Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

September 13, 2012

Happy Distractions

I leave tomorrow on my Vietnam vacation, but before I go I wanted to share something I learned over the course of the last few weeks that might be helpful to anyone struggling through a break-up or any other distressing event (I guess that means everyone).

The moment I closed the door, literally, on Geek Rebel after his abbreviated dumping speech, I began planning my distraction. I'm sick of moping over failed relationships. There's just no time for that anymore. Because we were preparing to embark on our first vacation together (hence the reason for the fight that led to our demise), I decided that distraction would be planning my own damn vacation.

I'm not the kind of person who revels in plotting out a vacation. I find it kind of tedious. Yet it wasn't really the details of the trip that mattered to me. It was the act of choosing my own destiny and making it happen. 

In this case I chose a trip to Vietnam. I picked a tour group I'd been following for years. I liked their sensibility (small groups, focused on an authentic experience - not Americans sequestered in an air-conditioned tour bus) and the tours allowed for tons of free time; they just make sure you get to your destinations. Basically, they remove the part of trip planning I find to be tedious and nerve-wracking, once on the ground. 

Within two days of the dumping I'd booked my vacation and was already starting to feel better. Of course, sadness, self-pity, loneliness and anger crept in, as they should when processing a significant break-up. I acknowledged them--maybe wallowed in them for a few hours-- then purposefully turned my attention back to the trip, which was mine, all mine. 

I shopped for the right clothes for the hot, humid weather (late summer sales only amplified my giddiness) and doubled my sad wardrobe in just a few excursions. I picked up a terrific backpack with all the bells and whistles. I arranged to get my immunizations and emergency antibiotics. Picked up a money belt, insect repellent, water purification tablets. I've never been so prepared for a trip in all my life, and well in advance too. Instead of scrambling before my departure, I've been peacefully downshifting from work mode to letting it all go. And all because I designated the trip as my happy distraction.

So even if you don't have a trip on the horizon, find whatever it is that can be your happy distraction. Even better if it's a productive one, like exercise or healthy cooking (and bravo to you if you can; I hope to be able to get to that point some day). Train yourself to go there whenever you feel your mind turning to the dark side. (As I type this I remember my last therapist recommending the same thing. It's a proven technique in cognitive behavioral therapy, so this isn't just mumbo jumbo I'm spouting here.)

Anyway, thought I'd share before I clock out and take the adventure of my own making on the other side of the world. 



Anonymous said...

I hope you have a great trip, cos life is short!

Anonymous said...

Sounds fantastic. Can't wait to hear about it. xx Mimi

Liz said...

Great point - traveling can be a fun distraction from reality, and also very empowering! If you can travel to another part of the world on your own, you can handle anything life throws at you. Good luck!