By Deirdre Hally Shaffer, MSW, LCSW
When a marriage ends, mourning begins.; a period of grief stemming from a myriad of losses. During this time, it is common to experience unpleasant emotions including despair, fear, anger, anxiety, loneliness, sorrow, and regret. Every day can seem like a roller coaster with highs, lows, twists, and turns that are unexpected and unpredictable. Self-esteem suffers with the experience of rejection and abandonment. Self-messaging can become critical and unforgiving. Regardless of the circumstances that led to the divorce, very few people escape these struggles at some point in their divorce recovery.
Sometimes the feelings of low self worth that take residence post-divorce are remnants of old wounds from childhood. Not having emotional needs met as a child, whether real or perceived, can lie buried deep within and resurface when adult rejection occurs. Core beliefs about oneself are questioned.
The objective of this exercise is to rebuild a connection with your wounded inner child and to help that child to heal.
To start, assume a comfortable position, either sitting straight in a chair with legs a Uncrossed and arms at your sides or lying on your back. Begin by breathing deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth, for several minutes. As you focus on your breath, be aware of any tension in your jaw, neck, shoulders, and back. Release the tension in your muscles as you exhale. Continue deep belly breaths as you breathe in and out and relax your body.
Now I want you to picture a younger, smaller version of yourself standing in front of you to the left. Perhaps you see yourself as a child of about 5 years old. Look clearly at the image of your child self, observing what your child looks like and what he/she is doing. What is your child wearing? What is the expression on his/her face? Where is he/she?
As your awareness of your Inner Child increases, also picture an Adult You on your right. This is the version of yourself you see in the future; strong, independent, and loving. Imagine a conversation between your child and your adult self.
As the adult looks to the child and asks how he/she is, imagine what the child is feeling. Fear? Sadness? Loneliness? What is the child thinking and feeling? What does the child need from the adult? Listen intently as the child expresses his/her thoughts, feelings, and needs.
Now see the Adult You’s response to the child. The adult is patient, encouraging, warm, and loving. This adult speaks to the child in a supportive and loving way, assuring the child of acceptance, forgiveness, safety, and unconditional love. Allow the Adult to apologize for times the Child was left alone. Hear the Adult promise to protect and nurture the Child. Envision a loving exchange where the Adult is strong and confident and the Child is reassured and content. See the Child smiling.
Upon finishing your visualization, use these affirmations to continue self healing:
This is an exercise that you can practice daily, for 10 or 15 minutes, to men the broken parts of you that need healing. Write out these affirmations and keep them in a place where you can see and read them daily.