How many times during this midlife divorce process have you sat and stared out the window or been flat on your back in bed staring at the ceiling or in a chair on the deck brooding about how sad you are or how bad your life is? I know I did that more than I want to admit … especially in the early stages of my divorce. It was like I had been slapped in the face or punched in the stomach and I was shocked and could hardly think of anything else.
Here’s the deal: Brooding gets a hold on you and it won’t let you go. I would brood in the car. I would ruminate while I was doing anything. Sometimes I couldn’t remember if I had brushed my teeth because I was so busy brooding about my miserable existence. My mind would dawdle in and around the whole sad situation for hours. Here’s what I discovered after wasting hours and hours of my precious life. Brooding doesn’t do anything but cause more misery. While we brood, we’re not looking for solutions. We’re not planning for recovery. It’s just an energy-sapping, depression-causing total waste of time.
I read something in the book I’ve mentioned before …. Dan Greenburg’s book, How to Make Yourself Miserable. It’s full of great, funny tips about stupid stuff we do to make ourselves miserable. Here’s what he says: “Inactivity is the fertile ground in which flourish the seeds of despair and self-pity.” Isn’t that true? Don’t you find yourself feeling the most sorry for yourself when you are not doing anything productive?
I think when I got a little past the incredibly sad part of recovery and on to the mad part that I began to get moving again and the brooding was less of a problem. To speed that process along, let’s try this: When we start to brood, get up and DO something. Do anything constructive or positive. Bake cookies for a neighbor or the people in you’re office. (They’ll be shocked because few people do things like that anymore!) Clean out your pantry (Throw away old spices, food that’s expired, food that’s not good for you … reorganize.) Make a list; set your budget; and start your holiday shopping. (You’ll avoid that Nov-Dec craziness!) Go to the bookstore and the local whole foods store or farmer’s market. Fix yourself a healthy, delicious meal and truly enjoy it. Call a friend and go to a funny movie. Take the dog for a walk. Read an inspiring book while you eat if you’re alone. Do anything worthwhile and consciously focus on and get into whatever it is you’re doing. Think only how to make this precise moment wonderful. We forget we have the power to direct our thinking.
If you’re serious about making yourself miserable, sit around and don’t do anything except brood and feel sorry for yourself. If you want to feel better, get up and do something good and be thankful you can do it.
“Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 (The Living Bible)