What do you do when the nearest & dearest person to you on the earth, the love of your life, leaves you? How do you deal with that?
You’ve got two choices.
The first one is easier, but will hurt you in the long run. You can go down a path of destruction, indulging in bad habits that will numb the pain. Sometimes we do some things that don’t help the situation. It’s tempting to do, because it’s human nature to accept short term relief for long term pain. But it doesn’t work. It makes things worse.
The second choice…
The one I’m going to show you today, and hope you choose, because it will be better for your long term healing, is something I’ve labeled the “GPS.”
So, what is GPS and how will it help you move towards true healing?
G- stands for grief. This is a grief situation. This is loss.
When the person closest to you leaves you…you’re left, battered and shattered. Your self-confidence just goes out the window.
You think, “What did I do to deserve this? What did I do wrong? Am I not good enough for someone I gave all my love to?”
And so it really does help if we reframe what happened as a loss. And oftentimes people think of loss as just death losses, but there are so many deep losses out there that aren’t related to death- but almost equally painful. You are grieving the death of a person who is still alive. So this is one of the big ones.
When you reframe it as loss, a couple of things can happen here. Two definitions of grief can really help.
What is grief?
The first definition is this: When loss occurs, grief is the normal and natural response to loss of any kind, even the non-death kind that we’re talking about here. It’s the normal and natural reaction. When people suffer, and go through this experience, they often feel something is wrong with them. And it just eats away at our self-confidence right? But when you feel like that, you’re actually experiencing grief, because you’ve experienced a loss.
What have you lost?
You’ve lost your dream of this relationship. You’ve lost your expectations. Many times, you’ve lost your ability to trust. You’ve been betrayed. You thought this person would never leave you, right? And yet they did. They promised they would never leave you. Huge losses right here.
And the second part of that definition that really helps is that “grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of our change in a familiar pattern of behavior.”
I’ll repeat- Grief is conflicting feelings caused by a change or an end of a familiar pattern of behavior. You had them, and now they’re gone.
Your whole daily routine is shattered. Everything changes about what you used to do and your patterns of familiar behavior. That for a time in the past gave you great comfort and stability. And now that stability is just all over the place, right? So you’re undergoing grief . And it’s really helpful to label it that way. For one thing, it’s true. For another thing, it helps you not beat yourself up so much.
The thing about grief is… you’ve got to give yourself permission to grieve. You’re going to have some bad days when those waves of grief come like tidal waves and they overwhelm you.
Let yourself grieve.
Go to a quiet place. Go to a trusted friend. Cry. Do whatever you need to do, but give yourself permission. And in the same breath, give yourself permission to recover. Because if you numb the pain, you are actually staying stuck in it, and won’t be able to move past it.
So give yourself permission to grieve & heal, so that you can recover in a healthy way.
Doing that is a really powerful tool.
That brings us to the “P” in “GPS.
P – PIES.
If you’ve poked around on our site at all, you might have heard of the concept of PIES.
I’m not talking about chocolate or coconut pie.
PIES means: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual self.
So the way that you can give yourself permission to recover, is by working on yourself, because that’s the only thing you can do.
So you work on your PIES, not your partner’s PIES. There’s a phrase we often use in our grief work. “All you can do is all you can do. And all you can do is enough.”
So write this down. “I can only do what I can do.” That’s simple, but brilliant, isn’t it? I can’t do what I can’t do. I can only do what I, Dave Mathews, can do.
So when I’m in a situation where the dearest on earth to me has left me and I am battered and bruised…That’s normal and natural.
You don’t need to be fixed. You need to grieve, but you also need to recover.
So when you think about recovering through working on yourself physically… think, “what can I do today? What can I work on physically?”
I can take a 20 minute walk.
I can wash my face, I can get out of bed, and I can work out.
It is possible to do something physical that helps my mind get rid of that negative thinking.
Those are things you can do physically.
Taking care of yourself intellectually looks like this:
Realizing there’s nothing wrong with you, and that you’re going through grief, and that it’s okay and normal.
Then, to take care of yourself emotionally… realize that you’re not a bad person.
Realize that emotionally… you’re going to be okay through the pain.
And the more you give yourself permission to feel bad, the quicker you’re able to get up, wash your face and start working on your PIES.
Finally, take care of yourself spiritually.
Take time to focus on your spiritual life if that is something important to you.
That brings me to the “S” in “GPS” – Singular focus.
As you start working on your PIES, you’ll realize that you have to stay focused, because change won’t happen overnight. If you need to gain weight, for example, you can’t gain 10 pounds this week. If you need to lose weight, you can’t lose 10 pounds tomorrow. If you’re trying to take care of your spiritual life and reconnect with God, you can’t just be super spiritual in an instant, right?
You have to work through some stuff…but you can do something today.
You can do the next right thing.
Singular focus helps people who are overcome with grief… To get up and do the next right thing. There’s a book that I’ve referenced in other videos called “The One Thing” by Gary Keller in this book, he talks about that. We really cannot multitask very well, right? Everybody I’ve worked with in coaching with Marriage Helper, almost without exception, feels overwhelmed.
“I’ve got to do 17 things today in order to live forward with my recovery from this broken relationship.” No, you can’t do 17 things today. You can do one thing. Do the next right thing, whatever it is.
One right thing stacks up onto another, and before you know it… you’ve made huge progress. In Keller’s book, he talks about the world record for domino falling. If you start with a two inch domino, and each domino is one and a half times bigger than the previous one, the18th domino would be as big as the leaning tower of PISA. The 23rd domino is as big as the Eiffel tower. The 31st domino would be at 3,000 feet higher than Mount Everest. And then the 57th domino would be as big from the earth to the moon. If every domino is one and a half times bigger than the first one, which was only two inches high, you’d reach the moon by the 57th domino.
If you want to get to the moon in your recovery… start with the 2 inch domino. Start with the first one, not the 57th. If you start with the 57th domino that’s as tall as from the earth to the moon, you’re going to use all of your energy. You won’t be able to do it. You’ll probably break a shoulder, right?
So start with the next right thing (the two inch domino). No matter how small it is, do it.
Because as you keep doing the next right thing, one day at a time, that energy starts to geometrically progress. And it’s amazing what you can accomplish… because it starts to gain huge momentum.
So what’s the one thing you need to do today? Make it a two-inch domino. You can knock that over. And knocking that one over, leads to knocking the next one over. That’s bigger than the previous.
So that’s GPS, when a loved one that you have devoted yourself to has ripped your heart out, crushed you emotionally, and has left you.
Do the next right thing.
Give yourself permission to grieve. Work on your PIES. And knock over that two-inch domino with singular focus.
And maybe the next right thing, is using one of Marriage Helper’s tremendous resources. One of those is the “Save My Marriage” course. That would really help you through this, and put more details to what I’m talking about here.