Albert Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge”.
And when it comes to learning how to trust again after loss, he’s got it right!
Of course you can’t just imagine that you can trust your partner or ex after he or she betrayed you. It’s most likely unimaginable. You also can’t just imagine that you could easily trust someone new as if the pain of your loss was null and void. That would be a betrayal of yourself and a possible set up for “relationship disaster 2.0”.
Learning how to trust again after loss is not as simple as waving an imaginary magic wand over your broken heart. Wouldn’t it be great, if all it took were three strokes of this wand; and then “poof”: out goes your pain and in comes a renewed sense of trust?
Yes, it would!
What happens inside of you though, when you envision waving that wand over your heart and unburdening your pain? Did you have a moment or two of relief? Or perhaps a chuckle of sardonic joy?
If so, great! That’s your active imagination in action and it’s the first step you need to take to heal after loss and learn how to trust again.
There actually are real life practical “magic wand” strategies to help you heal after loss and trust again. You just need to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and take the necessary time to nurture yourself, look inward, and of course be playful with yourself through this process. And If you are willing to do the work and play, then practicing different healing strategies can help you transform your post traumatic relationship stress into post traumatic relationship growth.
Here are 11 simple step by step strategies; that can help you heal after loss so that you can trust again, whether it’s with the same partner or a potential new one.
- First and foremost, see if your left analytical brain that’s constantly ruminating over what happened and trying to figure it all out (while zapping your spirit and spark in the process) can move over. Yes, you need to be cognizant, but constant thinking about what happened in this manner, can actually make you feel worse. Let your right intuitive brain take over for a little while so your brilliant analytical parts can take a much needed break.
- Close your eyes and scan your body for tension. Follow your breath and see if wherever you feel tight in your body, e.g. jaw, neck, shoulders, etc. can soften.
- Listen to all the different “what if” parts of you that are clamoring away about what the heck happened and / or how will you ever move forward? Believe it or not, the parts of you that belabor the questions: “what if I had done this or what if I didn’t say that” have valuable information for you. You just need to listen to them in a different way. One that has compassion from your heart.
- About that: check in with your heart center and see how open or closed it is to these different “what if” parts of you. If your chest feels tight, then try putting your hand on your heart to see if it can soften. This may take some time and practice, but stay with it, because your heart really does want to open towards yourself.
- Notice if the different “what if” parts of you want different things e.g. “a part of me wants to move forward and forget about what happened and or another part of me wants to go back and work things out.” It’s really common to feel polarized when you are healing after loss and trying to trust again.
- Send extra compassion to these conflicted parts of you, just by focussing, feeling or imagining your heart opening towards them. Keep doing this until you start to feel a little calmer or quieter inside.
- Take a few minutes to write in a journal on behalf of each of your “what if” parts. Almost like a secretary taking notes or dictation. Be playful and fun with this, making sure you heard and wrote down each and every last “what if” concern. And these concerns don’t have to make sense or be coherent. Just write them down. Who knows, you may discover you have a screen play to shop around after you’ve healed!
- When you start to feel quiet and calm inside, you most likely will have a small flash of inspiration such as” I’d like to go take a walk in that new park today or check out that new rustic mediterrainian restaurant or make some chocolate pudding”. Listen to those flashes and write them down.
- Take action. Go on that walk or make that pudding or take yourself to that restaurant or whatever. These actions don’t have to be “big”. Small, simple acts of following up on whatever inspires you will do. Of course, if you feel inspired to do something big, then go for it!
- Journal about your experience. What was it like showing up for yourself and following your heart’s desire? Perhaps it was fun? Perhaps it brought up uncomfortable feelings? Or perhaps you didn’t show up and follow up for yourself? Whatever you experienced, write it down and open your heart towards it.
- Then rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, and once again rinse and repeat. Repetition is the key to this. It’s what builds the muscle memory you need to heal after loss and learn to trust again.
Taking time each day to listen with compassion to the cacophony of pain that your inner “what if” parts constantly cry out will help you heal after loss. Then, taking small, simple, inspired actions that your soul craves will help you feel more alive.
The more you listen to you and show up for you, the sooner you will heal after loss and learn to trust again, because you are trusting yourself first and foremost.
When you consistently do this, you will discover an inner wisdom that will guide you through the next phase of and the rest of your life. It’s a wisdom you could not have discovered without having suffered from such a deep loss. This gift of wisdom is usually hard won.
No waving of a “magic wand” can ever right a wrong or change the past. In fact, it may always feel disingenuous to feel grateful over what happened. You can however, heal yourself from the traumatic pain of this loss and learn to trust again. And what you can potentially gain from this loss should you take the time you need to heal yourself, is a gift to yourself beyond any measure.
Giving yourself this gift all boils down to this: the more you show up for you, and take care of you and learn to trust you, then the sooner you will heal after loss and in time, develop a much greater capacity for trusting another.
Maura Matarese, M.A. , LMHC, is a psychotherapist, author and yoga teacher practicing in Sudbury, M.A. Her new course: Finding Hope After Heartbreak: Learn The Secret How To Start Feeling Better Now has launched. There’s also a free mini-course available to try before you dive in.