Several of my readers are struggling with divorce and have asked me to write an article on how to best survive it. Surviving divorce, like surviving all crises in life, is primarily learning how to cope with change.
There are few words more life shattering than “I want a divorce”.
No matter how long you’ve known in your heart that your marriage was not going to survive, no matter how prepared or resigned you are for that reality, the feelings of loss and grief can be profound, and gut-wrenchingly painful.
Whether the divorce was your choice or not, when those words are spoken out loud…”I want a divorce”….it means a dream has ended and the ground under your feet has turned to quicksand.
For many, those four words can leave our self-esteem in a shambles; our psyche and sense of self shattered and fragmented. We can find ourselves emotionally overwhelmed by powerful feelings of anger, grief, and fear.
People will tell us that our hearts will sing again, but we don’t have a clue how we are going to get there. A sense of peace and a singing heart feel like a place far, far away……a distant land that lies hidden beyond dark and stormy waters. A land shrouded in heavy mist.
There are many good “how to” articles and books that will offer advice and tips on surviving divorce. I would encourage you to look for those resources. They can be very helpful…..but they often forget to tell you about the important “interior” things you need to know.
Here are five of the most important “interior” insights you will need, to make your journey to that far away land less painful, and significantly shorter.
- Don’t Avoid The Feelings
It’s normal to want to avoid the feelings I talked about above. Embracing them can be painful and exhausting. But I am encouraging you to move into them. Embrace them. Learn to sit with them…..they will help you on your journey. It is a well-accepted fact that we grow best when the pain of where we are is worse than the fear of where we have to go. The feelings in a divorce can be painful and intense, but they are far-and-away the best, and most useful friends, you will take on your journey.They will encourage you, and support you, when you most need their strength to keep moving forward.
- Don’t Push The River – Accept That Change is Normal.
Everything in the universe undergoes change. Everything! Resisting reality is called “pushing the river” and will always lead to unnecessary pain and suffering. Divorce, more than any other change, may mean an end to your old life, but it is also is the start of a new life. Your life is not a spectator sport. You must learn to take action. Make choices. Implement plans. Ask yourself……. “if this is a new beginning for me, do I want to live the life someone else has created for me, or a life I create for myself?” I would strongly encourage you to choose the latter. Then move forward toward it.Keep in mind, there is no such thing as “the” future. The future is always what we choose it to be. And every choice we make, or fail to make, will create that future.We live life best when we are fully present, living consciously, and intentionally laying down the tracks that will determine the direction we want our life to go, one choice at a time.
- Beware Of Your Primitive Ego
The primitive ego is the ego of your inner-child. It tends to think in black-and-white terms, and as such, it tends to see life as either “wonderful” or as a “catastrophe”. When your primitive ego is frightened and in pain, it can exaggerate, and begin “awfulizing” virtually everything in your life. It is very difficult to stay creatively focused on the future you are creating for yourself, when your primitive ego is awfulizing everything you think about. Awfulizing is an easy habit to pick up when we are in crisis. Choose not to go there.
- Remind Yourself Life Is A Process
Loss is part of life, and grief is how we come to accept those losses. Divorce can be the beginning of a process of moving toward yourself; of finding your life purpose; of creating the person you want to be, and the life you want to live. We need to keep in mind the reality, that every experience life brings us has a learning attached. Our job in life is to discover and digest the learning embedded in each experience. In other words, we learn best when we just live our lives…….consciously awake, aware, and fully present to each moment. When we are creating our future we are going to make mistakes. We don’t have worry about getting everything absolutely “right” or perfect. In fact our best learning comes when we don’t always get everything right and perfect.The wisdom and insights that we will need to be successful, will come to us over time if we pay attention.So have the courage to jump into your new life that you are creating for yourself.As they say……just do it….one choice, one decision, one experience, one learning at a time.
- Write Down Your Plans and Goals: Keep a Journal.
Write down your plans, your goals, the changes you want to make, the life you want to create for yourself, the person you want to be, the dreams you want to reach for, the challenges you will have to overcome, the steps you will need to take to overcome those challenges……….you get the point. Unless you write your goals down, and keep them updated, it is almost a certainty that most of the goals and dreams you have will never come to reality. Life will numb you out, and quickly distract you. Remember, the primitive ego of your inner-child doesn’t like change (it thinks change is dangerous). As a result, it will always try to take you back to the same-old, same-old unconscious way of living; and it will bury your feelings. Write your goals down, journal them, hang them on your bathroom mirror. Keep them in front of you.Divorce can be a challenging sense of loss, but it can also be the exciting beginning of an amazing new life.The future is your call….just be sure to write your goals and dreams down on paper.