Life on the outside can seem like you have everything going for you.
You could be a professional in a lucrative dental practice with speaking opportunities all over the world. You could have a six-figure Bollywod wedding and a million dollar dream home.
Your life appears to be sailing along exactly as your high-expectation Asian parents would have wanted you to live it.
Yet while the external parts of your life are going well and it appears you’ve achieved worldly success, your life could be completely falling apart.
Neeta Bushan’s story that the world couldn’t see is one of pain, challenges and loss. Specifically, losing both her parents and one of her brothers through separate health issues by the time she was 19 years old.
As a child of Indian-Filipino parents who grew up in the U.S., Neeta found herself having to deal with high expectations and academic excellence which took her to dental school and a successful dentistry practice.
Yet, 3 members of her immediate family (including her parents) passed away in her teenage years and she later found herself getting divorced after a physically and emotionally abusive relationship.
For someone who has experienced so much pain and overcoming what seems like insurmountable life experiences, Neeta has captured her life lessons and shares her wisdom in her book, Emotional Grit.
While the book is focused on leadership and building emotional grit in the workplace, I was able to pick out nuggets of wisdom on how she overcame loss, divorce and suffering in her own life.
Here are 5 ways to help you build emotional resiliency when you’re confronting your life’s biggest struggles:
1. Understanding and accepting your emotions.
So much of your life is spent on running away from your emotions because your emotions make you feel uncomfortable and you have been taught to suppress them your whole life. To move forward, you have to be willing to recognize, affirm and apply emotional intelligence to the emotions you’re experiencing. You have to learn to process emotions and learn tools to master the feelings that show up when life challenges that come your way.
2. Positivity and gratitude.
Neeta encourages you to surround yourself with positive messages and daily reminders. “From cards and magazines to picture and clippings, fill your surrounding with images and words that inspire your confidence and enrich your soul,” she writes. Not only does positivity help with keeping your perspective in life but so does gratitude. Waking up to another day is a gift that you can’t take for granted. Remind yourself every day of all those things that you’re grateful for in your life. There are many small and wonderful things in your life that you’re likely not noticing. Wake up each morning and take stock of what you’re thankful for.
3. Be proactive with your mental wellbeing.
In addition to your emotional wellbeing, your mental health is just as important to your wellbeing. Being able to manage stress and being proactive about your mental health are important. You can’t take care of yourself or others when you’re in mental turmoil. You can’t move on or move forward in your life without clearing the mental blocks you face. Reach out to a team of professionals like therapists and counselors if you need one. Otherwise, have a solid community and friendships to listen to you and create space for you.
4. Forgive and Release
Forgiveness may be difficult for you but it’s essential to be able to move forward. Forgiving is saying out loud that you’re letting go of the emotions you’re holding about a particular person or experience. When you forgive, you release all the pent-up energy and emotions about the person and gain your power back but as you know, forgiveness is no easy task. You have to find the courage to forgive and remind yourself of all the benefits of forgiveness. Forgiveness contributes to healthier relationships, less stress and anxiety and higher self-esteem. Not forgiving is like moving through life with a ripped and heavy paper bag, which keeps ripping and things fall out. Forgiveness is putting down the bag and moving forward with more ease.
5. Choose Courage
When you confront difficult circumstances, your fears and anxiety about the past pop up. There are patterns that you grew up with that cause you to act a certain way when dealing with new or challenging circumstances.
“When we choose to be ruled by fear, and specifically when we allow the not-yet-happened to subsume our personal power, we’ve given up the only freedom we have: the freedom to choose,” writes Neeta in the chapter about having the courage to feel your fears.
The way to practice courage is to be more aware your patterns of fear. She encourages you to write down the things that scare you each day and then write down steps to unmask or deconstruct that fear. Even the tiniest of steps in breaking through your fear can lead to more steps of courage.
While emotional intelligence and courage can be helpful in facing personal life challenges, it can also be helpful to your work life. Much of Neeta’s book, Emotional Grit, can guide you to be more authentic, courageous and emotionally resilient in the workplace.
Neeta Bhushan is an emotional intelligence advocate, speaker, and founder of the Global Grit Institute. You can follow her blog here and pick up her book, Emotional Grit here.
“Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain.” Robert Gary Lee
I opened my eyes in a hospital room in severe pain, not able to move, pipes in my nostrils and other parts of my body. There was a needle in my hand attached to a blood supply bottle.
When I was 6 years old, a stray dog had been chasing a bull down the road. The bull ran over me. I had been walking across the street towards a toy vendor when I heard a loud thumping. Everything in my head turned black.
I had to go through a major operation due to severe internal bleeding. The operation left a big scar on my stomach, I couldn’t play, laugh too loudly, run and dance like other kids, as it created pressure on my internal stitches.
My Indian family was always worried about who would marry me with that scar. I got fat and had a dusky complexion in my teenage years. I was insecure about how I looked. I lacked confidence. By the time I was sixteen, I came to believe that no man would ever love me and that I would be alone for the rest of my life.
Then I fell in love with the first man who showed me the least bit of attention. He was ten years older than I was, an alcoholic, and critical of me. He made my life miserable with his constant taunts and forced intimacy. He took advantage of my self-esteem issues and constantly threatened to leave me if I didn’t do as he said. I didn’t want to leave the only man I ever had (or, I believed, I ever could have), so I did as he asked until the time I started to feel ashamed of belittling myself so much.
The relationship lasted a couple of years until I came to the realization that it wasn’t worth it anymore. I left him and moved on. I focused on college and dedicated myself to my studies and building a career.
In the last year of my Masters, I met someone in class. He was sweet, charming, devilishly good looking, kind and, on top of everything, he treated me well. He made me laugh, he showed me respect and we found ourselves spending too much time together. For me, he was too good to be true, like a guy straight out of a romantic Bollywood movie who entered my life to take away all my pain and misery.
His presence made me feel better about myself and my life. I enjoyed the initial attention and love, but after a while it started to fade. He got busy with his new job and started pulling away from me. I was always insecure about losing him. For me, he was like a trophy that I could flaunt to prove my worth.
When I became too needy and dependent, he broke it off. In my mid-20’s, I found myself sulking, spending endless hours in my office bathroom crying, calling friends at odd hours to share how I felt and looking for ways to heal a broken heart.
I not only lost him; I lost myself, my purpose and my direction in life.
I lost interest in my work and poured my energy into the breakup. At that time, absolutely nothing made sense to me. I had nothing to look forward to in life. My heart and mind were always heavy and my eyes filled with tears.
I kept replaying the good times we had spent together, the images of romance and the future promises that we had made to each other. I constantly cursed myself for being so needy and for pushing him away. I thought about how my more “appropriate” behavior would have saved that relationship and how it was all my fault that it ended. After blaming myself, I started blaming my parents for bringing me up so critically. I started blaming my career for being so demanding. I blamed myself for being so vulnerable.
My demanding job made it difficult to deal with everything, so I quit that as a first step towards taking charge of my life. I had nothing more to lose, so I focused all my energy and attention on making life a little better than it was.
At one point, I decided to spend a day without using the internet. I wanted to find out what else I would do if I didn’t have WhatsApp, YouTube, Facebook, Instragram or any social media.
I pulled out a notebook and pen and started writing about how I felt at that time. I wrote about my past life and experiences. I wrote about how being treated critically had made me feel, I wrote about the accident and the impact it had on me. I didn’t realize that I had started crying, and soon my tears were falling on the notebook I was writing in.
I wiped my tears, kept crying and continued writing. Almost six hours passed, but my urge to write didn’t end. I had been sitting in a café since morning and now it was time to go home. As I closed my notebook and packed my stuff, I felt lighter and happier.
My pain has now become my biggest strength in life. Even after heartbreak and pain, I haven’t lost the soft and vulnerable person inside of myself. I just learnt how to deal with emotions in a better way.
Here are a few things I learnt through my painful experiences and how you can grow from your pain:
1) One person cannot complete or change your life.
Your romantic partner is just another addition to your life; don’t make him your life. Pay attention to your relationship, but have other interests and passions to look forward to.
2) It doesn’t matter what others think.
When I quit my job, my family cursed me for being so stupid. I heard their criticism, but stood strong in what I had done, regardless of what they thought about me. Their harsh comments didn’t bother me anymore. The first step to becoming independent is to stop seeking approval from others, especially the people you’re closest to. You can’t live your life according to what others want.
3) Let yourself fall and fail. Accept problems as they come.
Problems, pain and heartbreak are a part of life. It is okay to have them. It is OKAY to make the same mistake twice or even more, but it is not okay to feel miserable about it all the time. Forgive yourself and forgive others to move on.
4) Use pain to learn and grow.
I allowed myself to take chances, feel awful, cry and sulk, but I also understood how to work through the pain. I used every painful experience as a means to learn, grow and introspect. I never became dependent on any one and I didn’t need anyone to complete me, but at the same time I didn’t stop myself from falling in love again.
5) Work on your personal growth.
Have something bigger in life to look forward to. Live a purposeful life. Write your life goals on a piece of paper and stick them in a place where you can look at them throughout the day. Read self-help books, surround yourself with positive people and pay attention to your thoughts. Replace the negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Practice gratitude.
6) See pain as wisdom.
The biggest learning of my life through all these heartbreaks has been the change in perspective in the way I look at pain. I don’t see pain as a negative or unpleasant emotion anymore. I see it as my seeds of wisdom. I don’t feel like pain is holding me back; instead, it’s pushing me forward. You have a choice with respect to your experiences: you can embrace the amazing experiences that unfold, or you can cry over the painful experiences that will naturally come up.
I look back at my life and smile, grateful for being so brave and not feeling like a victim. I feel gratitude for my inner strength, which allows me to deal with pain the best way I know how.
This is the feeling of freedom and true independence. I now see myself as bigger than my problems: someone who is strong enough to navigate life rather than drift helplessly.
Neha is a short story author and novelist. She shares her life experiences through stories at her blog here. You can also email her at nehabindal 999 (at) gmail.com.
For years I intentionally choose to live as a victim. Yes, it’s true.
I choose to be a victim. At any time I could have chosen not to be a victim in any situation, but I didn’t make that choice. I chose to drift through life blaming others for my issues and complaining about my problems as if I would one day receive the highest achievement award for “most miserable”. Most importantly, I choose to be unhappy.
There was one particular evening I sat faintly and hopelessly in my seriously consideration whether or not I should drive myself to the emergency room as I waited for the red light to turn green. My kids were out of control, my head was spinning and now the cars behind me were honking at me to go. What a day!
I had just finalized my second divorce and started a new job. While I should’ve been somewhat happy about my new found freedom and job opportunity, I actually felt as if I was losing my mind.
I couldn’t picture myself as a mental patient so the battle in my head was over how bad off I would be if I waited to get treatment. Meaning that if I went now, I won’t be as “crazy” and could probably cope better than I’ve seen others. I felt like I was having what they called a nervous breakdown.
I’d experienced a lot of hurt over the last 30 plus years and carried the barrels of poison around with me. Not really sure what I was hoping to gain by holding all that toxic waste inside but the load finally became too heavy for me to carry. I knew first hand that medication would only cover up the symptoms and wouldn’t give me the peace, love, and wholeness I was longing for.
At this point I was way beyond sick and tired of being sick and tired. Instead of driving myself to ER, I went home and I prayed. I’m talking about a 72 hour spiritual rally, 3 day conference of soul seeking, crying, and knee bowing come to Jesus meeting. I asked God to remove the things that was not of him from me, to cleanse my mind and heart, and to show me how to love.
Acknowledge your past pain
Acknowledging your past pain is the first step in healing. I grew up not knowing who my biological father was. On top of that, my step father and mother divorced shortly after I announced that his brother had been molesting me.
My step father had been around since I was 2 years old. He was my father, the only male figure I saw each and every day for the last 10 years. Now he was gone.
This stuck with me for a while. I had split my family apart. Well this is what the 12 year old child thought. What else would I think? No one said anything to me about what was going on.
Never was there a talk between my mother and I about my step father not coming back home. He was just gone. He had abandoned me. He left us and never came to see me. He didn’t even call to say “Hi”. I wasn’t even worth a phone call?
My pain was the feeling of abandonment which involves the sense of loss. There is little or no closure just like grieving from a departed friend or love one. No farewells and no last words; just loss.
Unlike death which is certain, abandonment is uncertain.
Questioning and wondering whether the loved one will ever return, why they left, and struggling with if I could ever trust people again in fear they will abandon me. Similar to being rejected, being abandoned can accompany a great loss of self-worth.
Step 2: Identify your symptoms
Abandonment hurts deeply. Coping with abandonment you will either become overly needy or require a lot of attention and reassurance, or you go to extreme measures to never allow yourself to truly care for anyone ever again (avoiding relationships).
I fell in the never allow myself to care for anyone again category (re-abandonment). Keeping everyone away from my heart and at arm’s length so I wouldn’t get too deeply involved. So just in case abandonment occurred my hurt wouldn’t be that bad. I didn’t pick and choose who I put in this category. Therefore, I put everyone in the same category including friends, relatives, and romantic partners as well.
In my book, He Loves Me Not: Buried Tears of Betrayed Love, I tell of my dating experience and strangely how I repeatedly dated the same men but each with a different name. None of my relationships ever lasted longer than 9 months. After the breakup, this is when I would enter the re-abandonment stage re-living the pain from my childhood all over again.
On the flip side of this, you may deal with abandonment by attempting to fill the empty space in with anyone who is willing to give you attention. This may make you appear to come on too strong too in a relationship, which can scare off a potential partner or friend and increasing your sense of worthlessness. Again re-living the pain all over again.
Step 3: Take action
To identify and put some closure to my pain, I sought out a psychotherapist. We were able to identify my trigger points that caused me to feel emotional sad, hurt, and unworthy in certain situations or even around certain people. I traded my pain for love and created healthier relationships.
One technique that I used to increase my self-love was looking in the mirror and telling myself “I love you”. It felt very strange and awkward at first but I continued to say the words in the mirror and eventually became my own best friend.
I chose love myself and from here I can truly love someone else.
Life does not give you the absolute certainty that our relationships will always remain the same and consistent. However, with time, and even counseling, healing the wound of abandonment can begin and even allowing yourself to trust again.
Say “Yes” to love. Self-love.
In all, be aware of how you feel in every area of your life, situation, and how other people make you feel. This may be your body warning you or it may be a trigger from an old undealt with issue. It’s important to be happy. And if you didn’t know, being happy is your choice.
It doesn’t matter what happened or who did it, it’s still your choice to forgive and choose to be happy in life. Being aware of how you feel, acknowledging your pain, identifying your symptoms, and taking action is the greatest act of self-love you can give to yourself.
Give yourself compassion rather than judging yourself as weak. Take this healing process as an opportunity to build self-reliance and unconditional self-love. This process can be slow and require you to accept yourself as an individual. In the end you’ll be more self-assured and emotionally stable.
Start today by making a decision to be happy and heal your pain.
“Oh no, not I. I will survive – Oh as long as I know how to love, I know I will stay alive.” Gloria Gaynor
After your divorce, the world as you know it flips upside down.
Your colorful world turns black and white. Hope disappears and your dreams vanish.
What do you do now to piece your life back together when you have no plans, dreams or future that you can see? What do you do after the disruption and chaos of heartbreak? How do you start over after divorce?
Here are 8 tips to create a new action plan and start over after divorce and build a new life for yourself.
1. Take care of yourself.
The most important thing you can do to start over is to care for yourself after your divorce.
♥ Find friends, family or colleagues who will be there for you, listen to you and help you survive this difficult period.
♥ If your feelings are overwhelming, reach out to counselors or therapists you can share your feelings with.
♥ Be willing to explore and accept what you’re feeling instead of resisting it. Consider writing in a journal about what you’re feeling and experiencing.
♥ Take time off from work if possible, or take an extended vacation to care for your health, mind and spirit. (To learn about the Self-Romance manifesto, click here)
♥ Try yoga, meditation, running, exercise or other healthy ways of caring for yourself.
♥ Be mindful of the thoughts and words you use towards yourself. When you want to blame and judge yourself, opt for kindness and compassion instead.
The earlier you forgive after your divorce, the easier it will be to move on.
Forgive first; don’t wait until you get to a place of wanting to forgive.
Write a letter to your ex, forgiving him or her for all the ways he or she hurt you. Also, include a letter asking forgiveness for your part of the relationship.
Do not send this letter. It’s only for you to write and then read out loud.
3. Take it one day at a time
You’re going to feel in a daze and like you don’t have a future.
You just have to get through each day. Plan what you need to do today and get that done. Nothing less, nothing more.
Simply going to work, going for a walk or preparing lunch is enough.
Don’t worry about the future for now.
4. Get clear on who you are
Your thoughts will be on your ex and the pain you’re feeling.
When both subside, try to get a better idea of who you are and discover your essence.
Figure out your values and what matters to you. Prioritize your life based on what’s important, and ruthlessly remove everything that isn’t.
When you’re starting over, you can start anew – you pick what you want in your life and what needs to go.
5. Open your heart and awaken your soul.
Now is the time to go within and find out who you are; remove all the layers of your character that your relationship has hidden.
It’s time to reflect on how you showed up in your relationship and how your behavior contributed to the relationship.
Heartbreak is an opportune time to connect with your spirit and soul.
Walk in nature, meditate, watch a sunset or visit a natural setting – anything that allows you to get quiet and go within. Make time to connect with this wisdom-filled and light-shining part of yourself.
6. Visualize a new life for yourself
You might not be ready for a new life or able to imagine that one exists, but it does.
You can create a new life for yourself – one that’s richer and better than the one you had with your ex.
Close your eyes and take yourself into the future. Paint a picture of what you’d like to see and what your ideal life is like.
Hold this visualization in your mind’s eye until it manifests itself in your life.
7. Pursue your heart’s calling
Do you have a dream or lifelong desire to do something with your life?
Is this experience of heartbreak helping you realize why you’re here on earth?
A big shake-up like a divorce can help you clarify your life’s purpose and transition into it.
A divorce can help you lessen your fears, get clarity in your life and obtain the courage to live your purpose.
8. Stay hopeful and welcome new beginnings.
Yes, you’ve gone through turmoil and pain, but continue to stay hopeful.
You’ve suffered the worst and survived excruciating pain; now your life can only get better. Suffering doesn’t last forever, and brighter days are on the horizon.
Allow your divorce to welcome new changes, new beginnings and a new life.
When you’ve dried your tears and lessened your pain, your best life awaits you – one filled with happiness, peace and a supportive relationship. Remember, you can start over and you can survive this divorce.
To pick up a copy of my book, 10 Sacred Laws of Healing a Broken Heart, to help you heal from heartbreak, click here.
It was at the height of heartbreak and loss that I started blogging.
When everything had fallen apart and my world was dark as the night, I founded my blog.
When the pain was unbearable and the tears uncontrollable, all I had left was my domain name, WordPress and my laptop.
My eight-year marriage had ended. I left my career. Quit my job. Left my permanent address and became a roaming nomad.
I was lost, without purpose and shell-shocked by life’s bitter twists of events.
As I lay on the boxing mat of life, ready to shut my eyes and call it a good fight, Vishnu’s Virtues (this blog) was born.
Here on this blog, I’ve been able to write about every aspect of heartbreak, loss, pain and suffering.
I’ve shared my struggles and expressed my deepest feelings and thoughts.
My blogging journey has sustained me. At the same time, my blog has been a source of inspiration and guidance for others who are in a similar situation.
Today, I want to share with you 8 ways starting a blog can change – and even save – your life.
I hope once you’re done reading, you’ll consider taking the next step in starting a blog.
8 ways starting a blog can save your life.
1) Write away your struggles.
One of the primary ways I’ve been able to deal with the shock and initial heartbreak of my relationship was through my blog and the articles I wrote. On other blogs, you can find many of my posts about heartbreak and accepting changes in our lives.
Starting a blog can be good therapy because it allows you to write down your feelings, share your innermost thoughts and analyze your life experiences.
The more you blog about your struggles, the more likely you will come to terms with them. As you write away your pain, be assured that it will subside and reduce in intensity.
2) Share life skills you’ve learned.
Use your blog as a way to share the life skills you’ve picked up.
As you experience growth, understand yourself more and come to terms with the difficult events in your life, you’ll acquire more skills you need to handle life.
When blogging, you can reflect upon those skills and the life lessons you’ve implemented.
For example, did you gain more confidence? Did you let go of failure? Did you stop living in the past? Were you able to manage your fears?
How did you do it? How did it change your life? What tips can you share about how the new skill has improved your life?
When life breaks you open, you have many realizations about yourself.
Who are you as a person? What can you learn about your character, your personality, your habits, your thoughts and beliefs?
The more you write about yourself or explore topics of interest in your life, the more understanding you’ll have about yourself.
Just a note of caution here – a complete focus on yourself and your growth is hardly of interest to a reader.
Share your journey and perspective in your blogging, but be helpful and provide the way for others to find their own self-awareness.
4) Inspiration and motivation.
Blogging allows you to meet many different people online, including life coaches, personal development enthusiasts, motivational speakers, writers and more.
This isn’t a bad thing. And hey, I’m one of “those people” in the online space who are committed to inspiring others.
What you’ll find is that other bloggers will inspire you. As you improve and make a comeback in your own life, you’ll be able to share your successes and inspire others.
Every day you’ll have opportunities to read posts that help you get going or that pick you up from a low place.
Bloggers tend to be inspirational. They want to live their best lives – they desire to be better people. They want you to live your best life and live up to your potential. Isn’t this a great group to be around?
5) Friendship and support.
Writing is a lonely journey, but blogging is about a community.
When you write a post, you will hear from friends and supporters who will love your post, hate your post or have additional thoughts about your post. (Without a community, you’ll hear crickets.)
They’ll help you clarify your ideas, challenge them and help you come up with stronger ideas and thoughts.
Even if you write a bad post, many bloggers in the blogosphere will have your back and be there for you.
Bloggers are a group of supportive online friends with shared interests who work together to help each other because they know, together, they can help more people. They know they are stronger together.
There are disagreements, but most of the time those disagreements seek to clarify an idea or agree about a concept. Bloggers generally pull, push and refine ideas and thoughts.
By the way, you may noticed that I shut off the comments on my blog. I did this to focus my time on writing for you but I do get a chance to interact with my readers through emails and social media.
6) Find your purpose.
Blogging creates clarity in your content and ideas.
It can also lead to clarity in your life.
Believe it or not, blogging can lead you to your purpose.
What topics are you writing about? What topics do you care about? What blogs are you reading? Which topics do you gravitate toward?
In my case, I found that I was repeatedly writing about hitting rock bottom and standing back up, so I came to realize that my purpose revolved around overcoming adversity, discussing spirituality and helping others who were going through breakups and divorce.
As I got clearer about my life purpose, I took a coaching course. I started coaching people online and started living my life more in alignment with my purpose.
Your blog’s purpose and your life’s purpose can go hand in hand.
7) Earn a living.
Another way blogging can save your life is by helping you support yourself financially.
Not everyone who starts a blog makes money from it, but a popular blog can be a great tool to establish your expertise, market your services and sell your products to others.
You CAN earn a living from your blog, start a business with your blog and support yourself through your blog.
Blogging is really a win-win in that you deliver much content for free and help many people who come to your site looking for advice. For people who want more, you provide a service or a product that helps you support your work.
Another way that blogging helps is that it dramatically improves your writing.
Writing better might not save your life, but it will help you express yourself, communicate better and get more of what you want – possibly even a new job, a new business or a new adventure that will change your life.
8) Serve others.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” M.K. Gandhi
The other way blogging will “save” you is that you’ll have an opportunity to continuously serve others.
A friend once told me that, when dealing with personal life turmoil, the best way to get out of it was to focus on other people: give, serve, help.
Use your personal stories and life situations to help others along their own journeys.
If you’re in the personal development space, show the way for others to improve their lives.
If you’re in the coaching field, write content that will help your clients achieve their best lives.
If you’re a business blogger, show your readers how they can serve their clients better.
Serving others by blogging allows you to make a global impact and touch the lives of many people who can find the solutions you’re writing about.
Bottom line – blogging has been my life-saver!
I’ve found tranquility in my writing and solace from my readers.
I’ve encountered inspiration and have heard that I inspire others.
I’ve formed friendships, found my purpose and even earned an income from blogging. (Watch out for a future post about how starting my blog has helped me support myself.)
Blogging has helped me come back in life and has transformed my life.
All of which brings me to: YOU.
If you’re at a low point or simply lost in life, consider starting a blog.
If life has knocked you out, kicked you down or tripped you up, consider starting a blog.
Same for your business. If it’s stuck or struggling, consider starting a blog to teach more, share more and serve more people.
Note to readers: If you’re inspired and ready to start blogging, check out the hosting company and affiliate partner Bluehost, which I use for this blog. Use this link for a 50-percent discount on hosting and a free domain name.