Dr. Elizabeth Cohen is on the podcast this week! She’s a therapist who helps women maneuver through life’s toughest transitions. Most of us have been through something life-changing, either a breakup or a loss of a job. These changes can kick up complex emotions, and Dr. Cohen joins me to discuss the array of feelings that surface, how to process them, and eventually heal.
Dr. Cohen received her PhD in clinical psychology from Boston University. As part of her graduate training, she treated clients at the world-renowned Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders in Boston, MA.
We talk about:
- Some ways a woman can process her anger following something life-changing like divorce, loss of job, etc (6:58)
- What it means to live by design versus living by default (21:25)
- Dr. Cohen answers, “What is the long-term impact of divorce?” (30:45)
- How to believe in your ability to heal (39:52)
- Letting go of resentment in a broken relationship (40:30)
You know how I love a good personal development book, right? I’ve compiled a list of book recommendations, as mentioned in past episodes. Check out these amazing book recommendations here. Happy reading!
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Dr. Cohen received her PhD in clinical psychology from Boston University. As part of her graduate training, she treated clients at the world-renowned Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders in Boston, MA.
Dr. Cohen was the recipient of the prestigious American Psychological Foundation Research Award for her doctoral research. Following her time at BU, Dr. Cohen completed her pre-doctoral internship at Bellevue Hospital Center and the New York University Child Study Center. After completing her training, she was asked to become the Director of the CBT program at Bellevue’s Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic.
She is widely considered one of New York City’s experts in CBT theory and techniques.
Dr. Cohen has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, NBC News, Women’s Health, Huff Post, Thrive Global and Good Housekeeping.
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Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 01:41
The answers are within you, not outside anybody, not with your friends. It's really within you and so many of us abandoned ourselves when we're going through this kind of loss.
You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast episode number 458 with guest Dr. Elizabeth Cohen.
Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast, your guide for strategies, tools and insight to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owen, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.
Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of the podcast. I'm so glad that you're here. I am gearing up to go out to Boulder, Colorado for a week to work on a new project for you. I am doing a project with Sounds True and it's going to be an inner critic, audio workshop that comes out next year in 2023. Depending on when you're listening to this, you might be listening to it and it's the future and it's already out. I can't reveal the title because it might change, but it's all about negative self-talk all about your inner critic, there's going to be shame work in there. I know no intention of talking about it this much. But I'm headed out there to work on it and I'm really excited. I've never done a project like this with the publisher where there's no actual book involved, but I really like to talk so I think it's gonna be great. Especially for those of you who really enjoy the audio platform medium, what is it called? Can't think of the word. I think it's going to be it's gonna be really great. And this probably won't be the last time I talked about this but Sounds True was the very first sort of, you know, personal development publisher, if you will, that… I used to get their catalog the actual like paper catalog and it was right when I was going through my divorce my really difficult one of the most difficult times in my life and I was diving in to personal development and they… This was back when things were still on disk on like CD and you would put the CDs in your car. I think I think I downloaded some of them to my iPod. That was that was one of the options but anyway, it feels amazing and full circle to be here now and signing a contract with Sounds True and off to Boulder to work with them to put out my own work. So dreams do come true. Everyone dreams do come true.
I am excited to introduce you to today's guest as we round out the relationships theme here on the show. I wanted to have someone on who specialized in divorce and before you turn this off, we aren't just talking about divorce. Everything that that Dr. Cohen talks about can be applied to if you have gone through a friendship breakup, if you have gone through the loss of a job, some kind of loss in your life that might make you feel angry, might make you feel…have some grief, some resentment we definitely touch on, on all of those and believing in your ability to heal. I just, we run the gamut of different topics around this type of situation slash challenge in your life.
Before I forget, we have a just a couple of spots left for the retreat in Asheville, North Carolina, the Daring Way retreat that I am hosting. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, everything's included, you just need to get your cute booty to Asheville, North Carolina, even the place that we're staying, the venue is not far from the airport, and it's maxing it out at 12 women. And we're going to go through the Daring Way, which is basically the steps of shame resilience, like how to incorporate shame resilience in your life. Like if you liked How To Stop Feeling Like Shit and that resonated with you my second book, this retreat is for you because that book was born from this methodology that I teach with the Daring Way. Okay? AndreaOwen.com/retreat. Again, there are a couple of spots left. And I hope to see you there.
So Elizabeth Cohen, Dr. Elizabeth Cohen is here today and I love this conversation with her. I know that you will love her. Let me tell you a little bit about her. Dr. Cohen received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Boston University. As part of her graduate training, she treated clients at the world-renowned Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders in Boston, Massachusetts. She is widely considered one of New York City's experts in CBT theory and techniques. Dr. Cohen has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, NBC News, Women's Health, HuffPost, Thrive Global and Good Housekeeping. So without further ado, here is Dr. Cohen.
Dr. Cohen, thank you so much for being here.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 06:58
Oh, Andrea, thanks so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here.
I'm happy for so many reasons. First of all, we share a mutual friend and that is Katie Anthony, and my audience is familiar with Kate, most likely she's been on several times. And I am, we have a theme of relationships on the podcast right now and I wanted to make sure that we talked, you know, to the single women, that we talked to the married women and, and I am excited to have you on because you specifically your specialty, if that's the right word is that you help women who have gone through a divorce, who are going through a divorce. And I don't want people to turn it off if they've never gone through a divorce or they're happily in a relationship. But I think all of us have been through a life changing breakup of some sort, even the loss of a job, which can sometimes kick up the feeling and emotion and experience of anger. So I'd like to start there.
So I know that you help women process their own anger following a life changing challenge, like divorce, breakup, loss of jobs. So can you can you talk about that for a minute?
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 08:10
Absolutely. So I think it's really important that we start with the premise that all feelings are acceptable.
Yes we do.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 08:20
Right. If we didn't have the whole range of feelings, we wouldn't be able to have any. So many people try to kind of put in a box anger, shame, resentment, guilt, sadness, as like the negative emotions that we never want to have. But are so excited to have excitement, joy, bliss, passion. And the truth is we can't have any feelings unless we accept them all. So, you know, this is especially true when you're going through a difficult ending. And you know, the book I wrote about divorce can be applied to any sort of ending, any sort of loss, where we really either, there's kind of two ways I see in my clinical practice as well, of either throwing yourself only into the positive, you know, finding a new relationship right away, trying to get another job, like really just trying to, you know, follow your bliss and in a what I think in a more pathological way, or a ruminating and staying in the negative, painful emotions. And the truth is that we're not really meant, our body isn't meant to stay in any emotion for very long.
There are research studies that show that if people are asked to purely sit with an emotion and not do what we do, which is put ourselves down for it, try to change it, rationalize it, they last and you look at an MRI for 90 seconds, the excitation.
I’ve heard that before.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 09:48
Yeah. And so it's really a powerful reminder that it's not about not feeling the feeling, it's about allowing it to move through you. And I think anger in particular for women is really difficult emotion to connect to. And, and especially in my experience, I would say at least 70%, maybe of the women that I've worked with, they weren’t the one who wanted the ending of the relationship or the ending of the job, right. So it kind of felt as if it, quote unquote, like happened to them. And so and then also the people who chose to end the relationship or chose to end the job, they also don't feel like they should have any right to the anger, but actually, everyone has every right to every feeling. So the way I first start by teaching people that it's okay to have our feelings and to really talk about what anger feels like in your body in the book, I have a you know, kind of a stick figure and talking about, okay, let's go through the feelings and where do you feel that because we know there's no disconnect between the mind and the body. So we hold our anger, or as we say, in trauma therapy, or fight response in different parts of our body, and it's really important to connect to it, so that we can release it.
And the way that I have found was helpful for my clients, and in my own experience, is to do some sort of movement. So for me when I'm feeling angry, and I need a release I put on, there's a couple of songs that I use one is a song by Rage Against the Machine that I put on.
Which one is it? Is it Bulls On Parade?
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 11:20
No, it's, um, Killing In The Name Of killing. I mean, I know that one of those too good. And it's like, on my plate, I have like a, I mean, I, I have a rage playlist, I have a sadness playlist, I have a grief playlist like I have, all these. So good, right, because there's something about music that for me, and
I think for a lot of people that gets us right into our body and gets us out of our head. And, and you know, we can say that we're feeling something and I caught kind of cognitive way. But as far as feeling it, that's where the processing happens. So that's what I recommend in my book, that's what I recommend to people. And then when I'm, you know, if I'm working, and I'm feeling angry, and I can't do that, I often do some kind of pressing of my heels against my chair, which is a physiological ability to release some anger. So the heels of my feet and the heels of my hands, and just kind of push them down so your muscles tighten and then release. And so I really consciously noticing when emotions come so that I can move them through. Because it's not like these motions ever go away. The question is just how we manage that.
Yes, I want to just note to my listeners that that's this, I know, you word it differently than I do, but this is the same advice that I've given in my books and every other expert that's come on here. So if you're if you're resisting, I'm pretty sure that there's no other exercises. So you there it is.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 12:58
The consensus says, and I know it's hard. I mean, I just want to say that if you've never done that before, it can be hard. So one thing I recommend to my clients is, can we do this one molecule at a time? So can you play one bar of that song, and then shut it down for the day and do it two bars tomorrow, like really slow and steady. This is a just like, if you were going back to the gym after a long time, like this is building a new muscle so it's going to be hard in the beginning and you just slowly move through it. And I find being in community is really helpful so having an accountability partner having podcasts like yours, like Kate’s, I have podcasts, you know, where people are talking about this, keep leaning into those communities, because it'll feel more comfortable and easier to start doing those exercises.
Mm hmm. I agree with that. And I'm glad you added that that last part because I always have to remember that I feel like I'm a little bit of an outlier. I don't know. Maybe you can tell me maybe I'm wrong. My personality, I'm an eight on the Enneagram, I'm an Aries fire sign so I've never really struggled to be able to access my anger. I definitely had some issues with feeling wrong for it. You know, people telling me why are you so angry. Angry women people tend to not like angry women. But at any rate, like I it's not hard for me to access it and process it and feel it and just like let it move through and also emote in that way. And be demonstrative I should say.
And when I went through my divorce, that was one of the things that I did. I would I worked at the American Council on Exercise and I was lucky enough well, it was an exercise company. There was a gym at the at the office and I would work late on purpose so that everyone would be gone or most people would be gone, at least no one was in the gym. It's a small gym. There's only a couple of treadmills. And I'd get on the treadmill and I would have my angry playlist, I also had a handful of Nine Inch Nails songs on there, and I would run so hard and until like my legs felt like they were going to, which maybe isn't next like don't abuse your body don't do what I did, but I felt like my legs would collapse underneath me. And then on my way home I would also scream in the car. This was not an everyday occurrence everyone. I mean, this was like on the bad days. But I do think that that really really helped a lot.
And then I also want to mention that again, I don't know if everyone can even get to the point where they feel like, am I really angry about this? Like I've had, and maybe that's a question for you because I've had women come to me and say, I don't even know what I'm feeling sometimes, like, I'm going through this challenging time and I don't even know what I'm feeling. So what would be your advice for that?
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 15:33
First, I would say if someone came to me and say said that, I would say, well, your body knows that right now maybe it's not the right time to feel the feelings. Like I would really honor when someone comes to you and says, I'm not feeling my feelings and feelings, because there's so much pressure… Well, while we're not supposed to feel some feelings, you know, people like how are you feeling you know, like when you go through a breakup or end up a job. And sometimes the answer is I'm numb, or I'm frozen, which is a physiological state of dealing with a trauma. We have fight, flight, freeze, and fawn. And so I would really honor that. I am not a therapist who is interested in convincing someone that they should feel something. I'm interested in walking on the journey with you. So let's talk about the freeze. What does it feel like to have no feelings? Do you have sensation? Is there parts of your body that feel mount? Do you have sensations that surprised you? Like I would really, like lean into the not having any feelings instead of prescribing something to have feelings?
Exactly, yes, I wholeheartedly agree. And it's that feeling of stuckness and, and you're not you're not wrong for it, you are where you are. One of the things that I've repeated here on the podcast, and I'm going to repeat it again, because I feel like there's always someone new that needs to hear it. One thing I taught my children that I was never taught was, and I've told them this since they were little, none of your feelings are wrong. You are you have permission in this house to feel whatever it is that you feel, you're allowed to be angry with me, you're going to be angry with me. So I use that as an example for them. And then I follow that up with the thing that you are responsible for is your behavior, based on whatever feeling it is. So you know, no name calling, no door slamming, etc, etc. And if you do any of those things, and I've taught them to, quote unquote, clean up your mess, and so, and I look at it like, like any other accidental mess in the house, if you spill your Cheese Its everywhere, you're responsible for cleaning it up. And it's very similar here. So and I don't think that we it's not just something for children, I think there's lots of adults that need to hear that to have permission to feel their feelings, and none of them are wrong.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 17:53
Oh my gosh. I mean, in fact, I think, first of all, it's beautiful that you give that gift to your children. I think adults more than children because children have the beauty of being uninhibited. Right? And not and I having been, you know, acculturated and taught that you're not supposed to have feelings. I mean, most of the people that we work with in my clinic and that I work with whether my doors work is just really connecting them to the permission as you just said to have multiple fields. I mean, first of all, to have one failing and then to have two feelings at one time that might contradict. That is like you probably feel anger and sadness, right? Or you feel you know, grief and joy. That was a huge thing that was happening during the pandemic was the allowing people to have two feelings at one time.
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One of the chapters in your book that's called the The Light On The Other Wise of Divorce, which we'll definitely link to that in the show notes, I think it's called You Can Create a Life You Love, you know, Designing Your Life by Design and Not Default if I have that correct. So can you talk to us more about living a life by design versus living it by default?
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 21:25
Sure, sure. You know, so many of us wake up and kind of do what we've been doing all along and just kind of keep doing what we're doing in a, you don't want to call it a frozen state, you want to call it a numbed out state just in a kind of like robotic way. And we're not necessarily present, and accepting and mindful and choosing every moment what we want to be doing. And so this is an exercise, it's really just a fun experience, experiential practice of what would be your ideal day. So this is like no holds barred no money, no money, we're, you know, constraint. And you just kind of write out and I did this back in the day when I started the healing of my experience for my divorce and it was really fun to just let my mind roll about what I wanted. And, you know, of course, I couldn't, I think it was like, you know, do two hours of meditation and two hours of yoga or something like that, right? And so of course, once I looked at my list, I couldn't do that. But I could do 20 minutes, right? So I start, then you start trying to find ways of just incorporating really your ideal day into your life. And I would say 12 years later, I have that ideal day actually. Like, there's also something to talk about this in your ability to heal about setting the intention or setting out this desire to have something and then if you start putting in the small steps, it does end up happening.
Okay, so it's kind of like an exercise in manifesting a little bit.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 22:57
Yeah, yeah. It's also I mean, it's an exercise in how to change now and I just think that when you change the moment, it ends up changing the future as well.
I love that. And it sounds like a small step in the direction that you want to go, which is always which is always fantastic. And, you know, I've I don't know about you, but… So did you either read the book, or watch the movie The Secret way back in the day?
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 23:18
Yes. I read the book way back in the day. Yep.
You read that book? Okay. Yeah, I saw the movie and it's actually a cute story. My audience probably knows that about me, but my current husband, which I love saying that because it's, you know, kind of keeps him on his toes, when I call him a current husband, but I was, you know, coming out of my own divorce and was I had sort of drawn a line in the sand and was starting to set some boundaries and was basically I'm like, I'm going to change my life. And the DVD had just come out and it was one of our first dates I had casually mentioned in an email to Jason, that I don't even know if we were I think we were just kind of still friends. We were introduced by my sister. And I mentioned that like, there was this DVD that came out called The Secret I want to check it out because I'm, I probably even sent in the email because I'm gonna change my life. And he bought it for me. It's so sweet. It was just a sweet gesture. And so we ended up watching this movie together. And I've since sort of moved away from the kind of black or white teaching of well, I shouldn't say sort of I've definitely moved away from you are responsible for your life based on your thoughts because there's so many….
I mean, it's that's just so heavily cloaked and privileged and doesn't acknowledge systems of oppression in marginalized communities. But I still subscribe a little bit to some of the teachings and on the, I just traveled recently, and on the plane ride home, I watched the movie King Richard starring Will Smith and it's the story of Richard Williams and his daughters Venus and Serena Williams. And I didn't know this but he basically manifested his coaching with them. I mean, this is not to be dismissive at all of the natural, immense talent that both Venus and Serena have, but he had a plan all along. And just and I also want to point out, the man worked his ass off to get these girls the coaching, you know, they moved across the states. And just of course, he went to great lengths. It was just such a great example of living life by design versus by default. And I just want to mention this one more thing. I love that it's just a small step, because it doesn't have to be you know, I'm gonna manifest a million dollars by Friday.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 25:29
Hmm, yeah, I mean, I'm glad you brought up the, you know, the manifestation issue, it's, uh, you know, with oppression and privilege and I'm trained as a cognitive behavioral therapist and what we essentially believe is that small behavioral changes impacts you for the rest of your life. And so just thinking today about the way you want your life to be differently, naturally makes you make changes today that will lead to that. And so I really want to encourage people when you think that I could never have… One of the one of the experiences I've had that have been so powerful for me, powerful for me as a therapist, is when clients bring jealousy and envy to me, about someone else and I always recommend that they go reach out to that person and say, you know, so excited to hear about your success. Tell me how did you get there, I'd love to get there with in the same way. And then they are given a blueprint, and then they can start following it, you know, and sometimes it works for them. And sometimes it doesn't, but shifting this feeling of basically a deprivation model to an abundance model that I can have this.
And when you're going through a loss of a job or lost relationship, or loss of a marriage, like you'll feel very depleted and very deprived. So anything you can do to tell yourself and help yourself feel like tomorrow, I can do one thing that will make my life better than yesterday. That's a huge gift. And people come to me and they if they really want, I mean, we all do, I guess one a big shift, as you said, like quick, it's not quick, it's small, steady movements over time, that shift your perspective, your heart, your mind and your nervous system.
Everybody take notes on that, especially that last part, write that down, back the podcasts up and listen to that, again, so important. And that made me think of what I did when I went through my divorce. I don't know if I just look back because it happened… So it was 1516 years ago and I don't know if I look back on it, because it was sort of a movie moment. Maybe I'm romanticizing the moment, but it felt like I did have a bit of a spiritual experience one day where I shifted, in retrospect, I think it was sort of like small moments that helped me get to this place but I was definitely in that place of deprivation. So my husband had an affair was living a double life for seven months. And the woman that he was his girlfriend was a little bit younger than me she was stunningly beautiful. So it was so easy to fall into that place of I'm not enough I'm you know, now getting older, I'm going to be an old spinster, what does she have that I don't, that place of lack and not enoughness, and also sort of panicking because I wanted more than anything else to be a mother and just it's never gonna happen for me and just felt like a total loser and a failure. And I was on a run I ran a lot during that time probably, like, bordering on unhealthy. I was on a run in Carlsbad in Southern California, and there's a there's a spot there's, there's some cliffs, and there's some spots, which could have gone very wrong now that I say this out loud. But there's this particular spot where people I don't know if they still do, but they would fly their, they were kind of like old school drones. They were these like remote control little airplanes. And I stopped and it was such a beautiful day and it was you know, getting towards the evening was like very late afternoon and I never stopped on runs and for some reason I stopped to look out into the to the ocean and watch these people fly their planes. And I had a moment of total and utter peace, where some something said everything is going to be just fine. It's all going to work out.
And from that moment it was it was then so much easier to shift and sort of almost like turn my head and completely the other direction and asked myself like, what else is true? I might end up single for the rest of my life, I might end up child free. But what else is true? Like what are the other possibilities? And I'm not saying it's that easy to just flip that switch for people. But I do think that the more that we are open to paying attention, and maybe it's this podcast.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 29:36
Well, that's what I was gonna say Andrea like, were you doing any meditation where you know, mindfulness were you doing…
Just running? And I mean, that's definitely could be categorically like…
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 29:48
Were you listening to music when you were running?
Yes, it was Natasha Bedingfield’s The Song is Unwritten. Which I feel like come on. Just come out of… She wrote it for me. We all know right?
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 30:02
I mean, so the thing is that you were doing an activity that really connected you to your body and to the present moment and then you had this realization. I think it's really important. It's not like you were sitting there on your couch just having found, I don't know how also how long this was after you found out about…. So it didn't happen right away. I mean, really, you know, in retrospect, we can see how the lines connect, but it's about how the dots connect, to be aligned. But it's really about putting in the effort, I would say every day for yourself to be on your own side. You know, I know we're talking about getting through the ending of something with another person but this is really about how to, when that happens, be on your own side, put the focus on yourself.
I always tell the story that my experience was divorcing someone who struggled from a substance use disorder and I was in the playground, my kids were six months and two years old when I kicked him out. And I was telling some parents were asking me and I was telling a story and they were crying, and they were so moved, and I left and I felt terrible. I just thought like, oh, God, why that was just a terrible or so that was his story to tell and secondly, like, that was awful, because that was so painful for me to live through that. And I was actually in Central Park and there was a, like, I this is how I remember it. I'm sure it didn't happen this way, as you said, right, with your story. But you know, like it was I remember it being like a fork in the road. And I just had this moment where it's like, I have a choice. Like I could spend the rest of my life telling his story and seeing this as like focusing on him. And there was a lot to focus on, where I could gently and lovingly and compassionately focus on myself and lovingly say, you know, baby doll, let's get through this together, let's figure out how you ended up here. Let's figure out how not make sure it doesn't happen again. And let's do this together. And then that was the moment that it shifted from being about them, to being about me. And I think that's a really important piece is the answers are within you. Not outside anybody, not with your friends, it's really within you. And so many of us abandoned ourselves when we're going through this kind of loss.
Yes, I want to underscore that so much, because that was also part of my kind of spiritual awakening, whatever you want to call it is it felt like such freedom to shift the focus onto myself rather than my soon to be ex-husband at the time and his girlfriend, because I didn't have any control of them. I didn't have any control of what they were going to do if they were going to keep harassing me if they were you know, I don't know. And it felt like freedom. It felt like radical freedom. Terrifying. That too. But also so much freedom. And I want to ask you is, you know, speaking of divorce, you know, for those people who are listening, who are either going through one or had been through one previously or might in the future, what is the long term impact of divorce that you've discovered?
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 32:53
For adults. Yes.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 32:57
Well, it's a good question. I mean, I would say that it really depends on how you move through the process. The divorce proceedings, and between when you decide you're getting divorced by either accepting someone else's decision, or you instigating it, and when you sign the papers is one phase, and so depending on how you manage that as far as how you handle your own feelings, and if you take care of yourself, and as you just said, focus on yourself rather than the other person, then the post the signing of the divorce, your life can be free, open and joyful. The question really is, what is your perspective? I mean, we've all met people who at a dinner party who've been divorced for 30 years and are still talking about their ex and their resentment. So it's really the question of the long-term impact is really up to all of y'all like, it's really about who you want to put the focus on. Your long-term impact will be sadness, misery, not wanting to be with anyone else if you focus on the other person. You focus on yourself lovingly and compassionately get the help that you need. You have a full next chapter to have whatever kind of joy that you desire.
Yes. And which actually leads me to my next question, made me think of something else about, about believing in our own ability to heal because I think that that might be sometimes the step that people don't do and it… Just it because they're just unconscious about it, like we just don't like you intentionally think about, about our ability to heal. So, yeah, what are some ways that someone can begin to believe in their own ability to heal to be able to move forward in their journey, whether it's a breakup or loss of a job, etc.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 34:42
This is a really important piece, you know, we live in a very catastrophe-driven world, where we don't talk about the successes, we talk about the failures. You tell a friend that you're getting a new job and many friends maybe, you know, will say like, well, have you thought about this or what about you know, they kind of, you know, we have this sense that like pointing out the negative is a way to go to prevent crises, wouldn't really just inhibit someone from finding their absolute abundance going back to the deprivation mentality. So you have to understand that we actually have a deep ability to heal. I mean, all research on trauma shows that the resilience is unbelievable.
In fact, there's something that is termed post traumatic growth, the ability to grow. One of the cognitive approaches I recommend to people is really to make a list of all the things that you were really struggling I mean, through. I mean, I think you can remember in high school and middle school, you know, things that you thought were going to crush you that you would never live through, again, endings of friendships, grades, whatever it might be. And like, you might look back and think, well, that was nothing now but it was something… Like you felt the same intensity back then then you feel now and you you had the ability to heal, how did you feel? What did you so really to kind of gather data about your capacity to heal. So that's the first kind of cognitive approach that I would suggest.
The second one is to ask other people like, and this is what I have a podcast called The Divorce Doctor Podcast, where I interview people who've gone through divorce, and talk about how they've healed and that's a perfect example to hear other people's experiences of how they healed, which will help inspire you about how you can heal. So like surrounding yourself by people who healed, not people who are still suffering.
And then the last is a hypnotic exercise that I have in my book, where you actually imagine your future self and you've done this with clients, Andrea where you imagine your future self already healed through this. So you don't have to know how you got there but you know, that that person has already healed and in the visualization, you meet that being and they give you a message and you spend time with them. So those are those are the three ways I would say to do that.
I love that last one especially. I would have loved… That would have been helpful. What I didn't do Oh, that's amazing. So I still have my journals from high school. I still have my journals from elementary school even have a Hello Kitty diary from that actually, was elementary school and middle school, which is basically just chronicling all the boys I had crushes on. And like, like, scene by scene from the roller-skating rink. It's hilarious. But my high school one that has literary gold, because, not because I was a great right or just but because I documented the obsessive feelings of love of a 15, 16, 17 year old girl.
And what was so interesting to me to read it, again, was a couple of things. It made me remember what it's like to be a teenager and love. So I can empathize with my mic. There's they're only 12 and 14. So they're just headed into that very soon. And honestly, I had never put that together though. It's like, look at my ability to heal. What did I do? There was definitely some unhealthy things that I did, which I can look back on now. Yeah, that wasn't, that wasn't probably the best way to heal, but it was whatever works until it doesn't as they say. But one thing I also did that points to the your second step was that I made a list because when I was going through my divorce, and I found myself obsessing on my while he was so my husband and his girlfriend is that I made a list, I got out a Sharpie, I made sure it was a marker and I made a list of all the people that I knew believed in me. And they cared about me, and that knew that I could turn to them if I could. And it was a list of about 10 women. And I think my dad was on the list too. But I didn't trust very many men at that point. But it was I mean, it was like my therapist, and my good friends and even my soon to be former mother in law was on there. And she was still very much kind to me and was like a mother to me. And so I looked at that list whenever I was like going down that rabbit hole of obsessing on things I couldn't control. And that was really helpful.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 38:54
I think it's Brené Brown who recommends that you have a list of your like trusted people you can be vulnerable with and keep it in your pocket. And she says something like if you have one you're so set, if you have more, if you have three, you're freaking golden. Right. Like, and I think it's I think you're bringing up a really important point, which is I have this in my book too about the different kinds of people we meet surrounding us. We talked about how our mutual friend Kate is a deep cheerleader, and she is really someone who I think of at the highest level have you call to have someone totally on your side. Now we also have there's other different levels, like there's this one group of people I like to call wayshowers. Like that's the one who's going to, like you like me who show you the way of how they heal. Then they're these like little fairies that you know tell you about a new apartment or tell you about a good school district, right like they're and they're not necessarily going to be your confidant. So it's always important to know like, who is your audience? And most importantly, what do you need? What do you need because we all seem to go to naysayers a lot like we know they're not going to be supportive, but we still go to them. I think psychologically, it's because we feel like if we can convince them, then we're right because they're totally, but it's like…
Easier to hold out hope that they're going to show up rather than that they…
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 40:10
Are not and go to the people who you know are going to support you. And so, really, for anyone going through any sort of grief and loss, please think about who you're talking to. Treat yourself like an angelic precious baby. Who do you are you going to hand that baby over to?
Who do you trust to hand that baby over to? Or if you don't have babies, like, I know, some of you are dog owners who would only trust very, very few with your dog like, who are those people? Totally. Yeah. Okay. So before we close up, I want to ask you, I want to circle back to resentment because, you know, we hear in self-help, like, let go of resentment, you know, and especially I think, if you've come from any kind of broken relationship, whether it's divorce, love, partnership, or whatever, even friendships like that we can resent these people. And so do you have like one or two things that you would tell someone listening to change the way they look at resentment in the first place or how to process it or what would you tell those really struggling?
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 41:11
Yeah. First of all, I hear you, I get it. Like we all have, you know, resentment and I think it's really for me, the people I've had resentment for I have found it's so annoying when people say like, just forgive them. Like the word forgive, as I called, that was like, the F word for me. I was like, do not say the F word. Like, again, going back to the righteous anger, like I have, you know, I deserve and have the right to be angry. So that's the first thing I want to say like I see you I hear you, I understand. When you're ready to work on resentment, which is usually when you realize that as I think it was a story about the Buddha, you know, that resentment is taking poison and thinking it's going to kill another person, like when you when you realize it's actually really hurting you that's when you can start kind of working with it.
And I always recommend starting with this idea that we all have huge, we'll have strengths and weaknesses. So in the book, I have a actual like picture of a bicycle wheel, and to kind of write out all the parts of you. Like for myself, I am generous and loving, and nurturing and I'm intolerant, and I'm impatient, and I'm inflexible, and I'm rigid, you know, sometimes. You can always add the word sometimes. That's not all of who I am. And so right kind of all of who you are on this on this bicycle wheel, and then write it about the person who, you're resentful of, because just like you, they have all different parts of you. And so it was hard at first for me with my ex to think about it. But you know, so I started with the things that I could easily accept and see which were the negatives and then I started thinking about these funny is curious, loving, just started with a few things. And if you have children, this is incredibly important. For those of you who are listening, who do have children…
Children with your person that you're feeling resentful with.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 42:50
Because they are 50% them, I mean, even if they're adopted, or whatever. So you always need to see something in them that is from that other person that is good. Because that's really important for them because otherwise, they're when you I mean, we know like the number one, I have a webinar on my website called How to Not Screw Up Your Kids like tips from a psychologist. But the number one thing is not to talk smack about the other person and if you do that, their kids are always thinking like, oh, my God, do they feel this way about me because I am a little bit like this, too. So the first step is really looking at your wheel and their wheel and having some compassion that we all have our wheels.
And then the other one that's harder to do, it's kind of like the next step is realizing that when you have one finger pointing at someone else, three fingers are pointing back at you. So the things that we really don't like about others are usually things we don't like about ourselves. And this is another opportunity to put the focus back on ourselves, and help and figure out how we can help us instead of focusing on the other person.
I love that that was that was a lot of information in such a short amount of fast. Yeah, this must not be your first rodeo Dr. Cohen
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 43:53
I’ve talked about this a couple times.
Yeah, and I know that all of this is in your book, and we'll for sure link to that. It's called The Light on the Other Side of Divorce. And I appreciate your time so much but before we go, is there anything that you want to circle back to that you want to or something that you want to make sure that you get in before we tell people where to go and find you.
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 44:14
I guess I just want to say that anyone going through a change in a relationship and a job any sort of grief and loss, you are a superhero. It is so hard and if you're here listening and stayed this long and really interested in how to make it through so you can heal that is so brave. So just congratulations to you for sticking this through and being there for yourself and being on your own side. It's really, really impressive.
Awesome. Thank you so much for that and you're at DrElizabethCohen.com which will make it easy for people and put that link in the show notes. But is there anywhere else you want people to go? I know you mentioned you have a free webinar on your website. Is there anything else?
Dr. Elizabeth Cohen 44:53
Yeah, people can find all that on my website. I would just recommend if you want to listen to The Divorce Doctor Podcast to get some more healing and stories inspirational stories that I People who move through their divorce check that out.
Okay, awesome. Thank you so much. And listeners, thank you so much for your time. I'm so grateful that you choose to spend it with me and my guests. And remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye for now.
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