Dear Neil: I was recently rejected by a woman I was hoping to marry, and I am really hurting badly. I tried so very hard in the relationship, gave it so much, was so loving, romantic, generous, patient, forgiving and accommodating, but I was still rejected.
I still want a relationship, and I still want to marry. I miss belonging to someone. Being involved with someone—someone I share my life with on a day to day basis. And boy, do I miss the sexual energy—feeling wanted and invited, cuddling, touching, being held, holding. Most of all, I miss the feeling that we belonged to each other, the emotional connection.
I am acutely feeling the loss, and I am hurting badly, and I can’t stop hurting. Any ideas about what I can do?
Hurt in New York
Dear Hurt: Certain truths of the human condition are easier to grasp than others. Here is one of the more difficult truths to understand: If I focus my attentions on my pain, my loss and my sense of rejection, I will hurt—and hurt—and hurt.
But if I “pivot” my thoughts and feelings, and focus on what my future goals are, what I’m interested in creating, I will feel more optimistic, buoyant and hopeful.
Simply stated: If I focus on what I don’t have, what has failed, what I’ve lost, what’s wrong or what hurts me, I feel badly. If I focus on what I have, what I’m trying to create, what I’m hopeful for, what I have to look forward to—in short, what I’m going through all these trials and tribulations for—I feel better.
Learn this pivot technique—it can be applied to most of the bummers, disappointments, irritations, and hurts we experience in life. If you pivot, and therefore look at the other side of the coin—what you’re going through all of this hurt for—there’s an extremely comforting answer. It’s to be able to shake this experience off, and clean this out of your system, so you can go out there again and find that special relationship—where you have a chance for happiness, deep intimate connection, and the possibility of “living happily ever after” with someone, or as close to that as the two of you can create.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t grieve for the loss of your previous relationship. Indeed, you have to grieve the loss if you’re going to get yourself ready for your next romantic relationship. But that being said, you don’t have to wallow in the pain, hurt and self-pity. If you learn and practice this pivot technique taught to me by Boulder psychotherapist Leslie Potter, you also learn how to refocus your attentions from the pain to the hope, from the loss to the rebirth, from the past to the future, and from the hurt to what you’re trying to create in your life and what you have to look forward to.