotional (limbic) brain in 1/200th of a second. Your cortical brain comes on line more slowly. That’s why you react instead of respond.
     Do whatever you need to slow things down so you respond vs. react. Count to 10. Name your surroundings. Notice how you feel in your body. Breathe slowly.
     Any loss from earlier in your life will be your brain’s “checking” point, and put you on high-alert when an event is even remotely similar.
     Take time to recover from a breakup and learn what you can about yourself before jumping into another relationship. Lean on your support system during this time.

No One Can Read Your Mind
o Take responsibility for your life, and please take action.
o Build your support system of friends, family, and trusted adults.
o Ask for help; ask for what you need or want. If you’re not getting what you need from a conversation, start again. If you want an emotionally attuned listener, tell your friend or parent that’s what you want. If you need advice or ideas ask for those. If you need body language and eye contact to match the listening, ask for it.
o Tell someone what happened. You are all human and have had experiences that were hard to let go and move on from. Talking with others normalizes your experience. Know that you are not the only one that has been through this.
o I learned well into my adulthood that we can revisit issues with others; we can become curious and explicit.
o Think through what you've done for yourself in the past that worked for you. Do more of that. What have you tried that isn't working? Don’t do more of that!
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