Archive for December 2012
The Rust Of Life And Divorce
Last week, one of my dear friends sent me a message. He sends messages just about every day to his friends to inspire and comfort. Jon’s one of those guys with a really big heart who knows how to make sure his friends really feel how much he cares for them.
This one message he sent to me last week really got me to thinking. It read, “…doubt is the rust of life. Doubt holds you landlocked in paralysis unable to move either way. The time you spent doubting is the time you are not alive. So, rid yourself of the doubt, take that step one way or another, your heart knows what is best, but take it right now.”
What an incredible message! It was like Jon had looked right at me and told me exactly what I needed to hear and what I knew I needed to share with you.
Doubt is one of the major immobilizing emotions of divorce. Uncertainty comes in all kinds of different shapes and sizes during divorce. There’s doubt about whether or not the decision to divorce is the right one, there’s doubt about how to best help the kids understand the divorce, there’s doubt about what life will be like during and after the legal proceedings and fees along with all kinds of other self-doubts.
The doubts that come with divorce are usually an indication of fear and a need to reconcile your previous way of life or doing things with the way things are or even could be in the future. It’s normal to have doubts and fears when your life changes dramatically. However, they can also become debilitating and that’s definitely something to avoid.
Instead, doubts are best used as a way to become aware that there’s something deeper to be explored and brought out to the light. One of the quickest ways I know to allow yourself to bring that something deeper up to the surface is through a thoughtful relaxation exercise. I’ll share the exercise with you in Your Functional Divorce Assignment.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the ground. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, start to imagine all the stress and strain from your body draining out. Draining from the top of your head, down through you neck, your torso, your legs and out through the bottom of your feet deep, deep into the ground.
Continue breathing deeply. Every time you exhale imagine more of the stress and strain in your body draining out through the bottoms of your feet deep, deep into the ground.
Enjoy the sensation of your body beginning to relax. Your neck and shoulders are loosening up. You’re sitting deeper into the chair and your entire body is relaxed as the stress and strain continue to drain out of your body.
When you’re feeling calm and relaxed, gently ask yourself about your doubt and what decision you need to make. As you remain relaxed, an answer to your question will emerge. It may or may not be the answer you were expecting, but you will have an answer that you can move forward with to dispel your doubt.
I know doing this technique on your own can be a bit challenging. So, if you’re serious about wanting to dispel your doubt and would like some help, let me know. You can reach me by email at email@example.com and by phone at 817-993-0561.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a private consultation with me.
Wrapping Up 2012
Most of us tend to be forward thinkers. We’re always looking at what’s next. As soon as we finish one thing, we rarely take the time to savor our success before we’re off to the next task or adventure.
This time of year, most Americans are gung-ho about their New Year’s resolutions before the struggling of achieving them sets in over the next few days.
One of the best ways to build the strength and determination to achieve your New Year’s resolutions is to build your belief in yourself by spending a little time reviewing all the good things that happened in 2012 – especially those things that help you know you can achieve your resolutions.
When you’re going through divorce, it’s especially important that you take time out to savor the good things. For most people, divorce has a way of coloring things with a more negative cast. The thing is there are usually good things that happened during the past year too. It’s worth the time to find and appreciate them so your world view can be a bit rosier and happier.
When I review all the things I’ve done, accomplished, and experienced in the previous year, I’m always amazed at how much good stuff I packed into the year! It takes me a couple hours to review my calendar, my business results, photos, my facebook wall posts, and my tweets for the previous year. Besides allowing me the time to appreciate my family, friends, business associates and clients, my year-end review helps me to prepare for the coming year and set more realistic resolutions for the New Year.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Make your year-end review a priority and schedule a couple of hours for it. Once a year, it’s totally worth taking this time for yourself to review where you’ve been and see where you’d like to go.
Gather together your calendar, pictures and anything else that will help you remember all the good stuff from 2012. You may be like me and want to check out your facebook wall too!
Keep your appointment with yourself. Enjoy reviewing all the wonderful things that you got to do, see, and accomplish in 2012. Use the oomph you get from this to help you set and accomplish the resolutions you’ve made for yourself.
Schedule more time if you need it. I find that sometimes people need a bit more time to get through their year-end review when they’re going through divorce. Sometimes the review can trigger some other emotions that need to be worked through. If that happens to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Allow yourself the time you need to process your thoughts and feelings and then get back to enjoying the good things.
If you’re ready for an outside perspective and ready to get the help you deserve to make 2013 your best yet, reach out to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 817-993-0561. We can schedule a Complimentary Consultation to help you put your plans in place for making 2013 your best year yet!
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
Flexibility: It’s About More Than Just Muscles
Life changes a lot when you separate and divorce. Things that used to be a regular part of life just aren’t anymore. And when things change in unexpected ways, we can get scared, frustrated and angry.
When clients begin working with me, they’re usually experiencing some combination of fear, frustration and anger. One of the first things we do is dive into what’s behind or at the root of these emotions. What we usually discover on our deep dive are limits that have been disregarded in some way. The limits could be behaviors, expectations, thoughts, beliefs or even habits.
The identification of your personal limits is a critical part of restructuring your life during and after divorce.
Some people are quite adept at identifying their limits – what they can and can’t do, what they think and why they think it, what they expect and why they expect it and what their habits of thought, belief, response and action are.
Others aren’t as aware of their limits. They aren’t quite sure of what their limits are or even if they want to know because they do and think what others tell them to.
And then there are people everywhere in between these two extremes.
Regardless of your starting point, I think knowing and understanding your limits is one of the key pieces to successfully navigating divorce. Your limits can help you understand what’s truly important to you as you negotiate your settlement. And knowing your limits will even allow you to ask for help and support when you need it.
Your limits will be tested, pushed, prodded, and beat against before, during, and after your separation and divorce. Who’s doing all this “exploring”? EVERYONE. Or at least it will probably feel that way. However, the chief “explorers” are usually your soon-to-be-ex and you. I’ll bet you already get how your soon-to-be-ex figures in here, but did you expect to also be one the chief “explorers”? The thing is that by virtue of going through the divorce process you’re asking yourself to completely redefine what your life is like. And anytime you or anyone else changes it’s a matter of testing and exploring previous limits.
I know all the testing, pushing, prodding, and beating against limits is at a minimum uncomfortable and at worst excruciating. However, the payoff is either an adjustment or a reaffirming of your limits along with, ideally, improved ways of communicating them to yourself and others. With your new limits you’re most often better off than you were with your old limits. Kinda like that old adage – what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.
Great, right? There’s going to be some struggle and then things will be better. UGH! There’s nothing there about how to make the transition from married to divorce easier! And here’s where I’m going to tell you that the way to make things easier is to be flexible and loving while you’re exploring your limits so you can adjust and evaluate them by choice instead of by force.
By allowing yourself to be flexible as you explore your limits you’ll be much more able to understand and choose what to do with your limits and your life as you move forward through your divorce process. The flexibility will also allow you to negotiate from a more confident spot because you’ll be able to more easily see the options available to you. Developing the ability to be flexible will help you now as you’re navigating your divorce, but throughout your life.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Know your limits. As you’re proceeding through your separation and divorce process take note of your limits. You’ll probably become aware of them most easily when you’re experiencing a strong emotion.
Explore your limits. Once you’ve identified a limit, ask yourself questions like “How did I develop this limit?”, “What’s the benefit of this limit?”, and “What might adjusting this limit be like?” Take note of what you discover about yourself.
Adjust your limits. Exploring limits almost always gives you new ideas of how to be, act, and think. Take advantage of your discoveries and adjust your limits in ways that make you feel wonderful!
As always, I’m here if you need some help in increasing your flexibility. You can reach my by email at email@example.com and by phone at 817-993-0561.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
© 2012 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.
Small, Simple Things Can Make A BIG Difference
On Wednesday last week, I had a busy day planned. I had a breakfast meeting in one part of town immediately followed by a one-on-one meeting and a luncheon in a completely different part of town. Then I needed to head back to my office for a call with my coach and to get some other tasks done before heading out for my dinner plans.
My day got even busier than expected because I didn’t do the simple things I know I need to do to be at my best.
I’ve learned that I need to eat a substantial breakfast in the morning. If I don’t, I have a hard time thinking and moving. My body just doesn’t have the energy it needs to keep all systems working – at least that’s how I think of it – unless I feed myself well in the morning.
Well, my breakfast meeting was VERY light on the breakfast part. You might expect that I would take something with me just in case I needed something more for breakfast. And you’d be right! I did take something with me – a Clif bar.
Unfortunately, that Clif bar was the small, simple thing that wound up making a BIG difference in my day.
When my breakfast meeting ended I hopped in my car and gobbled up my Clif bar and headed to my next meeting. I wasn’t feeling my best because I didn’t have anywhere near as heavy a breakfast as I usually do, but I knew I could make it through until lunch without too much stomach rumbling.
The location of my one-on-one meeting and luncheon was in downtown Fort Worth and so I drove to a parking garage and starting making the slow left-hand turns to work my way up the levels of the garage until I could find a parking spot. I passed a few up because they were next to HUGE pick-up trucks and I just didn’t think I’d be able to fit my car into them.
Then, I found a GREAT spot! It was on an end with one of those yellow cement posts on one side and a small car on the other.
So I turned on my signal and started to pull in. CRUNCH! My stomach sank. I had hit the yellow cement post.
OK, I thought, if I pull out the same way I pulled in then it wouldn’t be too bad. I put my car in reverse and slowly pressed on the gas pedal. SCREECH!
Well, that didn’t work too well, so I thought maybe if I turn my wheels slightly and pull forward again, I’ll get off of the post. GRRRRRRRRRRRR THUMP! Yeah, that didn’t work too well either.
Luckily, with that GRRRRRRRRRRRR THUMP! I was FINALLY able to reposition my car so I could pull out of the space without any more damage.
I then started making my slow left turns again until I found a GREAT BIG spot to park in.
After getting safely situated in this new spot I turned off the ignition and sat for a moment trying to understand exactly what had happened. It took a moment and then it hit me. I hadn’t taken care of myself by doing the simple things I needed to do. I skipped my regular breakfast and wasn’t at my best. Because I wasn’t at my best, I was having difficulty thinking and moving (driving in this case) and I smashed up my car. As you can probably guess, it wasn’t one of my proudest moments, but it was another reminder that sometimes small, simple things can make a BIG difference.
One of the things I hear about regularly from my clients is that it can be hard to do the things they know they need to do to take care of themselves when they’re going through divorce. The divorce is just such a monumental change in their lives that it can seemingly be easier to skimp on or simply skip the things they need to do to be at their best. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I challenge them to rethink that just a bit and make the time they need to take care of themselves.
However, they don’t tell me all the subtle and simple ways they stop taking care of themselves because sometimes they’re not aware of it themselves. So, I often probe a bit deeper to help them figure out other ways they might make small, simple changes to take better care of themselves. In this week’s Your Functional Divorce Assignment I’m going to help you do the same.
Your Little Things Make A Big Difference Assignment:
Take a moment and think about which of the following you need to be at your best: adequate sleep, exercise, proper nutrition, fun, meaningful work, relaxation, great relationships with your kids, friends and family. For most people they need all of them. We all need to take care of our bodies by getting enough sleep, enough exercise and good food to eat. We all need to let our hair down to have some fun and relax. We all need to know that what we do matters. We all need to have meaningful relationships with others. This stuff is just part of being human.
Ideally, if I were to ask you to rate each of these on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being perfect and 1 being needs a bunch of work) you’d rate each of these as a 10. But, life isn’t like that – especially when you’re working through divorce. Go ahead and rate your sleep, your exercise, your nutrition, your fun, your work, your ability to relax and your relationships on a scale of 1-10.
For the one you rated the highest, celebrate it! It can be especially difficult to take care of yourself when you’re dealing with divorce and the fact that you’re doing great in at least one of these categories is wonderful!
For the one that rated the lowest, what one small, simple thing might you do to make a BIG difference? I know it can be difficult to come up with something sometimes, but it might be something as simple as it was for me – eat a big enough breakfast to be at my best. If after a few minutes you’re still having a difficult time and you really are committed to making the small, simple changes you know you need to make to more easily navigate through your divorce, reach out to me. Schedule a Complimentary Consultation. Together I’m confident we can identify what small, simple things you might do differently to make a BIG difference in your transition from married to single.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a private consultation with me.
If you’re looking for more help recovering from your divorce, read more articles about Healing After Divorce.
Watch For Tax Angles In A Divorce Agreement
This week’s post is by Wendy Knutson, CPA.
If you’re getting a divorce, you’ll have to work through a variety of financial issues governed by prevailing state law. But don’t overlook the federal income tax implications. Advance planning can be critical in the following areas:
Alimony vs. child support. Generally, payments designated as alimony in a divorce decree are deductible by the payer and taxable to the recipient. But the opposite is true for child support; the payments can’t be deducted by the payer and are tax-free to the recipient. Make sure that the decree accurately reflects your intentions.
Filing status. If you divorce before year-end, you must file your 2012 federal income tax return as an unmarried individual. Depending on your situation, you may fare better or worse as an unmarried filer. For instance, joint filers could be hurt by the “marriage penalty” if the income of the spouses are relatively equal. In that case, it may be advantageous to finalize the divorce before year-end.
Dependency exemptions. Generally, the parent who has custody of young children for most of the year is the one entitled to dependency exemptions for the children. However, a noncustodial parent may claim the exemptions if the custodial parent signs a formal waiver.
Division of property. Property transferred incident to a divorce is tax-free to the recipient. The recipient’s basis and holding period are the same as they were for the ex-spouse. If you receive property in a divorce and then sell it, you must report the realized gain or loss on your tax return.
Other special tax rules may apply to the sale of a principal residence, IRA and retirement plan benefits, and life insurance policies. In summary: Seek expert tax guidance throughout the divorce proceedings to protect your financial welfare.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
If you’ve got questions about taxes, give a CPA a call.
How To Stop Negative Thoughts
Last week, I had a song stuck in my head for the whole week! Just about every time I tuned into my background thoughts, there it was taunting me.
After a couple days, I’d finally had enough and I got serious about changing the radio station my subconscious was listening to. I decided to start using some of the same techniques I teach my divorcing clients when their mind gets stuck on a race track of negative thoughts.
Here are the steps for how to stop negative thoughts:
First I tried asking myself why this song was playing virtually non-stop in my head. My answers were that it is a bizarrely catchy tune and that it is pretty popular right now. So I’m hearing this song a lot right now in the real world in addition to hearing it in my head.
Being repeatedly exposed to the song isn’t the best for kicking it out of my head, so my next question was how can I limit my exposure to the song? I thought about avoiding the TV, radio, internet and my family and friends, but that didn’t turn out to be too practical. So, what I did instead was tell my family and friends that I was having a hard time turning the song off in my head. I asked that they refrain from talking about or singing it around me. After teasing me for a little bit, they realized I was serious and stopped talking about the song around me. (They sang snippets of it for a while longer, but they eventually stopped that too.)
Unfortunately, the song was still playing in my head, so I needed to employ some more techniques for stopping negative thoughts. My next step was to change my focus each and every time I caught myself hearing the song in my head. To change my focus, I chose to laugh at myself and then think about my to-do list and what I was going to do next. Now I’ll admit that most people don’t look at a to-do list and think happy thoughts, but I do. I like being active and getting things I enjoy doing done. Since my to-do list has fun things on it too, it was an easy thing to happily change my focus to.
Luckily, this helped a lot! During my waking hours, I was able to gain more control over both the volume and frequency the song was playing in my head.
But the real trouble was at night. I was waking up in the middle of the night hearing the song in my head! That’s when I knew I had to do something more and I resorted to a negative thought calming technique I’ve used for years when I’m having negative thoughts and can’t sleep. I turned on a movie that I find extremely relaxing, comforting and positive and watched it until I fell asleep. For the next two nights I went to bed with the movie playing and FINALLY I was able to break free of the song – well, mostly. I have to admit that in writing this article, the song has been taunting me, but now it’s more of a funny passing thought instead of being on constant repeat like it was last week.
So how does my story tie in with how to stop negative thoughts when you’re going through divorce? It actually outlines the first steps I’ll take my clients through to help them manage their negative thoughts. I’ll take you through it step-by-step in Your Functional Divorce Assignment.
Your Assignment To Stop Negative Thoughts:
What’s behind your negative thought? More times than not, when I ask my clients this question I hear one of two answers: anger or fear.
Deal with the underlying anger or fear. Dealing with divorce anger usually requires expressing the anger in a constructive way. Some ideas are to exercise, hit a pillow or even scream into a pillow. Often the way to deal with fear is to get more information so you can take appropriate action.
Change your focus. When negative thoughts seem to be omnipresent during your waking hours, I find that you can start to loosen their hold by acknowledging the thought and then changing your focus. You can change your focus to something positive like I did with focusing on my to-do list or you can put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it each time you catch yourself thinking the thought that you’d rather not be thinking. There are lots of different ways to change your focus and it may take some experimenting before you find what works best for you.
Prepare for a good night’s sleep. If you find that you’re waking up in the middle of the night with the thoughts or even having a hard time going to sleep because of your negative thoughts, change your bedtime routine to be especially comforting, calming, positive and relaxing. What works for me is to watch my go-to movie or else recite a prayer or mantra.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people just like you who are dealing with not only the negative thoughts of divorce, but all the other stress and pain too. You can join my anonymous newsletter list for free weekly advice.