Repairing a Broken Heart: A Five-point Tool

Do you know what hurt feels like? I mean the kind of hurt that you experience in your body? Recently, I suffered hurt that was a pain that penetrated my chest. It burned right above my sternum. And when the pain was starting to subside, I re-experienced the dynamic that led to the pain in the first place. And the burning intensified, like it would explode from my chest cavity.

Pain that intense can make you want to run or curl up or give up. But what you really need to do is listen to what the pain is telling you and take the appropriate action. Here’s a tool Michael Jarecki, associate counselor of Pastoral Solutions, shared with me on how to unravel all feelings–particularly painful or emotional ones.

It is a five-point writing process. From experience, you must write your thoughts down rather than just ask yourself the questions in your head.

First, write the word “situation”. Describe as objectively as possible the situation you are in.

Next, write the word “meaning”. Here you assign the meaning you are giving to the situation you just described. For example, your situation could be “My child got three Ds”. The meaning you are ascribing to it could be “I have failed as a mother,” or “My child doesn’t try”.

Now right the word “false thoughts”. There you list the thoughts you are having that are not necessarily true. For example, you could say, “My son will continue to do poorly in school,” or “My son will not end up getting a decent job when he is older”.

Do the same now under the listing of “true thoughts”. Statements here might include, “With effort and focus my son could raise his grades” or “We did not monitor our son’s homework routine as much as we should have.”

Lastly, write the word “anchor”. By the time you are here you will have greater objectivity and clarity on the situation. List all of the actions you plan to take to “anchor in” the positive outcome you desire.

This five-point tool is a great way to get out of even the most overwhelming emotions and shift into solution-focused action that will transform your life and your relationships.

Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip: Use the Five-point Tool on a situation that bothered you.