Tag Archives: healthy divorce

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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Negotiating with Power

The Key to Negotiating with Power About Money

I recently had the great privilege of interviewing Maggie Baker, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Crazy About Money.  Our call, entitled Negotiating with Power (part of a series on Preparing for Divorce), dove in deep to explore how our personal money stories affect our negotiating power and our lives. Whether you are creating a divorce settlement agreement, negotiating a salary increase, bargaining for a new house, or navigating money conversations with your spouse, understanding your money script is critical to gaining strength and confidence.

What is a ‘Money Script?’

Simply put, your ‘Money Script’ is your money story – what your mind tells you at the subconscious level about what money symbolizes for you. These stories begin developing early in life at home. Regardless of how much money you had growing up, your script was informed Negotiating with Powerby the ways in which people around you interacted with and related to money. If you lived in the ‘land of lack,’ where people always perceived there was not enough, this affected the story you created around money. If you lived in an environment where money was a means of control, then this affected your story around money. For a quick example:  If you grew up in an environment of ‘lack,’ while you may want to have more money, your fear around not having enough may cause you to make choices around money that perpetuate powerlessness rather than strength. No matter how much money someone has, everyone has a money script because everyone interacts with money. Understanding what story your mind tells you about money is critical to developing a relationship with money that is aligned with what you most want and with your ability to negotiate with power.

Negotiating with power is all about knowing your ‘Money Script’

Whether you are negotiating a divorce settlement agreement, a raise at work, or with your child who is requesting spending, money, your money script is going to kick in and impact how you negotiate. If you related to money as a source of power, then you will assume that the person in the negotiation that has more money is more powerful. If you associate money with love or approval, you may feel personally disregarded or slighted in a negotiation for money. If you believe that money is correlated to hard work, you may feel that you need to prove yourself as having worked long hours in order to negotiate. I think you get the idea. The fascinating thing is that we always assume that the person on the other side of the negotiating table thinks about money in the same way as we do when most of the time, this is not true! People often lose power in negotiation because they are so stuck in their own money story that they don’t attend to the money story of the person on the other side of the negotiation – and this is the point of view that really matters!

4 Steps to figuring out your ‘Money Script’

So if you want to negotiate from a place of power, you need to figure out your own money script. Here is a step by step process:

– Study your money habits

Get a journal or use your phone and begin keeping track of how you spend your money for 30 days. There are great apps for your phone to help you do this. Mint.com offers one. You must write everything down since our mind will trick us if we rely on memory alone.

Use the same journal and keep track of what you consciously chose not to spend your money on. What did you forego because “it felt like too much money” or “not the right time?”

Finally, listen to the language you use when you talk about money. Do you talk about ‘not enough?’ Do you talk about ‘needing to be careful?’ Do you ‘not care’ about money? Do you ‘not know how to manage it?’ Do you ‘feel overwhelmed by it?’

– Analyze your money habits

Once you have the data collected above, sit down alone or preferably with a friend, family member, counselor or coach and review. What patterns do you notice? What seems curious to you? To the other person? Seek to understand the reasons behind your expenditures and your non-expenditures.

– Link your habits to your upbringing

Now think about where these patterns and habits may have come from. How do they relate to your family of origin? How do they connect to any significant life events that have occurred? How have they been supported by the language people in your family used around money?

– Name your story

Once you have completed steps #1-3, you are ready to write your money story. It can be one paragraph to one page. It describes what you believe about money, the choices you make around money, and how those choices have served you and not served you over time. And I do realize that this can be difficult, so for additional support, I highly recommend Maggie Baker, Ph.D.’s book, Crazy About Money for language that will help you understand and interpret your money script.

Negotiating with Power

By now, it is probably clear that in order to negotiate with power, you need to (a) know how you think about money and (b) understand the basics of how the person you are negotiating with thinks about money.  People leave evidence all over the place if we choose to pay attention so it is not always as difficult as it may seem. And if you are negotiating with your spouse or child, you likely already have all the information you need to understand their money story. Once you do, then negotiating with power is all about languaging your position to help the other see how there is a win-win available in which both sides can obtain a good deal of what is most important to them.

Conclusion

The biggest reason why we lose power in negotiations is that we operate from inside our own heads which are filled with fear, anxiety and anger and don’t pay enough attention as to how the person on the other side is thinking. Get out of your own head or get the support of someone who will not get wrapped up in the fear, anxiety or anger who can help you find your place of strength and clarity.

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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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having an amicable divorce

The Imperative of Having an Amicable Divorce

having an amicable divorceThis week I am reminded why Divorce Essentials and the Divorce CompanionTM exist – because having an amicable divorce is an imperative.

 

I recently got a call from a client who was shedding desperate tears after a judge was so harsh on her and her attorneys that she left the courtroom feeling completely disempowered and helpless. In debriefing with my client, there was a palpable sense of victimization, as though the process had truly broken down and there was nothing she could do to improve her situation.

 

This sense of disempowerment is exactly the experience that Divorce Essentials and Divorce CompanionTM are designed to alleviate. And this is an imperative…

 

 

At a time when family structures change so frequently, placing critical decisions that affect the health and welfare of parents and children in the hands of an overworked and under-resourced court system leaves everyone more broken than whole.

 

The reason why divorce cases end up in court is because parties cannot resolve issues on their own. Sometimes this is because one partner has been more powerful in the marriage and the other is afraid. Sometimes this is because there is anger and people are looking to the divorce process to punish their partner or provide restitution for pain and suffering. Sometimes couples use the court system because they think it is the best way to get a fair ruling.

 

The truth is that marriage and family is the most intimate aspect of anyone’s life and there is no way that a legal system can possibly bring satisfactory resolution to issues in this area. Let’s face it, having 10, 20 or 30 years of marriage and all that has meant placed on one side of the scale against the bank account, furniture, and 401k can be one of the most painful and demoralizing experiences one can have. How do you place value on having cared for someone when they were sick or the efforts and sacrifices made to support a family? No, there is a no way a legal system can offer the penetrating resolution that most couples are looking for.

 

What we do know, however, is that when a case ends up in a courtroom, partners give up control over their destiny and they end up spending a lot more money to become unmarried.

 

And this is why I created Divorce Essentials and the Divorce CompanionTM. There has to be a better way. As Albert Einstein said, “You cannot resolve a problem with the same mindset that created it.” Taking the anger that has erupted during the breakdown of the marriage and fueling it with the adversarial nature of family court, can only make the problem worse. It can seem enticing to turn the problem over to someone else, but to hope that a court system with few resources and little time will accomplish what a couple could not do on their own – a fair settlement that truly honors the best interests of the children and empowers both partners to move on with their lives – makes no sense at all.

 

What this means is that the burden of achieving a non-adversarial outcome in divorce is – where it rightly belongs – on the couple who chose to marry. While this may seem like an impossible task… How can two people who have been arguing and making each other feel badly achieve this?… It is not.

 

The way to achieve the seemingly impossible is by reaching for the appropriate support. Every couple who has ever achieved the amicable divorce, succeeded in doing so because they (a) made the choice to achieve it and (b) found the resources and support they needed. This is how my husband and I did it and how every couple who has ever achieved this got there.

 

There is nothing easy about it. Divorce is one of the most difficult life transitions that there is, and yet, it is possible to do it well. Like raising a child, it takes a village of personal and professional support. And it takes the right kind of support. It takes the support of people who are deeply committed to helping you find a healthy path to a positive future. Your team may include a coach, an attorney, a mediator, a therapist, a clergy person, your best friend, a realtor, a coworker… But the team members that will get you there are the ones that push you to show up as your best self, not the ones who fuel the flames of anger and fear. And YOU are responsible for determining WHO is on your team.

 

Here are some questions to help you find your way:

 

If you are considering divorce, ask yourself this question, “What do I most need right now to help me get unstuck and take deliberate and intentional steps in a healthy direction?”

 

If you are building your divorce support team (legal, emotional, financial), ask yourself, “What are the qualities of the professionals, friends and family members who will help me achieve what I most want?”

 

If you are navigating divorce, as yourself, “How am I showing up to this divorce process? What do I need to do to be a person I feel proud of in this process?

 

And if you are truly committed to staying out of court and allowing this process to become a reflection of your BEST self rather than you WORST self, we are here to support you.

  • If you are considering or just beginning to pursue divorce, check out the Divorce CompanionTM – the most comprehensive resource available to support a healthy divorce process.
  • If you are anywhere in the divorce process and are committed to a deliberate and mindful process and would like support in achieving this, let’s chat.

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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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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.

____________________________________________________________

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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Respect, Responsibility & Resilience

3 R’s of Parenting: Respect, Responsibility & Resilience

It is fairly universal that parents want their kids to be happy and healthy, respect themselves and others, take responsibility for themselves and follow through on commitments, and demonstrate resilience. We want these things for our kids, and even if life presented NO extenuating challenges, it would be a monumental challenge. Throw in doses of reality such as health issues, divorce, learning differences, job loss, (this list could go on and on), and the task seems downright daunting.Respect, Responsibility & Resilience

 

Raising children we love to embody these qualities without living a life of stress and guilt demands that we pursue a mindful and intentional approach to our most important responsibility of parenting.

 

I recently reviewed a newly released book, Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You Hate by Deborah Gilboa, MD. Gilboa’s book is organized around the three R’s: Respect, Responsibility and Resilience – what these things really mean and what they look like in the parent-child relationship (ages birth – 12) – and concludes with a section on how to actually make change happen in your house.

 

Giboa’s book does not focus at all on divorce, AND here is what I like about it for all families, including those who are going through a divorce… Gilboa is clear about one critical idea… What kids need most is for their parents to be the parents. Guilt and shame we feel at different times are never really useful when making parenting decisions, and they are even less helpful during transitions such as divorce when our kids desperately need us to be clear and to create a safe and stable environment.

So, here is a sampling of some of Gilboa’s wisdom. I invite you to think about how it applies to your family dynamic as you read.

 

Respect, Responsibility & Resilience

 

RESPECT

According to Gilboa, respect is the ability to recognize someone’s (your own or another’s) worth and excellence and communicate it. She asserts, how we treat ourselves and others is the most important concept we can teach our children. Why? Here is some of what she has to say:

  1. Self-esteem is built on self-respect. When children learn to take care of themselves – their bodies, personality and needs, then they know they deserve to be treated well.
  2. Self-respect gives children the ability to walk away from disrespect such as negative peer pressure and abusive relationships.
  3. Showing respect is a skill that takes time to learn. While it is easy for kids (and us) to detect when we feel respected, learning to respect someone else requires some explicit guidance.
  4. When kids are taught to demonstrate respect to their parents and the adults around them, they place greater value on those relationships and learn more from them.

 

Most of us have been guilty of lowering our “respect” standard at one point or another, particularly when we feel that our kids are stressed or are going through something difficult. We do things for them rather than expecting them to do them for themselves and we accept more disrespect than we would like. While there are no universal answers, Gilboa challenges us to think about what we are trying to achieve as parent in long-term terms rather than short-term terms. What are we teaching through the choices we are making?

 

RESPONSIBILITY

Responsibility, Gilboa says, is about learning to be reliable, dependable, and to meet your obligations. Children [do] Learn What They Live and teaching them to be responsible is one of the keys not only to their success but also to their happiness. Why? Because the ability to be responsible coupled with initiative to grab opportunities is how we achieve our dreams. In other words, when children learn how to be reliable, dependable and meet their obligations, then they learn to trust themselves in all kinds of situations. They learn how to follow things through from beginning to end, they learn how to show up in uncomfortable situations, and they learn how to gain the trust of others.

 

Children of divorce often have to take on more responsibilities in single-parent homes. As parents, it is easy to feel guilty about this because we are ‘making our kids’ lives more difficult.’ Shifting the perspective a bit, we can look at a change of life or a new situation as an opportunity for kids to take on new responsibilities and develop additional confidence. Perhaps the change is enabling them to discover how much they have to contribute to the home. They may not always enjoy it, but what is the long-term gain of learning to be reliable and dependable at an early age?

 

RESILIENCE

Resilience means learning how to handle life when nothing goes as planned. Every challenge our children face is a chance to learn resilience. If we think about it, “making it perfect” is much more about our trying to prove our worth (personally guilty here!) than it is about what our kids’ needs or what is best for them. How we react when things do not go as planned, is far more valuable a life lesson than how to make things turn out ‘just right.’

 

Divorce, of course, (I couldn’t resist), like many other life challenges, is a suitable time to cultivate resilience. While we acknowledge that as parents

  • we love our kids and want what is best for them,
  • we have a primary responsibility to protect our children from harm, and
  • we (all) burden ourselves with a degree of guilt (for working too many hours, not working enough, being too easy, being too hard, buying too many things, not being able to afford to buy enough ….and so on and so on),

 

when is it really necessary or important for us to step in and protect our children from emotional or physical discomfort and when is it better to step back?

 

Gilboa provides a standard: Is it life-threatening or is there true physical or emotional danger? If the event ends badly, is there something valuable that could be learned? Let’s consider…

 

  • When do we step in to make things easier out of a sense of guilt?
  • When do we step in and solve a problem because we want to spare our child discomfort?
  • When do we jump in to save the day so that our child will be spared the consequences of their own failure to act responsibly?
  • When do we step in and fix things because it makes us feel relevant?

 

What would really happen if we didn’t?

 

This is the journey of parenting. How do we figure it out? Every child is unique and every parent is unique. In Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent You Hate, Gilboa offers practical advice to provoke our thinking about how to raise children in an intentional and conscious way.

 

Another valuable resource, specifically for parents going through divorce or navigating on the other side of divorce is Parenting Apart: How Separated and Divorce Parents Can Raise Happy and Secure Kids by Christina McGhee. Parenting Apart offers effective ways to minimize the effects of divorce on children, and offers immediate solutions to the most critical parenting problems divorce brings.

 

Christina McGhee will be my guest on the upcoming FREE support call I host each month: Preparing for Divorce. Join us on October 15th from 12:10 – 1:00 pm EST as we discuss: What Your Child Really Needs. You can register here.

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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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Get a Divorce

Stay Married or Get a Divorce

As a Divorce and Relationship Coach, many of the calls I get are from people who are stuck, trying to decide if they should stay married or get a divorce. All relationships hit bumps in the road, so how do you know if what you’ve encountered is a speed bump designed to get you to slow down and pay more attention or a road closure that means it is time to go in a new direction?

 

I have been doing some research on this question since it is so pertinent for many of my clients and consults. This is not as much a question about marriage as it is about how to make a hard choice.Get a Divorce

 

As part of my research, I watched Ruth Chang’s Ted Talk on How to Make Hard Choices.

Ruth offers a perspective that I have found consistent with my experience in coaching people who are grappling with this hard choice. She illustrates the fact that what often makes a choice between two options so difficult is that there is no clear better choice. For example, As Ruth explains, (and I am choosing a very simplistic example here to make the point), if my choice is between a doughnut for breakfast and a high fiber cereal and I place very high value on my health, the choice is easy. If, however, I equally care about taste and health, even this insignificant choice can become difficult. Applying each interest leads to a different outcome, potentially leaving me at a stalemate. I could make the cereal healthier by adding flaxseeds or the doughnut better tasking by adding a filling, and none of this would change my dilemma. There is still no clear better choice since I still equally care about health and taste.

 

Now lets apply this to the marriage situation. Let’s assume I value seeing my kids everyday (which I get to do if I stay married). I value being happy (which I am not feeling in my marriage). I value security (which I perceive I will have if I stay married). I love my home (which I will probably lose if I get divorced). Even if we could attribute numeric value amounts to all of these choices (which we can’t), the pull between the happiness and the other factors would still feel unresolvable.

 

Additionally, there is also the problem of uncertainty. How do I know if I will be happier if I get divorced? How will I know there is true security if I stay married? How do I know if my partner may change and things will improve? Or get worse? What if this is a speed bump and not a road closure and I misread the sign? What we default to, Chang suggests, is to thinking that there really is one right choice and that we, because of some personal failing or inadequacy, are just incapable of figuring it out. Since we could be wrong, many people take the safer route or choose the status quo for fear of making a big mistake.

 

But what if it is our approach that is faulty, not our intelligence or decision-making capabilities? What if we assume a new stance in looking at the situation?

 

Difficult decisions are not a test of how smart or wise you are but rather an opportunity to actively write the story of your life. Difficult decisions, Chang suggests, serve as forks in the road that enable us to look back at the path we have traveled, recognize that there are options for moving forward, and then take an active role in choosing who we want to be. In choosing, we can stand FOR something and declare, “This is who I am.” If we don’t actively choose, we become drifters and allow the world to dictate the unfolding of our life.

 

In my personal experience, once I discovered I was gay, the initial question became whether or not to stay married until the kids were done high school. There might have been a long list of pros and cons. However, I didn’t stay with this question very long. Rather, I asked myself what do I want my kids to learn from the choice that is in front of me at this moment. I was FOR my kids confidently choosing to pursue their authentic lives, so I knew it was time for me to pursue mine.

 

Let’s assume now that you totally get this, but you are now struggling with one of the following questions:

  • What if I am not sure what I stand for?
  • What if I am not exactly sure who I am?
  • What if I don’t know if I can be who I am in the context of this marriage?

 

If these are your questions, then you have just identified your next step. In working with both individuals and couples, I have found that many of us have ‘drifted’ a lot, allowing the current of life to carry us along. Even if we wanted to have an honest conversation with our partner about what we want (to see if we could pursue it together), we stay stuck because we are not sure what to say or how to say it.

 

So,

  • If you are considering divorce because you are unhappy but you don’t really know what will make you happy, OR
  • You are staying put because you do not really know who you are and can’t imagine who you would be if you were not married, OR
  • You know who you are and what you want but you have not been able to talk about it with your partner in a meaningful or effective way

 

…then your next step is to get support in figuring these things out. Your primary question is not whether you should stay married or get a divorce, it is who am I and what does it mean to be me?

 

These questions are the essence of my work and life purpose – to inspire and encourage people to act courageously and live authentically – and I have found that pursuing them wholeheartedly makes all the difference.

 

What makes difficult choices so difficult is the fact that we are often operating without the key information we need to make the decision. Once we become clearer about who we are and what it means to live in alignment with our truth, the next steps become clearer and easier to pursue. When you are ready to jump in to figure these things out, contact me. I look forward to journeying with you.

______________________________________________

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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Mind Full of Mines

A Mind Full of Mines

Two nights ago I gave a presentation to a group of attorneys and judges on Understanding the Divorcing Mind. Yes, I finally took my neuroscience fascination for a public speaking spin!

 

One of the images I had on my PPT presentation was of a man walking blindfolded through a minefield. This, I shared with the audience, is what it is often like for both attorney and client during the consult and throughout the divorce process. Two people walking blindfolded through a mind full of mines, fearing and experiencing explosion after explosion with no idea how quickly they will land on safe ground.

 

Well, you don’t have to be going through a divorce to experience the sudden detonation of a Mind Full of Minesland mine in the mind. Last night, after an otherwise lovely day, a simple e-mail detonated one of mine and I was overcome with a sadness and sense of vulnerability that was very old and painfully familiar. The author of the e-mail would have no idea that this simple communication would impact me the way it did, but the effect lingers with me, even fueling the writing of this article.

 

Each of us (simply because we are human) has a childhood and lifetime of vulnerabilities and fears that stem from our experience of being in this world. For most people, our deepest pains stem from events that happened within the first 8-10 years of our lives when the neural structure of our brain was first being shaped. Seemingly small things like the way someone reacted when we showed emotion or the jokes people made when we struggled with something new, all created an imprint in the brain that shaped how we experience the world. Of course traumas that occurred at older ages also have a powerful impact.

 

The thing is that once this memory and the visceral experience of this memory are embedded in our brain, it can be re-triggered at any time. Last night with this simple e-mail, I was suddenly transported back to a time when I was about 8 years old and felt extremely socially vulnerable. In an instant, I felt like a child again, helpless and rejected.

 

As vulnerable as I feel in sharing this when the experience is still saw raw for me, I bring it forth for a few reasons:

 

  • To encourage self-compassion. Even as I was feeling so badly, my first response was to berate myself for being sucked into the vortex of this old story. I was upset with myself for still feeling so weak and vulnerable to a story that is so old. As I write this now, I am still feeling vulnerable but I am practicing much greater self-compassion and recognizing that it is through our shared experience of vulnerability that we are all linked to one another.

 

  • To encourage us to be mindful in how we care for each other. With an average of 15,000 verbal communications every day and a much larger number of non-verbal communications every day, it is almost daunting to imagine the impact that we can have on others each and every day. EVERY interaction we have with another person has the potential to build their strength or trigger their vulnerability, make them feel valued or make them feel dejected. What is the impact of smiling or not smiling when someone enters the room? What is the impact of sending the quick e-mail reply versus taking the time to be engaged with the communication in a full way? What is the impact of giving someone our full attention or splitting our attention between them and our phone?

 

  • To encourage us to pursue forgiveness and compassion. We all respond differently when we get triggered and feel vulnerable or afraid. We can get angry and volatile, we can get shy and pull away, we can learn to become invisible or learn to preemptively strike out against others as a means of self-protection. By design, human beings are wired to seek connection. Therefore, whenever someone engages in behavior that seemingly breaks down or interferes with connection, it is always because of things rooted inside. Knowing this can perhaps help us pursue forgiveness and compassion with greater openness.

 

  • To encourage the pursuit of self-awareness. As painful as it is to be aware of my childhood story and re-live it, it is much more painful and disorienting to be impacted by the childhood story without awareness of it. It would seem logical that if we don’t want to face the hard stuff of our past, that we can just close ourselves to it and keep on moving. The problem is that the hard stuff affects us with or without our awareness, and it is much more likely to come out in ways that lead to addiction, the breakdown of relationships, self –destructive patterns, and so on when we try to pretend it isn’t there. It is with the awareness that we can assert a conscious and healthy response.

 

From this month’s featured teacher, Pema Chödrön:

 

“When you wake up in the morning and out of nowhere comes the heartache of alienation and loneliness, could you use that as a golden opportunity? Rather than persecuting yourself or feeling like something terribly wrong is happening, right there in the moment of sadness and longing, could you relax and touch the limitless space of the human heart? The next time you get the chance, experiment with this.”  

 

This article is my way of experimenting.

Namaste

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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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Language Creates Reality

Language Creates Reality

On an average day, the average person utters approximately 15-16,000 words.

How conscious are we of the words we choose?

What intention do we bring to selecting them?

What reality do they create?Language Creates Reality

 

While many of us subconsciously believe that we use language to objectively represent reality, the research says otherwise. The research supports the idea that language creates reality. In other words, it is not only true that we are what we eat, but it is also true that we live what we believe.

 

Language has tremendous power of suggestion the more we “suggest” something, the more likely we are to take action that makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Let’s look at some statements I have heard over the past few weeks:
• I can’t do this.
• I don’t know what I want.
• I am not as smart has him.
• She never listens to what I have to say.
• We can’t communicate at all.
• We just can’t agree on anything.
• There is no more trust here.
• I have no idea how to advocate for myself.
• I can never make it on my own.

 

The feelings behind these words are very powerful, but what reality do they invite when repeated again and again?

The truth is, it doesn’t take long to convince ourselves (and others) that we really can’t …., don’t know how to ….., will never be able to ….., aren’t as smart as ….., and so on. The more we state it, the more we believe it, the quicker it becomes reality.

But what if the opposite were also possible? What if language could also create a more positive, hopeful and empowered reality than the one we are currently experiencing?

 

In a 2010 TED Talk, Caroline Casey shares a truly extraordinary experience confirming the absolute power of suggestion in the mind – the way in which language creates reality. (Because I do not want to ruin the impact of this talk, no synopsis, just a “must watch” link.)

 

The scientific research community supports this claim as well. In a 2013, Scientific American article, Your Thoughts Can Release Abilities Beyond Your Normal Limits, you can read about research studies in which outcomes of control groups vs. experimental groups are altered solely based upon the power of suggestion.

 

So, as you are going about your day, navigating what life places in front of you, here are some suggestions for leveraging the power of suggestion to point you in a more positive, empowered and hopeful direction:

 

Adopt the word “yet.”: Whenever someone tells me they do not know the answer to a question or don’t know how to do something, I teach them to include the simple word “yet” at the end of the statement. “I don’t know how to look for a job – yet.” ‘Yet’ definitively suggests that the knowledge or understanding is on its way, rather than completely unavailable.

 

Focus on “what went right”: Virtually every moment of very day gives us the opportunity to choose how to focus our thoughts and attention. Are you upset because it is raining or feeling grateful because you remembered to bring an umbrella? Do you beat yourself up because you burned the dinner or pat yourself on the back because you have a great back up plan – ice cream for dinner at the end of a hot summer day is one of my favorites! Do you panic all the way to work because you spilled coffee on your suit, or walk into your meeting and recognize this as an opportunity to give your stressed-out staff permission to be human and imperfect. Our mind is wired to notice the negative, and we can train it to see the positive.

 

Replace “must,” “have to,” and “need to” with WANT: How many times per day do we walk around saying things like, I have to…., I need to…., I must….. These phrases lock us into narrow places. I accomplish them and I avert disaster or a negative outcome; I do not fully achieve them and I am a failure. Either way, my reality is a narrow place of bordered on one side by temporary and fleeting moments of safety and bordered on the other by failure and demise. When I “want” to do something, it refocuses our thoughts and attention on what there is to gain, opportunities that are available, and what makes us happy.

 

As in Caroline’s story, language alone is not sufficient to create reality, but language coupled with belief is what points the needle of life’s compass in a particular direction. Once the needle is pointing where you want to go, then it is about taking action in that direction.

 

So if you have been standing on the fence about a decision, beating yourself up for failures or falling short, or notice that your mind spends most of its time consumed with the negative, try intentionally shifting a few of those 15,000+ utterances per day in a new direction. And when you are clear about wanting to point the needle in a new direction and take the actions to get there, contact me. I am eager to journey with you to a new reality.

 

__________________________________

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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Mrs Doubtfire

Divorce Wisdom from Mrs Doubtfire

As the world pays tribute to one of Hollywood’s greatest legends, I took the opportunity to re-watch one of Robbin Williams’ most famous films, Mrs Doubtfire.  In addition to all the comedic brilliance that is built into this film, it also contains great wisdom for both divorce and life.

6 Lessons on Divorce from Mrs Doubtfire   Mrs Doubtfire

In the 1993 classic, Mrs Doubtfire, Robbin Williams plays the role of Daniel, an unemployed voice over artist who is viewed by his successful corporate wife, Miranda (played by Sally Field) as irresponsible and incapable of disciplining the kids or keeping order in the house. After a birthday party for their son gets wildly out of hand, she tells Daniel she wants a divorce. They have grown apart and she doesn’t like who she has become while married to him. (Click here for a full synopsis).

 

Both funny and poignant, Mrs Doubtfilre offers six lessons on divorce for couples, friends and family members:

#1 – Divorce is not the end. One of the things the divorced couple is faced with is the realty that divorce is not the end. Just because they don’t live in the same house anymore, doesn’t mean that all the things that drove each one crazy disappeared. Ultimately it is the words and the pain of their children living between two parents who are angry and intolerant that becomes the impetus to begin to do things differently. Especially if there are children, the relationship does not end after divorce.

#2 – Everything transforms in time. I think one of the most important lessons of divorce (and life) is that everything transforms in time. At the first judge’s meeting, Miranda is so angry that she says nothing when the court temporarily awards her full custody with Saturday visitations only because Daniel does not yet have a job or place to live. She stays silent again 3 months later when the court makes the decision to permanently award her sole custody because Daniel, in his desperation impersonated a woman so he could apply for the job as Miranda’s housekeeper and see his kids everyday.  By the end of the movie, however, the couple’s relationship has so transformed that Miranda herself has the court order removed. Things do not stay the same forever. Time and intention have the capacity to transform any situation.

#3 – What kids need most is love. The children in Mrs Doubtfire, like the children of many divorcing or divorced couples, are stuck between two parents who are so angry and fed up with each other that they cannot help but speak ill of one another. The parents are suspicious and each feels so bullied by the other that they begin to pull at the kids like two teams yanking either side of a tug-o-war rope. Having no idea how to keep everyone happy, the kids’ anxiety levels rise. Divorce is grown up stuff. As with Daniel and Miranda, two people can get to a point where they have grown apart and are no longer making each other happy, but the only thing that the kids care about is feeling loved by both parents. Taking the high road when you feel you have been mistreated or manipulated is one of the greatest challenges a divorcing or divorced parent faces. However, for parents who love their children, there really is no other acceptable alternative.

#4 – People are capable of change. One of the most fascinating aspects of the movie from a divorce standpoint is the way in which Daniel, impersonating a housekeeper named Mrs Doubtfire, uses all his knowledge of who Miranda is and what she likes to adopt the very habits, patterns and ways of being that she always wished Daniel would have demonstrated while they were married. What changed? How come Daniel was suddenly willing to do what he was never willing to do while they were married? Over time, couples can get into the habit of bringing out the worst rather than the best in each other. Sometimes couples have to separate in order to find their best selves and sometimes they need the need a fresh new start with each partner dropping their shield and sword so they can develop new patterns together.

#5 – The courts and attorneys do not always know what is best. The movie was a powerful reminder of what can happen in the legal process when couples get so swept up in their own anger that they lose site and control over what is best for their children.  Miranda knows that Daniel is a loving and devoted father, but because she has felt so slighted and disrespected, she allows a judge to award Daniel limited, court supervised visits only. While the courtroom scene is not realistic in many respects, the truth remains the same that judges and attorneys, who have only a snapshot view of a family at best, are not in the best position to make decisions about what is best for the family or the children. The health and wellbeing of the children is most critically dependent upon parents who can show up to make choices from a place of love rather than anger.

#6 – Things usually get more chaotic before they get better. As if things are not tumultuous enough leading to the decision to get a divorce, the truth is that things often get more chaotic before they get better. In the movie, both Miranda’s and Daniel’s lives become even more chaotic and frustrating immediately after the divorce. The pattern before the divorce was at least familiar, if not healthy. The new routine after Daniel moves out is so disorienting that everyone is initially thrown into a state of chaos and disequilibrium. It isn’t until Daniel’s impersonation is finally revealed and everyone realizes just how chaotic things had become, that they find their way to a state of equilibrium. The chaos is normal. The chaos stems from the sudden reconfiguring that is necessary to move things from a past state to a new state.

 

Divorce challenges people in ways never imagined. It is often a painful and demanding process. However, navigated with intention and care, there is great potential for healing, stability and even miracles on the other side. These are the rewards of being willing to follow the road less traveled.

 

If you know anyone struggling with challenges in their relationship or navigating divorce who can benefit from support in getting from chaos and pain to stability and hope, please refer to them to Divorce Essentials. They do not need to wait until divorce is inevitable to get some help.

__________________________________

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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