Life can seem pretty harsh after a divorce or separation. It feels as though every new, stressful situation is about to send you over the edge.
So what can you do about it? Maybe you're used to writing a "to do" list of tasks to turn things around. But have you ever thought about making a list of how to make things worse at the same time?
Yes, it sounds crazy. But this kind of journaling can be a fun attitude adjustment, giving you a healthy new perspective about the issues at hand. Plus, it increases your awareness level.
Once you take pen to paper, you will gradually begin to see more clearly. You may be surprised to find that you've been stuck in a holding pattern of anxiety — worrying, but doing little else to solve your problems. Your "better and worse" list will reveal tangible proof that, instead of just feeling sorry for yourself, you can take actionable steps toward change.
Here are a few examples:
I can make my finances better by:
- setting a budget
- paying my bills on time
- making more money, acquiring a new skill, taking additional courses
I can make money woes worse by:
- sleeping until noon everyday
- spending the limit on all my credit cards
- going shopping everyday
I can make the situation better by:
- inviting a friend to join me when I want to go out
- taking a cooking class for singles
- joining a dinner club
I can make matters worse by:
- eating in front of the TV
- going to the drive-up window and super sizing fries and sodas
- snacking all day so I never have to sit down to eat at all
OVERWHELMING HOUSEHOLD REPAIRS
I can make hearth and home better by:
- enrolling in a "do-it-yourself" class at a local hardware store or community college
- getting referrals for trusted workers from friends or work colleagues
- doing some research on the Internet or library about the issue so I know the right questions to ask
I can make fix-up duties worse by:
- ignoring the work and putting my home and family at risk
- putting duct tape over frayed wires and stop using any appliances that start to smoke
- asking some guy to help me out and hope he doesn't expect a favor in return
You can use this technique for absolutely anything that is worrying you — including childcare, parenting issues, household responsibilities, finances, career changes, health and fitness — even dealing with new relationships and getting back into the dating circuit. It works with everything!
When creating your own list of "better and worse" ideas, be creative. No idea is too big, too small, or too silly. Write down anything that comes to mind, especially if it makes you laugh or smile. Keep adding to your list over the course of a few hours or days, and then look it over to see what pops out at you.
When I did this exercise related to my own finances several years ago, I saw a number of ideas and action steps that could really help improve my situation. And I hate to admit it, but I also saw a number of things on my "worse" list that I was actually already guilty of committing. A big "A-ha" moment came out of some of the ridiculous things I'd written down!
By brainstorming about all the possible solutions and roadblocks to your issues, you too will most likely spot things you can do — or are already doing — to remedy the problem (like taking a DIY class) or to make it worse (like maxing out your charge cards). Either way, you will feel more empowered by knowing all of your options. That way you can set a clear plan of action to get the results you want.
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