John James and Russell Friedman tell the story of how a mother may deal with a child’s crying by offering the child a cookie. The mother may say “Don’t cry. Here, have a cookie and you will feel better.” Later in life, that child could associate fixing their feelings with food. Eating the cookie in the moment, the child gets distracted and may forget about the incident that caused the upset, but the fact remains that there was no emotional completion of the pain caused by the event. The event and all the feelings associated with it, were buried.
Short Term Emotion Avoidance Tactics will help you feel better in each moment BUT the thing to be aware of is that you are not feeling better for real – it’s a false sense of security – a false feeling of recovery. It fits into the False Healing category. Short Term Emotion Avoidance Tactics are things you do to avoid feeling the pain,
numb the pain, or to take the pain away in the short term. They are often escapism type activities where you keep SO focused and busy that there is no time to think about how you are feeling or doing. If you fill your life up with lots of S.T.E.A.T.s, your healing will not progress. The sad thing is that for most people who struggle to get over their divorce, they are engaging in a cycle of feeling the pain, applying a Short Term Emotion Avoidance
Tactic, feeling the pain, applying another Short Term Emotion Avoidance Tactic etc. until over time they feel numb and they think this numbness is them healed from their divorce.
Short term emotion avoidance tactics
S.T.E.A.T.’s prolong the emotional rollercoaster of your divorce. So you never fully grieve for long enough or experience the loss critical to healing for real. Your emotional rollercoaster will go up and down, up and down.
Other S.T.E.A.T.s include:
- Alcohol and drugs
- Excessive anger towards other
- Clubbing or partying
- Fantasy or escapism activities (books, TV, movies)
- Shopping/retail therapy
- Work and becoming a workaholic
- Spending countless hours with your children under the guise of being a good parent but the actual agenda is using your children to help you feel better
The problem with Short Term Emotion Avoidance Tactics is that they are short term. They do not last, and they do not deal with the true emotional issue. S.T.E.A.T.s are distractions that either damage or delay the recovery process.
Try to identify at least two examples of short-term relief you have used to displace your feelings. This is not as easy as it appears. It could be your first chance to demonstrate your commitment to total honesty in this recovery process.
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Till next time when we will discover why your family and friends are sometimes the worst support for you…
Sending you a big hug!
Photo credit: Farconville