Friday, 20 October 2017

How Solo Single Moms Can Raise Confident, Healthy Sons

The notion that any dad is better than no dad is nonsense.

Parenting solo is a tough challenge, no doubt.

However, psychologists agree that boys do not require constant male guidance to grow up confident and healthy. In fact, a dad living at home who is a poor role model typically does more harm than good. If a biological dad is unfailingly neglectful, physically or emotionally abusive or just plain unloving, his son is most likely better off without his dad’s influence.

So what can a single mother raising a boy alone do to ensure her son gets what he needs? For starters, trust that your beliefs and actions will guide you toward success.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind:

Adjust your attitude, if necessary. Strive to resolve your issues about men and relationships, especially if you became a single mom under excruciating circumstances – like if your son’s father left without warning or explanation. When you look at your son and see his biological dad’s face, it’s OK to get a little emotional. After all, if your ex gave you anything of value, you’re looking at him. Tell your son early and often how much you love him no matter how you feel about his biological dad.

Banish any “man of the house” notions about your son.
Your goal is to guide your son toward manhood. Right now, however, your son cannot assume responsibility for things adult men are supposed to do. Your son is not your confidant, knight in shining armor or rescuer. Correct privately and quickly any adult who asks your son if he’s taking good care of Mommy or wrongly confers “man of the house” responsibilities on him.

Your son’s only job right now is to be a kid.

Set limits early. Sons of single moms are not at greater risk for getting into serious trouble as adults. Don’t believe the dire predictions you may hear. Believe in yourself as a strong and confident parent.

Focus on your son and his needs. As parents, our only realistic option is to control our own behavior.

Boys do act differently than girls.
Dealing effectively with bursts of typical boy behavior, such as pushing and shoving on the playground, are simply a part of your everyday parenting responsibilities.

Teach your son your values. But let him express these values uniquely. Point out positive qualities in men you see on a day-to-day basis. Emphasize the importance of treating others with kindness, as well as being helpful and considerate. Discuss examples of bullying in age-appropriate ways. Point out why such behaviors are contrary to your family values and simply wrong.

Make it clear what’s appropriate behavior in your home. Of course, hitting, punching and kicking are against family rules. Discuss alternatives to unwanted behavior so that your son can make more appropriate choices next time. These will not be one-time conversations.

Spanking may work for the moment, but it sends the powerful message that acting out your feelings is acceptable, if you’re the one in charge.

Stress using words rather than actions to convey feelings. Model this behavior by using words to describe your own feelings, rather than slamming the car door or stomping angrily around the house. Make sure your son understands that it’s not OK to shut people out. Let your son cry openly with no discouragement or judgment.

Keep talking.
As your son grows older, challenges increase because adolescent boys fear revealing their confusion and vulnerability. Our culture still admires “real men” who fear weakness and strive to solve problems on their own. This is why solo single moms – who don’t have another parent to partner with in raising kids – are often advised to leave their sons alone or let them shoot some hoops. We’re assured that he’ll be fine and urged not to hover.

Resist the impulse to shrug your shoulders and walk away. This is exactly the time to let your son know that you’re always available for conversation. Talking openly – sharing kid-friendly details - about what goes on in your own life makes your son more inclined to say what’s on his mind rather than silently sulk.


Thursday, 19 October 2017

A Positive Outlook May Be Good for Your Health

“Look on the sunny side of life."

“Turn your face toward the sun, and the shadows will fall behind you.”

“Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.”

“See the glass as half-full, not half-empty.”

Researchers are finding that thoughts like these, the hallmarks of people sometimes called “cockeyed optimists,” can do far more than raise one’s spirits. They may actually improve health and extend life.

There is no longer any doubt that what happens in the brain influences what happens in the body. When facing a health crisis, actively cultivating positive emotions can boost the immune system and counter depression. Studies have shown an indisputable link between having a positive outlook and health benefits like lower blood pressure, less heart disease, better weight control and healthier blood sugar levels.

Even when faced with an incurable illness, positive feelings and thoughts can greatly improve one’s quality of life. Dr. Wendy Schlessel Harpham, a Dallas-based author of several books for people facing cancer, including “Happiness in a Storm,” was a practicing internist when she learned she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, 27 years ago. During the next 15 years of treatments for eight relapses of her cancer, she set the stage for happiness and hope, she says, by such measures as surrounding herself with people who lift her spirits, keeping a daily gratitude journal, doing something good for someone else, and watching funny, uplifting movies. Her cancer has been in remission now for 12 years.

“Fostering positive emotions helped make my life the best it could be,” Dr. Harpham said. “They made the tough times easier, even though they didn’t make any difference in my cancer cells.”

While Dr. Harpham may have a natural disposition to see the hopeful side of life even when the outlook is bleak, new research is demonstrating that people can learn skills that help them experience more positive emotions when faced with the severe stress of a life-threatening illness.

Judith T. Moskowitz, a professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, developed a set of eight skills to help foster positive emotions. In earlier research at the University of California, San Francisco, she and colleagues found that people with new diagnoses of H.I.V. infection who practiced these skills carried a lower load of the virus, were more likely to take their medication correctly, and were less likely to need antidepressants to help them cope with their illness.

The researchers studied 159 people who had recently learned they had H.I.V. and randomly assigned them to either a five-session positive emotions training course or five sessions of general support. Fifteen months past their H.I.V. diagnosis, those trained in the eight skills maintained higher levels of positive feelings and fewer negative thoughts related to their infection.

An important goal of the training is to help people feel happy, calm and satisfied in the midst of a health crisis. Improvements in their health and longevity are a bonus. Each participant is encouraged to learn at least three of the eight skills and practice one or more each day. The eight skills are:

  • Recognize a positive event each day.
  • Savor that event and log it in a journal or tell someone about it.
  • Start a daily gratitude journal.
  • List a personal strength and note how you used it.
  • Set an attainable goal and note your progress.
  • Report a relatively minor stress and list ways to reappraise the event positively.
  • Recognize and practice small acts of kindness daily.
  • Practice mindfulness, focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future.

Dr. Moskowitz said she was inspired by observations that people with AIDS, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses lived longer if they demonstrated positive emotions. She explained, “The next step was to see if teaching people skills that foster positive emotions can have an impact on how well they cope with stress and their physical health down the line.”

She listed as the goals improving patients’ quality of life, enhancing adherence to medication, fostering healthy behaviors, and building personal resources that result in increased social support and broader attention to the good things in life.

Gregg De Meza, a 56-year-old architect in San Francisco who learned he was infected with H.I.V. four years ago, told me that learning “positivity” skills turned his life around. He said he felt “stupid and careless” about becoming infected and had initially kept his diagnosis a secret.

“When I entered the study, I felt like my entire world was completely unraveling,” he said. “The training reminded me to rely on my social network, and I decided to be honest with my friends. I realized that to show your real strength is to show your weakness. No pun intended, it made me more positive, more compassionate, and I’m now healthier than I’ve ever been.”

In another study among 49 patients with Type 2 diabetes, an online version of the positive emotions skills training course was effective in enhancing positivity and reducing negative emotions and feelings of stress. Prior studies showed that, for people with diabetes, positive feelings were associated with better control of blood sugar, an increase in physical activity and healthy eating, less use of tobacco and a lower risk of dying.

In a pilot st
udy of 39 women with advanced breast cancer, Dr. Moskowitz said an online version of the skills training decreased depression among them. The same was true with caregivers of dementia patients.

“None of this is rocket science,” Dr. Moskowitz said. “I’m just putting these skills together and testing them in a scientific fashion.”

In a related study of more than 4,000 people 50 and older published last year in the Journal of Gerontology, Becca Levy and Avni Bavishi at the Yale School of Public Health demonstrated that having a positive view of aging can have a beneficial influence on health outcomes and longevity. Dr. Levy said two possible mechanisms account for the findings. 

Psychologically, a positive view can enhance belief in one’s abilities, decrease perceived stress and foster healthful behaviors. Physiologically, people with positive views of aging had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of stress-related inflammation associated with heart disease and other illnesses, even after accounting for possible influences like age, health status, sex, race and education than those with a negative outlook. They also lived significantly longer.


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

When Your Teen Sides with the Other Parent After Divorce

So, you feel you have done nothing wrong, yet your teen has created a story with you as the resident bad guy! Are your ears burning?

It is very hard when one or both parents involve the child in their agendas and it can be so detrimental to the child’s emotional well-being and subsequent relationship with the alienated parent. It can make the estranged parent feel angry, hurt, stressed and pushed out. It can be a lonely frustrating place to find yourself.

What can you do about it if you find yourself in that situation?

First and foremost, don’t despair and think it’s the end of your relationship forever. Parental break ups can be very hard for adolescents to integrate even when the split has been amicable. Teenagers go through huge emotional transitions that see them make all or nothing decisions and catastrophize their life when obstacles arise even temporarily!

Perception is reality and what he/she has experienced maybe very different to your view of what the relational history and facts are. Being wise enough to acknowledge that you have made a mistake, by seeing it from their perspective is the biggest investment tool in your positive relations bag. It smart and its strategic and will get you more of what you want than you can get by simply refusing to ever be wrong.

Here are some tips which may help in your efforts at reconciliation:

  • Encourage them to tell you if you have upset them in anyway, “Please let me know so that I can sort it out and apologize.” Saying you are aware of where they are coming from, you understand THEIR view point and why THEY are upset even though YOU don’t necessarily agree, helps. Take responsibility for your part in this breakdown of your relationship. Whatever they “feel” — their view may be inaccurate but their pain is real. Denying their right to perception will only make things worse.
  • Keep in contact even if it’s one-sided for the time being. Continue the emails, texts, or even hand-written letters, telling them how much they mean to you and why you are proud of them. If they refuse to accept these messages, write them anyway and keep them. You never know when the tide will change. Telling them later how you felt about them during that time will be a comfort and give you brownie points! They need to know they are loved unconditionally.
  • Never criticize or disparage their Mum/Dad or others in their life, even if you think it or hear it from them first. When issues involving their other parent and you are brought up by your teen, don’t engage in conversations and don’t involve them in your relationship. Children do not need to feel burdened by their parents’ issues, and it may well come back to bite you in the future!
  • At the same time, be firm but loving about your stance on issues that involve you and the family dynamic. It takes two for a relationship to be problematic.
  • Be supportive and encouraging always. Stick to safe topics: school, friends, work, etc.
  • Never give up trying to connect, they are still maturing psycho-emotionally, and teens go through a huge development stage between 18 and 25. As they learn more about the world and how to navigate relationships they will not see their loved ones in such black and white terms. The other parent is not so perfect after all! They will also begin to understand that it takes two to keep a loving relationship afloat.
  • They may not yet legally be an adult, but they are not far off. So your relationship will soon change to one of two adults, when you are still a parent but in a different way. Treat them more maturely, by asking them lots of questions about their future goals and their opinions on things. Adolescent’s love it when they are asked their views and advice on issues or even whether should you buy a new car. It makes them feel empowered, and important.
  • Always be wiser, stronger, kinder. It will hopefully be a great investment for the future adult to adult relationship.
Most importantly take care of yourself during this time of estrangement. Seeking support and relaxation is imperative to get you through and help to keep you on track.

A friend of mine lost contact with her teen daughter after an acrimonious split with her husband and, for many years, thought they would never reconnect. Her heart was broken. I knew that as a child this teenager had been loved dearly and nurtured by her Mum, and told her that the psycho-emotional ground work had been done, even if her teen was angry and distant now. I said to my friend once the teen reached her twenties she would start to change as she started to see the holes in her previous narrative. And she did.

A lot more happens at around 21, 22, 23 years old. That’s when young people tend to start understanding their parents as people with flaws like everyone else. They take a wider and further, lens when it come to their childhood experiences with their parents and sift through and collate what to them was, and was not, acceptable from the past. This maturing often means they create new perspectives that are more nuanced and gentler. Hey, maybe the old man/lady was not so bad after all!

We are all a work in progress!


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Do You Love Your Kid More Than You Hate Your Ex?

”Mom, are most divorced people like you and Dad, or do they usually hate each other?”

My son Caden and I are driving to a movie, just the two of us. Somehow, the other five children in our blended family are otherwise occupied, and we’ve ended up alone on a rare mother-son date. We’re both delighted - Caden for the one-on-one attention and me for the opportunity to hear what’s on his heart.

“I don’t know,” I say. “What do you think?”

“I think most divorced people hate each other.”

Caden keeps talking, cheerfully telling me about other kids in his middle school who act as their parents’ referees, message-relayers and peacemakers. He tells me about adults fighting on phone calls, kids anxious about custody exchanges, and friends who worry they’re clinically depressed. He’s in the seventh grade.

“Why don’t you and dad fight like that?”

I get this question often, though not from my children. Usually I get it from adults, looking for the magic reason my ex-husband Billy and I are friendly. Perhaps we had an easy divorce? No? There must be something unique about us, something that sets us apart from other divorced couples. The implication is that we are much too friendly to be a “real” divorced couple.

The truth is, there isn’t anything different about Billy’s and my circumstances. Our divorce was painful. We each hurt and blamed the other for our pain. We felt alone and rejected and as though we had failed life’s most important task - forming a family.

I tell Caden the truth. “Dad and I don’t fight because we decided early in our separation to make our divorce one wound.”

I can tell by the side-eye look he shoots me that he doesn’t understand, so I continue. Tween boys aren’t likely to ask additional probing questions, after all, and I want him to understand this.

“When we decided to end our marriage, we knew it would hurt the three of you. We knew it would be very hard for all of us. We also knew that we could hurt you once, and then each move on to finding our own happiness separately, or hurt you lots of times. Some parents hurt each other and their kids lots of times by staying together when their partnership doesn’t serve them anymore. Some parents keep hurting their families after they separate by fighting on every topic that comes up - time spent at each house, clothing, vacations.”

He’s listening.

I continue, telling him for the first time that Billy and I didn’t speak for months after we separated. He doesn’t remember that. I tell him, briefly, about the arguments we had when he and his brother and sister had fallen asleep. I share that even then, Billy and I agreed on one thing: the divorce would be the one big painful hurt we caused our children. We were united as a team on that goal, made in therapy as our marriage dissolved. Even when we were on opposite ends of seemingly every spectrum, we agreed on that topic.

“Dad and I still sometimes disagree. We’re different people. You know better than anyone, because you live with both of us. Our styles are different. We like to do different things. We discipline you differently. Dad interacts with Stephanie differently than I interact with Gabe. But we agree on the most important thing: you. We agree to coparent because it is what’s best for you.”

“Dad and I love you too much to ever hate each other.”

I remind him that hating his dad would mean I hated half of his heart. Filling my head and heart with anger about Billy would cloud the happy memories I have of our marriage, and the beginning of my adventures in motherhood. Choosing hatred instead of love would color the start my children’s story.

I’m human, of course. I don’t have only happy memories of our time together. I often disagree with my ex, even when I put the kids first and appear as a united team. I am confident he feels the same way: I can sometimes still catch the edge in his tone when he thinks I’m pushing too hard on something. Our history is messy, filled with hurt and anger. We’re divorced, after all. We chose not to continue hand-in-hand.

But we chose to coparent. We chose, each of us independently and even when we seemingly couldn’t agree on the color of the sky, to keep working as a team. Even when it got messy and complicated and seemed impossible, we kept trying. We looked at the three people we love most and let that love unite us. Our team goal is the same as any other family’s: keeping our children safe and whole.

Billy and I didn’t fail at forming a family when we divorced. Our commitment to our parenting partnership and our children’s childhood means we are forever united. We chose the path that kept our children healthiest and happiest in the long run, and we chose it together. In that way, we are like so many parents who remain married. Our choice to coparent peacefully binds us together.

Coparenting peacefully may seem like a lofty goal. You may not be in that place today. Your partner may seem miles away. I understand; Billy and weren’t always there. But coparenting peacefully is possible. Even for the couples who hurt the most. Even for couples who are miles apart. Start small. Love your babies and start today.


Monday, 16 October 2017

Reduce the Stress of a Divorce

No matter how frustrated you may have become with your partner, the decision to divorce never is an easy one. Strong emotions often arise on both sides. But there are healthy ways to cope.

Making the Decision

The decision legally to end a relationship sets off a long and difficult process. Even without complicated legal and financial issues, the upheaval is often enormous, affecting children, grandparents, friends and the extended family. The chances are that some of the family members involved will experience a drop in their standard of living. All will face an emotional challenge.

So before deciding to divorce, make sure you have done all you can to improve your relationship. Are you certain that there is no alternative, such as separation? Think about talking it over with a marriage and family therapist or getting other expert advice and help. A consultation with a lawyer can provide an idea of the likely legal and financial outcomes. 

Often lawyers will provide free initial consultations. Look in the Yellow Pages under “attorneys” for those who specifically handle divorces, as lawyers often specialise.

Coping with the Stress of Divorce

Separation and divorce are two of the most painful life events there are. They can lead you to question everything in your life, including your own identity and your ability to cope by yourself. Divorce highlights your fears and sensitivities, so old wounds from the past might resurface. You will need to recover your self-esteem, which will take time.

Below are some coping techniques to help you take care of yourself and others.

  • Consider joining a support group, and going through mediation. It can lead to better communication and fewer confrontations with your ex-partner.
  • Rather than withdrawing socially, surround yourself with friends. Remember how important they are in providing support, perspective and practical help.
  • Learn how to balance giving and receiving. You don’t have to be perfect.
  • Don’t beat yourself up over what you should have done. Stop the negative self-talk and guilt. You can’t change the past, so try to learn the lessons the present offers, then focus on a positive future.
  • Set aside time just for yourself to help you find balance.
  • Don’t worry about what other people might think.
  • Declutter your environment. If something is too painful to look at or is useless to you now that you’re alone, throw it out.
  • Determine what most needs doing and in what order. Then break up the tasks into smaller steps that can be done in several shorter periods of time. That way larger tasks seem more manageable and you are more likely to get them done.
  • If you have been a stay-at-home mom and out of the workforce for some time, you probably will need to go back to school for training in a marketable skill. Bringing home your own money is satisfying and creates independence. It also sets a positive example for your children.
  • Work toward forgiveness and moving on. Don’t deny your anger, but don’t let it drain your energy by getting stuck in resentment.
  • Don’t be scared of going out on your own and opening up to new people.

Divorce and Money Issues

In addition to the difficulties of ending a relationship, you also will have to deal with finances. This can be particularly tricky if there is an atmosphere of mistrust because of the break-up. Many divorces actually are caused my money issues.

If your partner used to deal with all the financial matters, make it a priority to learn how to budget and manage your finances. Get advice on the financial decisions you need to make, especially if you are selling your house. Ask for help from your lawyer or an organization which supports those going through a divorce.

Most couples agree on a financial settlement without going to court, but even so, a typical divorce settlement can take over a year to finalize. Deciding on child maintenance payments can be especially difficult. Make a list of all your assets and debts, close joint accounts as soon as possible, and get advice on how your pension, savings and investments will be affected.

Divorce’s Effect on Children

While most adapt well, some children will suffer significant adjustment problems. They will at the very least be anxious about their relationships within the family and about the disruption in their own lives. A lot depends on how you handle it — you can make an enormous difference in how well they cope.

Below are some ways to reduce divorce’s emotional impact on children.

  • Give them as much reassurance as possible. Keep telling them that they are not responsible for the break-up.
  • Talk over what is happening in an age-appropriate way.
  • Be open to their questions and encourage them to talk about their feelings, but don’t force them to talk.
  • Encourage them to maintain their relationship with the other parent. Don’t criticize the other parent, demand exclusive loyalty, or use them to hurt your ex-partner.
  • Avoid looking to your children for support or guidance. Ask friends or a therapist instead.
  • Maintain normal household routines as far as possible.
  • Look for signs of distress: increasingly clingy behavior, tantrums, fear of separation, anxiety at bedtime, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, headaches or stomachaches, increased aggression or perfectionism.
  • If you observe these symptoms, let the child know that you understand they are upset and it’s OK to talk about it to you or another trusted adult. Help them express themselves as best they can and seek professional help if signs of distress continue.
  • To reduce conflict around holidays, keep expectations realistic, including expectations of yourself. Don’t make younger children decide which parent to spend the holiday with; this will cause enormous distress. Parents should not try to outdo each other, or make up for problems, with presents or other indulgences.


Sunday, 15 October 2017

"Making it work as a single mom of 3 boys"

'I LOVE being a mom, I love watching them grow... they astonish me daily'

Recently, we published a story You can be a happy divorced family. This Parent24 reader responded, telling us about her experience and the journey she's taken on with her three sons.

"I am a single mom with three boys. I was separated while pregnant with my third, and even when we were together, my ex would be gone for 16 hours a day, 6 days a week.

"Anyway, I think back to those times now, and it only made me stronger and more ready to deal with divorce and raising kids alone.

"My first was a hard won baby, almost 4 years in the making, my miracle boy. When he was 9 months old, I discovered that I was pregnant with baby no. 2, my first two are only 18 months apart.

This was not going to be easy...

"We were very happy, my first was such a dream and having another did not scare me at all. I knew that it was by no means going to be easy with an 18 month old and a new born, but I felt ready.

"Well, my second was/is a very difficult child, from the womb I could feel him constantly moving and jumping. Sometimes, it feels like we have a daily battle of wills, him and I, and I don’t always win!

"Hence, when I discovered that I was pregnant with baby number three, I cried and cried and cried. How was I going to cope? Single with a 3.5-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a newborn? But my baby was just the pudding, he fit right into our already established routine.

Let them get involved

"The absolute key: do not alienate the other children when a new one comes along, keep the children involved. We would all sit on the three-seater couch while I breastfed, bonding together. They all bathed together, dressed together, went to bed together, changed nappies together, got muddy together... you get the picture.

"Frankly, it was so much easier for me to work it this way, they just loved being totally involved in everything.

"I also gave up fighting to keep them in their own beds. The baby was in the cot pushed up next to my bed, and often, my other two would crawl into the bed with me sometime during the night. Getting them back into their beds was not worth the fight or the loss of sleep. And they won’t do it forever, they will grow out of it.

"My second still gets into my bed during the night on occasion, but there will come a time when I will have all the time I please to sleep, and will miss the nightly cuddles.

'I work hard to keep our heads above water'

"I am a full time mom, I work full time, I have to be super organized to get through my days. Yes my social life is non-existent, I rarely go out, but I prefer to go home to my boys and spend as much time as possible with them.

"I do not have the luxury of being home by 5pm everyday. I work hard to keep our heads above water, and to give them all the opportunities that they would have with a father in the house and the added income.

"I try and keep a good balance between it all, another key to keeping a happy home, and of course, a happy mom. Time is precious, and it goes by so fast.

'I know I am strong enough'

"For me, it was dealing with the here and now, always being prepared, and continuing with routine. Don’t think too much.

"On the rare occasion that I do have time alone, if I allow myself to think too much about the massive task still ahead of me, I start to feel totally overwhelmed. But I know I am strong enough, I will keep my head up and keep forging on.

"I LOVE being a mom, I love watching them grow, and I love the things that come out of their mouths; they astonish me daily.

"I can’t wait to get home to them."


Saturday, 14 October 2017

You Can't Fool Yourself: Acting Like You Don't Care Isn't Letting Go

It can be difficult to let go of certain things or to let go of certain individuals in your life. Our minds are funny that way.

Although we understand that, in theory, we have control over ourselves, our minds, our thoughts, etc., in practice, taking and exercising control proves much more difficult.

Sometimes it's a matter of quieting the mind enough to navigate through all the thoughts running loose, bouncing off each other, making clear focus and full control unlikely.

Sometimes it's about giving ourselves time to re-navigate our course in life and restructure our lifestyle – often it's the habits we're accustomed to that make change so incredibly difficult to achieve.

Other times still, what we're trying to let go of and forget has influenced our lives and the people we are today so greatly that letting go seems basically impossible.

The truth is, there are things in our lives we can't easily let go of. There are things and individuals we won't ever forget, nor – to be honest – should we forget.

Most importantly, you need to remember acting or pretending like you no longer care, like you are no longer somehow connected to that particular point or path in life, like you've moved on or forgotten isn't actually letting go.

You may be fooling the rest of the world, but you aren't fooling yourself.

Distractions can really only get you so far.

Whether we're talking breakup, career change, traumatizing event or any other life-changing experience, distracting yourself after the initial fallout does have its benefits.

It allows you to cap your emotions, giving you time to breathe – which can sometimes prove to be exactly what we need.

Taking your focus off the issue you're dealing with and focusing on other things going on in your life can make transitioning into a new life more seamless; however, distracting yourself can only take you so far; in fact, it's only good in the beginning.

Eventually, continuously distracting yourself will remove you from reality. Of course, this is the goal in the beginning, but continuously removing yourself from reality inevitably does even more harm.

Sooner or later, you're going to have to come to terms with your situation.

Likewise, it's important how we're distracting ourselves. People tend to make some of the worst decisions when trying to distract themselves from someone or something causing them emotional pain.

What we ought to be doing is our best to avoid such bad decisions, and instead force ourselves to focus on more positive things.

Acting like you don't care can actually make things a whole lot more difficult for you.

You can lie to the whole world, which is usually what pretending not to care starts off as, but you can't allow yourself to lie to you.

Everyone else in the world can – and likely will – lie to you at one point or another in your life – you have no control over that. You do, however, have control of how honest you are with yourself.

I can understand saving face, saving yourself from feeling embarrassed and from having people snoop around your business when it's none of their business.

What I can't understand is building a delusion for yourself. I want to say you aren't ever going to fool yourself, but the truth is that is exactly what may happen.

The human mind is incredibly powerful. So powerful in fact that sometimes the shifts in realities we experience, we don't even notice.

If you play a part for long enough, you may very well end up believing you actually are the person you're pretending to be. Until, however, reality comes crashing in – because it almost always inevitably does.

When that happens, you're going to have a difficult time finding yourself, once again figuring out who you are and – most importantly – what it is you want in life.

You've been acting so nonchalant for so long that you forgot where it is you actually stand.

Have you ever stopped and wondered why you feel the need to let go?

Obviously, you feel the need to let go because holding on is painful. We don't like pain because it makes us feel uncomfortable, and therefore, we want to do our best to avoid it.

At the same time, some things you simply can't, and never will, let go of. So what the hell are you to do then?

This is the point that, when most of us reach it, we begin to drown in the realization that we are never going to be able to let go and move on completely.

We will never let go entirely because we can never forget. So what are you supposed to do? Accept that you're going to be dealing with intense emotional distress for the rest of your life?

Not at all. You see, it's one thing to let go and forget and another to accept, learn from and move on. The former isn't always possible, while the latter is really the only wise and viable solution.

Some misfortunes, mistakes or people you will never fully let go of or forget, but this is a good thing. If we were to go through life forgetting all the pain we've experienced on our journey, we would never learn or make progress.

Instead, we'd keep making the same mistakes, never learning, never finding peace or happiness.

The most painful moments in our lives are not ones to be forgotten, to be let go of and left behind.

On the contrary, they are moments we should delve into, dissect and try to understand as best as possible.

If we made mistakes, we need to understand what mistakes we made and why we made them.

If things didn't work out for other reasons, we need to figure out what those reasons are. Trying or pretending to let go won't get you anywhere in life.

Being in denial of all that you've been through and experienced will only make the likelihood of you repeating the same mistakes much more likely.

Some things – and some people – you will never be able to fully let go of. Why? Because they changed you. They added their stroke with their paintbrushes, which added to the composition you are today.

Embrace it. Don't hide from it or ignore it. Accept it. Understand it. Learn from it. And grow from it.