This quote by Jim Rohn inserted in the above cartoon gave me a lot to ponder as a recent divorcee myself and a Certified Divorce Coach.
It speaks to the underlying truth I have found in my own process, and in working with countless others: best decisions and results in divorce result from focusing on who we choose to be along the way. Who we are is always a matter of intentional personal growth and taking responsibility for the whole of our lives.
When we narrow our vision only on what we want in our divorces, it is tempting to have our decisions be made from places of fear, clinging and manipulative control in order to get those very things, rather than inhabiting spaces of trust in our own capacity and resilience to receive what we truly need with open hands.
For example, if I focus merely on getting money for financial survival, this priority often results in increased conflict and divisiveness, which can lend a nasty tone that serves to exacerbate an acrimonious process. It also functions to attribute my well-being to something else or someone else, both over which I have no control, and denies me the opportunity of to invest in my own resourcefulness as I move forward.
I do not mean to imply that one should forego a separation agreement that honors the life you have lived out in your marriage and complies with legal guidelines. In fact, many give up their voices in the divorce process simply to get it over with. That doesn’t benefit anyone either! Regardless, decisions driven by fear, anger, avoidance or other reactive emotions based on the past never result in sustainable outcomes. Why settle for that?
This is the very reason why you must prioritize your who over your what in your divorce. Think long and hard about what attributes you want to manifest as you move forward. Ponder times when you have felt strong and proud of yourself, and what characteristics you embraced to get there. Ask others who know you well what they think are your best qualities. Consider how you can integrate your values into your behavior.
As the quote says, the best gift you can give both yourself and others of qyour own personal growth, and the ability to take ownership of your well-being. When we do this, we invite and model for others, how to do just the same. “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Ghandi.
When I went through my divorce, being respectful of my ex was a top priority. I wanted to hear his concerns and seek to honor them, without losing my own voice. The decision to be respectful invited me to learn how to manage my emotions better, to trust my future rather than be afraid of it, and to engage with his side of the family with kindness and lack of judgment. Why would I choose anything less? My efforts have paid forward many times over in a happier, healthier me, ex, and overall family.
Was it easy? No! Did I do it perfectly? No! Was it worth it? Yes!!
Making myself the answer to my divorce also served to keep me from assigning blame to my ex or others for my problems, and to making my well-being my responsibility. This has led to a greater sense of my true self, an ability to more easily let go of other people or things, and an ability to embrace myself as my own best friend and greatest source of power moving forward.
I am constantly amazed by how many divorcees or divorce blogs I come across full of ranting about how their ex did this or that to them, or how they plan to do this or that to their ex, painting themselves as both victims and villians. This vindictive energy only serves to increase finger pointing and conflict. I choose to not be a part of that.
I understand how easy it is to succumb to those words and behaviors, as the many feelings associated with the grieving process can bring out the worst in us, if we let them. It’s important to acknowledge the feelings as they are, but to express them in a therapeutic manner instead of in environments that only serve to feed them. A punching bag to let out your anger is a much better investment than your ex, as it won’t punch you back. Be smart! Have healthy outlets for your emotions, from a therapist, to an objective friend who can listen and help you process them, to activities that aide in releasing them.
With acceptance of yourself and your ex, no matter where you are in the divorce process, comes the invitation to live your life on your own terms, and to give him or her the freedom to do the same. In such a place of self-empowerment and surrender of what and who you cannot control, new life begins.
YOU can do it! In fact, nothing or no one else can. So, why wait? Put your best self in the driver’s seat, and be for yourself the attributes you want to be reflected in your divorce agreement.