When Kristine Carlson tragically lost her beloved husband, she found herself enveloped by the darkness of heartbreak and grief. In this episode, she shares her inspiring true story of bouncing back after the grief of her profound loss.
With a resilient spirit and heart-centered approach, Kristine teaches us how to bounce back from any ordeal and emerge stronger, wiser, and more capable.
New York Times Bestselling Author
Kristine Carlson is a New York Times bestselling author and renowned speaker recognized worldwide for the global success of The Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff book series she co-authored with her late husband Dr. Richard Carlson. Her latest book, Heartbroken Open, a life-changing memoir, has become a Lifetime Television biopic starring Heather Locklear.
Maria Marlowe: [00:00:05] Welcome back to the Glow Life. I’m your host, Maria Marlowe. Today, we’re talking all about how to build resilience and how to bounce back better than before no matter what life throws at you because life is always going to throw some stuff at you. Stuff that you really didn’t want to happen, it’s going to happen at some point, right? There’s always going to be some negative news, whether it’s a loss, a breakup, a firing, loss of a friendship, a loss of a relationship, whatever it may be, we’re all going to go through some downs in life. And it’s up to us how we respond to those downs.
Maria Marlowe: [00:00:45] So today I got to interview a really, really special person, Kristine Carlson. She is an absolute inspiration and beacon of light in terms of finding inspiration and direction in the midst of life’s uncertainties. She is the New York Times best-selling author and renowned speaker who is recognized worldwide for the global success of her book series called Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff book series, which she co-authored with her late husband, Dr. Richard Carlson. About 15 years ago, her husband tragically passed unexpectedly, and as a result of that, she had to put into play a lot of the things that she was teaching with her adult Sweat the Small Stuff book series. And so as a result, she wrote the memoir Heartbroken Open and that has become a lifetime television movie, which recently came out so you can check that out.
Maria Marlowe: [00:01:49] And this woman is just so, so inspiring and a great reminder that no matter what life throws at you, you can bounce back and not just bounce back, but bounce back better than before. So if you’re recently facing a loss or breakup, firing, new job, whatever it is, this episode will help you. But even if you haven’t or you’re not experiencing a down right now, which is great, this episode is still really powerful because it will help you develop the skills and the tools so that in the future, when there is an inevitable down, you have the tools to really bounce back.
Maria Marlowe: [00:02:36] Kristine, thanks for coming on the show.
Kristine Carlson: [00:02:38] Hi, Maria, thank you so much for having me. It’s wonderful to talk with you today.
Maria Marlowe: [00:02:43] So I know you have a lot of exciting things going on now, but I want to kind of just back up a little bit because I know you’re very well known for the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff book series. Let’s start there. What does it mean to not sweat the small stuff? And how do we do that?
Kristine Carlson: [00:03:00] Well, today, in honor of Richard Carlson, who is the original author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, My late husband, in honor of his anniversary of his passing, which happened 15 years ago today, I put a quote from him on Instagram and it says, “Will this matter a year from now?” And I think because of COVID and everything everyone’s been through, I think if you can even shorten that distance and say, will this matter a week from now, will this matter a month from now? Will this matter a year from now? That is the way that we determine what is small stuff and what is big stuff. The rest of my post said some things will matter for your lifetime and those are big things.
Kristine Carlson: [00:03:46] But The Small Stuff, when we wrote that series, it was twenty-five years ago now. But it’s still very relevant because if you look around you, I mean, people are on edge. People are sweating the small stuff everywhere, whether it be in their cars or the comments that they’re making politically, whether it be just anything. People are sweating everything right now, and there’s a lot of angst in the world right now because people don’t often do very well during overwhelming times. And so the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff series is really all about how to practice life in a way that makes you feel much better, much calmer and more joyful. And moreover, creating a lot of peace inside.
Kristine Carlson: [00:04:36] Because I think what happens is if we haven’t spent the time in personal development to establish what kind of life do we really value, then we’re living a life that’s just off the cuff, like we’re living, flying by the seat of our pants. And I think what a book like Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff or any books in our series does for people is it helps them realign with what matters to them in their hearts. And let’s face it, the world has a value system where people really basically want the same things, which speaks to the success of this series and why it has been prominently so successful over the years and still sells very well today. Because we want the same things. We want to feel gratitude. We want to know that we love the people and are showing the people in our lives that we love them. We want our families to be happy. We want to be happy ourselves, and we do want to appreciate the joys in life. And I think when we’re sweating the small stuff, it takes away from all the real joy that’s present for us.
Maria Marlowe: [00:05:48] Yeah, it’s so true and it’s quite interesting. Actually, just prior to our interview, I had an interview with an MD who’s talking about the immune system. And you know, when we think about immunity, we’re thinking food, we’re thinking supplements. And she said, really, the two most important things are sleep and managing your stress because if you’re stressed, your immune system is not going to be working at its optimal. So getting your thoughts in order and being in control of your thoughts is so, so powerful on so many levels for our health and wellbeing.
Kristine Carlson: [00:06:25] And if I could just speak to what you just said a little bit, according to sort of our philosophy, is that all right?
Maria Marlowe: [00:06:32] Yes, of course.
Kristine Carlson: [00:06:33] Yeah. So one of the things that is very difficult for people to do is kind of the idea of getting control of their thoughts. But what I like to use is the word which is a little softer word, is becoming aware of your thinking and sort of being able to separate yourself as the thinker. It’s so funny because, without this awareness, our minds run amok. They really do, and our minds are driven by fear and driven by the ego part of our mind, which is really not who we are, but it’s a part of us that can completely take control over our thinking. And I think when you can step back and become a responsive person in life versus reactive, that’s the first step really to mindfulness.
Kristine Carlson: [00:07:27] It’s the first step to becoming aware of yourself as the thinker. And realizing that all your thoughts, all of them are completely made up by you and they’re made up by being stimulated by your environment and what is in your sphere of possibility. And we literally have… Science tells us that we have 11 million possibilities present at any given moment. That is huge. But what we’re focused on is, all we’re focused on, and our brains can only process about 40 bits, a very small minuscule amount of those 11 million possibilities per moment. So it’s really being aware and being open to the possibility that you have limited yourself based on the thoughts that you have made up, you know. As a result of your response or your reaction to your environment is really powerful, isn’t it?
Maria Marlowe: [00:08:37] It’s incredibly powerful, and I think that mindfulness is something that we’re not really taught or it’s not in society. It’s not something, it’s not common. You do have to work on it. I feel like everything in society, whether it’s the news or just the social media, everything’s kind of set up to instill fear or comparison or all these sort of negative things. So it does take a bit of practice to really be purposeful and mindful about keeping your thoughts in check and realizing that you are creating your thoughts.
Kristine Carlson: [00:09:14] Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of about living intentionally, isn’t it? And it’s what you intend for, what you really desire in your life. You have to define that and then you have to place your attention where it is in the present moment. That is at the core of mindfulness. And if we can assess by taking a few deep breaths, tuning into, maybe even what we’re grateful for because gratitude puts us in a… Gives us a boost of joy, puts us in a much better position mentally to clarify what we really want. And then we place our attention where we are. And this is not about control. This is about acknowledgment. This is about saying even to yourself or to somebody else, well, you know, I’m feeling kind of low today. I’m not feeling great today. That’s OK, too.
Kristine Carlson: [00:10:10] It’s OK to just be where you are. When we resist our emotions and our feelings will persist. And so if we acknowledge where we are and what we feel, then it tends to become more like a passing feeling versus something that sticks around and stays longer. I know we’ve all had that experience of feeling that sort of fighting a low mood, fighting where we are. And it doesn’t feel good. And in fact, it’s counterproductive to moving ourselves out of that space. If you’re in a place of just acknowledgment, go wow, and you’re gentle and compassionate with yourself when you’re in that space, it’ll pass and it’ll pass more quickly than you can even imagine.
Kristine Carlson: [00:10:57] And then you start to place your attention on what is really present in your life. These are some of the really simple principles that are things that we’ve taught for twenty-five years in The Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff books. But they are relevant today because this is just the principle of healthy living. This is how you get through hard times is by practicing and one of my favorite mindfulness teachers and a dear friend of mine, Dr. Shauna Shapiro, she says, “Practice, not perfection.” So this is really huge because we acknowledge that life is a practice and that we aren’t going to achieve perfection. Then every time you do it better, you’re doing it incrementally better as you practice more.
Kristine Carlson: [00:11:48] And this builds on itself, and this is how you rewire your brain and access that neuroplasticity, which is so important to understand that when people say, “Well, this is just how I am.” You know, that’s a real copout today because we now know that people, this is not how you are. This is how you choose to be. You’re not wired to stay the same, but you will stay the same if you don’t change. Nothing in your life and your world is going to change unless you make that change. And I think these are all very powerful concepts for anyone in their twenties, thirties and forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties. You know you can go… These are important functions of life.
Maria Marlowe: [00:12:30] No, this is an incredibly important concept because I think you’re right. Most people think that their personality is permanent, and the way that they are is just the way that they are, or even if they’re in a bad mood or they constantly have bad moods that they’re just a bad mood person. And it’s absolutely not the case. And it’s funny because I’m sitting here with you, via Zoom and you have such a calming presence. I do a lot of interviews and you just seem so calm, so centered. And I know when I was younger, I used to think like if you’re just really calm or just like really happy all the time, that that was your personality, but it’s not true. People who are calm can also, you know, are also people who have, bad things happen in their life.
Kristine Carlson: [00:13:17] Absolutely.
Maria Marlowe: [00:13:21] It’s all your reaction to it. So that kind of brings us to your more recent book, From Heartbreak to Wholeness: The Hero’s Journey to Joy. So can you share a little bit about that? And I’d love for you to kind of emphasize the fact that the reason that you’re calm and happy and joyful is not because your life is perfect. It’s because you work. You’re doing the practice. You’re keeping yourself in a good place. I’d love for you to share a little bit more about that.
Kristine Carlson: [00:13:47] So I wrote that book at the 10-year mark of my dear beloved husband Richard Carlson’s death. You know, and I’ll just share a little bit about that story. We were in our early forties, so he was in his mid-forties. I was my early forties and he got on a plane and on the descent of that flight died from a pulmonary embolism. So it was, we were at the peak of our lives, you know. Our kids were in high school. You know, we were at a very, very peak time in our lives that it was very sudden and an unknown shock, you know, to lose him that way and to lose him so young. So while most of our early life was spent on developing the brand, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, in fact, that was at the 10 year anniversary of that book, I began to witness myself in grief and I wrote a book Heartbroken Open” Coming Alive Again after Profound Loss. And then 10 years later, I wrote my How to Grieve book, which is the one you talked about, From Heartbreak to Wholeness: The Hero’s Journey to Joy.
Kristine Carlson: [00:14:54] But I realized, Maria, that the most… There was a couple of things that were really prominent pivots for me, and I wanted to really share these with people. And they’re not new things, and they’re not things you haven’t heard before, but they’re the pivots that I took. And one was that I realized I could not become a victim of the circumstances that I was in, and I needed to allow myself to go through a grieving process. And I had to hope and pray that I would return to a joyful life and in a way I was kind of rebellious about it. I really said I am not here to live a life of pity and sorrow. I’m here to live a happy life, and I knew that about myself. But this was an incredibly unhappy event. I mean, this was heartbreaking.
Kristine Carlson: [00:15:46] Richard was my person, you know, and we had a beautiful marriage. And so this was a heartbreaking event. But 10 years later, I realized, wow, I have to write this book because I want to share how I really realized I healed and that I knew other people could heal this way, too. Because I had watched people follow my journey and heal based on my journey. And so the huge pivot for me was one, not to become a victim of my circumstance. Two, to surrender to the process of healing, and three, to realize that how I framed my story and how I framed the experience for myself had everything to do with how I would heal and return to a life of joy and wholeness.
Kristine Carlson: [00:16:33] And so these are the things that I put in that book for people to follow so that they could frame their own story as the hero’s journey. It was funny. I was just at a party the other night and there was this young woman and she’s about, I think she’s about thirty-two years old, and she had bought that book because a friend of mine had a book party, and she probably didn’t even think she was going to read that book. But then she went through a breakup with a man she really, really loved, and she pulled that book out and she said, you know, I have to tell you, that book really helped me. I actually followed along and did the exercises at the back of each chapter, and it really helped me get through it. Thank you. And when you write a book like that, that’s all you ever need, is to have one person tell you that book really, really helped me and it makes it all worthwhile.
Maria Marlowe: [00:17:19] I think not becoming a victim is, like you said, really the number one thing and incredibly important. So how do you do that, though, for someone who’s listening and maybe doesn’t even realize they’re doing it? Where do you even start?
Kristine Carlson: [00:17:34] Well, I think that philosophically you have to buy into the idea… Like it is a very philosophical moment when you go through loss. You watch people and they’re either going to become a better person for having gone through this experience or they may become very bitter. First of all, you must see it as a choice. You must see it as a fork in the road and know that you have a choice. I met Shawn Achor a few years back, and he wrote a couple of great books on happiness, and he’s the Harvard researcher that has done all the great research on happiness, and he said that in his… He told me that it’s really true that even amidst horrible circumstances, people can choose to be happy. And this is brain research and science.
Kristine Carlson: [00:18:26] And yet people don’t realize that we waffle back and forth all the time while we’re in a grieving process. And that’s also normal. It’s a choice that you have to make when you’re conscious of it all the time and also give yourself the permission to feel all your feelings of grief if you’re in that place. Because grief is a living, breathing thing, it’s a bit like having a disease that you have to live with. And the nice thing and awesome thing about grief is that it isn’t always going to stay, and you’re not always going to stay in the same position with your grief. Grief is something that we go through and we move through it, but you’ve got to move and you have to allow yourself to be moved.
Kristine Carlson: [00:19:09] And how we do that is we open up to all of our feelings and on a sad day, you cry. On an angry day, you scream. And on a day when you have what we call those amazing reprieve days, you allow yourself to feel joy. This is how you live with grief. It’s not all darkness and not all sorrow. It’s all of it. It’s one of the most alive times I’ve ever been in my life, quite frankly. I was so alive when I realized that. I was so alive to how I felt. You know, when I think about philosophically, why we choose this human experience, why we’re here, I think we’re here because we want to have that alive experience, that physical experience.
Kristine Carlson: [00:19:54] And so we go through the range of everything. We get to enjoy food, we get to enjoy sex. Also, we go through sorrow and grief because that’s also an incredibly alive experience. And you get to have true happiness and contentment and peace. But it’s a full, it’s a whole gamut of emotions. It’s not just being happy or being calm all the time. It’s a wide range. And so I think for a person who’s in that position, first of all, you have to know you have a choice. You have to know that it’s not a one-time choice. It’s a moment-to-moment choice. And this is the practice. This is the practice to being present, mindful. What are you feeling? What’s your body teaching you and telling you? How to step in and step forward?
Kristine Carlson: [00:20:45] You know, the last thing I really or one of the main things I want to say about grieving and about loss is that when we lose a person to death, we don’t want to move on ever. So you have to think in terms of moving forward and not moving on. When we lose a person to a breakup, that’s even harder because reconciling a breakup is just as painful when you’ve been partnered with that person for a while or you’re deeply in love. And yet you have to reconcile the fact that they’re still here. I don’t know which is more difficult having somebody completely gone or having somebody still here and being in love with them. It’s both very difficult processes, but I think these are the things that we have to realize are our choices and how we move forward.
Kristine Carlson: [00:21:36] Not that stuff happens to us. We don’t have a choice in that. But when things happen, we do get a choice in how we move forward. And I think realizing that this is a classroom and a school. You know, this is school. This is Earth school. You know this is spiritual Earth school. And realizing that all of these lessons and this wisdom that you can learn from the suffering you go through is part of it. It’s part of the classroom. Not the fun part. We all just want to be on the joy ride. We all just want to feel good all the time. Of course, that’s also in our nature. But when we’re not, just realize that, first of all, being in the present moment, taking real care of yourself in the present moment in real-time is really powerful, and asking yourself, “How am I feeling right now? How am I feeling today?” And then that’s going to inform you about what you need to do for yourself. Your self-care matters. All of it matters to your experience.
Maria Marlowe: [00:22:37] And is there any sort of timeline for grieving? Obviously, it’s different from person to person? Do we ever stop grieving? Any insights there?
Kristine Carlson: [00:22:48] You know, the timeline is really different for everyone. It has to do with the level of attachment that you have to the person you’re grieving. And how we all deal with attachment in different ways and so what you’re doing is also reconciling this loss of a dream and this loss of identity that you’ve had by having this relationship. And I don’t think there’s a timeline, but how you consciously process your grief really matters. I find that the shortest distance out of the hole of grief is really allowing yourself to feel your feelings and to express those feelings.
Kristine Carlson: [00:23:32] When we don’t and we try and deny and we try and busy ourselves and we deny ourselves that expression, I think that grief lasts a whole lot longer and it’s a lot more painful. And I also feel that our bodies will manifest that grief and it will turn into something else. And in my world, I didn’t want that. I was like, I want to live a healthy life because your health matters to your entire experience. And I want to live a healthy life, so I’m going to go through it. I’m going to dive into the wave when it comes, and I’m going to go through it and I’m going to see that wave all the way through every time it comes. And there is an endpoint.
Kristine Carlson: [00:24:14] I am not a believer that we are meant to grieve forever. And I know that grief is not love. Grief is the response, the emotional response we have to loss because of our attachment. But we can go through a grieving process and find our way out of grief and live in joy again. Now that doesn’t mean you don’t have your sad days. Today is, like I said, the 15th anniversary, it’s December 13th and this might be delayed. Probably won’t be aired today, but you just know that today is the 15th anniversary of my husband’s death and it’s a tender day. It’s a tender day every year that goes by.
Kristine Carlson: [00:25:01] And yes, do I wish he was still here? Absolutely. But am I fully aware of his presence and his love every day? Yes, I am. And do I know that I’m supposed to live this life to its absolute completion and to its fullness? Absolutely. Have I returned to joy? I absolutely have. Is it because I have a partner again? No. I haven’t actually re-partnered. I’ve returned to joy because I found that joy within my own being and that wholeness that came from processing my grief, from going through it, and then coming out the other side.
Maria Marlowe: [00:25:38] You have an incredibly inspiring, motivating personality and journey, so it’s absolutely no surprise that your life is now being turned into a movie, a lifetime movie.
Kristine Carlson: [00:25:51] Thank you.
Maria Marlowe: [00:25:52] Can you share a little bit about that?
Kristine Carlson: [00:25:55] Yeah. So my story, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: The Kristine Carlson story aired as a Lifetime movie and is available. All you have to do if you have DirecTV or anything, any kind of cable services, search it. And I’m sure it’s going to be on Hulu or something like that. I don’t know where it’s playing, but it’ll be everywhere. Starring Heather Locklear. So that was just a really nice, pleasant surprise. I’ve always been a big Heather Locklear fan, and it was beautiful that she played me in the movie and my daughters were played by Natasha Bure and Ella Dawson. Jason McDonald played Richard, and he did a beautiful job capturing Richard’s essence. So yeah, it was quite a stunning part of our adventure.
Maria Marlowe: [00:26:39] I mean, and how was it kind of reliving some of this stuff for you?
Kristine Carlson: [00:26:44] You know, I looked at it like a real privilege and an honor, to be honest. I mean, it was hard. It wasn’t the happiest year of our life. It was really about my journey through grief and my daughters and our journey through grief as a family and my rise, my rise to accepting what was mine to accept. And so, you know, but I have to say that I looked at it like most people don’t get this opportunity to preview their life and preview a very, very wonderful part of my life, which was, of course, my love with Richard.
Kristine Carlson: [00:27:18] And so I think they did a wonderful job of portraying our relationship and how it was, and much of the dialogue is taken directly from me from conversations I had, very intimate conversations I had with my husband. So it was powerful. I mean, it was powerful, a little hard, a little hard the first time I saw it. But as I watched it a couple more times, I really loved it. And I think it’s a really warm movie. It’s not overly sad. Have you had a chance to see it yet?
Maria Marlowe: [00:27:46] I haven’t seen it yet, but I definitely want to want to check it out.
Kristine Carlson: [00:27:50] Oh, good.
Maria Marlowe: [00:27:52] So obviously, your husband’s passing is a terrible thing, but you had already done a lot of work beforehand with Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Right? So you were really kind of prepared in a way, but how do you feel like you grew? Maybe before and after his death? Or what were the, I guess when you were kind of looking back before everything happened then after, how have you changed? What did you learn? How did you grow?
Kristine Carlson: [00:28:20] You know, that’s such a great question, because I think when you when you’ve gone… When you have that kind of life, I’ve had you, which was so magical on so many levels, but not without issues, not without obstacles and struggles… I think when you have to face something that is unthinkable and unimaginable in your life, which is what I did, you know, because of the sudden death that we experienced and the sudden loss, it was trauma. It was trauma. But I think my life in a way prepared me because I really understood mental health.
Kristine Carlson: [00:28:58] You know, I understood the five principles that we talk about in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff which are really common now. It’s not new stuff now. It’s been around for twenty-five years, so it’s very common to talk about your thoughts, your moods, your feelings, the fact that we live in separate realities and present moment living. But because I had practiced these things since I was a young woman and I was a meditator. I mean, I’ve meditated since I was 19 years old. So I really, I feel like all of this really helped me to…
Kristine Carlson: [00:29:33] And philosophically, we had studied so many different philosophies together and religions. We really understood that there were these golden threads of religion and that love would be really present. I think what really altered in me was this calm that you speak of that you see in me is because I have faced the unimaginable and survived and not only survived but thrived amidst really pretty about as stressful circumstances, as you can imagine, I think that I have developed this sense of myself. This real authenticity, which when you feel really calm.
Kristine Carlson: [00:30:17] I think it’s because you’re just in yourself in a way that you’re super grounded in who you are and that comes through. Because you’re not trying to impress, you’re not trying to be somebody for somebody. You’re not concerned about that. What’s most important to me is that I’m just myself and I am enough. And I realized that through my loss is that my job is not to be anyone else. My job is to just show up for other people as a healed person, as a person of divine light and love that really is doing what I’m doing because I care and I love.
Kristine Carlson: [00:30:58] And I think when you get to that place and you’re really aligned with your true sense of who you are and your values, what you value most, I think that’s when you’ve arrived at a place that feels really, really good. It feels truly confident, you know. And I feel like that’s where I am in my life, you know. I’ve arrived in this place because I faced my obstacles and because I have allowed myself to heal and I’ve allowed myself to step into my life and create a new dream. So I think, I hope that answers your question.
Maria Marlowe: [00:31:33] Yeah, definitely. And so you mentioned meditation that you’ve been doing it since you’re 19. Do you have any other daily practices that you feel really help you just stay in this calm, peaceful zone?
Kristine Carlson: [00:31:47] I think I’m just honestly, I’m a naturally very grateful person. I wake up and I notice my thoughts are like, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’m constantly saying, thank you, thank you, thank you to God. And I think that I just want to share like I had the booster vaccine about four days ago. And what I realized was I wasn’t feeling good for a couple of days and I was pretty grumpy. I just want to say, it was a good reminder to me because I’m not a very grumpy person, but I realized, wow, this is such a good reminder of what it feels like when you don’t feel good physically.
Kristine Carlson: [00:32:31] It’s hard to be in a good mood and you’re not in a good mood when you don’t feel well physically. So for those of you who are struggling with your physical body sometimes and you don’t feel well, physically, I get it. I was reminded, wow, I’m grumpy. I’m not a nice person when I’m grumpy and I thought about that. This is such an example, when you’re in a low mood, life looks low. And I immediately knew I was through the whole reaction to the vaccine when I felt better. Because it was like noon on Saturday and in the morning I was supposed to go to this holiday party and I was like, I am not going to that party tonight. And then at noon on Saturday, I’m going to go to the party. I feel fine. Know, so it’s a total, but that’s kind of how we have to see life.
Kristine Carlson: [00:33:19] When you’re in a low mood, understand life doesn’t look so good. Do everything you can to keep your physical body and balance because when you don’t feel good, it’s hard to have a good day, you know, and when you feel better, you’re going to have a much better outlook. That said, there’s still a lot of people in this world that force themselves to have a good outlook anyways, because maybe they’re dealing with something that’s chronic and they just learn how to manage that. That’s a different kind of challenge and struggle, but you can still find your way through that, too. You know but it is really helpful to understand how your psychology works and how you have this healthy psychological functioning that’s happening all the time.
Kristine Carlson: [00:34:04] But you have to do a few things to access that you have to practice gratitude will really help you. Knowing that this too shall pass will really help you. Sitting with how you’re feeling with a curiosity will really help you. Acknowledging what you’re feeling when you’re feeling it will really help you. It all seems very simple, but it is simple, but you just need to practice it.
Maria Marlowe: [00:34:29] You need to do the work, basically.
Kristine Carlson: [00:34:33] Journaling is really helpful too. Journaling is so, so so helpful if you journal your emotions and delete what you write and send it, just delete it. Don’t even harbor it. Don’t write in your journal unless you’re writing a journal as a sort of documentary or something for yourself, which is great too. I think journaling and deleting is a really powerful practice because it just allows you to empty out. Any time you can empty out all that gook, that muck and muck through that mental muck, that’s going to really be helpful.
Maria Marlowe: [00:35:06] Oh, that’s super interesting. I’ve never heard that before, but I like that idea.
Kristine Carlson: [00:35:10] Yeah, it’s very powerful. Journaling is one of the most innately powerful things you can possibly do and especially journaling for yourself. Not like, again, not writing for anybody else. You are going to write it and delete it. You can write anything and just delete it. It’s like acknowledging that where you are may just be really dark and awful and then just delete it. And it’s like kind of flushing out your mind, clearing your mind.
Maria Marlowe: [00:35:39] Yeah, it’s kind of like when you write an email reply and you’re angry and you don’t send it, you know. And you look back later and you’re like, Oh my god, I’m glad I didn’t send this. Delete. And you rewrite it, but you just get it out.
Kristine Carlson: [00:35:53] Sometimes I feel like I’m saved because my emails won’t send. Intentionally, they go to drafts and then I go back and I’m like, Oh, thank God, that didn’t send. So it’s a good idea to pause, for sure.
Maria Marlowe: [00:36:07] So for anyone who’s feeling grief right now, whether it’s they lost someone or just like the overwhelm and the stress of everything that’s going on in the world, you know, where do they start? What’s like the first step to kind of pulling themselves out of a funk?
Kristine Carlson: [00:36:26] Well, the first step is really counterintuitive to what our society says, and that is to quiet down. Our society will say just busy yourself, busy yourself, out of it. But I would say quiet down, you know. Get quiet with yourself. And again, it goes back to allowance. Allowing this emotion to move through you. This is a time to have a really good cry. There’s a saying, a saying that’s always stuck with me and that is a tear is worth a thousand years. And that means a tear is worth a thousand years of growth. A tear is worth a thousand years of expression.
Kristine Carlson: [00:37:07] And so if you can just allow yourself to express your emotion, that’s going to be the ticket out. Know it’s like all the way in, is out. And if we remember that, then I know it’s not something that we want to do. We don’t want to sit down and have a really good cry. But have you ever done that and you feel so much better. If we look to kids as our model of perfection in this world like children? Do you remember back when you were a child and you had a really good temper tantrum and then one second, you’re really, really pissed. You aren’t getting what you want. Then the next second you’re up running around and playing and giggling. This is how healthy people are meant to be. Not that we’re meant to lie down on the floor of the supermarket and have a temper tantrum.
Kristine Carlson: [00:37:57] That’s not what I’m talking about, but just allowing yourself the freedom of being in your emotions, if they’re present. And then expressing them and then allow yourself to be in the next moment, which oftentimes it’s a surprise if you allow yourself a good cry, which you’ll find is that you feel something so peaceful afterward because our body and our brains tend to reward us when we do the right thing for us. And the reward is the feeling of peace that comes over you. Now, you might not feel joy at that point, but you might feel this sense of peace. And that’s the other thing you have to notice that. When you notice something like that, it’s a reward. So then it makes you realize, OK, this is the process. I just need to sit down and get quiet, allow myself to be where I am. And this too shall pass.
Maria Marlowe: [00:38:52] Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the hardest to do, but just know it makes a lot of sense.
Kristine Carlson: [00:39:01] And I think the other thing is don’t isolate. Let your friends support you. Let your friends know you’re having a tough time so that they can support you. Ask for support because community is everything too. And I know in the movie they don’t show me having any friends because it was just a budget thing. But I had lots of friends around me when I was in grief, like a lot of friends around me, always checking on me, always coming and going for a walk with me. You know, being very, very gentle with yourself, you know, maybe it’s not the time to train for a marathon, you know what I mean, when you’re in grief. Maybe that’s your way, you know. Maybe some people will find their solace and strength and in doing something like that.
Kristine Carlson: [00:39:43] But I think whatever it is, be intentional about it. Be intentional about how you heal. And my way is is to really think in terms of being more gentle with myself. Taking lots of salt baths and salt baths, getting as much sleep and rest as I possibly can. Not drinking very much alcohol to numb out. Not doing anything to numb out. You know, these are self-care practices that pay big dividends in grief because you want to put yourself in a balanced place because it’s a hard process, it’s a hard process on your body to go through grief. It’s a high adrenaline process. You want to try and calm yourself as much as possible.
Maria Marlowe: [00:40:25] Mm-hmm. So in your experience and research on grief, is there anything that you think our listeners would find really surprising or maybe that you found really surprising that kind of goes against what maybe most people would think?
Kristine Carlson: [00:40:41] Yeah, there’s a couple of things I would think that most people wouldn’t think that you’d laugh in grief like that you’d have days of laughter and you definitely do. I mean, in some ways, life gets even funnier when you’re in grief because you’re in this kind of this snow globe position where it seems like your life is completely slowed down and everything around you is happening as normal. So you can have laughter. There were some really funny times in my grief process that I share in my book Heartbroken Open.
Kristine Carlson: [00:41:14] And the other thing I think is that is surprising is maybe when you choose to have another relationship or having a sexual partner after a loss, you know it, for me, it happened a lot earlier than I thought it would. And I started to realize that it was because I needed to be feeling. I needed to live. I had to feel alive. And so I think choosing the right person to be in that with is really important and not trying to make that relationship other than what it is, which might be just a very holding transitional kind of relationship. Because I think that’s important if that’s something you feel like you need. But I think oftentimes women especially are very, very vulnerable, and they may turn that into something that it’s not. And I think that’s the beware red flag. Be careful who you choose. Be careful what you make of it.
Kristine Carlson: [00:42:19] I had worked with a widow in one of our Heartbroken Open Circles, and she was really devastated. She lost her husband in a horrible accident, a train accident. And the next time I saw her was a few months later, and she kind of it was at the supermarket and she came up to me. She goes, Kris, Kris, I took your advice and I was like, uh oh. I’m like, what was that? I’m like, what my advice? She told me that I could if I needed to find a lover, a friend with benefits kind of relationship and. And she said, and I found one, and it’s really, really helped me. Thank you so much. He’s really, really a healer and just really helping me so much. And they turned out to be together for quite some time. So, you know, so that did turn into… It started out that way, and then it turned into a more permanent connection for her.
Kristine Carlson: [00:43:11] But I think those are the surprising things. I think what you have to do is do your grief the way you do your grief. Don’t let anybody else tell you how to do it. And certainly, society isn’t going to tell you to go out and have a lover. You know what I mean? They’re going to they’re not going to think that’s very cool, actually. They’re going to think that if you love somebody deep enough, you’re going to be committed to them even after they die. And that’s just not true. That’s an untruth, because it doesn’t have anything to do with your love and commitment has to do with you surviving your loss.
Maria Marlowe: [00:43:41] I appreciate you saying all of these things because, you know, a lot of people may feel uncomfortable or unsure or have shame and grief about all of these things that you’re talking about. Even as much as laughing. People probably feel guilt for laughing after something tragic happens. And I’m glad that you’re giving people permission to not feel ashamed of finding joy again and finding a partner again and moving on with their life.
Kristine Carlson: [00:44:10] Yeah, you have to find these little glimpses of light, you know. they’re just little shards of light that come to you and allow yourself to feel those little moments because those are going to carry you through this. It’s it’s tough. You know, it’s like when people talk about the dark night of the soul. Oftentimes that becomes your dark night of the soul when you’re going through a really deep loss, that can be the portal into that. And but that dark night of the soul is all about you discovering your soul, you discovering who you are, and that self-discovery process that happens and it doesn’t last forever. It’s a very fertile time for your growth, a very fertile time. And I think if you…
Kristine Carlson: [00:44:58] It’s hard because when you’re in it, you don’t feel that way. But to take the advice from somebody like me who’s been in it and who’s out of it and to know that I know that’s what it is now. That someday you’re going to know that’s what it was, but you have to have that sort of open to growth, open attitude. If you shut down and you become bitter and you’re not open, you won’t have that experience.
Kristine Carlson: [00:45:24] It’ll be quite a different experience and it could last a lot longer. So it’s much to your benefit to open up to healing, open up to the light that is available to you and to see this as a healing process. And as human beings were very geared to going through grief and loss. We have to be because we are all going to go through it and we’re all going to go through it many, many times in our lifetime. And it’s sad and just it’s always going to be sad to lose somebody that we love.
Kristine Carlson: [00:45:53] It’s always going to be sad to go through a breakup. It’s always going to be sad to be told you have a horrible disease. There’s never going to be a happy moment when you get those news or get those calls or you go through that. But to know that you have resilience, you have the strength of the human spirit. You have your faith, whatever that faith is, build it now. Build it because you need it and it will carry you through.
Maria Marlowe: [00:46:19] Well, on that note, I think you summed this up really perfectly. And I really appreciate all the work that you do and all of your insights today. So people want to learn more. Where are the best places for people to find you?
Kristine Carlson: [00:46:32] Yeah. So I have two websites. It’s dontsweat.com Or kristinecarlson.com So I do a lot of retreats and we have courses on both sites. So yeah, I hope you join our communities there and feel inspired.
Maria Marlowe: [00:46:48] Well, thank you so much for everything.
Kristine Carlson: [00:46:50] Thank you, Maria.