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Guilt be Gone: How to Rid Yourself of Prolonged Guilt in 6 Easy Steps

Did you ever wonder if it is possible to live a guilt free life?

Perhaps you have wondered if it is even moral to give up the guilt. After all, guilt has become so embedded in our Judeo-Christian culture that we almost take guilt for granted as an essential indicator of a “good person.”

So at the risk of sounding like a heretic, I wanted to take guilt on this week and wonder what it would be like to live without it. To wonder whether it is still possible to live a moral and ethical life without the burden of guilt. Feel free, of course to share your thoughts at the end of this article.

So let’s begin with understanding what guilt is.

One accepted definition is:

A bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong (i.e. compromised one’s own standard of conduct or violated a moral standard).

Guilt

On its face, a brief experience with a guilty feeling may actually be really helpful. Based upon the definition above, the bad feeling that arises can actually serve as a red flag of sorts to let us know that there is a reason to pause and pay attention. Perhaps we inadvertently acted in a way that hurt someone or acted upon a lapse in judgment that violated one of those moral codes. We are human, so things happen and the bad feeling that arises is like an internal mechanism that helps us to return to a state of awareness about what has happened.

The problems with guilt come in when we linger in it for hours, days, weeks, months, and dare I say even years! 

PROBLEM #1:  The first problem with prolonged guilt is that it activates our internal stress response and from a state of feeling perpetually stressed, we become compromised physically and mentally. In short, it is a waste of energy – energy that drains away from a host of other more productive and enjoyable endeavors in order to maintain this state of feeling badly.

PROBLEM #2:  The second problem I have with guilt is that sometimes we expend all this energy feeling guilty for something that did not really happen or did not actually have the negative consequences we believed it to have. Notice the definition includes things we ‘think’ we did wrong. The truth is that many times, we are wrong!  How many of us have spent days feeling guilty about doing something that we thought hurt someone only to find out later that they were never really bothered by it! Guilt without cause is certainly a waste of energy.  It is much more productive to check things out rather than to mire in guilty feelings.

PROBLEM #3:  The third problem I have with guilt is that we usually assume that if our actions or words hurt someone or caused discomfort that we are supposed to feel guilty. After all, it is wrong to hurt another person, right?  The truth is that sometimes the hurt and discomfort are essential parts of the growing process.  In fact, it is not only normal but essential to pass through periods of discomfort in order to make a change or grow in a new way. This kind of hurt does not require guilt at all because allowing someone to experience discomfort may be the most loving action you can take.

PROBLEM #4:  The fourth and biggest problem I have with prolonged guilt is the fact that it serves as a cop-out from taking productive, restorative action. It is much easier to ‘feel guilty’ about something and believe that you deserve some absolution because you are accepting the personal beating of the guilty feeling than to step up and take action to make amends or set things right if it is possible.  It is a very short road from guilt to shame and once we feel the shame, we can be stuck for a long time and then never really take action to right the situation.

So here are some easy to follow steps to rid yourself of guilt once and for all.

STEP 1:  As soon as you feel that pang of a guilty feeling, welcome it and thank the feeling for alerting you to something important that requires your attention.

STEP 2:  Be gentle with yourself and remind yourself that to err is human and that if you did make a mistake or hurt someone, this simply makes you human. (It does not make you a horrible person!)

STEP 3:  Have the courage to check out whether you actually did something wrong or hurt someone the way you believe you did. No sense in wallowing in a guilty feeling for something that may never have happened or that was not received as badly as you imagine.

STEP 4:  Apologize or do what you can to make amends. That’s all you can do and it IS enough. No matter what you did, prolonged guilt will not change it, but stepping up to sincerely apologize or make amends can radically alter things.

STEP 5:  Pause and see what lesson you can take from this experience. The truth is that any time spent feeling guilty is a total waste of time if you do not spend some of it reflecting on what you learned or what you want to do differently the next time.

STEP 6:  Let it go. Do not make your release of guilt contingent upon someone else’s acceptance of your apology. Some people accept apologies easily and others do not, and this is something you cannot change. Apologize, make amends, learn the important lesson, and let it go because much more will be lost if you resign yourself to living in a state of guilt.

So, no matter how big or how small the feeling of guilt or the source of the guilt may seem, there is no benefit to holding onto it for a prolonged period of time. Let the feeling help make you aware of what has happened, and then follow the steps above and let it go.


Adina T. Laver, MBA, M.Ed., CPC, is a Consciousness Coach who specializes in helping people develop consciousness mastery so they can achieve the goals and life they want. Adina is the founder of two companies, Divorce Essentials which specializes in working with individuals and couples who are considering or navigating divorce to have a healthy experience and Courage to be Curious, a company dedicated to cultivating consciousness mastery for those who are committed to the path of self-awareness in all matters of life, love and leadership.  

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hire a divorce lawyer

4 Critical Things to Know Before You Hire a Divorce Lawyer

Choosing who will represent you in your divorce is a big decision. While it makes sense to ask people you know for recommendations or even to engage the ‘free’ services of a friend of family member to help you, here are 4 critical things you should know before you hire a divorce lawyer:

What kind of support is best suited for your case. Not every divorce is handled by an attorney litigator. Many people are unaware that there are divorce mediators, collaborative attorneys as well as litigators. Some mediators are attorneys and others are not. With a number of options available, the first important thing to understand is what kind of representation or support is best suited for your situation.

Who your partner’s attorney is if they have already hired one. One of the most significant wastes hire a divorce lawyerof money in divorce is spending money on attorneys who have a track record of battling it out rather than finding ways to help a couple settle. While it may feel counter-intuitive to hire two separate lawyers who know each other and have a track record of working with one another, this can actually be one of the best things you do for your case. The healthiest thing for any couple and family is a quick and fair settlement so hiring attorneys who can help you achieve this while protecting your personal rights is a smart choice.

Who you really need on your team. One of the biggest misconceptions that people have is that their attorney can help them with every part of their divorce. They bring all their issues – legal, emotional and financial directly to their lawyer. Your lawyer is your legal expert only and there are other professionals such as certified divorce financial planners, divorce coaches and therapists who can help you address other issues more effectively and in a more cost efficient way.

The family court culture in your county. One of the most overlooked factors in hiring an attorney is how well they are recognized and known within the family court system in which they will be operating. While hiring the top rated attorney can feel like great protection, if they are unknown or not well regarded within your local court system, you may be at a disadvantage. 

Deciding how you will divorce and who will represent you is a critical decision that can have significant financial and emotional ramifications. It is important to make this decision thoughtfully before you hire a divorce lawyer.

 

For a complete step-by-step guide to hiring an attorney and navigating your divorce, visit www.divorcecompanion.com.

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Adina Laver is the founder of Divorce Essentials™ and author of the Divorce Companion™ a multi-media step-by-step guide to navigating divorce.  The Divorce Companion™ is the only resource of its kind that provides guidance and decision making tools for every aspect of the divorce process, including determining whether divorce is the next step.

Adina also provides limited one-on-one coaching support for those who recognize that divorce is a sign that life has gotten off track and are aching to finding happiness again – or perhaps for the first time ever.

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Talking to your partner about divorce

Talking to Your Partner About Divorce – 5 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Initiating a conversation with your partner about divorce is one of the most important conversations you will ever have. Not only is this typically an emotionally charged time, but the way in which you navigate this conversation often sets the tone for the rest of the divorce process. Given the significance of this moment, here are 5 mistakes you don’t want to make when talking to your partner about divorce:


Talking to your partner about divorceDon’t spring the news on your partner in the middle of a heated argument.
While it makes sense that one person may reach the breaking point during an argument, holding your tongue and waiting until things have cooled down to raise the topic of divorce can help prevent a snowball effect of anger and emotionally driven reactive behaviors.

Don’t hope or expect that your partner will make the process easy. Many people hold off having the conversation about divorce much too long because they are waiting for their reluctant partner to come around and see how parting will really be better for both of them. The truth is that if one person does not what the relationship to end (for whatever reason), they are not going to give permission or make things easy. Stepping forward with a clear, concise and definitive message is the most compassionate way to share the news.

Do not try to be the one to comfort your partner when you talk about divorce. No one likes to hurt someone else’s feelings, but if you have just shared with your partner that you want a divorce, you cannot be the one to then try and comfort them. Leaning in to try and help your partner feel better is very confusing and this is a role best served by a friend, family member, coach or counselor.

Don’t plan to share the news in a public space. While it may feel easier for you to share the news in a public place where your partner is likely to not express their genuine response, this can make for a very uncomfortable situation all around. Your partner needs a safe space to have their reaction and placing them in a public situation can be humiliating and unnecessarily challenging. (Note: this applies as long as you are not at a threat for physical abuse.)

Do not tell friends and family members before you tell your spouse.  Receiving the news that your spouse wants a divorce is difficult enough, you do not want to run the risk that they may hear it from someone else before they hear it from you. A spouse who feels like they are ‘the last to know’ is much more likely to become contentious and adversarial in the divorce process.

The way in which you conduct yourself while talking to your partner about divorce will communicate a lot about who you are and will have a significant impact on how each of the next steps will unfold.

For additional support in planning this conversation, please check out the Divorce Companion: A Step by Step Guide to Your Healthy  Divorce.

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Adina Laver is the founder of Divorce Essentials™ and author of the Divorce Companion™ a multi-media step-by-step guide to navigating divorce.  The Divorce Companion™ is the only resource of its kind that provides guidance and decision making tools for every aspect of the divorce process, including determining whether divorce is the next step.

Adina also provides limited one-on-one coaching support for those who recognize that divorce is a sign that life has gotten off track and are aching to finding happiness again – or perhaps for the first time ever.

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Live with uncertainty

How to Live with Uncertainty

On Labor Day, I participated in a Yoga Mala (offered each September as part of National Yoga Awareness Month). On a technical level, Yoga Mala is comprised of 108 Sun Salutation sequences practiced in 9 sets of 12. In terms of my personal experience, it was a reminder that detaching from the outcome is essential when traveling a path that is long and challenging. It was a reminder of how to live with uncertainty.Live with uncertainty

 

For a bit of background… While I have a 16+ year-old yoga practice, my practice has been largely self-developed with limited videos at home. It is only in the past six months that I have begun attending a studio that has expanded my practice and understanding of yoga and breath in new ways. About eight weeks ago, I attended a class where we performed 27 of these Sun Salutation sequences. It was rigorous and inspiring. When we were finished, the instructor invited us to participate in the Yoga Mala, which would be 4x what we had just completed. We looked at each other wondering how that would be possible.

 

On the morning of the Mala I arrived eager and a bit anxious. I am always up for a physical challenge, and this is where I was focused when I arrived… getting my body through this experience. I performed the first two sets of 27 salutations relying upon my body’s strength; very determined to get to the end.

 

In the break after the second set, it was time for a deep dialogue with self. My arms were already buckling with weakness and I was only half way through. My head started to fill with anxious thoughts about how I would get to the end….whether I was strong enough. I worried…How I would look if I didn’t? How I would feel about myself? What if I couldn’t make it? I didn’t want to not make it.

 

Then I called myself to center (thanks to my inner coach!). My anxiety was coming from my ego. I was attached to a certain outcome – completing and looking powerful. Anxiety arose when my body’s fatigue began calling this into question. And this is when I made a significant shift…

 

I was on a journey. The path and even the outcome of this journey were uncertain. It was time to let go of what I ‘hoped’ would happen and focus myself on being present. I adjusted my intention to focus on the Mala as practice and not an outcome. I then reoriented my focus to my breath and to the current movement of the body. One breath and one pose at a time. Breath, movement, pose….breath, movement, pose. As my arms weakened, I made adjustments grounded in self-love and compassion. The Sun Salutation pose itself is a physical expression of humble adoration of the self.

 

By shifting from a future focus and staying completely present to each moment, I not only made it to the end, but I was surprised how much more quickly and easily the second half seemed to unfold than the first. So how can we live with uncertainty? Here is my offering…

Adore oneself while taking one step at a time without attachment

to wanting or striving.

How to live with uncertainty:

Adore oneself. Many of us find it easy to be loving and compassionate to others, but are exceedingly hard on ourselves. Much of the time, we would never bestow upon anyone else the judgment and criticism that we bestow upon ourselves. Making a commitment to loving and being compassionate with oneself is essential for the journey.

Let go of wanting and striving. Looking ahead has it place. Having some idea where you intend to go helps to design the first step on the path. What I have come to realize is that it is much more effective to focus on an intention rather than a specific outcome. The more tightly we grasp to the specifics of an outcome, the more likely we are to feel anxious when something arises that may call this particular outcome into question.. There are always multiple or infinite possible outcomes. When we get attached to one, we can overlook many others that could be equally good or better. I have found that adopting a stance of curiosity and openness about how things unfold to be much more helpful.

Take one step at a time. The paradox is that we are a species (humans) that clings to certainty but exists in an every-changing world. Nothing is certain and nothing stays the same. The past has happened and we cannot control the future. The only thing truly within our control is our choices and actions in the present moment. When things are uncertain, the healthiest path forward is to focus on one next step and trust that the outcome of this step will guide the choice about the next step to take.

 

From this month’s featured teacher:

“Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality… Our suffering is based so much on our fear of impermanence… Everything that ends is also the beginning of something else. The point isn’t to cultivate one thing as opposed to another, but to relate properly to where we are.”

~Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

 

Additional resource on how to live with uncertainty:

Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields

 

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Adina Laver is the author of the Divorce Companion™ and founder of Divorce Essentials™, a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Ala Carte Session or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

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What’s Hidden in Your Closet?

For a long time, the phrase “coming out of the closet” referred only to those who were revealing a new sexual orientation. In reality, we are all have something hidden in the closet, and this closed door is squashing our authenticity and potential.

 

closetMy talented and valued videographer & audiographer, Helyx Chase (www.midnightmediacoup.com) recently forwarded the following Ted Talk to me – well before she knew how much I love listening to Ted Talks and aspire to give one some day! And when I do give one, it will certainly build on this theme shared by Ash Beckham, “We’re all hiding something. Let’s find the courage to open up.”

 

In this segment, Ash talks about the fact that each of us has part(s) of ourselves that we have likely kept hidden in the closet or silenced for a long time. Sometimes we know exactly what this thing is and sometimes we only recognize it as a nagging feeling that something in our life feels off or should be different.  I am not sure which is more painful, knowing the part of yourself that you are silencing because there is a fear about what will happen if it is revealed, or knowing that something is off but not being able to articulate what it is.

 

Having fallen into the second category myself, I know how frustrating that was, but the worst consequence of either situation is the fact as long as part of us is stuck in the closet, we can never live our full lives, experience true and unbridled happiness, and discover the amazing gifts we have to contribute.

Divorce Can Be a Key to Opening the Closet

As a Divorce & Relationship coach, I receive calls daily from people who are at the crossroads of considering, pursuing, or facing divorce and know deeply that something has not been right for a long time – just as I was. Those who are honest with themselves recognize that ‘what has not been working’ is only in part the fault of a partner or a bum situation. The other part relates to something inside themselves that really needs to change. They suddenly find themselves with their nose up against the door faced with the choice as to whether or not to finally open up the door.

 

WOW! That is scary.

 

There is a reason why we have kept the closet door closed for so long.

 

We have very powerful stories – convincing beyond a doubt – that opening up the door will absolutely unleash disaster.

 

So why should we?

 

A truly inspiring women, Marianne Williamson, offers us this perspective… “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. …We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. …As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

 

What do we really fear? Perhaps the possibility that what has been hidden in the closet is actually the source of our inner light.

 

What if our light is unleashed? Will we know what to do with it?

What if our light is unleashed? Will we like what it illuminates?

What if our light is unleashed? Will we be fully received in the world?

 

We believe there is a great deal to fear in unleashing what is hidden in our closet.  What has motivated me to make some of the biggest changes in my personal and professional life was the fear of never knowing what would happen if my light was free to shine.

 

If you have reached the crossroad of considering, pursuing or facing divorce, and you are tired of expending your energy to keep the closet door shut, contact me. Let’s talk about how facing the fears and unleashing your light can positively impact your divorce experience and change your life – because as Ash Beckham says, “A closet is no place for a person to truly live.”

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Divorce Essentials, founded by Divorce Coach Adina Laver, is a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

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Vow to Shed the Shackles of the Past

For this final day of February, a month that I have dedicated to articles about self-love, I have a beautiful gift to share with you. A fellow traveler on this journey to live an authentic and fulfilled life shared a writing with me. It articulates her commitment to release herself from the shackles of a past that have been keeping her from fully honoring herself and living her authentic life. I was so moved and inspired by what she wrote that I asked her permission to share it with you.

Please join me in honoring Christine commitment to pursue authenticity and wholeness both by reading her writing and by taking some time to draft one of your own. What are you ready to let go of so you can live with a sense of wholeness?

As always, I invite you to e-mail me or post your response on my blog.

Adina

 

I Vow…

Today, in the predawn hours of my 48th year, I vow that I shall no longer fear the sound of my own voice; the depth, texture and contours of my own boundaries; the boundless capacity of my own love…

 

I vow that I shall never again, not for one moment, entertain the notion that I am not good enough, not worthy, not wise or bright enough…that I am not loved enough to have the most extraordinary things happen to me…

 

I vow to shed, once and for all, any and all patterns, beliefs–and any outdated, constraining values that keep me living small…

 

I vow to never again fear the cunning, manipulative ways of those living at the lowest vibratory, survivalist levels–for my strength, my hope and my beautiful future is rooted in my high vibratory state…

 

I vow to never again say yes when I mean no; maybe when I mean never, fine when I mean–absolutely not.

 

The first steps I take today, upon bringing my feet to the floor shall be with the strength & firmness of a growing resolve now turned conviction–a conviction that the path I walk is now mine…I own every footstep, every decision to turn left when most would urge right; I own every detour, every pause for rest, every decision that would have me forge forward when the path feels black with dark, hazy with fog, rocky with debris.

 

I was born into this world 48 years ago, naked body, naked Soul…a wise, fully evolved mind that blazed with the knowingness of why it is I came here and what I needed to do…I arrived with “Anahata”–the purest of un-struck hearts–a vast, open heart…eager and ready to give and receive love in ways that would free others to love more deeply and more completely…

 

Somehow, the years ahead would set me into a long period of forgetting…

 

This morning, in the predawn hours of my 48th birthday, I choose to be open to a full remembrance of who I am…

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Divorce Essentials, founded by Divorce Coach Adina Laver, is a specialized divorce coaching and support service for those who are considering, in the midst of, or post-divorce and are committed to a healthy path for reclaiming their lives.

 

If you are contemplating a divorce but are stuck or if you are in the throes of making key decisions for your future but need guidance, reach out to Adina. Whether you coach together for one Let’s Get Real Mini Session, or coach for a full Personal Empowerment Breakthrough, Adina is ready to help you navigate through uncertainty so you can create a happier and healthier future!

 

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