My mother never let me go to sleep wearing a Band-Aid. She insisted a wound needed to breathe to heal best. I have found the same to be true in my emotional life.
For years, I’ve been field testing the idea that when you fixate on the problem, you lock it in—therefore limiting air circulation and healing. I’ve noticed that when, instead, I give my attention to what is working well or pleasurable in ways that may be entirely unrelated, I give the problem a chance to work itself out.
I don’t know why or how it works, but it does. I have decades of experience validating this strange paradox.
When I wanted to forgive Pete–but more importantly myself–I stopped rehearsing the history of my poor choices. I stopped replaying in my mind events long since past and piercing myself with them anew. Instead, I bought a used camera. I signed up for an inexpensive, online photography class. And I investigated the exquisite absolutes of shadow and light, the blur of distance and the accuracy of the immediate in my home, my yard and the urban environment around my workplace.
The wound was there, and so was beauty. What I focused my gaze on was what filled my days.
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It may seem completely counter-intuitive to focus an anything other than the enormous problems that need solving when going through a divorce. But I encourage you to do little things to experiment with this possibility. What if you spent one weekend entirely dedicated to delighting yourself? What if you took a class in something you always wanted to learn? What if you spent a few dollars on a notebook and started that dream journal you’ve always meant to keep? It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, but see if there is some kind of soul food you can give your attention to. Think of it as ballast. You are fortifying yourself for a long journey. You are giving your sadness some room to breathe.