Hi friend! Welcome back. Today is exciting because I realized that the topic most important to you that I have talked about so far is letting go of the past in your life after divorce.
So we are revisiting it, and I’m going to answer your questions about letting go today, and I know we are going to have some awesome breakthroughs.
How to Let Go of the Past
#1 Why is Letting Go of the Past Important?
So one of the questions you have been asking me is, “Why is letting go important?” And in talking about letting go, I immediately had a mental image. I immediately thought of this little copper round table I have from Target, of course. And it’s got some cute little chalky things sitting on top of it and hand sanitizer and this little plant thing. So I immediately picked these two objects up off the table. And I’m holding on to these items, right? And I’m thinking about the question, “why is letting go of the past important?”
If I imagine that these objects in each of my hands are the past, and I don’t have hands to hold on to the present, what happens? Things in the present don’t happen. And if we can’t leave space for the present to happen, forget about thinking about and building toward a future.
If you need your hands but you can’t use them because you’re always holding the past, think about how hard it would be to do life if you’re like, “Sorry, I can’t. I’m busy holding on to the past.”
I think that’s how it feels a lot of the time when we’re trying to heal after divorce, but we’re perseverating or looping on the past and can’t even get present to real life.
OK, so now maybe I put one of these things down, and I pick up a present-day thing, right? But sometimes, when you’re holding on to the past and the present simultaneously, they have opposing needs or focuses.
Seriously, try holding two cumbersome objects while you’re at home, and then try incorporating a new thing while still holding onto the first two. It’s not easy.
When Your Past Is Hurting Your Present
Or imagine the steering wheel in your car is the past, and someone were to hand you something. (I don’t know, do you ever drive with your knees? I’ll never admit to it, but I might.) So letting go of the past is important here in the sense that you need your hands free in order to accept that something.
And I’m not saying we’re going to delete the past, or we’re not going to revisit it, or it’s not an important part of your life after divorce. It is. But it’s this idea of being able to loosen your grip and set it down and not having to literally hold it. Letting go of the past is important. So that you can have your time, attention, energy, and resources focused and utilized on your present and your future.
Use that mental image when you find yourself looping on the things from the past. Maybe notice, “Oh, my hands are full right now. Let me set that down and pick up what’s in front of me today”.
Sometimes when we have concrete things we can do with our mind-body, it helps us to make the shift.
Think about using that mental image of literally holding onto something, putting it down, and picking up something more relevant.
#2 What Does It Mean to Let Go of the Past?
The next question you ask about letting go is, “What does it mean to let go of the past?” And I know I just walked you through that idea of physically putting something down, but what I mean in the context of healing and letting go of the past, is that it’s not so haunting, it’s not so controlling, it’s not so obsessive.
Don’t Focus on the Problem. Focus on the Solution
When we think about healing our divorce trauma, two different parallel processes are happening. We want to heal the traumas or the griefs, right? We want to process those pains so that they can be finished. But then also we want to be cultivating the habit of focusing on what’s working. The present, our joys, and our gratitudes. And sometimes we’re just so habituated to focusing on the problem that it takes a lot of energy to refocus on our joys.
So sometimes it might be healing that needs to happen, but sometimes it might be creating a new habit that’s focusing on what’s good.
When I talk about letting go of the past, I mean healing the wounds, the griefs, and the traumas after divorce. And then learning how to refocus on the present. And building toward the future.
#3 How do I stop dwelling in the past?
The next question you ask is, “How do I stop dwelling in the past?” And while all of these questions are related, I want you to notice that when there are traumas, and there are griefs that are calling our attention, it’s going to be hard to force yourself to stop dwelling on them until they’ve healed. And there is no perfect healing from a trauma.
When there are traumas and griefs you’re focused on, it’s hard to stop dwelling on them until you’re healed.
Life After Divorce: A New Healing Lifestyle for Your Mind, Soul, and Spirit
It’s not an all-or-nothing thing. It happens in layers. It’s a lifestyle you create in your new life after divorce.
The dwelling often is driven by a compulsive need to heal something. And we just haven’t quite found the right key for the lock. You know our brains want to solve puzzles, right? And divorce trauma is an unsolved puzzle, an unsolved wound. So our mind and body are calling for healing. But oftentimes, we’re avoiding it. We’ve numbed it out so that we don’t have to face it.
So the true path to not dwelling in the past is to heal the wounds and grieve the losses.
How, you ask? My favorite ways to do those things are
- Guided journaling
- EMDR therapy
- EFT tapping
- Body movements like yoga or weightlifting
- Energy Healing, like Reiki
These experiential trauma therapies help us clear out those closets, help us make sense of those griefs, and help us move it through our mind-body so that it’s not stuck in there. Because when they’re stuck in there, we will dwell. So if you’re still dwelling, ask yourself, “Have I fully healed these divorce traumas and these griefs?” Maybe the answer is yes, related to the divorce. But what about the traumas and the griefs from before your marriage that contributed to picking the partner you picked? And numbing out, being kind of unconscious about those unhealed things? And now you’re living it all over again through this divorce. Letting go of the past after divorce seems impossible. But,
- Have you healed the traumas?
- Have you grieved the losses?
- And do you have a habit of perseverating on past things?
- Do you just need to work on creating healthier habits?
Those are the questions I would ask myself about the dwelling.
#4 How do I make peace with my past?
Your next question is, “How do I make peace with the past?” This is my favorite question. Because that is the answer to all of this, right? The very first question about letting go of the past, the reason we ask it is that we want to make peace with it. Totally! And we do make peace with it when we use these trauma therapies that I talk about. I really hammer on them. Because those trauma-based therapies help women release so much of this stuff.
The event is done. It’s already finished. But your mind, body, and brain don’t know it’s finished. It keeps looping on it.
It’s doing that because it thinks it’s protecting you in a way. It’s protecting you from not getting hurt again. Telling you don’t trust again. Don’t get blindsided again. Your mind-body has this really clever protection system put in place. Love it. It’s elegant. But it’s not going to serve you long-term.
So, these trauma therapies that I talk about:
- Guided journaling
- EFT tapping
- Body movement
- Reiki, etc.
They’re going to help you make peace with it. And whatever means you choose—one, all, whichever—it’s going to really help you in letting go of the past and make peace with it because that’s what your mind-body is craving…peace. And women get a little intimidated by some of these things because they’re like, “Who will I be if I make peace with this?”
Who will I be if I make peace with this?
Women are afraid that EMDR therapy is going to change who they are. They wonder if they hadn’t experienced the traumas, who would they have been?
Yes, experiencing trauma has shaped you, and it has certainly affected certain ways that you’ve lived and loved. Life choices that you’ve made. But at your core, you are who you are, and that is an amazing human. Worthy of so much.
And trust me, as you use these trauma therapies, you will only have more peace.
You are who you are, and that is an amazing human.
People also are really afraid of using these trauma therapies and feeling all the feelings. But man, have you ever said, “I just needed a good cry?” Exactly! And there’s so much resistance built up to having that good cry. I kind of feel like that’s how my big dog feels about baths, right? He hates a bath, but then afterward, he’s like, I’m so happy. It’s the same thing with these trauma-based therapies and your painful feelings. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to face it all. It’s uncomfortable not to be sure of yourself. So borrow my belief that it’s OK to be sure of yourself. I’ve seen so many women walk through this process and become so much more surer of themselves in the end. It is safe to make peace with your past and to use these beautiful trauma therapies to do it.
#5 How Can I Let Go and Enjoy Life Again?
The next question is, how can I let go and enjoy life again? Why can’t we enjoy it while we’re healing? Why does it seem hard to enjoy right now?
And another question you ask is, why is life so hard?
I think these things are related.
How to Think Positive Thoughts
You know, my daughter was feeling really sick last night, and she was having trouble falling asleep. And she was way up in her feelings, and I was trying to help her relax her body. And I was queuing some of our favorite nighttime guided meditations and asking her to think about some of the things that bring her joy or make her heart smile. And she was in that space. And I know you can relate to this because I know you’ve been there. She didn’t want to feel gratitude. Where it’s like, “No, I am not even grateful for those things, even though those things are amazing. No, there is nothing to be grateful for. Even the good things are not good enough.” You know that space, and maybe you’re in it right this minute, right?
I am not even grateful for those things, even though those things are amazing. No, there is nothing to be grateful for. Even the good things are not good enough.
I was up in my feelings a little bit this morning on my way to the gym, and I thought to myself, “man, how can I switch this?” And I thought, “Wow. If you plopped me in Ukraine, for instance, for 24 hours, would I be so grateful for my current life?” Heck yeah! When I was at the gym, and there was this one exercise that I did not like doing, I took a minute to think what my life would be like if I didn’t have the body parts needed to do that exercise. And then something softened, right? It was easier to go into. And what we’re doing in those moments is shifting our perspective from thinking nothing is good enough. It is really pity, right? A victim mindset. Everything sucks. This is too hard. This isn’t fair. It shouldn’t be this hard. I should be better. People shouldn’t hurt me the way that people have hurt me.
Man, I know that spot. And if and if I were sitting with you, ’cause I am, I would say to you, “I love you. And cut the bulls**t.” Because if I dropped you in Ukraine for 24 hours, you probably would feel differently.
Do Your Thoughts Create Your Reality?
I think we really do lose perspective very often. Yes, we have a hard time letting go of the past. We have griefs, and we have wounds, and we have traumas. Traumas are like life or death, right? It feels like we are being so threatened. We are not safe, we are not well. So, I am not minimizing those things. Those are real. But along with those problems, we have been gifted solutions. And more often than not, we resist the solutions because we feel like it’s not fair that the problems happened in the first place. Do you hear the loop that we get stuck in? And then you ask me questions, which I totally get ’cause I have asked them too, how can I let go and enjoy life?
Well, what if we got some perspective, tapped into some real gratitude, and enjoyed life while healing the traumas? Grieving the losses? Learning new tools.
But I think to do that, we have to have a shift from the ‘why is life so hard’ perspective to maybe life isn’t as hard as I think it is. Maybe I keep convincing myself life is hard because I feel like none of this is fair and none of this is enough. Sometimes it’s hard, yes. But more often than not, we pile on with our mindset. We can do it differently. I know you can do it differently ’cause at your core, you want to feel joy. You just need some tweaks to be able to do that while also grieving the losses.
#6 What is the Happiest Way to Live?
The next question is, what is the happiest way to live? So let’s talk about one of the tricks of the trade.
If you want to feel joy and enjoy your life and not feel like life is hard all the time, I want you to start noticing that you can segment when you work on your pain.
EMDR Container Exercise
In EMDR, we call it using a container – creating a mental space to put our problems, to leave them there when we’re not doing EMDR. And revisit them only when we’re doing EMDR.
So imagine all of your life deciding, OK, I’m going to grieve my losses, and I’m going to heal my traumas, and I’m only going to do those in certain spaces.
I’m going to grieve and heal when I’m in therapy, when I’m journaling, when I’m doing EFT tapping, when I’m at church, when I’m on my yoga mat, when I’m meeting with other women going through divorce trauma.
I’m going to do it in specific places, but when I’m not in those specific places, gosh darn it, I’m gonna live, and I’m gonna enjoy my life, and I’m gonna be happy, and I’m gonna give myself permission to be happy!
Focus On What Brings You Joy
Even if my kid is heartbroken, even if I am exhausted, even if in these other spaces I’m doing these really hard healing things.
When I’m not in those spaces, I will focus on joy. I’m going to focus on having fun. I’m going to focus on resting. I’m gonna focus on taking care of myself.
Because if you are in your feelings all the time, man, that’s a lot of suffering. For instance, when you’re driving, and you’re thinking of painful things, I want you to try telling yourself, “Oh, this isn’t the time for that.” (Well, unless you’re listening to this podcast, then maybe…)
If you are in your feelings all the time, that’s a lot of suffering.
So, when you’re in spaces where the purpose is not healing trauma, I want you to focus on listening to comedy, listening to your favorite playlist that brings sparks of joy. Call someone that you know is super uplifting. Think about if you were to make a vision board, what travel locations would you put on it? And think about all the things that you would enjoy doing. My most recent place is the Azores in Portugal. Where would you go, and what would you do if you were there?
It’s about refocusing that attention and expanding into what could be.
Into things that remind you of the beauty in the world. What a sunrise looks like. What you know the perfect summer afternoon at the pool feels like. This is the way to live happily.
Letting go of the past means putting the pain in the painful places and focusing on fun and rest and relaxation as much as we focus on work and healing, and taking care of other people.
#7 What is the Secret to Happiness?
Sometimes you ask me, what is the secret to happiness? And this answer obviously includes all of what we’ve talked about today.
Letting go of the past, making peace with the past. Learning how to focus on the spaces that feel good.
But also, the secret to happiness is something that I haven’t completely brought up yet today, and it really is self-acceptance. It’s healing the traumas and grieving the losses.
Happiness is being able to be in love with accepting who you are, and what you bring to the table.
So much of our thought content and our emotional lives are wound up in whether or not we are enough. That is killing your ability to be happy and joyful in the now.
Happiness is being able to be in love with accepting who you are and what you bring to the table.
When we feel like we don’t have enough or we are not enough, contentment and joy are very hard to access. And I’ve seen some really neat reels out there lately about dopamine. Considered to be the chemical of more. So think about when we are scrolling on social media, and you just want to keep scrolling, or when we’re having a glass of wine, and it feels like three glasses are better. It’s that dopamine hit from chocolate or winning or whatever it might be for you.
I Need to Be More
Our lives are really built on this more craving. I need to be more. I need to do more. I need to consume more. I need to be more confident. I need to be more assertive. I need to be more disciplined. I need to be more positive. And the more chemical has a bottomless hunger. Unless we learn to lean into different neurochemicals like serotonin, a connection chemical.
The being with nature, being with people. The contentment spaces. They’re driven by peace.
Real peace with who we are, what we’ve experienced, and the world around us.
How to Accept Myself
And that comes through accepting myself and the shedding of judgment. The not judging myself, not judging others, not judging that “He should have been different. He shouldn’t have hurt me. I should have more money. I should have an easier job. My kids shouldn’t have to do this. I shouldn’t have to do this.”
But at the end of the day, until we can find acceptance and personal empowerment, we’re blocking our own happiness and joy.
I am here to tell you that you can do everything that has been handed to you and more. Because you are hardwired to succeed in your life and to enjoy it.
And if you feel like you are not succeeding at life and you are not enjoying it, then love, let’s talk.
Are We Meant to Be Happy?
You are hard-wired for it to be good. And for you to love it. And there are many things that you have experienced that have knocked you down, and I get that. And there are many ways that you keep knocking yourself back down. And I am not OK with that because I love you so much, and I know how capable you are. And you could say, “But Dawn, you don’t ’cause you don’t know me.” No, I may never have met you, and I may have never met your individual story and the nuances of your experience, but I promise you, I know you.
I am you.
I’ve met you and your sisters, and we are not that different. And that part of you that says that maybe I don’t know you and maybe you’re different, that’s ego. That’s the part of you that says, “Nope. I’m not going to get better.” And that part of you that whispers, “Maybe I’m different. Maybe I’m doomed.” There’s no space to keep attending to that part. To really heal, to really let go, to really find happiness.
We have to say, “Hello, Ego. I hear you. Thank you for your feedback. But I’m going to turn my eyes to the solution. Because I am hardwired to live my life and enjoy it.”
Thank you so much for being here today and for considering my tips for letting go of the past and for trauma healing ’cause, when you heal, you are part of healing our entire planet. You are raising the vibration of our entire planet. You are changing the lives of your children and your loved ones just by bringing a better you to the table. And you are so much more powerful than you know. Have a beautiful week.