Emotional Fitness

Harness the power of emotion to deepen your love with your partner, become more successful at work, and more

Moving On Gracefully

It’s difficult to see the good when you’re holding on to a bad experience.

The divorce is final. Custody and financial arrangements have been agreed upon, you have both bought other houses and the kids seem to be handling it. Seems like you’re moving on with your life, but are you really. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where your former relationship left off and your new existence begins.

You still have the same issues with the ex, your kids still call you mom and dad and you still have some friends in common (as well as that great dry cleaner). So, why is it that you still wake up in the middle of the night angry at what he or she did to you while you were married and anxious over money and custody? Perhaps you still have unfinished business with your former spouse.

Don’t start visualizing yourself on a psychiatrists couch with Woody Allen as your analyst just yet, your behavior is perfectly normal. Look, any time you have a significant relationship with someone there’s going to be certain amount of fallout. You will experience memories, both good and bad, that keep you psychically tied to your former partner. You’ll also have current issues that probably run a gamut from the ridiculous to the sublime, it’s all part of the deal.

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If you share a child with the person, you’re linked to him or her forever so make up your mind to have a positive relationship because the alternative is toxic to everyone. Most of us would rather feel good about our lives than to harbor negativity. Even if you’re miles apart on every level, you’ll feel better if you make the decision to get along with your ex rather than letting him or her have free rent in your head.

You have the power here, you just have to chose the high road and sometimes (many times at the start) remind yourself that you’re on it. To truly get along with someone you generally don’t agree with or who has hurt you deeply isn’t easy but it’s worth the effort.

It’s a proven fact that emotional stress is a killer, so unless you have a burning desire to waste away the precious present and shake hands with Jerry Garcia, I suggest you tell yourself to release the uncomfortable thoughts about your ex and enjoy the moment. If you need to hold on to your anger, then you best admit that you are doing it, and relish in whatever you’re getting out of it.

If you’ve tried and you really can’t stop thinking about your ex, there may be an element of depression or obsession; it is also possible that you’ve developed an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Only a licensed mental health professional can accurately diagnosis this, but most likely your problem isn’t that severe. Sometimes it’s just hard to let go and you just have to keep telling yourself it’s the healthiest thing for you and for your kids.

It’s difficult to see the good when you’re holding on to a bad experience, let it go and move on – you deserve the satisfaction it will bring you.

 

Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, columnist, and radio host. His latest book is The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.

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