7 ways to improve your health at the end of a relationship

In the fog of memory, the picture is still clear. The end of a relationship affected more than my social health. I was an emotional wreck zapped of all energy. Yet sleep was hard to come by. I caught cold after cold. As my ex and I ran a business together I had lost my job contributing to my worries. I yelled a lot at God and the universe, angry at how my life was turning out. I tried to find my self-worth in doing things and poured energy into my children, neglecting my own life. We ate poorly as eating nutritiously became a non-priority and chocolate was a staple food.

You are created whole, as body, mind and soul. The loss and grief at the end of a relationship affects every part of you. Health is more than just the absence of disease and it affects all dimensions of your life, not just your physical body. But with some attention your health can be improved.

The following 7 ways to improve your health may be of benefit to you. As with all things health, there is always the disclaimer –  if symptoms persist see your doctor.

Definition of health

The World Health Organization includes physical, mental and social wellbeing in their definition of health. My favourite definition is from my nursing dictionary which says, health is a ‘dynamic process in which the individual is actively engaged in moving toward fulfilling his or her potential’ 1

It says health is a dynamic process; it is fluid and changing. It is not obtained once for life. You need to keep working on it. The individual is ‘actively engaged’ in pursuit of health. You need to be involved and responsible for your own health. The purpose of health is to fulfil your potential, to live a life of purpose.

I am writing this post not as a health or lifestyle guru, but from the combined perspective of my working life as a nurse with experience in chronic condition management and as a person who lives with a chronic condition.  daily, I daily practise strategies to manage my health so I can achieve my purpose in life.

How healthy are you?

Health includes:

  • Physical health
  • Spiritual health – provides hope and meaning for life
  • Relational health – our connection to others
  • Emotional health – our reaction to the stresses of life
  • Mental health – encompasses our self-esteem and our thinking processes

Some might call the combination of emotional and mental health, your psychological health.

The Church Health Centres ‘Model for Healthy Living has 7 dimensions for a healthy life. The following shows how they connect with the 5 areas mentioned above.

Spiritual   =      Faith Life in Model for Healthy Living

Physical   =      Movement and Nutrition in Model for Healthy Living

Mental and Emotional   =      Emotional in Model for Healthy Living

Relational =      Family and Friends in Model for Healthy Living

The additional two dimensions in the Model for Healthy Living are Work and Medical.

Work is not just what you do to earn your pay. It is engaging your gifts not just your employment. Work is being a valued and active member of your community life.

Medical covers your partnership with professionals in managing medical conditions. It’s when you are empowered and informed to be able to self-manage any chronic conditions.

So how healthy are you? Complete an assessment on your health – click here for one based on the 5 areas or click here for the Model for Healthy Living Assessment Wheel from the Church Health Centre.

7 ways to improve your health

  1. Take a step to improve your spiritual health. Deal with any negative emotions. Do something that makes your soul sing.  If you are a Christian, connect with God.
  2. Take a step to improve your relational health. Know who you are and what you want from a relationship. Be reciprocal.  Commit to connecting with others.
  3. Take a step to improve your mental health. Improve your self-esteem. Monitor and control your thought life Choose what influences you and choose how you react to circumstances and people.
  4. Take a step for your emotional health. Deal with emotions such as anger, depression and fear, firstly admitting that you have them link. Try journaling as way of releasing your feelings onto paper to help you sort through and identify them and express your hurts without lashing out at others. Talk to someone, either a friend or a professional counsellor.  Learn specific strategies.
  5. Take a step for your physical health. You are probably overloaded with information on exercise and nutrition from which you can choose a step. Or you can look for ways to bring rest and relaxation to reverse the stress response in your life and schedule them into your calendar: e.g. a massage, meditation, prayer, warm bath. Maybe a date with yourself!
  6. Take a step to ensure you care for all areas of your health and have balance between them. Don’t just focus on what is easy or what dominates your life. Some people at the end of a relationship cover their grief with exercise, becoming the gym junkie and not caring for other aspects of their health.
  7. Take a step to balance between caring for others and caring for yourself. This is a challenge for single parents. This may mean learning how to use boundaries and limits, or sharing the load with someone else, or taking time to invest in self-care.

Putting legs on it

Take one step.  And don’t forget to laugh and play.


Model for Healthy Living http://chreader.org/model-healthy-living/


  1. Miller, B.F. and Keane, C.B. (1987) Encyclopedia and dictionary of medicine, nursing, and allied health – fourth edition. B. Saunders Company, U.S.A, , p542

Photos by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Self-pity versus gratitude. Why gratitude is better for you and 3 tips on how to grow it.

I hate my life. This is so unfair. Other people have happy marriages and are not facing the poverty of single parenting. I don’t deserve this.


I am grateful for my life. I am grateful for the friends who are supporting me. I am grateful to have the whole doona to myself in bed at night. I’m grateful for a new beginning.

I have said and written both of those things. Which one do you think is better for my mental health? When I switched my focus to what I have, the benefits of being single, rather than what I lack, my feelings became more positive and I had hope for the future. Rehashing the negatives and the past increased my despair.

Gratitude is good for you. In a series of psychology blogs on mentally strong people, the author says, ‘mentally strong people choose to exchange self-pity for gratitude’. 1 Obviously I need to keep practising this!

What is gratitude

Gratitude can simply be defined as thankfulness.

Gratitude is being studied as part of positive psychology. A more complex definition of gratitude from positive psychology is, ‘a thankful appreciation for what you receive, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, you acknowledge the goodness in your life. And because, in the process, you recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside yourself, gratitude also helps you connect to something larger than your individual experience—whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.’

Putting the positive psychology definition into simpler words, by being grateful we affirm there are good things in the world and the source of this goodness is outside of our self.3

Benefits of gratitude

 Studies show gratitude leads to: 4,5,6

  • improved physical health
  • improved mental health including reducing depression
  • feeling more positive emotions such as optimism and happiness
  • positive impact on relationships by enhancing empathy and increasing your willingness to forgive and being less self-centred
  • ‘relish positive experiences’5
  • improving resilience to deal with adversity and overcoming trauma
  • better sleep6
  • improved self esteem
  • reduces stress by lowering cortisol (a stress hormone)

How to grow your gratitude

Gratitude can be cultivated. You can grow your gratitude.

  1. Show thankfulness to other people by simply saying ‘thank you’ more often. Maybe even take the time to write an old-fashioned ‘thank you’ note.
  2. At the end of the day take a moment to think of positive things that have happened during the day that you are grateful for. If you have children you can make this a part of their bedtime routine.
  3. Keep a gratitude journal, writing 3 to 5 things that you are grateful for every day.

I keep a gratitude journal. In the mornings I open my pretty pink journal and I write with my special purple pen, the completion of the sentence, ‘I am grateful for…’ three times. Sometimes all I can write is, ‘I am grateful I made it out of bed this morning’ or ‘I’m grateful I have a home with walls and a roof’. On days when I find it hard to think of things that I’m grateful for I will often turn my focus to the small things around me such as the crunch of a macadamia nut in my breakfast or the sound of a magpie welcoming the day.

Oprah Winfrey is a big believer in the power of keeping a gratitude journal. See the link in the resources section to hear her talk about it.

Putting legs on it

Think of three things right now that you are grateful for.

Then choose a method to practise regularly and grow your gratitude.


Long article on gratitude Positive psychology program, What is gratitude and what is its role in positive psychology?, Feb 2017, viewed 7 March 2018 https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/gratitude-appreciation/

Oprah –  http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/oprah-on-the-importance-of-her-gratitude-journal-video


  1. A Moran, 7 Scientifically proven benefits of gratitude, Psychology today, 2015, viewed 8 February 2018 psychologytoday.com/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude
  2. Harvard Health Publications, A Harvard Medical School Special Health Report: ​Positive Psychology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, 2013, p. 16.
  3. A network for grateful living, What is gratitude?, 2018, viewed 7 March 2018, https://gratefulness.org/resource/what-is-gratitude/
  4. Positive psychology program, What is gratitude and what is its role in positive psychology?, Feb 2017, viewed 7 March 2018 https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/gratitude-appreciation/
  5. Harvard Health Publications, A Harvard Medical School Special Health Report: ​Positive Psychology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, 2013, p. 16.
  6. A Moran, 7 Scientifically proven benefits of gratitude, Psychology today, 2015, viewed 8 February 2018 psychologytoday.com/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

My 7 keys to restoration when your relationship ends

‘At this turning point in your life, choose to hope for a better future.’1 Wise words written in a devotion entitled ‘Torn apart’ describing divorce.

As I continually update the ‘New Life in the Mourning’ website and prepare to republish the book, I see another part of the new life: restoration. I have been returned to the life I was created for. The layers of pain that covered me and the circumstances that forced me to hide, have been removed.

In Topic 20 in the book, I talk about ‘Looking in the Mirror’. ‘To completely heal and move forward, free from our past, we need to understand the hidden thoughts and behaviours that contributed to the breakdown of the partnership.’(p 126) In hindsight, there is more to this. Yes, firstly we need to acknowledge that we are broken people and find healing from these areas, but then comes restoration. When we are restored to the purpose we were created for, our individual beauty shines again.

I am not the same person who entered my marriage and I’m not the same person who left it. I am rediscovering me; rediscovering the bits of me that are independent of being a wife or being single again. These bits are my character and purpose. My purpose has been shaped by experience most certainly, but the gifts e.g. writing, my personality (introvert), my passion (to help people become their best) remain. They have been revealed in the stripping process and are now being lovingly restored and repolished.

Restoration is engaging with the new life and finding the old self in the process. It’s finding new strengths and parts of yourself that have been refined through the fire of the end of a relationship, are now like gold.

There is a checklist below to rate how you are going in each of these areas and then you can use the links in each key for some ideas on how to move forward in that area.

So, what are my seven keys for restoration at the end of your relationship? Here they are:

  1. Manage your negative emotions to overcome your grief and heal from the pain of your loss.
  2. Practise forgiveness. Forgive yourself for any mistakes you made. Forgive others. Forgiveness frees you from anger, bitterness and self-condemnation. Forgiveness readies you to receive the good things of your new life.
  3. Create social networks. Even though my next point is that you need to be comfortable to go out alone, you also need to make sure that you are connected to other people. You can’t recover and live a new life of hope in isolation. Research shows isolation is bad for your health, in particular your mental health. Create a circle of support. Click here to watch the video to help you do this.
  4. Find your identity as a single again person. This is easier said than done and requires you to engage with healing at the end of a relationship, understanding your contribution to it, healing from negative patterns of dating. Practically this is helped by reframing your thoughts, having strategies to deal with social events such as going to parties, being comfortable being you. A friend who experienced a recent breakup of their relationship described both the fear of going to a restaurant and eating by himself and the exhilaration of conquering this. He had mentally rehearsed what it would be like to sit alone when others would be in couples. He practically prepared for this by taking a book to read whilst waiting for his meal.
  5. Find your purpose and live it. Link to some other blogs. Don’t be bound by your past and what others may have spoken over your life. Instead discover or rediscover what you were created to do and pursue it.
  6. Practise gratitude; gratitude can help improve both your mental and your physical health, and promote resilience (and you will sleep better!)2. One way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. My next blog will be on growing gratitude.
  7. Cultivate hope. You need to change your thinking as circumstances can lie. What you see isn’t always reality.


Putting legs on it

Using the checklist below identify where you are in each of these areas and then go back to the keys above and look at the links to find what can you do to move forward in that area. Click here to download a copy. Don’t expect to be able to work in every area at once!

The Restoring Balance Christian Retreat (end of March in the Adelaide hills in South Australia) covers some of these topics.



Psychology Today: Benefits of gratitude



  1. K Whiting, 365 Devotions for Hope, Zondervan, Michigan, 2016, p. 233.
  2. A Moran, 7 Scientifically proven benefits of gratitude, Psychology today, 2015, viewed 8 February 2018 psychologytoday.com/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude

Photo credit: Eric Vadeboncoeur unsplash.com




How to create your new life. Big picture. Small steps

The thud and whoosh sound followed by the splash of colours brightening the sky. I love fireworks, especially the big displays of New Year’s Eve. Whether it’s sitting in the park, watching from a hilltop or even on television where the display has a music soundtrack, I find joy in the explosive light and sound. It depicts the promise of new life; the darkness can be changed to bright colours.

I’ll confess it hasn’t always been this way. In the past avoidance worked for me. I used to hate New Year’s Eve, people gathered together celebrating the potential for a New Year when I was stuck in grief and of course the inevitable lack of midnight kisses with your loved one to remind me I was alone. It was easy to use the excuse of having young children so we’d stay home and maybe watch the fireworks on TV.

These experiences are common contrasts of recovery at the end of relationship. There is the grief as you process loss stuck in that darkened world ,so overwhelmed by the negative emotions. .

But there is hope when your relationship ends; there is New Life in the Mourning.

Your new life

The start of the New Year should be a time when you think about what you would like that new life to look like.

You are a whole person. You are more than what you do. You are more than the roles you fulfil. You are more than the labels you use to describe yourself. You are created for a purpose, body, soul and spirit.

Your new life is not just about what you would like to do but is more about who you are and what you would like the different dimensions of your new life to look like.

Part of some of the courses I teach and also in coaching people living with chronic health conditions, I explain how to create a vision for your life. The vision is the big picture. Then you create small steps by using goals and an action plan to get there.

Looking at the big picture you may perceive other steps to lead you on the path to the destination. You can also see what you are already doing that is moving you towards the vision and can celebrate that.

You can create the big picture by answering some questions and/or using the ‘Model for Healthy Living’ from the Church Health Centre.

Create the vision

Click here for the worksheet and click here for the video explaining how to do this from my ‘how to make a change that sticks’ online course.

To help you envisage your new life, reflect on the following questions that are in the worksheet:

  1. What would you do with your time? For money, for creativity, for fun, to help others.
  2. What would your relationships be like? Who would you spend time with? How would you resolve conflict? What communities would you be a part of?
  3. How would you look after your body? Nutrition, movement, sleep, fitness, relaxation, managing a chronic condition?
  4. How would you balance caring for others with caring for yourself?
  5. How would you nurture your spirituality and sense of purpose and hope?
  6. How would you look after yourself emotionally? Who and what could support you in this area? What does emotional health look like for you? How would you manage stress?

Now craft a short paragraph from your answers to create your vision. You could start with ‘In 1 or 2 or 5 years time I will…’ or ‘This is my life…’

Or use the Model for Healthy Living following the instructions in the video. The ‘Model for Healthy Living Assessment Wheel’ from the Church Health Centre is a tool for pursuing balance and satisfaction across seven dimensions of health. Reflecting on it can grow your vision for your life. Click here for your copy.

Take small steps

The big picture is your vision of what you would like your life to be. When you know where you want to go, you can plan your journey. You break the big picture down into small steps; steps that are achievable. You set goals for your steps and these move you closer one step at a time to creating the big picture. As you complete a step, you set another goal and gradually walk the path to your destination, creating the reality of the big picture; one step at a time, one goal at a time.

Don’t set multiple in-depth goals in every area your life at the same time. It’s too hard to achieve. Accept that you will go backwards sometimes. You won’t achieve a goal. You may return to behaviours you’ve previously changed, especially during times of stress and you may revert to default coping behaviours. If this happens, with the big picture in mind, celebrate what you have done using a strength based approach and don’t give up. Reset the goal to take another step.

Spend some time thinking about steps that you can do to create your new life. It could be managing an emotion from your grief, learning how to create boundaries in relationships, finding balance between caring for others and caring for yourself as a single parent, investing in your spiritual life, taking a step to improve your physical health through nutrition or movement, or finding a way to be an active contributor in your community through volunteering or work.

It can be helpful to discuss your vision and your goals with another person. Find someone who will encourage, support and help you.

  • see the big picture
  • look at what motivates you
  • look at barriers (such as fears, thoughts, or practical things that might get in the way)
  • problem solve when you identify a barrier or don’t achieve a goal
  • frame your goals
  • create an action plan
  • hold you accountable to carry out your action plan or become part of a support group that offers this.

Putting legs on it

Create the vision for your new life

Take small steps to get there


‘How to make a change that sticks’ online course (which is provided free as part of Restoring Balance Retreat or online course). Click here

For more information on Restoring Balance click here

Photo credit : Chris Chadd www.unsplash.com

3 ways to enjoy the Christmas party season as a single again person

It’s Christmas time. A time of joy and celebration.  A time to be with family, or so the advertisements say. Is that your experience of Christmas?

For many people at the end of a relationship, Christmas is a painful reminder of what has been lost and a time of loneliness.   You have to face going to all the Christmas events alone and unless you’re extroverted, this can be a daunting prospect.

Even now I need to be deliberate in choosing to enjoy this season. It reminds me that my marriage ended and can make me feel alone. I was going to write it reminds me I am alone, but that is a negative thought pattern leading me to dark places, and it is not true. I am not alone. I have friends and family who invite me to participate. I just need to accept and sometimes reach out to them.  I may have times of being alone but I reframe how I experience it and embrace the solitude.

There are the inevitable parties and events.  As an introvert I hate going to these alone and struggle to walk up to groups of people even if I know them. In the early days I remember standing outside in the car park struggling to find the strength to step through the doorway into the light and sounds of people partying inside. Sometimes my courage failed and I went home.

So over time I’ve developed some strategies to not only deal with the Christmas/ New Year party season – but to enjoy it:

  1. Be aware of the emotional impact
  2. Deal with loneliness
  3. Tips for going to parties/events alone
  1. Be aware of the emotional impact

Christmas and New Year with parties and family gatherings and the romantic undertone of kissing under the mistletoe and at midnight on New Years Eve-, can be like a lance to a boil. Buried emotions and difficult thoughts erupt pierced by the reminders of what you have lost.

So you need to recognise this may be a problem for you and have some self-care strategies and ways of dealing with negative emotions that will arise.

  1. Deal with the loneliness

Strategies to deal with the loneliness include:

  • Connecting with communities e.g. volunteer to help out at Christmas events for charities
  • Plan catch up times with good friends who understand that this may be a tricky time for you
  • Use the alone time to your advantage by doing something you enjoy such as reading, massage, spiritual contemplation. This builds you up and refreshes you and helps you reframe it from a painful situation to something you may even look forward to.

  1. Tips on going to parties alone

Some tips to going to parties and events alone include:

  • Try and find someone to travel to the event and enter with.
  • Have something in your hands –it makes you look like you are a part of what is going on. Don’t be like the old me clinging to the wall looking lost and helpless. So grab a drink or a plate of food. Getting the drink or navigating the food table can be a way to meet and chat to people as usually they are by themselves at this time.
  • If you have trouble walking up to a group then find another person who is by themselves and ask them some questions to start a conversation. Most people like to talk about themselves! Prepare some questions beyond ‘what do you do?’ Some examples I use are; What was the best thing that happened to you this week? What is something you are looking forward to next year? These are positive questions that hopefully will elicit a positive response and not a list of what is wrong with the world. On the other hand be a positive person to speak to as this is more attractive.
  • Have an exit strategy.

What are some of your ideas for enjoying this season? Please share them in the comments section so others can benefit

Putting legs on it

Which of the three strategies do you need to focus on? What is one thing you can do?

If this post seemed familiar it was a re-run from November last year.


If you are a Christian see articles by Kris Swiatocho of The Single Network  about the difference between lonely and alone called Jesus single like me and A Fine Line: Loneliness vs. Alone-ness


Photo credit:

Pineapple Party – Pineapple Supply Co unsplash.com

Christmas Lights – Marina Khrapova unsplash.com


3 ways to find strength to fly again

I groggily open my eyes with a growing awareness of a voice speaking loudly. As my mind starts to makes sense of patterns of words, I realise the voice is describing the traffic. I focus to my right and decipher the numbers on my alarm clock. Hmm! My radio alarm been going for nearly half an hour and I’ve slept through it. I admit I still use a clock radio that’s older than my young adult children! I try to get out of bed but I can’t summon the muscle energy to coordinate the effort. I know I have to write this blog and my writing time is disappearing with each moment that passes, but I just can’t do it. I’m tired. Tired to my core. A mixture of body fatigue from the excursion of teaching all day on my feet yesterday before heading to a meeting at night, mind tiredness from meeting deadlines and emotional wipe out from unrelenting change and loss. It’s been a long year!

At the end of your relationship you may feel the same. Each day you drag yourself out of bed, often after a poor night’s sleep, desperate for the energy to ‘do’ the day. Bound by the pain of loss and grief your hope is drained, emptying your strength with it. Fear may be grabbing your heals and pinning you to the ground with the exhaustion of mind, body and soul.

It creates an image of being stuck in the mud, movement resisted by fatigue. Weighed down and unable to lift, how do you find the strength to fly again, to experience joy in life and live your purpose healed and whole from the end of your relationship?

The words from Simon and Garfunkle’s song ‘Bridge over troubled water’ which begins with, ‘When you’re weary’ provide a solution.

Click here to listen to the song

The words of the song express the notion of how we need extra from the outside when we have exceeded our limit of strength, when we are done and when we cannot go any further. When stuck in emptiness, we know we need to be supplied with something or someone else, just to take one more step.

At the end of a relationship or in times of crisis in our lives, we can be overwhelmed by grief or the tasks at hand. Here’s 3 ways to find strength to fly again:

  1. Have others to surround and support

To keep going you need to tap into a support network and be filled with their strength. Friends, family, a supportive community can all be wells from which you can draw strength to refresh and keep going. The strength deposits may be in the form of practical help: a cooked meal delivered to the door step, help with packing, doing the groceries when you are too busy to get to the shop. Strength can come from a note of encouragement, a listening ear or a hug. Surround yourself with supportive people who will give you strength when you are weary.

  1. Rest and restore

Take time out; time to re-create. Time to invest in something that fills you.

Often in the mess of the end of a relationship and the demands of single parenting if you have children, you can lose sight of who you are, what you enjoy and what fills you. If this is you, think about your past – what did you do to rest? What did you do for activities that you enjoyed such as hobbies, sport, and leisure. Can you start one of these again? What people did you hang out with who filled you? Can you connect with old friends or go out socially and find new ones?

  1. Free your feet from the yuk that anchors you to the ground.

Learn to manage your grief. Practise forgiveness to help with bitterness click here. Scrape it off your feet so you are not sucked earthwards. Do you need counselling, a support group? Lighten your load with journaling or debriefing with a friend, to travel more lightly.

There’s a fourth way.

The image of being stuck in the mire is a biblical one (Psalm 40:2 and 69:14), as is the image of soaring on wings likes eagle . As a Christian when I reach the end of my strength, I am so glad I have someone else to draw from. My God, who promises strength for the weary.

…those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31 NIV


Putting legs on it

  • Take one step to build your support network. Call a friend. Make an appointment with a counsellor.
  • Put time in your schedule to do one thing that fills you this week.
  • Use the resources in ‘Free your feet from the yuk’ to find one thing you can do to scrape the mud from your feet and do it this week.
  • Repeat until your burdens are lighter and you can fly again!

3 ways to break the grip of chewing gum words

As a single again person it’s most likely you have had negative words said, probably screamed at you. In the heat of an argument the ‘you blames’ and derogatory names erupt, slinging not only mud that dirties but an arrow that pierces.

The ‘you blames’:

  • You never listened to me
  • You were always going out with your friends
  • You’re a bad mother
  • It’s your fault

The ‘you blames and ‘derogatory names’ are a form of domestic violence. The White Ribbon Foundation, an organization working in a primary preventative role to change the ‘attitudes and behaviours that lead to violence against women,’ says:

Verbal abuse includes angry yelling but it also includes cold statements designed to humiliate a person. Verbal abuse includes:

  • name-calling
  • continuous criticism, swearing and humiliation in public or in private
  • attacks on a woman’s intelligence, body or parenting
  • yelling’

The focus of this blog is not to remind you of those words but will label them for what they are  – verbal abuse which is a form of domestic violence. If you need assistance speak to a counsellor/your local doctor or if you are in Australia contact 1800 Respect on 1800 737 732 https://www.1800respect.org.au/

The focus of this blog is to break the grip those words had on you and especially to get you to think about how you speak to yourself now. Have some of those words attached themselves to you, like chewing gum to your shoe as you try to walk into your new life? Are they keeping you anchored to where you’ve been? Do you have to pull hard against their sticky resistance to move forward?

Just like your mum probably had a few tricks for removing chewing gum, there are some tricks to breaking free from the words of your past.

3 ways to break the grip of chewing gum words

The last blog looked at changing your perspective about how you think. This is closely linked to how you speak.

  1. Talk nicely to yourself

The words you say have power.

For Christians, we believe in the power of the spoken word. God spoke and the universe was created. Jesus spoke and people were healed, waves were calmed.

Back to you. Ever heard your mouth say things like ugly, stupid, failure, nobody would want you? But who are you saying them to? You’d never speak to a friend like that! So why do you say horrible things to yourself?

Don’t repeat what was said about you or to you.

Change the way you speak to yourself. You can be very deliberate about doing this. Years ago, my counsellor helped me write a list of affirmations to speak every day. Speaking them to yourself means you wire them into your brain once as you’ve said it and the second time as you hear it.

Create positive affirmations and display them in places you frequently visit (fridge, mirror, back of toilet door) and speak them out.

Click here for Christian affirmations ‘I am loved by God’

  1. Build a new identity that is not based on what was said about you.

You are whole. You are a complete person. You are not missing ‘another half’. You may need to rebuild your self-esteem – click here for 10 steps for rebuilding shattered self-esteem.

I believe as a Christ follower your identity comes from being a much loved child of God. You have immense worth to Him.

  1. Forgiveness

Down the track when you are safe and having some calm return to life, you need to forgive the person who said ‘you blames’ or derogatory names, to free yourself from the power of their words over you. This applies even if you’ve experienced domestic violence, however you DO NOT have to do this in person or even contact the person who spoke the words. Always be safe. You can write a letter that you don’t post or speak your forgiveness to a chair imagining them sitting there. It doesn’t matter whether they hear your words or not. This is about bringing healing to you – I explain more about this in for 7 ways to help you process forgiveness

Putting legs on it

Write yourself a list of affirmations and speak these out every morning.

Display words of affirmation where you can see them frequently.

What’s one step you can take to rebuild your self-esteem?

Photo credit: Ryan McGuire stocksnap.io

3 ways to change your perspective and improve your thought life

Chatting with some single girlfriends, we began by whining about being single and lamenting the problems, but ended up appreciating the many positives of being single. Sometimes the negatives engulf us and fill our view until all we can see is difficulties and pain. Our conversation shifted from woe to laughter as one person pointed out how nice it was to be able to read in bed. This diverted our attention from focusing on what we lack and started us listing the good things.

Think about what you’re thinking about

Your thoughts grow your brain.  Some images to describe this process are: growing branches on trees (which according to neuroscientist Dr Caroline Leaf is what it looks like), laying strands in a cable or grooves in a record – the more you think the same thoughts the stronger the thought exists in your brain. Thoughts are measurable and ‘influence every decision, word, action and physical reaction we make’1 and they produce feelings including negative ones like anxiety.

Become aware of the negative, toxic thoughts and conversations you have in your head… then replace them. Here’s 3 ways to change your perspective and improve your thoughts, to change the lens through which you view your situation:

  1. Be grateful

As a single again person it’s easy to slip into a negative focus, lamenting your situation. Your focus on what you don’t have or what is hard in your life, making yourself miserable by expressing your discontent instead of looking at what you have and appreciating your life. 2 This is what I and my girlfriends did at the beginning.

Here is some of our list of good things we appreciate about being single:

  • Having control of the remote
  • Setting our own standards of housework
  • Not having to juggle to fit another adults calendar to attend events
  • Not having to share the block of chocolate (provided it is hidden from the kids if you have them)
  • Sleeping all over the bed with as much of the quilt as you want
  • Only listening to your CD’s
  • The toilet seat is always where you left it (children may affect this)

While the list may seem selfish it also included having time available to help others or serve as a volunteer.

You can take this a step further and start a gratitude journal. Writing down 3 things each day you are thankful for. Sometimes it can simply be that the day is over!

  1. Reframing

Reframing is defined as ‘frame or express (words or a concept or plan) differently.’ 3Reframing is the art of changing how you think about something; putting a different meaning onto the same picture. It is reframing a problem or difficult situation into an opportunity.

An example from my life as a single parent. When the kids were going to spend Christmas with their dad’s family and I was going to spend time alone, I could say (and I did!), ‘Woe is me, I am so hard done by. I am spending part of Christmas alone; this is not how I wanted Christmas to be.’ I could reframe that by saying, ‘Isn’t it great the kids will spend part of Christmas with their dad and his extended family. This gives me time to do something different – child free.’  See blog How to reframe the problem of Christmas into an opportunity‘ for what I did differently

3. Be present

Don’t’ wallow in the past and what cannot be changed or worry about the future. Be present in the moment. It can be hard in the initial mess of the end of a relationship to do this. A practice to help with this is mindfulness.

Mindfulness is focusing your attention in the moment and accepting it without judgement.  Its enemy is multi-tasking. In the busyness of single life where you are juggling everything, focus on the one thing before you.

In any situation where you feel trapped by the negatives, you can change your outlook. You can use techniques like creating the list to be grateful for, reframing and being present to switch your perspective from the negative, what is bad or wrong, to find a positive. Most circumstances in life are a mixture of both and how you feel can be a matter of perspective. When all you see are problems, you feel miserable. When you change your mindset to see advantages you feel better. It can be a choice to change your focus. Your situation may not change but how you feel about it does.

After the discussion with my friends I was still single, but I felt happy in my circumstances, instead of dissatisfied.

Putting legs on it

If you are feeling overwhelmed, trapped in your circumstances, try changing your focus. List an advantage; one good thing about it.

If you are single again, can you add to our list?



  1. Leaf, C (2009) Who switched off my brain?, Inprov Ltd, USA p13-21
  2. Legge, V (2010) New Life in the Mourning, Sid Harta p106
  3. https://www.google.com.au/search?q=reframing&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab&gfe_rd=cr&ei=ga80WMi9OcqEogO41p_wBw

Photo credits:

Lens: Paul Skorupskas unsplash.com

Frames:Jessica Ruscello unsplash.com

What is new life in the mourning?

Supporting a friend through the end of her marriage, she asked the question, ‘You talk about new life in the mourning a lot – what do you actually mean?

I’ve continued to think about how I would answer that simply without reusing the same words:

New life in the mourning is a positive response to find a fresh way of being and doing amidst the negative experience of the ending of a relationship.

Wow, that was hard to capture what I mean by ‘new life in the mourning’ and not write an essay on it. There’s 3 parts to it:

New Life


The Mourning

New Life: positive response to find a fresh way of being and doing

So, what is new life at the end of a marriage?

New life encompasses many things in both the present and the future. It is learning how to be single again and how to do life as a single person, creating a single parent family if you have kids.  It’s finding out who you are and what you want from life, recognising the end of your relationship may have changed you. It’s finding a community so you won’t do life alone. It’s dreaming of the life you want and taking steps to live a life of purpose. It’s looking after yourself, your health and valuing yourself. It is hopeful as you discover and create a good life at the end of your relationship.

In: amidst

This is the recognition that creating the new life occurs whilst you are grieving. You don’t do the grief or wait for it to be over, before you find a new way to live. Part of the healing of the grief is learning to live in the new normal and finding meaning and purpose there.

The Mourning: the negative experience of ending a relationship

Mourning is dealing with the loss of your relationship and navigating the grief it brings. It is healing the hurts so you can love again and develop healthy relationships. It includes dealing with the baggage and happenings in your past that impact both now and potentially the future.

You need to let go, release your old life, even some friends. Forgiveness is a big part of the releasing. Forgiving your former partner, friends and others, and yourself – this is a big one. Let go of blame and guilt to find your freedom so you can  live your future.

It’s normal as you navigate your new life to fall back into the negative thought patterns of ‘life is too hard’ and wishing it was different, being jealous of others who have happy relationships or are financially secure. Learn to accept and manage these times.

If I re-wrote the book would I change anything?

Spending time reflecting on this a decade after writing the book and continuing to support people at the end of their relationships, have I changed what I would write when I do the next edition?

Mostly no. I come back to the same structure I use in my course and on the website (which is slightly different from the book):

  • The end of the relationship: Dealing with the practicalities at the end of a relationship. Dividing up assets, divorcing if you were married, creating parenting plans, selling the house, practical and legal stuff you have to attend to at the end of the relationship. Get good advice throughout this process. The end of the relationship also covers understanding its effect on your health and the process of grief.
  • Healing: How to engage with and process your grief, manage your emotions, rebuild your self-esteem, improve your health, connect with community.
  • Moving forward: Create your new life. Get to know yourself and think about both who you want to be and what you want to do. What dreams do you have? What are your passions? It’s a chance to begin again.
  • Successfully single again: Heal and grow healthy relationships

I would change the following because I have realised how easy it is to create a new life where your identity is doing, not being. I’ve seen how the fear of others and building walls stops support and creates more isolation.

I would strengthen and add more about the importance of community. You are better together as I often talk about now. It’s the importance  of connecting with others, creating a circle of support, growing your friendships, and more information on how to do this using the concept of the circle of support.

I would also stress more on self-compassion and self-care.

But overall, the message of ‘new life in the mourning’ remains the same.

Putting legs on it

I would love to hear your feedback on what else should be covered. What is important to you as you heal and recover at the end of your relationship?

Leave a comment here, post on Facebook or use the contact form

Let yourself off the hook – you can’t have a marriage by yourself

I’ve seen some vigorous ‘Christian’ debate about divorce from Christian’s on social media recently. Upfront I will readily confess my bias here as a divorced Christian. The lens I view theology through is one of grace and all sins can be forgiven including breaking marriage vows. But when are the vows broken? At the end of my marriage, I initiated the divorce discussion but have I committed the unforgivable sin because I said ‘enough’ although the union was long broken?

I shared my story in 10 ways to alienate and drive divorced/single again people away from your church how I reacted with uncontrollable sobs when the minister made a comment, ‘Christians don’t divorce’. But they do!

If you are a divorced Christian, here’s my thoughts and I hope they help you let yourself off the hook and release any judgement and shame you may be feeling.

It only takes one to end the relationship

No matter how much one person desires a relationship and/or is committed to their marriage, if the other person isn’t part of it, there is no relationship. There is no marriage. One person doesn’t make a marriage. It takes two to form a relationship but it only takes one to leave.

Leaving isn’t always physically removing oneself from the relationship. Many people ‘stay’ in the relationship but they have checked out and left by their actions.

There may be abuse – physical, emotional, sexual, financial, spiritual. They may be emotionally connected to another person and the love and emotional intimacy that should be shared with their partner is being given to someone else.  This may not be labelled adultery, but it has a similar detrimental effect on the marriage.   One partner could be sleeping with others with an emotional commitment to the new relationship or without a commitment by using prostitutes. Once the companionship is broken there is no marriage from a Biblical point of view. See below.

It takes two people to enter a relationship and be a part of its issues, but it only takes one person to leave.

The Concept of marriage and divorce is shaped by culture and laws

So, let’s talk about the marriage union, and separate Biblical concept from our legal and cultural norms. The way we do marriage is dictated by law and culture.1 In Australia if you meet the criteria to marry you must complete a ‘notice of intended marriage form’ at least one month before the wedding, you must prove your ID and on the day of your wedding you, the celebrant and two witnesses sign certificates and the celebrant has 14 days to register your marriage.

Likewise, there are rules around divorcing. 2 These rules are different in other countries and the way we celebrate marriage looks different in other countries and cultures. Even during my lifetime in Australia, the rules around how to marry and divorce have changed.

Recognise that your view of marriage and divorce is shaped by your culture and the laws of your society.

The Biblical concept of marriage and divorce

Recognise the effect of culture and law in what is written in the Bible. For example, in the Bible, divorce always means the end of the marriage, there is no separation followed by a legal decree. 3 God instituted the Bill of Divorcement to protect women (Genesis 24). Women were seen as a man’s possession and had no means of financing themselves except through marriage, concubinage, prostitution or slavery.4 Divorce, which was available only to men, could be accomplished by sending the wife from the house.5 The Bill of Divorcement was necessary to allow women to remarry.

God invented the union of marriage at the start of the Bible when He created man. One Bible scholar says, ‘[m]arriage was established because Adam was alone, and that was not good. Companionship, therefore, is the essence of marriage’.6 The unification of the marriage is over when one person breaks the bond, when the companionship is broken. This usually occurs before the couple separate and divorce in modern day.

Divorce is referred to five times in the New Testament, four times quoting Jesus and once quoting Paul. These passages appear to contradict themselves. Scholarly books spend chapters explaining how to understand these passages.

Bruce Prewer, a Uniting Church minister, says that Jesus taught on the value of people, that life-long commitment is the goal of marriage and attacked how divorce functioned in his society.7

To explore this in more depth Click here for my book chapter What the church and Bible say about divorce.’

My Summary from my book chapter: God invented the union of marriage and the Bible upholds it as the ideal. The breaking of the marriage union is a sin. It may happen long before separation and divorce occur, and it may be broken by a partner’s abuse or infidelity rather than when one person leaving the marriage. God forgives all sin. Grace is bigger than sin.

Putting legs on it

Recognise that you can’t have a marriage by yourself, and let go of the guilt and shame from the end of your relationship.

If you are curious as to my Biblical understanding of divorce read my chapter ‘What the church and Bible say about divorce.’

Discover your new life in your mourning.


  1. Attorney-General’s Department, Getting married’, Australian Government, viewed 13 July 2017, https://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Marriage/Pages/Getting-married.aspx
  2. Attorney-General’s Department, Getting divorced’, Australian Government, viewed 13 July 2017, http://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/family-and-community/relationships/getting-divorced.
  3. K Crispen, Divorce, Hodder and Stoughton, Australia, 1988, p. 12-18 and JE Adams, Marriage, divorce, and remarriage in the bible. Zondervan, U.S.A, 1980, p. 32-35
  4. B Prewer, ‘Sex and marriage: Biblical and historical’, Ministering to loss situations including separation, divorce and death – Kit 3, Family Ministries Commission, Australia, 1983
  5. K Crispen, Divorce, Hodder and Stoughton, Australia, 1988, p. 11
  6. JE Adams, Marriage, divorce, and remarriage in the bible. Zondervan, U.S.A, 1980, p. 8
  7. B Prewer, ‘Sex and marriage: Biblical and historical’, Ministering to loss situations including separation, divorce and death – Kit 3, Family Ministries Commission, Australia, 1983, p. 3

Photo by Peter Winckler on Unsplash