Vail Relationships column: To feel more hopeful and less depressed, learn how to ‘pivot’ your thoughts
September 10, 2016
Editor's note: Neil Rosenthal is on vacation. This is from "The Best of Neil Rosenthal."
Dear Neil: A woman I was hoping to marry recently rejected me. I am hurting badly. Any ideas about what I can do?
Hurt in New York
Dear Neil: I lost my job because of a mistake I made. I'm okay financially, at least for a little while, but I have a deeply bruised ego and I am extremely embarrassed because I let myself down. This job assisted me in using all of my abilities and skills. I'll get another job, but I don't know how to get out of this funk I have fallen into.
Disappointed With Myself in Denver
Dear Hurt and Disappointed: 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, my embarrassment and my sense of rejection, then I will hurt.
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But if I pivot my thoughts and feelings, and focus on what my future goals are and what I'm interested in creating, I will feel more upbeat, optimistic 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, then I will feel badly. If I focus on what I have, what I'm trying to create, what I'm hopeful for and what I have to look forward to, then I will feel better.
This pivot technique can be applied to most of the bummers, disappointments, failures 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 for — then there's an extremely comforting answer.
It's to be able to learn whatever lessons you can and then clean this out of your system so you can go out again and find that special relationship or that next job that requires your abilities and skills.
I am not saying that you shouldn't grieve for the loss of your previous relationship or job. Indeed, you have to grieve the loss and learn whatever lessons there are to learn if you're going to heal yourself and get primed for your future. 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, then you learn how to refocus your attention: from your pain to your hope, from your loss to your rebirth, from your past to your future and from your hurt to what you have to look forward to.
Pivoting allows you to look at what comes next, at how to make lemonade from the lemons. If you focus on that more, then you'll regain your energy, hope and optimism.
Neil Rosenthal is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Westminster and Boulder. He is the author of the best-selling book "Love, Sex and Staying Warm: Creating a Vital Relationship." Contact him at 303-758-8777, and visit http://www.neilrosenthal.com.