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woman with sensesHave you ever thought about the importance of listening to yourself – of paying attention to what your heart is trying to tell you?

In his book, “The Listening Life,” Adam S. McHugh writes about the importance of listening to ourselves. He also presents a list of topics to think about when we’re trying to barge through an emotional wall.

In Starting Over Single, these four topics have helped me to journal through issues that are keeping me stuck. So I’m sharing them with you, hoping that as you journal and pray through them – they will also open up some new places of healing for you.

These four topics compose the acrostic AHEN:

Anger: Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all angry about something. Maybe it’s a particular situation that happened to us. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re Starting Over Single.

Whatever the issue, think about your anger triggers. What are you angry about? Can you name it? Even if it’s a person, naming who you’re angry with will help you to honestly deal with the situation.

Maybe you’re angry with God or angry with yourself. Name it and claim it. Admit it. Then move to the next topic.

Hurt: Our angers are there because we’ve been hurt. Someone said something about us or confronted us about something. We’ve been betrayed and rejected which is an enormous hurt.

We’re taken for granted at work or we’re ignored by our children. We feel the pain and it hurts.

So admit the hurt, journal about how you’re dealing with the hurt, grieve it and move to the next topic.

Expectations: The reason we hurt so deeply is because we had expectations.

When we walked down the aisle in our beautiful white gowns, we expected our vows to be sacred and to last for a life time.

We expected only good things for our future. We never expected to have to hire a lawyer, work through custody issues and begin to mark our marital status as “Divorced.”

Our expectations were not met, so that deeply hurt us which morphed into anger.

Need: The reason we have such high expectations, especially in relationships, is because of our need. We want to be loved, respected, honored, taken care of and cherished for a lifetime.

We need the emotional security of people who will always love us – until death do us part.

When that need was not met, the deepest part of us was wounded.

So now that we’ve dug down to find the anger, hurt, expectations and need – then let’s work backwards to resolve it.

Need: God promises he will meet all our needs and even when we don’t get those human hugs, the intimacy of marriage or the need for validation in our lives – we can bring our needs to God and ask him to fill us up.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you will be rebuilt” (Jeremiah 31:3-4).

Expectations: We can learn to set realistic expectations, especially within relationships. We can be up front with any expectations at the beginning of a relationship so we will have no confusion about the outcome.

And we can learn to give grace when people absolutely cannot fulfill their expectations to us.

Hurt: We have the comfort of the Holy Spirit to hang on to and hopefully – you also have some good friends you can ask for hugs, chocolate and friend time.

Learning how to grieve in healthy ways helps us deal with the hurt. Divorce will always be a part of our history – our journey – but it does not have to define us. We can move past it.

Anger: We have to learn how to let the anger go or it will absolutely destroy us. Forgiveness is a piece of this. When anger triggers happen, that is the time to let them go, pray about them, turn them over to God and move on.

If we don’t let the anger go, then we’ll turn into one of those old bitter divorced women that none of us want to be.

So the next time you’re feeling hurt, go through this AHEN process and see if it helps to take apart the pieces and honestly look at them.

Then march forward with joy, because you’ve done the hard work to survive and thrive.

©2016 Starting Over Single