How to Exercise Your Way Through A Breakup

June 18, 2015

Going through a breakup is one of the most universal pains in this world. We have all been there, we have all dealt with it, and the good news is, we’re all still here. There’s a myriad of ways to get past the pain, but one of the most constructive is exercising. It can be a reason to get out of bed, a new motivation in life (even if that motivation is “Look as good as possible in case I see my ex again”), and one of the healthiest ways to move on.

Not only does exercise release endorphins, the “feel-good” neurotransmitters in your brain, but it can increase self-confidence and act as a form of meditation and reflection. So what kind of workout should you do? Well, it depends on where in the breakup you are.

For when you’re depressed and can’t get your mind to stop replaying it over and over:

Bicycling: Biking is not only fantastic, full-body exercise, but it demands your complete attention. You have to watch for potholes, whizzing cars, kids kicking their soccer balls into the street, and drivers opening their door into your lane at all times. This is not the time for, “Oh, if only I had said or done that…” because that distraction can get you into an accident. Your survival instincts will kick in, keep you focused on the road, and keep you from going down that destructive thought path of “What if…” Plus, biking has the added benefit of getting you fresh air and reminding you that there is a whole world out there, still revolving.

Yoga: Yoga is about being present and mindful. No matter what type of yoga you’re into, you can practice mindfulness. That can mean paying particular attention to your breath and your body’s alignment in various poses. It can also mean recognizing the derailing breakup thoughts, but letting them float past you. Unless you’re already an expert yogi, this can be a difficult thing to start. However, if you stick with it, you may find a peace and center that you were otherwise missing in this tumultuous time. This article can help you get started.

For when you’re so angry you just want to punch your ex:

Kickboxing: Literally go punch something! Many gyms offer these high-intensity classes which lets you sweat and punch and kick your aggression out, all while burning 300-600 calories per class. Don’t limit yourself to just American kickboxing classes, though. Lots of martial arts (like Muay Thai and Karate) have similar benefits of engaging cardio, discipline, and letting you work out your anger.

Running: Whether it’s on a treadmill or the sidewalk, there’s something immensely satisfying about slapping one foot down in front of the other as you run. Feeling particularly ragey? Throw in some sprints! Now is a great time to listen to some raucous and rocking tunes. Check out this list of 50 fast and empowering breakup songs for some playlist inspiration.

For when you’re starting to see the light on the other side:

Weight training: If you’ve gotten this far into your breakup, you may even be thinking about the possibility of someday dating again (yes, this will happen!). Lifting weights can help give you the confidence you’ll need to put on your perfect first date outfit–or give you the excuse to go shopping for a new one! Weight training is a great way to slim down and tone up. For women who are worried about “getting bulky,” just know that building muscle can help you burn fat all day long, whereas cardio only burns while you’re doing it. You won’t bulk up unless you specifically want to, which is why some men may want to look into their daily macros and supplements while they lift.

Group sports: Your city is probably teeming with recreational sports leagues for all different skill and interest levels. Just search “rec leagues + your city” or “intramural sports + your city” and dozens will pop up! It can be as active as flag-football or as goofy as cornhole. Leagues are great for meeting new people who already share a common interest, getting you out of the house and socializing again, all while still being active and healthy. Now, those happy hours your league sponsors probably aren’t all that healthy, but they sure are fun!

Woman walking cross country and trail in spring forest
Do none of these sound right for you? Well, good news–there are hundreds of ways to exercise the breakup blues away. Talk to friends for their recommendations, or just go for a long walk. It really is possible to heal your heart by starting with your body. The rest will follow.

Written by Jane Baber, Mediation Assistant

This blog and its materials have been prepared by Graine Mediation for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as, legal advice.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.


How To Turn Break-Up Stress Into A Meditative Experience

October 14, 2014

Have you ever heard someone say, “I am so stressed out–I’m in the middle of a nasty break-up/separation/divorce”? Maybe you were the one who said it. It’s a reasonable way to feel. There’s so much to consider when ending a relationship, especially one with the legal trappings marriage entails, that it gets overwhelming very quickly. How are the children coping? How are we splitting the house, the bank accounts, the business? Will I still be insured under my ex-partner’s policy? What about my benefits? The list of questions is very close to endless.

Now, have you ever heard someone say, “I’m in the middle of a nasty break-up/separation/divorce–I find it very relaxing”? If you did, you’d probably assume they were being sarcastic. While that statement tends toward hyperbole, know that you really can find something freeing and perhaps even relaxing about the process. It’s all a matter of perspective.

zenFirst, know that no two break-ups are the same. There is no formula that divorce lawyers or mediators can apply to a couple and achieve the same result every time. That means that there are no absolutes, no set-paths, no “perfect” divorces. Once you begin to understand that such a large life transition can’t ever be “perfect,” you can free yourself from the burden of trying to attain that perfection.

Second, realize that life transitions are dynamic and fluid by nature. It can often feel like you are constantly struggling just to keep up, but consider a river. If you try to fight the force of the current by obsessing over all of the inherent problems within a transition, you will quickly tire and drown. But give yourself over to the flow of the river, know that things will–and should–change, and you may find yourself floating lazily before you realize what has happened.

The next time you begin to feel overwhelmed by the flurry of activity and upheaval your break-up is causing, take a step back. Consider the necessity of the movement that keeps you from sputtering to a standstill. Remember that movement means progress. When you give up perfection and give into the transition, you may be surprised where life floats you to next.

Posted by Jane Baber, Mediation Assistant

This blog and its materials have been prepared by Graine Mediation for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as, legal advice.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.


What Is Love?

February 4, 2014

Love is a very complex word.  It is used all the time – and is one of the most researched key words on the internet – but what does “love” actually mean, and why do we only have one word for so many different feelings?

Love can be beautiful.  It can warm your heart and make life worth living.  Loving without reciprocation can also be that catalyst that sends you spiraling into gloom and misery.  Love can be thrown to the wind, hoping it lands somewhere great.  Or, it can be kept close to your heart and only let out to peek at the open sky every now and again. We all share and receive love in our own unique way.

There are many types of love: Parents’ love for their children; the love of a father for the mother of his children; the love of a child for his or her parents; grandparent love; lusty, sexy love; the love of a man and woman who are celebrating a half-century of marital union; and, love for many of our pets, neighbors, friends and co-workers.love

How is it that, in the English language, there is only one word used to describe this wide panoply of feelings?  Is it the relative sameness of the physiology of love (i.e. the totality of the chemicals, electrical impulses, and other physical effects brought about by love (or is it vice versa ?)) that strands us with only one word for so many different modes of the feeling ‘love”? It seems absurd and probably could use a redo.

It has not always been this way.  Way back in the days of the ancients (mostly ancient Greece), all the various emotions that our culture now labels as “love” were not categorized under a one-word umbrella.  Instead, they had several variations on this theme, including:

  • Philia a deep, but usually non-sexual intimacy between close friends and family members, or as a deep bond forged by soldiers as they fought alongside each other in battle.
  • Ludusa playful affection found in fooling around or flirting.
  • Pragmathe mature love that develops over a long period of time between long-term couples and involves actively practicing goodwill, commitment, compromise and understanding.
  • Agape – a more generalized love, which is not about exclusivity, but about love for all of humanity. Agape was used for the love in a “spiritual” sense.  This love is selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return.  (Agape was used by early Christians to express the unconditional love of God.)
  • Philautia – self-love, which isn’t as selfish as it sounds. As Aristotle discovered, and as any psychotherapist will tell you, in order to care for others you need to be able to care about yourself.
  • Storge – which means “affection” in ancient and modern Greek. It is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring.
  • Eros – used for sexual passion and desire. Eros does not appreciate the balance of logic and is found everywhere there is a claim of “love at first sight”.  Unless eros morphs into another brand of love, eros will burn itself out.  In other words, eros is a love for a short-term only.

We all have the basic human need to experience love in its myriad forms as both the giver and the receiver.  What so many people seem to miss, however, is that experiencing the various forms of love is best accomplished by having loving relationships (not necessarily love of the romantic brand!) outside of your spouse and children (if you have any).

I have seen over the years that this “putting all your love in one basket” approach can be devastating when your spouse disappoints you with his or her lack of love-skills. This is why friends, extended family and community are so important.  External relationships (to be distinguished from tawdry affairs!), which are built on the types of love that are not necessarily strong within the marriage due to personalities, emotional limitations, and even time constraints, help to balance the marital relationship by taking the pressure off the spouses to be their partner’s “everything”.

As the famous psychologist Erich Fromm wrote in his classic book, The Art of Loving (1956):

“. . . love is not merely a feeling but is also actions, and that in fact, the “feeling” of love is superficial in comparison to one’s commitment to love via a series of loving actions over time.” 

Fromm also described love as a conscious choice that, in its early stages, might originate as an involuntary feeling, but which then later no longer depends on those feelings, but rather depends only on conscious commitment.  This is the transference of “eros” to some of the other forms of love that were so artfully referred to by our predecessors as unique and often independent forms of love.

Love is something that you cannot have too much of – especially considering the wide variety of loving feelings that we are able to experience as human beings. Also, there are different times in our lives when different types of love will be dominant, while others recede (often temporarily) into the background. There are shifts, too, in our capacity, willingness and desire to love and be loved as we have children, get older, find ourselves going through divorce, form new relationships, rekindle old relationships, change our outlook, engage in therapy, and make determinations to forge new, loving relationships when there may have been a previous void.

“Love,” said Erich Fromm, “is the only satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”   Go for it.

And now, a musical interlude:

Posted by Robin Graine, JD, Virginia Supreme Court Certified Mediator

This blog and its materials have been prepared by Graine Mediation for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as, legal advice.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.


What Happy People Do Differently

November 12, 2013

“One of life’s sharpest paradoxes is that the key to satisfaction is doing things that are risky, uncomfortable, and downright unhappy!”

group-of-happy-people-2            The question “How can I be happy?” is a source of continuous pondering and countless research studies.  One of the latest compilations and statistical analysis of data on this topic appeared in the August 2013 issue of Psychology Today, “What Happy People Do Differently” (by Todd B. Kashdan, George Mason University and Robert Biswas-Diener, author of The Courage Quotient).

The pursuit of happiness is a billion dollar industry, and for good reason.  In a recent study by Ed Diener (University of Illinois) and Shieghiro Oishi (University of Virginia)—that included a whopping 10,000+ participants, from 48 countries—Diener and Oishi concluded that being happy ranks higher, as a desirable personal outcome, than other “old fashioned” measures of well-being, such as: feeling that you have true meaning in your life, finding your way to prosperity, and even getting into heaven!

Happiness is a State of Mind (not just an emotion)

            The authors of this Psychology Today article assume, like most contemporary psychologists, that true happiness is more than a mere emotion – it is, instead, a state of mind.  As such, happiness can be cultivated by intentional and strategic acts and thoughts, much like changing a habit.

In other words, only a small portion of what most of us consider “happiness” has to do with how we feel at any given moment.  Instead, the sense of being a “happy person” has to do with a person’s cognitive reflections, expectations, ideals, and acceptance of what you cannot change”.

40% of our capacity for happiness is within our power to change.

— Sonja Lyubomirsky, University of CA, Riverside

            Most striking is Diener and Oishi’s finding that the unique habits of those that are happiest in life point toward engagement in activities that lead people to feel uncertain, discomforted, and even guilty!  “Happy people, it seems, engage in a wide range of counterintuitive habits that seem, well, downright unhappy.”

Curiosity

            “Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that sustained happiness is not just about doing things that you like.  It also requires growth and adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone.  Happy people are, simply put, curious”.

Happy people tend not to view being uncomfortable and vulnerable as the end of the world.  Instead, they see such feelings as temporary and a sure-fire way to becoming stronger and wiser.  “Curious people, it seems, invest in activities that cause them discomfort as a springboard to higher psychological peaks”. (Based on a 2007 study by Todd B. Kashdan, George Mason University and Michael Stegger, Colorado State Psychologist).

Blissfully Inattentive

            I have always thought that teenage boys are some of the happiest people on the planet.  Now I know why!  Your chances of being happy are greater when you are somewhat “out of it”!

Happy people tend not to pick apart other people and situations.  They are less skeptical than their more unhappy counterparts. The most bliss-filled among us tend, also, to be uncritically open toward strangers and may even appear naïve. (Based on a study led by Joseph Forgas (University of New South Wales)).

Happy folks are less likely to be analytical and detail-oriented. Depressed people, however, are more likely to reflect on and process (over and over again) their experiences – for which they pay a big emotional price. (Paul Andrews, Virginia Commonwealth University).

At school, work, and in relationships, too, the happiest among us, say Oishi and Diener, are not the A students, the best performers on the job, or the individuals who strive for smooth sailing in their relationships.  Strict expectations of ourselves or others do not, apparently, bode well for a happy state of being.

“Sweating the details seems to be a job for the miserable . . . and they better get to it . . . because all of the happy people already went home!”

Be a Cheerleader 

            The happiest people among us are the ones who are present when things go right (not just wrong) for others.  This is because we are actually buoyed by others’ good fortunes.  After all, don’t we all know that two positives make a positive?

“When romantic partners fail to make a big deal out of each other’s success, the couple is more likely to break up.  On the flipside, when partners celebrate each other’s accomplishments, they’re more likely to be satisfied and committed to their relationships, enjoying greater love and happiness”.

                  — Shelly Gable, University of California, Santa Barbara

Feelings as Radar

            The most psychologically healthy people recognize that “emotions serve as excellent feedback – an internal radar system providing information about what’s happening (and about to happen) in our social world”.  (Kashdan and Biswas-Diener) Hiding from negative emotions is not where it’s at, in terms of attaining and sustaining a sense of well-being.  Instead, acknowledging emotions and being able to intuitively utilize that information to better your situation (as opposed to allowing those same emotions to exhaust you), and balancing your emotional reaction, depending on the circumstances, is what will put you on the fast track to developing positive happiness habits.

Thick Skin

            Happy people tend to be pretty thick-skinned.  Though some people are born this way, even the thin-skinned among us can learn to toughen up a bit.  The authors of this article suggest that those of us with thin skin should practice simply tolerating an emotionally challenging feeling for a little bit. No judgment.  No acting out. No numbing. No ramping up. Just deal with it.  Over time, your ability to withstand day-to-day negative emotions will expand and, since you cannot avoid them, your “skin will thicken” and you will have the emotional energy to shift it to the positive!

Balancing Pleasure with Purpose

People who are happiest, says Steger, tend to be “superior at sacrificing short-term pleasures when there is a good opportunity to make progress toward what they aspire to become in life”.

Further, making advances toward achievement of our goals causes us to feel more engaged while, at the same time, helps us tolerate any negative emotions that arise on the journey. (Richard Davidson, University of Wisconsin, Madison).

Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.

                                                               – Eleanor Roosevelt

Posted by Elizabeth Revell, Mediation Assistant and Robin Graine, JD, Virginia Supreme Court Certified Mediator

This blog and its materials have been prepared by Graine Mediation for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as, legal advice.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.


Alone Doesn’t Mean Lonely

September 24, 2013

women-laughing

In an interview with author Eric Klinenberg in Smithsonian Magazine, he answers questions relating to the research and writing of his book Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. It’s primarily sociological, anthropological, and statistical analyses, but it can reveal something very personal and give hope to those striking out on their own.

While Klinenberg cites several reasons for the rise in single-living, a germane one to this conversation is that it’s no longer economically necessary for women to marry (or stay married). Salary equality is slowly becoming attainable, and the idea of being supported by a man is as antiquated as the notion that every woman wants to be a housewife. While there are plenty of concerns in getting divorced, don’t let the “will I be lonely?” one keep you from moving forward.

“In fact, people who live alone tend to spend more time socializing with friends and neighbors than people who are married. So one thing I learned is that living alone is not an entirely solitary experience. It’s generally a quite social one,” Klinenberg states. It’s more common to find single-person households in large cities because of the social opportunities inherent within. If your friends, work, and activities are all within a commutable area, it makes it much easier to find yourself out of your house and into your social life. Sometimes this might mean staying in your current location where you already have a support network, but if you do not, consider moving to an urban environment where living alone is more prevalent.

When you’re in an urban area, the opportunities for a single person seem to be much greater. There is a wealth of solo activities, such as world class museums, parks, and recreational classes. Your options for finding a salsa partner (and even learning how to dance the salsa!) are much better in a city than out in a rural environment. But if you’re content living more removed from society, don’t fret. The rise in technology means that it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with families and friends. Consider setting Skype dates with a best friend so you have a special time together to look forward to.

Just remember: the end of your marriage does not mean the end of your social life. You are still fabulous as a single.

Posted by Jane Baber, Mediation Assistant

This blog and its materials have been prepared by Graine Mediation for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as, legal advice.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.


Are You Ready to be Vulnerable?

August 27, 2013
You are now single, or are considering becoming a single person.  At its best, this time of transition is an opportunity for change.  It is a time to become the person you have always wanted to be. Why not?  It makes no sense to get divorced and then be more miserable than you were in your marriage.
Most mental heath experts, psychologists and social workers agree that the single most important factor that supports a happy life is connection to other people.  That does not, necessarily, mean a spouse.  It means people–groups, individuals, friends, family, workmates, neighbors, etc.  Dr. Brené Brown, a social worker of great renown, gives a wonderful TedTalk on this subject.
 Dr. Brown spent many years studying “the happy” and “the unhappy”.  The core difference, she found, was their comfort level with vulnerability.  To be happy is to be comfortable with one’s vulnerability, it seems.  To be vulnerable is to be human.  The more you are comfortable with your humanity, the more people want to be connected to you; and the more you are comfortable being connected with them.
Watch Dr. Brown’s TedTalk below. I hope that it inspires you as it has me.

Help in Moving On: When Others Misperceive You and It Makes you Want to Scream!

July 2, 2013

Positive-ThinkingMy mother is one of the smartest people that I know.  I have gone to her for every problem I have ever suffered through.  Over the years I have come to see my mom as one the world’s greatest advocates of “turning the other cheek”.  She is not a fan of putting one’s head in the sand, but feels that staying true to oneself – even when others have nasty things to say about you – is, in the end, the best way of pushing through life and coming out the other end as a happy, well-adjusted person.

So, for those of you who are suffering under the oppression of other people’s negativity towards you, here is some advice that my brother and I were raised with and that, in turn, we both rely on when raising our children.  I asked my mom to write up her philosophy on this topic.

The Question:

When your spouse, ex-spouse, friend, or former friend personifies you in a way that is demeaning, hurtful and incorrect, how can you avoid the personal pain that is caused by such misconception?

The Answer:

First off, you must know that the image portrayed and accepted by these persons may be permanently installed in the folklore of their family (friends), and is NOT you.  Think of this image as an invention of someone else’s imagination shared at your expense.

What to do?  You must rise above it all BECAUSE you know who you are and this image built around one single version of you is not you.   You also know that you are being pushed down so that those pushing you down can appear higher (right, superior, the winner, whatever).

You must know yourself and who you are so well that nothing can shake you (otherwise you won’t survive.)  You must feel so right about decisions you make and things you choose to do that it does not matter what those around you say.  You are as entitled to an opinion as they are.

Do not worry that former friends now taunt you.  They are no longer friends.  They were friends not worth having.  It may worry you that they do not like you, but plenty of people do like you.  Shift your attention to those people.  Remember, no one is liked by everyone.

And remember, also, when you are put down by a friend or former friend, spouse or ex spouse, despite what they may think, they do not run the world.  They are just one voice and not necessarily the voice of wisdom and reason that they may think themselves to be. Treat them with the same type of respect as you would accord a next door neighbor that you weren’t really close with, but had to deal with occasionally (or even often).  Don’t expect anything gratuitous from them and then you won’t be disappointed when they say hurtful things to you or about it.  It will just be business as usual.

When you know you have to come into contract with one of these ex-friends who is going to put you down, even ever so subtly, practice a mantra in your head: “I’m not listening to what you are saying, I’m not listening to what you are saying, I’m not listening to what you are saying”  Then, you will hardly what they have to say and it won’t hurt nearly as much as it otherwise would, or even at all.  Eventually you won’t hear what they are saying.  Eventually they might even notice that you hardly hear what they are saying and will stop wasting their breath.

Here is some wisdom that I recently found in an art magazine, regarding artists who are hurt by critics and even other artists (my mom is a collage artist at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia):

“When someone says, either in veiled language or in no uncertain terms, that you are an idiot, have no talent…often your reaction will be a hard-to-tolerate emotional response that shifts your world.  Nearly everyone has a strong, visceral reaction to being criticized, humiliated or shamed.  …Some very advanced or very detached human beings may be able to avoid these feelings.  For the rest of us, we feel them.  What to do?  The author continues (and I will summarize):

  1. Acknowledge to yourself that you just got slapped in the face, or worse.
  2. Realize that nothing important really happened.  What hit you is only one person’s opinion.
  3. Engage in a courageous personal assessment of the situation.  Maybe what they said is true and maybe that is the way you want to be.  Maybe they only took one part of your personality that they did not like and used it to define your whose being.  Maybe they are totally unqualified to pass judgment on you at all….like when a realistic painter feels an abstract painter isn’t really a painter…or a person who writes poems that do not rhyme is really not a real poet…etc…etc.

Posted by Robin Graine, JD, Virginia Supreme Court Certified Mediator with Gwendolyn Graine of graineart.com

This blog and its materials have been prepared by Graine Mediation for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as, legal advice.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.


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