The Windshield, Not the Rearview Mirror

vinceDr Michael Mantell

Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.

It’s a new year, a new beginning, yet many continue to try to move forward while gazing far too long into their rearview mirror. Not a safe way to drive, right? It’s also not a healthy way to thrive following the end of a relationship, the end of a job, the end of…anything.

Divorce can be a mammoth knock-back for anyone, regardless of which end of “who started it” one is on. Trust may be shattered, fear of what life will be like may infiltrate one’s thinking, feelings of isolation and uncertainty are all too common. Knowing how to disconnect, unhook, let go – whatever you want to call it – and move forward free of regret and bitterness, is essential for emotional wellbeing, particularly when children are involved.

Remember what comedian Buddy Hackett said, “I never hold a grudge because while I’m being angry, the other person is out dancing.”

And since we’re looking at quotes, here’s one from Walt Disney who observed, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Here are some ways to do just that:

  1. Frame your divorce as a transition to the next step in your life. In so doing, you are putting your emotional wellbeing where it belongs, on the top of the list.
  2. Grieving is healthy, so allow yourself to go through the common stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression until reaching acceptance, where you come to terms with the experience and move forward once again in an optimum state of being.
  3. “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” is what Albert Einstein called insanity. Disconnecting to transform into a healthier connection with life means you’ve created new goals, new positive friendships, new enjoyable pathways to a new you.
  4. New short and long-term goals mean you have faith and trust in a better future, a sure-fire sign of a healthier focus, and a better tomorrow. Visualize yourself thinking better, feeling better, doing better, and living better. Set up an calendar of progress, talk with a trusted friend or coach, and be sure you have an “accountability partner” with whom you can check into regularly to assure your forward movement.

Watch your thinking. Is it true that he or she SHOULD not have done what he or she did? Is the other person truly a HORRIBLE person for doing what he or she did? Is it AWFUL and do you really think that you CANNOT STAND IT? Worrying what others are thinking of you, AWFULIZING about how you look to friends? Think you’ll NEVER meet another? These thoughts defy reality. Thinking these types of thoughts places you on a harsh hook to the past, with an unhealthy emotional state.