Hadley: Previously, we’ve talked about the lost part of you that flees in a trauma which can take along your gifts, like laughter. How do we regain the gift of laughter, which is the best medicine and joy in life?
Dr. Jane: There are many ways to do this. Shall I tell you how I did it?
Dr. Jane: Several years after my son was killed, I was at Thanksgiving with my sisters, and we were around the kitchen counter, cooking. And they were laughing, like we used to do. I realized I hadn’t laughed in a long time. I know Norman Cousen’s book, Laugh and Be Well, which tells how he cured himself of cancer with laughter.
Every day after that, my dog and I would walk out in the country where no one could here me and I’d force myself to laugh and laugh and laugh.
I often do this in trauma recovery intensives, having people laugh and laugh until a laugh really starts coming from inside.
So I forced myself to laugh on my morning walks, until I was able to find things funny again. I got to the point where my husband, who was used to me not laughing anymore, told me a joke and I laughed and laughed, like a 7 year-old child. And he said, “OK Jane, it was funny, but it wasn’t that funny.”
Hadley: You were making up for lost laughter.
Dr. Jane. I had reclaimed it. I do that a lot with clients. Sometimes you have to fake it to make it. Like Wayne Dyer said in one of his books, “When you see it, you will believe it.”
Hadley: Not the other way around.
Dr. Jane: Sometimes we just have to do it to make it part of who we really are. I don’t want to give the wrong message because tragedy and grief has a destructive side. There is pain and we have to honor that. We have to do our grief work.
There’s also an up and out side, called the transformative side. And for every hour we spend in grieving, ask what steps you’ll take now to consciously move yourself forward.
I can tell you the day every one of my grief clients made a decision, “OK. I’ve had enough pain. Now I’ll move into getting some gain.” So we look for strategies like we’re talking about today.
Hadley: It’s good to put a time limit on your grieving. “For the next hour I’m going to have a pity party or vent. After that, I’ll do something that moves me forward.” That’s excellent advice. What other attitudes take you to the level where healing begins?
Get the attitudes and action plan from me and Dr. Jane Simington in the next highlights of my radio conversation for A Lasting Love.
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