Letting go of a marriage is painful, regardless of who initiated the split. Grieving for the dissolution of hopes and the promise of a life lived supportively together for better or worse is natural, unavoidable, and as appropriate as grieving for the loss of anything near and dear to your heart. At the same time, on top of the primary emotion of grieving, are the secondary emotions of anger, blame, resentment, fear, and self-doubt.
Divorce is the perfect emotional storm, all these waves of feeling crashing over us, swirling us this way and that, threatening to capsize us and send us under. At times, it feels like there is no other option but going under. While it undeniably feels like this, there are alternative and tangible options; powerful lines of thinking, being, and acting onto which you can grab to stay atop the waves, weather the storm, and navigate powerfully through to a destination of your choosing.
Divorce provides the perfect opportunity to begin identifying and practicing new ways of thinking, being, and doing that allow you not only to calm this emotional storm but also find the eye of any storm that comes your way going forth, so you can stay centered rather than being blown away and off your chosen course. It is the perfect opportunity to begin to chart an intentional new course; one that will bring to you a fairer land of experience. Divorce is the perfect opportunity to learn how to navigate through the storm and in doing so, become a stronger, more effective, happier human being with enhanced personal skills.
The following four steps are lifelines out of the dramatic emotional storms and the unknown of divorce. It is up to you if you are willing to invest in making the changes that allow you to break through the storm. While it may not be easy, the alternative, staying in the storm, is both more difficult and painful. For those who are committed to this being their last divorce and for having a life focused more on what you want…
Session 1: Stop struggling and allow yourself to float, if just for a moment at a time. It is true that you don’t know how you will manage in the future. While our minds have a tendency to travel into the future, we don’t drown in the future. We drown in the present. Struggling is the easiest and most effective way to go under. Ask any lifeguard. The first thing a lifeguard does to save a panicking person is to stabilize them so they can receive support. Allow yourself to feel how “out at sea” you are. While it is not a comfortable realization, embrace your situation…as long as you embrace the situation and float, you’ll stay on top. As long as you cease using all your energy up in struggle, you have the possibility to see and navigate, at a pace realistic and supportive for you, towards where you can touch bottom, and from there, walk out onto solid land. Solid land is there and you will reach it. You will determine all the unknowns in the future. Look around at all the people who have been through divorce and got to the other side. There is a saying; “What you resist persists.” Giving up the struggle, first accepting and ultimately embracing exactly the situation you are in, allows you to float, navigate, reach solid ground, and emerge on a solid new shore; whole, strong, loving, and clear.
Session 2: Know you have choices AND the power and intelligence to make them. While the choices you have now may not be the choices that you want, they are the choices that you have to begin maneuvering towards choices you desire. Although you may feel like a victim, who you are is a powerful participant in a challenging situation, and each and every choice you make is where your power lies. This applies to choosing how and what to communicate, whether you react immediately to an uncomfortable situation or choose to give yourself the time to craft an effective response, as well as where you choose to focus your awareness. If you choose to focus on yourself, on what you want and need, you will make powerful choices. If you choose to focus on your ex and what he/she is doing or has done, you’ll continue to be stuck. Your power is with you. Invest your precious resources, your energy and intelligence in yourself, where it serves you the very best. From there you can direct it towards family, housing, livelihood, etc.
Session 3: Surrender judgment and give up the blame game. Judgment on our selves and on others is a perspective that builds the bars of your emotional prison. Forget being right and start being real. The gold stars and grades you got in school for being right are pretty empty in life outside the classroom. Whatever happened in your marriage took two. It starts as simply as YOU chose your ex. From that point on it was your choice of if and how you spoke up when aspects of your relationship weren’t working for you, how much you appreciated and depreciated the relationship, how effective you were providing for your own needs, etc. Drop blame. If you knew what you know now you would have made different choices then. You didn’t. You couldn’t. Neither did your ex. You were less experienced and now you are more experienced. Use your experience to expand your awareness, and use that expanded awareness as you make choices going forward. You aren’t able to change the past yet you can use the experience to evolve and grow in the present.
Session 4: Learn to reframe perspectives that aren’t serving you. If judgment and blame are perspectives that build the walls of your emotional prison, begin exploring perspectives that blow those walls away. Every moment you are interpreting reality in a uniquely personal way. The internal dialogue going on in your mind constantly reinforces what you believe to be true. Sometimes this dialogue is healthy and empowering. In every sector of your life in which you are suffering, this internal dialogue is undermining your health and effectiveness. Becoming aware of your internal dialogue, questioning its validity in being able to get you from where you are to where you want to be, and being willing to reframe your perspectives is the ultimate key to growing through your divorce.
These four steps will not only allow you to grow through your divorce, they will allow you to navigate all of life circumstances and thrive. Let’s start stepping out…together.