Tag Archives: divorce failure

failing grade

Divorce Doesn’t Make You a Failure

Dictionary.com’s first definition of failure is “an act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success.”  According to this definition, divorce is a failure – the failure of the marriage.  Yet what I see in each of my clients (and what I experienced when I got divorced) is that going through divorce can make you feel like a failure, like you’re less than other people and have done something fundamentally wrong that you might even believe you deserve to be punished for.  Granted, your divorce may be the result of poor decisions you made, but that’s different from believing that you are fundamentally bad because of the failure of your marriage.

Although believing that you are a failure because your marriage has failed is an almost universal experience, what I want you to know is that this is a flawed belief and points to a fundamental misperception that we are what happens to us along with what we do and have in our lives.

Like so many of my clients (http://www.functionaldivorce.com/testimonials.html), in my first marriage, I let my marriage and all that happened as a result of it define who I was and what my value was.  For many years, I thought that I had to make my marriage work no matter what.  The no matter what for me was losing the changing dreams and desires that I had for my life.  I decided (albeit unconsciously at the time) they didn’t matter as much as what was needed for my husband to be happy and that if I could fit things in for me around him and the needs of my marriage then I was lucky.  I fell into the trap of abdicating responsibility for me and my life.  I stopped making the proactive decisions I needed to make to be fully me.

You can read the rest of the article at http://www.yourtango.com/experts/dr-karen-finn/divorce-doesnt-make-you-failure.

Happy TX

Separated or Divorced: The Easy Road?

Have you ever heard someone say that instead of working things out a couple is taking the easy road by deciding to separate and divorce?  I have and all I can say to those ignorant people is “Seriously?  You have no idea what it takes to get divorced.”

Making the decision that a relationship in which you’ve invested YEARS of your life is better off ending than continuing is FAR from easy.  In fact, it’s usually gut wrenching.  Although there are the extremely rare people who enter into a marriage with the intent that it end with divorce, the rest of us jump into marriage with both feet, a sense of commitment and a willingness to make things work whatever that takes.  And did I mention we usually spend YEARS trying to make things work before we ever think of separation or divorce.  I certainly don’t see how any sane person can look at a couple who’s divorcing and say they’re taking the easy road.

Reaching the decision to separate and divorce is hard.  It was one of the most difficult decisions I ever made not only in the moment the decision was made, but in the fall-out of that decision.  EVERYTHING changed in that moment.  Not all the changes were for the better – at least not in the short-term.  I came face-to-face with some hard truths about me and how I was living my life.  It wasn’t all pretty and took a whole lot of really hard work to get me straightened out.  BUT I am a much healthier and happier person now.

The road I’ve taken since my separation and divorce hasn’t been easy, but it has felt much more alive and real than the road I was on in my first marriage.

dragons

How to Slay Your Dragons

When’s the last time you heard someone say, “I feel stuck!”?  It probably wasn’t that long ago.  Heck, it might have even been you hearing yourself uttering or muttering these words.

When I went through my divorce and the process of rediscovering myself, I felt stuck.  Everything in my life was changing, but I felt stuck.  I had repetitive thoughts that got in my way.  I had beliefs about being less than others and these beliefs often kept me from having, doing and being what I wanted.  In short, my divorce derailed the life I was living and I was feeling overwhelmed by all the changes.

What I know now that I didn’t know back then is that all of my feelings of stuckness were just my personal dragons that I needed to slay before I could fully engage in my life again.

So just to be clear about what it feels like to be stuck these are some common things my clients say to describe being stuck:

  • Stressed out
  • Feeling misaligned with what’s going on
  • Experiencing strong unpleasant emotions
  • Needing to get more knowledge about something, but not sure what or how to do it
  • Repetitively trying things that just don’t work
  • Not able or willing to take the actions needed

(Of course there could also be a medical reason for experiencing these feelings of stuckness and those folks need to work with their healthcare provider too!)

Maybe these descriptions of stuckness seem familiar to you.  Maybe you’ve seen your own fire-breathing dragons and are tired of being at their mercy.  If that’s you, I’ll bet you’re wondering “How do I slay my dragons?”

And that, dear reader, is exactly the question I hoped you would ask.

It turns out that there’s been quite a bit of amazing research done over the past hundred years or so on the human body and discovering that we each have “multiple brains”.  If we define a brain as a collection of a large number of ganglia along with sensory and motor neurons, neural cells with inter-neurons, support cells and components such as glial cells and astrocytes.  In addition a brain has certain functional attributes such as perceiving, assimilating and processing information, memory and storage access, ability to mediate complex reflexes via an intrinsic nervous system and a storage warehouse of neurotransmitters.  With this definition and capabilities, it turns out that we each have at least 3 brains (You can read more about multiple brains in Oka and Soosalu’s book mBraining: Using Your Multiple Brains to do Cool Stuff).  Your 3 brains are located in your head, around your heart and in your gut.  By understanding how to connect with each of your brains and in a particular order you can slay your known dragons.

Here’s how I suggest you go about slaying your dragons:

  1. Relax.  The exact method here isn’t as important as that you just do it.
  2. Step into the logic of the issue to get really clear and specific about what the current situation is and what your desired situation is.
  3. Tune in with your heart.  What is your heart telling you about the situation?
  4. What is your head/logic telling you about the information from your heart?
  5. Tune back in with your heart.  What adjustments to the thoughts from your head need to be made?
  6. Tune into your gut.  What does your gut say about this information?
  7. Ideally, at this point your gut has given you an indication of what actions need to be taken and given you the energy to take them.   If not, then take the information from your gut and return to step 3.

As you can see from the steps above slaying your dragons is all about getting clear and energized about taking actions because you’ve been able to think about the situation (dragon) in a different way.  I think Einstein said it best – “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Solving the challenges and problems that come along with divorce requires you to think and act differently than you have been.  Once you can see them from a different perspective, it usually becomes fairly clear about how you can slay your dragons.  How do I know?  Because I’ve done it myself.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

  • Identify a dragon you’re ready to slay.  I recommend starting small.  What’s one small thing that’s keeping you stuck?
  • Apply the process above.  Allow yourself the time to experiment with this process.  I think you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll be able to get in touch with each of your brains and get moving in the right direction for you.
  • As always, if you need an assist with this process, I’m just an email or phone call away.
© 2013 Karen Finn.  All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.

 

norobot

No More Robots!

When you got married, chances are it was a happy occasion and you had dreams of “Happily Ever After.” Leaving the idea of “Happily Ever After” and getting to the point in a marriage when divorce becomes a viable option is usually extremely painful and confusing.  Actually making the decision to divorce is rarely easy.

Although the decision to divorce is strictly between you and your spouse, there are 3 different ways you can know when it’s time to make a dramatic change in your marriage.

  1. You’re feeling robotic and just going through the motions.  If you find that your marriage is just kinda there – you each do the minimum to maintain the relationship – it’s time for something to change.  You deserve to have your marriage be meaningful.  Overall, your primary relationship should contribute positively to the quality of your life.
  2. You’re stuck in analysis paralysis.  If you can’t make up your mind about whether or not something needs to change in your marriage, then you’re experiencing analysis paralysis.  What I’ve discovered when I find myself in situations like this is that I’m lacking courage.  If I have an inkling that something needs to change, it does!  Debating with myself about whether or not I trust myself is a waste of time and has the potential to further damage the relationship.  My time is better spent by figuring out what needs to change and then taking the action to make things better.
  3. You’re hiding yourself.  We all wear masks of one form or another to get along.  It’s part of our socialization.  Think about it, how many times do you automatically respond “Fine.” when someone asks you how you’re doing?  We may be having a miserable day, but we still respond “Fine.”  The problem with purposely hiding yourself in your marriage is that besides denying who we are we’re also preventing ourselves from having the real benefits of being in an intimate relationship with our spouse.  Relationships are meant to support us and prove a safe place for us to be us.  If you feel like you can’t be you, it’s definitely time for something to change.

It’s natural for every relationship to grow and change over time.  Each of the situations described above is just an indicator that a change is needed – not that you need to divorce.  By recognizing that your marriage is in one of these situations, you might even be able to make the necessary changes to save your marriage and avoid divorce altogether.  However, to accomplish this takes courage, the willingness to be vulnerable and a determination to eliminate robotic responses.

Your Friendly Coaching Assignment:

Which of these situations remind you most of your marriage? Every relationship needs to change at various times.  Sometimes the change that needs to happen is one that you need to make, sometimes it’s something you need to discuss with the other person and ask them to make, and most of the time you both need to make adjustments.

What adjustments would make your marriage or your next relationship better? Getting clarity about what would improve the relationship in your opinion is vital.  You might be able to do this on your own or you might need to discuss it with the other person.  Once you have the needed clarity it will be much easier to improve your marriage and/or avoid the same situations in your next relationship.

(c) 2013 Karen Finn.  All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.
Wendy_Archer

How YOUR Anger Affects Your Children During Divorce

It’s only natural to feel some anger when a marriage breaks down to the point of no return.  It is understandable to be angry when feeling betrayed by anyone, especially a spouse or ex-spouse.  Anger is such a powerful emotion that sometimes it is nearly impossible to keep it to ourselves, even during moments when we know we should.   This is not to say that anger should be avoided or hidden. Recognizing and dealing with anger is an important part of healing and moving on from a divorce.  There are right times, right places and right ways to acknowledge, express and work through anger towards your ex-spouse…none of which are in front of your children!

Regardless of how angry you are and regardless of how justified your anger might be towards the other parent, burdening your children with your anger towards the other parent is not only unfair to your children but can cause them very serious emotional harm.

Children naturally love both of their parents, regardless of their adult mistakes and regardless of how flawed or imperfect the parents may be.  When one parent disparages the other parent to or in front of a child, it is like a knife in that child’s heart.  Disparaging the other parent to or in front of a child can present itself in many forms including the following…

    1. Making verbal comments that insult, ridicule, discredit or disrespect the other parent.  This includes comments about the other parent’s physical appearance, financial status, employment or any other aspect of that parent’s life.
    2. Physical gestures or body language that implies the other parent is not worthy of respect. This can include gestures such as eye rolling or loud sighs or sarcastic laughs or even a certain tone of voice that implies a negative message regarding the other parent.
    3. Actions of custody interference towards the other parent out of anger or to seek revenge.  This includes any behavior that crosses the appropriate boundaries established by separation or divorce.  Some examples include obsessive and intrusive questioning about time spent with the other parent, frequent interruptions of time spent with the other parent and refusal to comply with the custody schedule.

In addition to children naturally loving both parents, children also naturally want to please and have approval from both of their parents.  Burdening children with your anger towards the other parent places your children in an impossible loyalty bind by making them feel that may must choose to support and endorse your anger.  While on the outside your child may seem supportive and in agreement with your hostility, it is a fact that on the inside your angry words and actions against their other parent are breaking your child’s heart.  As if children of divorce don’t have enough to deal with, these inappropriate actions towards the other parent known as “alienating behaviors” causes children additional unnecessary stress.   Just as a train without brakes picks up momentum, alienating behaviors pick up steam and escalate if the brakes are not put on.  Sadly, alienating behaviors gone out of control ultimately lead to lifelong emotional and relationship issues for the children who are unfairly put “in the middle” of parents with unresolved and misdirected anger.  Studies show that children put into this situation often suffer from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self-harm and thoughts of suicide.

To not engage in alienating behaviors, separated or divorced parents must learn how to interact in a healthy way under the circumstances of no longer being in the same household.  This is known as co-parenting.  We must be realistic that this can be easier said than done at times so it’s important to utilize tools to help us navigate through the anger without making our children casualties of our adult issues.

Fortunately, there are tools and resources available to specifically help in this area.  A few tools and resources that can help are as follows…

  1. Counseling or therapy with a licensed professional.  Recognize that if you are unable to stop yourself from exposing your children to any alienating behaviors due to your anger, YOU need help!  Again, it is understandable to feel anger when a relationship ends especially if you feel betrayed.  There is no shame in needing help to deal with and get through such a painful time in your life.  Take an honest look at your behaviors and do what you need to do improve your emotional health for the sake of your children. 
  2. Co-parenting classes.  Due to recent awareness of the damaging effects of alienating behaviors on children, co-parenting classes are readily available.  Co-parenting classes can be found through community centers, counseling offices, life coaches and other resources.  Classes can be taken in person or online.  Obviously, it takes both parents to commit to properly co-parenting.  It might be difficult or sometimes impossible to get the other parent to commit to co-parenting.  If you are still going through the divorce process, ask your attorney to have co-parenting classes court ordered to be completed by both parents before the divorce is finalized.  One example of co-parenting classes can be found at http://www.childreninthemiddle.com/.
  3. Co-parenting communication tools.  Establishing and following proper boundaries is the key to co-parenting.  To properly co-parent is to “stick to the business of parenting” and to not cross the new boundaries put into place by divorce.  A co-parenting communication tool such as Our Family Wizard can be invaluable in this regard.  Co-parenting communication tools such as Our Family Wizard provides parents with email accounts, calendars, file sharing and other resources tailored to facilitate proper and respectful co-parenting with appropriate boundaries.  Children can also be engaged with the use of email accounts and calendars while utilizing filters that prevent the children from being burdened with the adult communications and decisions.  Using co-parenting tools such as Our Family Wizard can alleviate a lot of stress and anxiety when trying to establish and honor the boundaries of proper co-parenting.  If you’re still going through the divorce process, ask your attorney to have the use of a co-parenting communication tool court ordered in your final divorce decree.  A resource such as Our Family Wizard simplifies co-parenting by giving parents the tools needed to “stick to the business of parenting.”  For more information about Our Family Wizard, visit http://www.ourfamilywizard.com/ofw/.

Your children love and want a relationship with the other parent even if you no longer love or want a relationship with the other parent.  Not only do your children want a relationship with their other parent, they NEED a relationship with their other parent.  It is not about you or about your anger towards the other parent.  It is about the health and well-being of your children.

The bottom line is you must put your love for your children above your anger towards their other parent.   Putting your love for your children above your anger towards their other parent is the greatest gift you will ever give your children and while you might not believe it today, someday you will see it was also one of the greatest gifts you ever gave yourself.

For more information about co-parenting, alienating behaviors and parental alienation please contact Wendy Archer of Parental Alienation Awareness Organization USA at wendyarcher@rocketmail.com.  The North Texas Chapter of Parental Alienation Awareness Organization USA holds monthly meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of every month in Southlake Texas.  More information can be found by joining the PAAO USA North Texas Chapter facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/paaonorthtexas/.

 

Your Functional Divorce Coaching Assignment:

  1. How have you inadvertently let your anger about your divorce affect your children?  This is a tough question.  No one is a perfect parent regardless of whether or not they’re dealing with divorce.  The purpose of this question is to allow you to examine where you might be able to improve your parenting.  After all, it’s awareness that is the first part of changing for the better.
(c) 2013 Karen Finn.  All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.
Hugh Scarbrough

A Designer’s Perspective

This week Hugh Scarbrough, ASID, RID, owner and founder of Hugh Scarbrough Interior Design, LLC, is our guest blogger.  Hugh realizes design dreams for his clients that reflect their lifestyles, building client relationships for a lifetime.  Touting more than ten years in the industry, he seamlessly blends his exprertise, education as a registered interior designer, and retail/worldwide travel experiences that serve his clients well.

To learn more about Hugh and his work, visit www.hughinteriors.com

Summertime. June has arrived and so have the “lazy, sunny, and hot days” of summer! It is time for picnics, water sports and relaxing vacations. It is also a perfect time to create a new look in your home or summer retreat.

This year colors abound in design for summer. As I walked through the new fabric showrooms recently, I noticed the bright and colorful prints and paint colors: Chartreuse green; magenta pink; sunny yellow; striking blue; powerful red. Truly colors of the season! Seeing these beautiful colors sparked my excitement about the fun it is to incorporate summer colors into a home.

With the beginning of summer and a transition in your life, perhaps this is an excellent time to create a new look for your home, make a fresh start, and build lasting memories. Whether your style is contemporary or traditional, the bright summer colors may be integrated into the design you choose.

You may have a reluctance to create a new look in your home due to painful memories, including items of certain colors.  If one or more of the bright summer colors ignite uncomfortable and/or angry feelings, for example, you may want to look at the colors from a different perspective. As it is important to have the “right” balance of color in a room, using those colors differently may create a fun and uplifting environment.

If you seek guidance from a professional interior designer, express the style you would like to create and the challenges you may be having with certain feelings, such as anger or anxiety. Colors have enormous impact on our moods. Red, for example, increases physical energy and vitality; at the same, it may provoke anger. If red is negative for you, focusing on greens, blues, and even yellows may be the wise direction for re-doing the design in your home. The color green supports balance and harmony. Blue denotes calmness and peace. And yellow increases lightness and personal power. A true balance for our homes and our lives.

As you are making plans for the summer, it is the perfect time to take a look at your home or “escape” retreat. Perhaps a new and nurturing design look may just be the answer!

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

How can you add a bit of summer to your home? I love glass sculpture and I’ve recently added some beautiful aqua vases to my office to make it more summery.  You might want to add a throw pillow or a throw to your home to bring the sunshine inside.

© 2013 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.
key

The 8 Keys to Trust in a Post-Divorce Relationship – Part 2

Divorce can shake a person’s ability to trust someone else to the core.  Yet, in order for any relationship to thrive, trust is a necessity.  In this Part 2 of The 8 Keys to Trust in a Post-Divorce Relationship, I’ll share keys 5-8 on what characteristics must be present for a deep and abiding trust in another person to exist.

As a quick reminder, the first 4 keys were clarity, compassion, character and competency.  (You can read the detailed discussion about these keys at http://www.functionaldivorce.com/blog/2013/05/20/8-keys-to-trust-part-1/.)

The last 4 keys to trust in a post-divorce relationship are

5.  Contribution – What’s important about contribution in a relationship is recognizing how you each contribute to the richness of each other’s lives.  The contribution should be overall positive, yet not necessarily positive all the time.  The rough patches are where growth can occur and the opportunity for growth is where you can begin to evaluate the presence of the next key – commitment.

6.  Commitment – Commitment is more than just a declaration.  The kind of commitment that makes relationships work is action-based.  It takes action to display commitment – a willingness on both parts to roll-up your sleeves and do what needs to be done to maintain the relationship if that’s what’s in each of your best interests.

7.  Connection – Connection is all about relating to each other.  It requires being able to communicate clearly with each other.  It’s also the unspoken communication that develops that sense about what each other is thinking or needing.

8.  Consistency – Dictionary.com gives some great definitions of consistency that are all necessary to developing and maintaining trust in a relationship.  Consistency is about agreement, harmony, or compatibility.  It also refers to the condition of cohering or holding together and retaining form.  All of these are necessary to build trust in a relationship.  There must be a consistent agreement to maintain the relationship and there needs to be compatibility and harmony so it can thrive in an environment of trust.

When you take a look at this week’s keys and the ones from last week, there’s quite a bit that goes into building trust in a relationship.  Isn’t there?

It’s funny how sometimes looking ahead at what you want in a relationship can sometimes cause us to do a little examination of past relationships and look at them in a different way.  If this has happened for you, then you’ve got a really great indication of what you might need to make sure happens in your next relationship to be able to again place your trust in a relationship.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Get clear about what you want in your post-divorce relationships.  Yes, this is the same first step as in last week’s Your Functional Divorce Assignment, but my guess is that after learning what the rest of the keys are you might want to adjust your idea of what you want in your post-divorce relationships just a bit.

How might you determine if you and the other person are contributing positively to each other?  What positive contributions would you like the other person to make to your life?  What contributions are they willing to make to your life?  How do these answers match?

What are the contributions they want you to make to their life?  What positive contributions are you willing to make in their life?  How do these answers match?

It’s important that the answers be fairly similar in order for the contribution key to be present in your post-divorce relationship.

What kind of consistency is present in your relationship?  Do you both have the same vision and interpretation of the relationship?  Without the same vision, there’s no way there can be consistency within the relationship.  That’s why I believe it’s important to check in periodically and make sure you’re both in the same relationship.

© 2013 Karen Finn.  All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.
Quotables

Who Can You Trust?

Divorce is the result of a betrayal of a trust.  A trust we place in another to love, support and care about us.  It’s also a trust we encourage our partner to place in us – to trust us to love them, to support them and to care about them.  Trust of this magnitude is amazing when you really think about it.  It’s an wondrous thing when two people decide to blend their lives and live together in partnership.  And when a trust like that is broken, it can be a terrible, ugly thing which causes many people to not want to trust anyone else for any reason.

“When you trust someone to be who you want them to be instead of whom they are, you get hurt.”

Karen Finn

I know it was true in my case, and I suspect it is true in yours also.  When I got divorced I realized I had trusted my ex-husband to be someone I wanted him to be instead of who he was.  Because he didn’t meet my expectations I got hurt.  I got hurt a lot because I had deceived myself for years by expecting him to be who I trusted him to be and not who he was.

“…if you don’t feel like you can trust anybody to talk to anybody, you feel like you’re really alone.”

Fiona Apple

With all my mis-spent trust in my marriage, I wasn’t sure if I could trust anyone as I started on my divorce journey.  I was suspicious of just about everyone and as a result, I felt really lonely.  And the more lonely I felt, the more depressed and fearful I became.

“You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.”

Anton Chekhov

One of the things I did as I was building my trust in myself again was I reached out and asked for help.  When I moved into a new home during the course of my divorce, the previous owner mentioned that the neighbors across the street wanted to meet me when I was ready.

“We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxiacally, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.

Frank Crane

One day, shortly after I was mostly settled in my new home, I screwed up my courage and walked across the street to meet the neighbors.  It was scary walking across the street.  But I did it.  And you know, the rewards have been immeasurable.

The family who lived there was generous and kind and recognized how scared I was to be facing my new life on my own.  They turned out to be my family away from my family.  I felt loved and cared for in a way that I hadn’t since I lived at home as a kid.  (I’ve lived across the country from my family since I was 18 years old)

“Do not trust all men, but trust men of worth; the former course is silly, the latter a mark of prudence.”

Democritus

Screwing up my courage and walking across the street that spring morning was a real turning point for me in my divorce journey.  It was the first time in a long time that I had trusted myself to be able to discern if it was OK for me to trust someone.

That’s exactly what I want for you.  I want you to know that it’s OK to trust yourself, that it’s OK to trust yourself to meet new people and that you’ll know if they’re worthy of your trust.  And if they are worthy of your trust you just might find another family to support and love you like I did.

Divorce for most of us is scary and learning to trust yourself so you can trust others can take some time, but when you start down that road of trust the rewards of joy and love can be yours again.

 

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Reread the 5 quotes in today’s article.  I used the quotes to tell a story of how I learned to trust again as I was going through my divorce.  How do these quotes apply to you?

What actions do these quotes inspire you to take?  You might need to screw up your courage like I did before you take action.  Or, the action you choose to take might come easily to you.  Whatever you’re inspired to do to test your ability to trust, trust yourself enough to know when the right time is to do it.

Do it and evaluate the results.  The thing about any new experience is that you need to evaluate the results.  Check in with yourself after you take action and see how you feel about it.  You may be pleased and feel empowered to trust more.  You may be displeased and choose to choose differently next time.  You might feel something in between these two extremes.  The key here is to be truthful with yourself and adjust so you can continue to build your trust in yourself and in others.

© 2013 Karen Finn.  All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.
self-trust

Do You REALLY Trust Yourself?

Divorce is one of those life events that can cause you to question EVERYTHING.

At least that’s what happened for me.  Somehow my change of marital status caused me to wonder if anything about my life was what I thought it was– was any of it real?  How could I know what was real and what wasn’t?  After all, I had thought I’d be married to my ex-husband for the rest of my life and that wasn’t true so what really was true about the rest of my life?  I felt hopelessly lost.

Slowly, though, I began to understand that the only path out of a life of being hopelessly lost was to begin to trust myself again.  I needed to believe that I could trust myself and that I was the only one who would know what was and wasn’t true for me.  Knowing which path to take is different from actually walking down the path.  The walk, for me, took a while because I was walking blind-folded.

When I look back at that time in my life, I know that it took me longer to walk the path to self-trust than it might have.  I didn’t know where the path was headed or what was required of me to successfully walk it.  But I know it now.  I know the path now because of my own journey and because of the journeys I’ve been honored to watch my clients make too.

I’m going to share my knowledge with you so you will be able to walk your own path back to self-trust without a blindfold.

Before I start with the how-to’s of building self-trust, it’s important to define the term.  Self-trust is the ability to make decisions, to know that your emotions and feelings are real, and to take care of yourself.  It’s a fairly lengthy definition, isn’t it?  Basically, self-trust involves trusting yourself on EVERY level – cognitively, emotionally, logically, intuitively and physically.

I’ll bet you’re wondering, “With a concept this big, where do I start?”  You start with a decision to build your self-trust and then you roll up your sleeves and begin to work.  It won’t be (at least not for most of us) a magical process that once you make the decision you’ll automatically have a wonderful sense of self-trust, but with consistent work you’ll definitely make significant progress in a fairly short period of time.

Here are 6 steps you can use to build your self-trust:

1.  Eliminate victim mentality.  Victim mentality is living in the belief that things happen to you and you have zero impact, influence or control over what happens to you.  I’m not suggesting that you can’t be a victim.  What I’m suggesting is that you don’t want to let that be your entire story.  Yes, bad things do happen and you can choose how you move on from those things.

As an example, suppose you are divorcing because your spouse cheated on you.  You can either live the rest of your life feeling like a victim of your spouse’s choice or you can come to accept that your spouse’s choice was hurtful and you can still move on with the rest of your life regardless of what your spouse has done.

2.  Eliminate negative thoughts about yourself.  Regardless of whether or not you’re going through divorce, most of us have negative self-talk – you know, those voices in your head that are constantly criticizing you in some way.  A friend of mine calls them the shitty committee.  Learning to quiet those voices and recognize them for what they are is an incredibly powerful skill.

Most of the time, those hyper-critical voices are that way because they’re trying to protect you from something.  For years, my negative self-talk revolved around not liking myself.  It took a while for me understand what was behind those messages, but I finally realized that it was because I wasn’t trusting myself to know what was best for me.  I would often defer what I wanted to what my ex-husband wanted.  Once I came to this realization, it was much easier for me to quiet those negative thoughts and pay more attention to what I wanted.

3.  Recognize your strengths and successes.  This has a lot to do with self-esteem and knowing that you are capable because you have innate strengths and because you’ve been successful in the past.

I’ve written a previous blog post about how to do this and instead of re-writing it here, I’ll just direct you to that post: http://www.functionaldivorce.com/blog/2012/03/30/a-quick-and-simple-way-to-dump-divorce-depression/

4.  Become aware of what you’re thinking and feeling.  Now that you’ve eliminated a bunch of the stinking thinking in the first 3 steps, you’re ready to start being pro-active with building your self-trust and it all begins with paying attention to what you’re thinking and feeling (both physically and emotionally).

There are a couple of different ways to do this.  The first is to ask yourself at least 3 times during each day just what you’re thinking and feeling at that particular moment.  Once you have that answer you can then decide what if anything you want to do to improve how you’re thinking and feeling.  The second way is to journal about your thoughts and feelings.  Most people are more aware of their thoughts than their feelings.  If this is you, you might want to journal by using the phrase “I feel…” as many times as you need to so you can get everything out.

5.  Keep your word to yourself.  Believe it or not we all make promises to ourselves every day: “I won’t eat any more sweets”, “I will start a daily exercise routine today”, “As soon as I finish this report, I’ll take a break to clear my head before starting my next task.”  The thing is that despite our promises we wind up eating a fresh-baked cookie a friend brought over to share, we skip a day of exercise and soon we’ve stopped exercising all together, and we skip taking a break because we talk ourselves into believing we didn’t really need it after all.  Breaking promises we make to ourselves, sets us up to have a poor level of self-trust.

I used to be especially bad at keeping my promises to myself involving rest, relaxation and fun.  I’d usually feel guilty if I wasn’t working and pushing myself all the time and yet I’d hate myself for not taking care of me.  It was really a vicious cycle.  What I discovered by allowing myself to keep my word to myself about rest, relaxation and fun was that I had LOTS more energy for getting my work and workouts done.

6.  Learn from your mistakes.  This is the biggie when it comes to divorce.  It takes two for a marriage to not work.  (I know that might be an offensive statement to some, but it’s what I believe and if you’d like to discuss it with me, please do!  You can reach me at karen@functionaldivorce.com.)  Learning what your part in the divorce was will go a long way toward helping you build your sense of self-trust because you’ll know that you can take care of yourself.

It took me a while to recognize that I played an active part in my divorce, that I wasn’t a victim, and that there were things I could learn from my failed marriage.

Yes, this is really the master’s level of self-trust.  Being able to realize that you are going to make mistakes at times and still trust yourself because you are willing to learn from your mistakes will allow you to take appropriate risks and live a wonderful life.

Once you’ve conquered these 6 steps, you’ll be well on your way to trusting yourself again.  So, the next time something happens in your life that changes everything, your ability to trust yourself will help prevent you from feeling hopelessly lost again.  Even if you do wind up questioning EVERYTHING, you’ll be able to trust your answers because you’ve learned to trust yourself.

 

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Make the decision that you can trust yourself even if you aren’t sure you do right now.  Making the decision is always the first step in making a change.  Learning to trust yourself is critical to having a wonderful life.  Emerson said “Self-trust is the first secret to success” and I agree completely!

Take the checklist above one step at a time.  Start at the top of the list and work your way through each step.  Some may be easier for you to do than others and you may want to re-do some steps along the way, but if you work through them in this order it will be easier for you to master each of them.

Know your limits.  This is one of those extra bonus things about trusting yourself.  As you trust yourself more you’ll know exactly when you need to ask for help and what kind of help you need.  If what you know you need is someone to help hold you accountable to doing what you need to do to build your trust, then give me a call (817-993-0561) and let’s spend some time putting together a strategy to get you on your journey to feeling better about yourself and your life.

© 2013 Karen Finn.  All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.

 

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Part 2: How to Decrease Stress when you’re going Through Divorce

When I was a little girl and let my dad know that I wasn’t feeling well, he’d ask how I was feeling.  If I couldn’t give him anything more than an “I don’t know” he’d pass on some advice he got from his mom.  “Go take a shower.  You’ll feel better.”  And you know what?  I did!

Over the years, I’ve learned that a shower is a great start, but I’ve realized that it takes more than that to really feel good about myself and decrease my stress.  I’ve shared my philosophy with my clients and they report that they feel more relaxed and better about themselves too.

So you’re probably wondering what exactly my philosophy is… Yes, it does start with following my grandmother’s advice to shower every day, but it goes much further than that.

How you look plays a big part in how you feel!  At the risk of sounding like Stacy and Clinton on TLC’s What Not to Wear, taking care of your appearance really does impact how you feel.  In addition to helping you feel more confident, you’ll feel calmer too.

You’ll feel best when you’ve got the whole package – clothes that are flattering, fit you well and that you feel great in, a haircut that is flattering and easy for you to style, flattering and current makeup, along with flattering and current facial hair for the guys.

Believe me, it’s worth spending a little time and a little money to update your look when you’re going through divorce.  In fact, after my divorce was final, I actually invested in working with an image consultant.  She really opened my eyes to the way I was undermining myself with my wardrobe, hairstyle and makeup.  It was after I felt confident about how I looked that I was confident and calm enough to begin dating.  My clients who have examined and adjusted their appearance after their divorce was final have also had a lot more confidence to date too.

I know that you might have read all of this and thought it seems pretty superficial, but you’ll never know the profound change feeling confident in your appearance can make until you try it.  No one I’ve worked with who has made an effort to take care of their appearance has felt it was a waste.  Everyone who’s made the effort has felt more calm and confident.  I’ll bet you will too!

 

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Take all the clothes that are stained, torn or don’t fit you anymore out of your closet.  Removing the things that need to be either thrown out, given away or put in a bag to be worn only when you’re painting will remove the temptation to put them on.

Take all the shoes, belts, bags, and other accessories that are worn out, don’t fit or are out of style out of your closet.  If the item has more life in it, give it away.  If not, throw it out or stuff it in the bag with your other painting things.

Once you’ve removed the things that aren’t working for you from your closet, you’ll be left with only the things that work for you which (along with that shower my grandma suggested) should leave you feeling calmer and more confident every morning.

© 2013 Karen Finn.  All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.