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"Detoxifying Your Divorce" from
The Detox Solution: The Missing Link to Radiant Health, Abundant Energy, Ideal Weight and Peace of Mind

by Patricia Fitzgerald DHM. L.Ac. CCN



It is truly empowering to eliminate any emotional stressors that you realize need not be a part of your life. At the same time, realize that our perception of a circumstance is a major factor in whether or not we experience it negatively. In his famous play Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote, "There is nothing bad or good, but thinking makes it so." Our perceptions are so powerful that changing our thinking about something can even turn a negative stressor into a positive one.

Yes, there can be positive stress! Perhaps your frustration about an unfulfilling job or relationship will give you the extra push you need to move on. Instead of allowing your unhappiness to create obsessive thoughts about how bad things are, try using that energy to think of how to make a change. See your emotional messages as clues to what you need to do. Don't permit your feelings to drag you down. Acknowledge them, let them go, and then take action. Remember, responding in this way is not only a step toward creating a happier life. You will also be moving toward living in an emotional state that supports good health. Every thought we have has a powerful effect on the body.

In her booklet, "How to Heal Yourself from Toxic Emotions," medical authority Christiane Northrup, M.D., agrees that shifting your response to a stressor is key. She also suggests reducing the frequency of your exposure to those stressors that seem unavoidable. The example she gives is visiting inñlaws. If a woman is experiencing stomachaches, panic attacks, or headaches when she spends time with her spouse's family, one thing she can consider is simply seeing them less often. Perhaps fewer exposures will give the woman the time she needs to change the way she views these individuals. She could also work on improving her responses to emotional situations and developing coping skills.


In this chapter so far, ideas about the importance of enhancing emotional health have been presented. You now understand the powerful link between your emotions and your physical health. You've identified your own particular stressors, and have some strategies to use to reduce their impact. Now let's dig a little deeper. It's time to assess the quality of your particular set of emotional habits.

Awareness is crucial to emotional management. How long does it take for you to realize that you've had an emotional reaction? Do you know at the time, or only realize it later? Each reader of this book will be at a different level of self-awareness.

Don't rush through the following assessment. It may take you a while to come up with an honest evaluation of your emotional response habits. If so, pay attention to your emotional patterns over the next week, or two, or three. Jot down any insights that arise along the way. As you observe your responses, note whether your behavior most often fits what is described under Column A or Column B. If you feel it's about even, jot down A/B as your response.

Your Emotional Responses

Column A
Column B
It's hard for me to relax. I can let go and relax easily.
I often have a short fuse. I consider myself to be very patient.
I am easily irritated. It takes a lot to upset me.
I don't tend to share my emotions. I express my emotions productively.
People often leave me feeling let down. I'm aware of what I can expect from others.
I make assumptions and get disappointed. I make clear arrangements with others.
I'm reluctant to express my needs. I tell people what I need from them.
It's hard for me to say no. I set limits regularly.
Addictive behavior patterns -- such as overeating, smoking, substance abuse, or overspending -- are a part of my life. I deal with my emotions directly.
I "like" to stay busy all the time. I balance my life -- working, resting, playing.
I'm not very organized. I plan and organize regularly.
I blame others. I take personal responsibility.
I let unaddressed issues linger. I handle conflict as it comes up.
My thoughts are often negative. I think in a very positive way.
I don't feel very good about myself. I think I'm terrific!
It's hard for me to prioritize. I easily set priorities each day.
My mind is too busy. My mind is often calm.
I shut people out. I'm very open.
My feelings overwhelm me. I can handle what I feel.
I feel compromised in many situations. I make sure I take care of myself.
I don't feel safe. I feel secure.
I frequently live in emergency mode. I am in control and take proactive steps to manage my life.

If you find that you mostly identified with the statements in Column A, don't be too hard on yourself. You have a lot of room to grow! For those of you with fewer Column A considerations, recognize these as the areas where you need to do the work. In either case, for each A answer, look at the choice given under Column B. Think about how you could be responding differently. Begin to incorporate these new behaviors into your life. If you had no A responses, think about the ways you can reinforce your positive behavior. One of the most powerful forces in humankind is that of emotional expression. Emotions have led to destruction, artistic creation, war, peace, killing, healing, fighting, and making love. It's crucial to be aware of our emotional responses in order to live in harmony with others.


No matter who we are, there will be situations that challenge our ability to manage our responses. However, learning to manage our emotional reactions is empowering. Here is a seven-step system for keeping an emotional outburst in check. Let's call it our "Emotional Response System." The point is to experience and deal with the emotion without indulging it. Observe how you're feeling (rather than being consumed by it), and take productive action.

During or near the emotional response:
1. Recognize the shift in your physical state. Do you feel as if you're about to cry? Are you in a sudden state of alertness? Do you have an aggressive desire to scream at someone or to attack him or her physically? Having this initial awareness will help you to become more of an observer to the situation; you'll eventually feel less consumed or overpowered.
2. Start to breathe more slowly and deeply. Gentle abdominal breathing will help you begin to calm down. Most emotional are preceded by a period of poor breathing. By spending a few minutes working with your breathing patterns, you will slow down your nervous system. This will give you a chance to reevaluate the situation.
3. Gain perspective with a time out. Go into another room, step outside, or call a sympathetic friend to vent your feelings. It's virtually impossible to resolve problems when either party is in a charged emotional state. However, time heals and gives us an opportunity to see the truth in any situation. Why not use the blessing of healing time and avoid an emotional outburst?
4. Spend time in quiet contemplation before confronting anyone. You could meditate, pray, or spend time in nature. When you quiet your mind, solutions, truth, and clarity naturally unfold.
5. The power of affirmation can help to change your perception of the situation. Phrases such as "Things aren't always as they seem," "I am open to seeing this situation differently," or "I choose peace in this situation" allow your awareness to shift. With this new perspective, you create an opportunity for a healthier emotional response. There are always at least two sides to everything.
6. When you're ready to talk, make sure you listen to the other perspective. There might be a misunderstanding. Through dialogue, you may be able to develop a plan of action together.
7. Make every effort to resolve the issue cleanly. Don't give up until you get a resolution, or feel you've explored all the alternatives.

It feels so much better when we consistently deal with our emotions in a healthy manner. Holding onto our upset without giving it clear thought or taking tempered action is a recipe for continued aggravation. On the other hand, slamming another person with the full force of our emotions can result in a severed relationship. The next time you feel a charged outburst about to pop, try the Emotional Response System. You will notice over time how you will feel empowered with healthy emotional expression, as opposed to powerless over your outbursts.


There are many tools that you can incorporate into your daily life to help yourself avoid toxic emotional eruptions. Many of the tools listed below will assist you in gaining perspective. Once you start to see potentially upsetting situations as a small pieces of your life, it will become easier to respond in a more productive way. You've probably heard the expression "This too will pass." This is true for most of the situations that challenge us emotionally. Think now of earlier times when you were upset. The chances are great that you have moved on. Here's a list of twenty-five proactive tools for preventing extreme emotional reactions by creating a balanced relationship with your feelings:

1. Go within. It's important to consistently engage in meditation, prayer, or some other form of introspection. These activities will help you tap into your inner resources. You'll find yourself producing creative solutions. You'll also become better acquainted with a Very Important Person (V.I.P.) - you!
2. Rejuvenate yourself with a nature break. Many people sit for hours each day in front of a computer, and their energies are slowly drained. Engaging in outdoor activities can replenish you. Don't let yourself become emotionally zapped. Recharge your emotional batteries by strolling through a park, watering your garden, or Iying back in the grass and taking in the sky. When you have more time, take a contemplative walk in the woods or by a lake or the ocean.
3. Watch out for information overload. According to The Longevity Strategy, a book by David Mahoney and Richard Restak, M.D., one issue of the New York Times contains more information than the average person in the 17th Century encountered over a lifetime! With the development of the Internet and more electronic media available than ever, it is important to take inventory of just how much information your brain is processing daily. Be selective about how much and what kind of data you allow to permeate your being. In the Judaic tradition, the practice of the Sabbath discourages the use of electronic stimulation. Try a break at least once a week from the newspaper, television, and the Internet.
4. Let your media influences be uplifting. It is not just the amount but also the type of information that affects our emotional health. If you find yourself watching the news before you sleep and frequently viewing violent movies, these practices will tend have a negative residual effect. On the other hand, if you tend to view programs that are entertaining and uplifting, you will be adding positive influences to your experience.
5. Make sure you get enough sleep. It appears that Americans are working more, sleeping less, and feeling more tired than ever. You could be eating healthy and exercising regularly, but if you neglect the basic need of restful sleep, it is virtually impossible to create optimal health. People who skimp on their sleep usually feel emotionally vulnerable. If you have a "to do" list that is too long, cut some items and make getting more sleep a priority.
6. For an uncluttered mind, create an uncluttered environment. When our environments are cluttered, we tend to experience more frustration, confusion, or anxiety. Make a point of periodically getting rid of things you don't use. Emphasize beauty in your environment by keeping a vase of fresh flowers where you spend most of your time. If you need help with creating an environment that is conducive to emotional stability, you might consult with a feng shui practitioner. Feng shui is an ancient Chinese art of placement for the home or office that emphasizes balance and harmony of surroundings.
7. Make a commitment to a regular yoga practice. An underlying purpose of all the branches of yoga is to create a sense of balance and harmony in those who practice it. While your day might have been chaotic and rushed, performing yoga can assist you in finding your peaceful inner Eden. Eventually becoming centered through yoga, you will be able to respond in ways during your day to day life that are healthier emotionally. You won't be as easily jostled by challenging situations. In addition, breathing techniques used in yoga can help you release long-held tension. Chapter 12 on circulation includes information on the various yoga disciplines as well as other forms of exercise.
8. Learn how to set healthy boundaries. Many people feel "overbooked for life," but forget that they had a choice about making the appointments. When you set boundaries clearly, life doesn't overwhelm you. Perhaps you need to work on your assertiveness skills. Learn to spend more of your life doing what you actually want to do, and less of what you think others want for you.
9. Make looking at the positive side a regular habit. We all know least one person who seems to be able to find that silver lining in every storm cloud. We are lifted by their very presence because of this great attitude. This could also be you! To begin to put a more positive spin on life, try to look at the positive aspects of situations at every opportunity. Then when a more challenging circumstance comes up, your brain will be trained to look for the bright side. You'll be less likely to engage in a toxic emotional response.
10. Just say "no!" to procrastination. Instead of procrastinating, adopt a "take charge" approach. Procrastination can contribute to low self-esteem and anxiety, as you put off facing something but still worry about it. The pent-up tension can build up so much that it finally bursts! How much easier it is to just deal with it early on! If you find yourself avoiding taking action, explore the real reasons. Then find ways to become motivated about taking responsibility rather than dreading it.
11. Cultivate a spirit of gratitude. Being thankful for all that you have is a great habit. Unfortunately, many people focus on what they don't have. It seems that what we concentrate on in life expands, so a negative way of thinking can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you start feeling thankful, you'll find you have more and more to be thankful for. This is a very easy, fun, and effective tool for decreasing stressful emotional responses.
12. Watch the words that you use. Words that can cultivate toxic emotions include "should," "ought," "stress," "must," "busy," "worry," "he made me feel," "she made me do such and such," etc. Because it is often used to imply victimization, this language can allow us to feel powerless. Open up your options by searching for words of empowerment. These include "can," "will," "want," "choose," "love," and "peace." I often suggest a thirtyñday "diet" from the words "worry," "busy," and "stress" for patients having emotional challenges. They learn to find more creative and empowering descriptions of how they are feeling, and their perception of difficulty often transforms. The results have been remarkable, including stress reduction and a greater capacity for joy and inner peace. The biblical phrase, "the Word was made flesh" can be witnessed personally through our choice of language, for we tend to embody what we speak.
13. Speak well of others. Avoid gossip. When discussing other people, think of how you would like to be spoken about. I guarantee that it will feel better to find ways to be happy for others rather than sharing resentments about them. If you find yourself being tempted to say something negative about another person, see if you're bothered by a characteristic you are denying in yourself. When you accept that part of you, your feelings about the other person are likely to change.
14. Discover mindfulness. This essentially is the practice of living fully in the moment. One reason that children and animals are so therapeutic and enjoyable to be around is that they focus on the here and now. They're not worried about tomorrow or yesterday. They're just open to the joy of the present.
15. Create community support for yourself. Since we do live in a very reactive world, you'll benefit from reaching out to others striving to live at a healthier emotional level. You'll find such support at twelve-step programs, churches, meditation groups, etc. You'll also find kindred spirits at self-help workshops and classes.
16. Foster your emotional growth through books, tapes, websites, and seminars. There's such a richness of these resources today! For instance, check out O. C. Smith's Mind Power site (www.ocsmiths, and the books that are recommended there. After Smith's song "Little Green Apples" became a hit, he began to research positive thinking and the power of the mind. Since then, he has become an internationally-acclaimed motivational speaker, sharing his findings on the amazing potential of the mind. You'll find many useful tips on his site. Smith has also condensed his ideas into an audiotape series called Mind Power that is available through his site. Another excellent site loaded with tapes to foster empowerment is Nightingale-Conant ( An additional way to find ways to increase emotional growth is to browse the psychology and self-help sections of your local bookstores periodically.
17. Journal your thoughts and feelings. This practice will serve you in several ways. First, you'll discharge emotional upsets as you write them down on the page. Secondly, you'll have the opportunity to clarify your thoughts and feelings. And last, you'll have a record of your experiences, which will help you decipher your patterns.
18. Schedule regular exercise on your appointment calendar. Although a sure way to lift your spirits is to get your body moving, how often do we abandon exercise for the sake of something that seems more pressing? Writing your exercise appointments on your calendar will help you keep the commitment. Also, choosing a nonstrenuous exercise, such as walking, can help you avoid downtime due to injuries. For more information on exercise, see Chapter 12.
19. Try kindness. The Dalai Lama says that kindness is his religion. A kind attitude is so needed in our oftentimes insensitive today. Turn up your compassion meter, and recognize those opportunities where you can make a difference. Stepping into a stranger's or even a loved one's shoes is also one of the best ways of gaining a kinder, gentler perspective.
20. Develop Gumby's flexibility. One way we set ourselves up for an emotional upset is by remaining rigid despite changing circumstances. Remember Gumby, the cartoon character? He's the one toy that didn't break because he was willing to bend. Flexibility is an important skill when used wisely.
21. Be a student of life; look for your lessons. As you grow stronger emotionally, a helpful approach is to view situations that challenge you emotionally as opportunities to make new choices. Is the salesperson rude? Instead of getting angry, find someone else to help you. Is a loved one inconsiderate? Instead of withdrawing, look for the right time to discuss the behavior. Working through one situation at a time will lead you away from‹
victim behavior and teach you emotional courage.
22. Practice patience. One cause of unhappiness is a reluctance to wait for things to develop at their own pace. We can even steal some of our own joy in receiving by acting impatient about outcomes. Doing your best right now will further your best interests more than worrying about when something will happen. Next time you find yourself growing impatient, relax and let the tension go. Trust in the process of life.
23. Build healing rituals into your life. What rituals soothe your soul? Is it a weekly bubble bath by candlelight? A break-of-dawn stroll through your neighborhood? A quiet moment over herbal tea at the end of the day? Take the time to nourish yourself emotionally by practicing healing rituals regularly rather than falling into counterproductive, self-destructive activities.
24. When making decisions, don't forget your heart! To create a happy life, we must understand what is true for us individually. We have this knowledge when we take the time to listen to our heart. It's important to resist external pressures to make decisions based solely on the values of others. What is it that you really want for yourself? What are your values? What are your personal priorities?
25. Enjoy and note your progress. As you notice that circumstances you used to feel upset by no longer have a hold on you, you will begin to enjoy emotional empowerment. When you truly realize that your emotions can be great teachers instead of overwhelming enemies, life takes on a whole new meaning.

copyright 2001 by Patricia Fitzgerald



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