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From Heartache to Healing

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Empowering Women to Arise Stronger through Separation and Divorce

There are lots of people in my world right now, both clients and friends, traversing separation at varying stages.

Today, I’m writing for and to them – and all the other women somewhere in the process of untangling their lives from the ending of a significant relationship, and finding yourself again. 

Separation is a transformative initiation.
It’s a growth portal that shows you the ways you’ve not been in alignment with yourself, and gives you opportunities to evolve into a more whole, self loving and empowered individual.
 
This viewpoint isn’t an attempt to bypass the deep grief, pain and full spectrum of other very human emotions that can be present in the process of separation!
 
However, it’s a frame that I hold alongside the welcoming of those emotions and experiences, to support the women I work with with to hold themselves and their tenderness in the context of their journey towards self love and empowerment.
 

Separation and divorce can be some of the most challenging – and inspiring – times of your life. An opportunity to re-define yourself and re-align your life with what you really want.

The transition you’re going through is often a time when women experience things intensely. There can be intense grief. Even if you know it’s the ‘right thing to do’, endings aren’t necessarily easy.

There can also be intense freedom and euphoria! The delight at finding freedom from a situation that wasn’t right for you can course through you and make you feel alive in ways that you haven’t in a long time.

Sometimes, grief and inspiration – or beauty and pain – can exist in the same place, which can be confusing.

Along with the emotional experience you’re having, you also likely have a long logistical to-do-list to address, especially if there are children involved, finances to separate and assets to divide.

Its easy to get overwhelmed in the maelstrom of emotion, tasks and change.

SO, it’s more important than ever to care for yourself well – to ensure things that nourish you stay high on your list of priorities, and, perhaps most importantly, to be able to do this in a way that genuinely fits with the potentially fast pace of your life right now.

Inspired by the many brave women whom I’ve held space for and coached through separations over the last many years, today I’m sharing my top three tips for women to nourish their mental, emotional and spiritual selves while going through separation here, in the hope that you can apply them today and start feeling more resourced and resilient now.

If you know a woman going through a separation who you feel would benefit from this, please share it with her!

 

TIP 1 – MOVE YOUR BODY DIFFERENTLY

We all know the importance of exercise on mental health, and in today’s world many people are even embracing the power of meditation.

These things are great and I do highly recommend them. AND, most forms of exercise (yoga, running, weights, swimming etc) are all ‘linear’ movements – they’re repeating patterns of relatively symmetrical shapes with your body.

During particularly stressful life periods, its not uncommon to find yourself holding extra tension, carrying extra stress and feeling a bit rigid in yourself as you try to hold it all together.

These standard ‘linear movements’, combined with carrying extra stress can see your physiology become a bit stuck, and your energy stagnant.

I invite you to experiment with moving your body in a ‘non-linear’ way every day. Non-linear movements might feel like somewhere between a slow wiggle, a tipsy sway and dancing! Sounds funny, maybe a bit odd, and even a little confusing if you’re the type that wants to know the moves so you can get it right.

There are no moves.

Practice:

Choose a song you like that compliments the mood you’re in. Turn it up to a volume that feels good and move your body however you feel. Try slowly undulating your spine, circling your hips and shoulders, stretching your arms out, swaying left and right or back and forward, circling your neck, softening your jaw, gently bending your knees and maybe even shaking your body! If you’re sad, get curious about how sad wants to move in your body. If you’re angry, agitated, scared, excited or something else, move with those feelings.

You might feel silly. In fact, you might even look silly. But that’s okay. This practice is deeply nourishing for your system and fantastic at releasing stored tension and stuck emotion you might have been carrying around. Stay with this practice for the whole song.

I recommend doing this daily, though feel free to do it multiple times a day!

 

TIP 2 – GROW YOUR ABILITY TO SOOTH YOUR EMOTIONS

In a world full of escapism, instant gratification and avoidance of vulnerability, many adults don’t know how to sooth their own fears, anxieties and other ‘challenging’ feelings. It’s all too easy to reach for a pacifier – YouTube and Netflix, social media, alcohol or other substances and food can all be ways to numb to whatever might be going on in your emotional world.

But sadly, unfelt feelings don’t just ‘go away’ – if you choose to numb out, you’re just storing it up for later. (Hello anxiety attacks, exploding at your kids/colleagues or burning out when your system can’t take it anymore…)

That said, life can feel like a lot sometimes – particularly when you’re going through something as challenging as a separation.

I’m ALL for a bit of conscious escapism from time to time. BUT, if you habitually pour yourself a glass of wine when you walk in the door every night then sit in front of the TV, or you’re constantly busy doing something because you can’t bear to be with yourself without distractions, this deeper avoidance might be setting you up for problems later on.

Learn to be kind to yourself when you feel scared, angry or overcome with grief. Speak to yourself with empathy, warmth and compassion when fear, shame or disappointment are present. It’s OKAY to feel these things. It doesn’t mean anything about you, and its all a normal part of being a human, particularly a human going through a challenging time!

One of the biggest secret misconceptions so many ambitious women I’ve worked with are harbouring, is that their more ‘challenging’ emotions in life are evidence they are somehow failing or broken and need to be fixed.

Wonderful Woman, if this is you, you’re fighting fire with fire. Beating yourself up for experiencing challenging emotions or making mistakes actually only adds to your stress, yet for so many women this is their go-to when things get rough: they turn on themselves.

When you can soothe your tender feelings when they arise rather than becoming disregulated and either exploding or shutting yourself down, you’re actually practicing accepting yourself as you are. That act of loving acceptance and self soothing is the absolute kindest thing you can offer yourself right now.

There’s no way to make hard feelings magically disappear, they are a natural part of what you’re going through. But HOW you journey with those hard feelings will make all the difference.

Practice:

Whenever you notice feelings arise, it can be natural to get stuck in your head trying to ‘work it out’ or get caught in stories and memories that cause you more pain. Instead, notice feelings arise and pause, close your eyes and place your hands on your body in a way that feels supportive – perhaps one hand on your heart and one on your belly, or crossing your hands over to opposite shoulders as if giving yourself a hug. Slow right down and just notice what you’re feeling – is it grief? Anger? Sadness? Hope? Helplessness? Notice how you feel and take 10 deep breaths right into your belly while speaking kindly to yourself and this hurting part of you. Remember, there’s nothing here to ‘fix’, just tender parts of you that need your love and care.

 

TIP 3 – CURIOUSLY GET TO KNOW THE NEW YOU, AND TRUST THE PROCESS

A separation is a sort of death. Your past relationship, and the ‘You’ who you were inside it, are no more.

That might sound intense, but think of yourself like a phoenix – it might feel like there’s a lot burning down around you right now, but a new version of you will rise from the ashes in time.

This last tip can be a challenging one to access if you’re still deep in fresh grief after a separation, so please go gently with yourself with this exploration and if you don’t feel ready for this, trust yourself. Maybe you can circle back around to it in another three months.

There’s a natural process that occurs in this death / re-birth cycle.

The ‘old’ that has ended becomes compost that feeds new life, and at some point you might begin to notice flickers of thoughts and feelings about the future and what you’d like to experience.

This is such a beautiful process to bring consciousness and curiosity to.Leonard Cohen sang famously, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”The cracks in your heart from this journey, and the composted material from this ending, are shaping a new you.

This new you is going to be wiser, more self loving, and undoubtedly a whole bunch of other things, due to this experience.

It can be easy to feel like you’re lost, or totally falling apart, during times like this.If thats the case, please trust the process.You don’t need to scramble to hold onto your old self, or cling to the familiar (although I totally get it, this is easier said than done).

Something new and beautiful will be revealed, and the world can’t wait to meet her.

Practice:

Start by getting yourself a brand new, beautiful journal and a pen that feels great to write with. Take some time to tune into yourself and notice what you feel. Much of what you sense will no doubt be familiar aspects of you – feelings, ways of thinking and aspirations you know well. See if you can feel anything new here in the mix. What new desires are arising. New aspirations. New thoughts. New clear declarations of “I’m never doing that again!” or “I’m going to learn to love myself!”

Bring curiosity and an open mind to this practice, and let yourself journal while listening to this ‘new you’ you’re getting in contact with. How does she feel? What does she want?

There’s no right or wrong way to go about this, just be curious and encouraging towards yourself, and have fun!

 

IN CONCLUSION…

Separation is a tremendously tender time of life, and I truly hope the practices I’ve outlined here can be like a soothing balm to your mind, body and spirit as you ride the waves.

I know that although simple, all my suggestions here are powerful, and if implemented consistently will make a real difference to you.

Please pull your sisters (both blood and chosen!) close during this time, get some support around you and don’t let shame get in the way of asking for help, a hug, or anything else you might need.

Finally, if you’ve read this, resonated with it and feel like you want or need some extra support in your corner during this time, please reach out.

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Never underestimate the power of your past. Because it’s not in the past. It’s here in this living moment with you – woven into your responses, choices and perceptions; baked into your nervous system and psyche through and reinforcement and repetition.

That doesn’t mean your past has to define you, not at all.

Though, you’re lying to yourself if you say ‘its in the past’, yet have done no work to clear the ripples of that past from your system to create space for something new.

Yesterday, in a session with my coach, I went ‘back in time’ to the end of 2020, when I went through an experience that was somewhat challenging for me.

Here is a sublime example

Despite acknowledging the challenge at the time, I realised looking back that I hadn’t fully resolved or digested what happened there.

Part of me stayed frozen in that experience, and on the subtlest of levels, I have gotten in my own way unconsciously ever since.

That past experience was with me in every moment. It informed my capacity and energy levels, choices and perceptions.

And this is how the past shapes us – you have experiences that your system ‘learns’ from, and you then – often completely unconsciously – adjust accordingly to avoid repeating painful or difficult events.

We are such clever adaptive creatures.

But, those ‘adaptations’ will inadvertently shape your behaviour, attitudes, thoughts and feelings in a way that can begin to inhibit your ability to fully show up for your business or career, relationships, and life in general.

If you bring the process of ‘learning’ from these past experiences into consciousness, you gift yourself the chance to mine the gold from the past, get the learnings and gifts link example: and then move forward with your life.

„ QUOTE DESIGN: I CALL THIS PROCESS ‘DIGESTING’ YOUR PAST EXPERIENCES, AND HAVE SPECIFIC PRACTICES I TEACH TO SUPPORT YOU TO DO THIS.“

I call this process ‘digesting’ your past experiences, and have specific practices I teach to support you to do this.

The challenges of the past – and your adaptations – can become like a cage you find yourself living in if you’re not aware, but this digestion process ensures your continued liberation…

Which past experiences do you need to free yourself from?

And this is how the past shapes us – you have experiences that your system ‘learns’ from, and you then – often completely unconsciously – adjust accordingly to avoid repeating painful or difficult events.

We are such clever adaptive creatures.

But, those ‘adaptations’ will inadvertently shape your behaviour, attitudes, thoughts and feelings in a way that can begin to inhibit your ability to fully show up for your business or career, relationships, and life in general.

If you bring the process of ‘learning’ from these past experiences into consciousness, you gift yourself the chance to mine the gold from the past, get the learnings.

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