7 Things To Know About Getting Used To Life After Divorce

Woman looking sad as she struggles with getting used to life after divorce.

It’s that one constant in life: change. A new home, a never-thought-I-could-do-this career move, the death of a loved one, getting used to life after divorce….They’re all about change, movement, growth…and adapting.

Some change you expect, whether you welcome it or futilely wish it away. There is, after all, a reason those in-the-know say that aging isn’t for sissies, despite the irony of its blessing.

Some change happens on a dime, and it can just as easily be for profit as for loss.

Some change comes from tragedy — split-second, terrifying, incomprehensible, forever life-altering.

And some change happens with your full awareness and full participation, regardless of any prescience of the outcome.

Divorce, despite its collective branding, is unique to every couple. It is also unique to each individual within that couple. 

There are, after all, multiple histories that build the foundation of every relationship. 

And, if and when you leave that relationship, you will leave with a new history. 

You will always have your personal early chapters. But relationships can shift the way even those are read and ultimately perceived.

You will also have new chapters. Chapters influenced by the melding of two histories in the creation of a new history. And chapters rich in individual character development that can serve as the starting point for a new, expanded story.

In TV lingo, it’s a spin-off. 

In relationship lingo, it’s getting used to life after divorce or a breakup.

Whether or not you want(ed) your divorce, your new life will be filled with change.

Some will frighten you. Some will excite you. Some will baffle you. Some will exhaust you.

The constant in all of this change is you. And therefore, getting used to life after divorce is going to be part of a new history that you write.

What do you need to know to set yourself up for success?

Here are 7 snippets of insight and wisdom to help you regain control of your life without being thrown off-track by the unpredictable.

  1. You will experience a lot of emotions. You just will. Embrace them.

    You basked in emotions when you were dating and planning your wedding. All that euphoria, anticipation, and dreamy-eyed wonder about marital bliss. All those shades of white for your picket fence.

    Sigh. Life was so uncomplicated then.

    And now? Now it’s all heartache, anger, and disappointment. What the hell happened?

    Life changes bring everything up. They’re like the once-a-decade move-all-the-furniture house cleaning. Cobwebs and lost Legos everywhere. Streaming sunlight making a marquee of all your dust.

    You know it will all come together at some point, but right now you’re feeling a bit Agnostic.

    It may be a while before you’re able to look back and say, “My life got better after divorce.” But, if you can at least accept the emotional ebbs and flows as messengers of vital information, you’ll be pointed in the right direction.

    And know that there are always camaraderie, support, and expert help available.

    Your emotions may be yours alone. But you don’t have to navigate them alone.

  2. You will journey through grief, even if you wanted your divorce. Embrace it.

    You don’t have to be pining for your ex to grieve the loss of your marriage. You were half of that union, so losing it is like losing part of yourself.

    You were vested — body, mind, and soul — in your marriage.

    Grief is, despite its undesirability, an acknowledgment of that investment. Looked at positively, it is a process of remembering what is worth our efforts, even when we don’t get what we were hoping for.

  3. You will lose friends as part of the divorce. Thank them in your heart for being part of your life and bless them on their way.

    As if the loss of your marriage isn’t bad enough, now you have to permanently change your invite list.

    People will always take sides, even without malintent, especially if a divorce isn’t amicable. It can be messy for everyone, not just the couple.

    Take a deep breath and strive to remember your gratitude for the experience of those alliances in your life. Spend time with the lessons they taught you, even as you grieve the loss (perhaps only temporary) of treasured friendships.

    Remember that everyone is on a unique journey. And you were part of their journeys just as they were part of yours.

  4. You will make new friends during and after your divorce. Welcome them into your life.

    Life is funny that way. It removes things from your path so you can see clearly what it has gifted you just up ahead.

    And so it is with friendships, alliances, and even love.

    You are on a new path. You have new feelings, new hopes, new needs. Do you honestly think life would neglect you when it is asking so much of you?

    Welcome the unexpected. You never know when your lifelong greatest friend is going to be one accidental encounter away.

  5. Your new post-divorce life will ask you to do things you’ve never done before. Embrace the challenge to learn and grow.

    Whether it’s learning finances or re-entering the work field or doing your own laundry, getting used to life after divorce will challenge you.

    It can be tough to remember this when you’re emotionally wiped out. But your life has great purpose. And, no matter how much you may lament the frustration of realizing it, it is aligned with all you need to achieve it.

    Acknowledge the frustration, but embrace the opportunity to grow.

  6. You will find yourself standing in front of the proverbial mirror a lot. Look closely. Change what doesn’t serve you, but learn to really love the person looking back at you.

    Tough not to blame your ex for the failure of your marriage, isn’t it? He just didn’t get me. She didn’t appreciate me. He ignored. She nagged.

    Even if your marriage had an imbalance in fault, there is always enough responsibility to go around.

    If you’re going to take credit for the good stuff, you have to own your share of the no-so-good too.

    Getting used to life after divorce is, to a great extent, about getting reacquainted with yourself.

    It’s easy to get lost in the “us” role of marriage. Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of knowing, caring for, and taking responsibility for yourself.

    But now is the time to take a deeper look.

    What do you love about yourself? What could use some work? How did you contribute to the demise of your marriage, even if that contribution was neglect or avoidance?

    What do you still need to acknowledge, heal, strengthen inside yourself so you can be part of a more vital relationship in the future?

    Every relationship is a mirror. And none is more important than the mirror you hold up to yourself. 

  7. You will come to realize that you are stronger than you ever imagined.

    You build strength with increased load, repetition, and time. It’s the presence of change and challenge that increases the load, decreases your endurance, and makes you sore for a while.

    And it’s the presence of perseverance that gives unlimited promise to all that sweat equity.

Getting used to life after divorce is no more an overnight achievement than getting to the point of divorce was. It’s a process.

And the success of that process will be determined by you.

You will never know all that’s around the corner in this “new life.” But your willingness to look around the corner as you walk down a new street will open your life to endless possibilities.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. If you’d like additional support rebuilding your life after divorce, you can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or you can schedule a 30-minute private consultation with me.

Looking for more information about how to start over after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life After Divorce.

When Is A Marriage Unhealthy?

A woman trying to cover up her sadness about her unhealthy marriage with a smile.

When is it time to take notice? When is a marriage unhealthy vs. just in need of a little spring cleaning? 

Just like housekeeping, marriage inevitably sees its share of “just stick it in the dishwasher for now” management. Kids need to get to school, you need to get to work, bills need to get paid. And, well, the house needs to be cleaned.

But eventually there is a moment of awakening. That moment when your eye catches the gray layer on top of your furniture, and a finger-swipe reveals what’s underneath the dust.

Is just a little Pledge-and-wipe warranted, or is this an indication of what might be lurking in corners and under the furniture?

When is a marriage just navigating “life”? And when is a marriage unhealthy?

If you knew how things would look and feel years down the road, surely you would pay attention now.

Or so you would think.

The truth is, we are constantly forewarned about every aspect of life. Health, exercise, nutrition, investing, parenting, education, etc. 

And yet, if you’re like most of the world, it’s not until the consequences strike that you take notice.

When it comes to recognizing an unhealthy marriage, there are signs that can help you catch it early. And your response upon your awareness will determine if your marriage dies, survives, or thrives.

First of all, it’s important to recognize the difference between an unhealthy marriage and a toxic marriage. They may sound the same, but they are divided by a spectrum of hope.

In order to help you answer the question When is a marriage unhealthy? it’s important to consider multiple viewpoints.

There’s you, your spouse, children (if you have them), and your marriage.

(*Note: If you or your children are in danger due to physical and/or mental abuse, please seek help immediately. An abusive or toxic relationship exceeds the discussion in this article and warrants immediate professional intervention.)

How is an individual affected by an unhealthy marriage?

This can be a tricky discernment, as individuals bring their own “stuff” to marriages. Unresolved childhood issues, health issues, relationship and communication styles — they all play a role.

But, if you start noticing a decline in your self-esteem, or if you start feeling depressed or hopeless, take note.

You don’t want to jump to the conclusion that your spouse or marriage is at fault. But these could be signs that you are living in an unhappy or unhealthy marriage and are bottling up the symptoms.

Usually an unhealthy marriage involves poor communication. Even “no” communication delivers a huge message.

So you may not notice that your spouse is showing signs of self-deflation or depression.

If either of you is suffering from a “loss of self” or progressing depressive symptoms, it’s time to reach out for help.

Sometimes there is a chemical or hormonal imbalance at the root. And something as simple as the right antidepressant and individual therapy can help turn things around.

Another individual sign is the onset of fantasizing about life without your spouse. You escape the work called for in your marriage by imagining a life where everything is fresh, easy, and even romantic.

Your fantasy may or may not involve another partner. But, if it does, you may already be considering or entering an emotional affair with someone outside your marriage.

And that can be the start of a slippery slope.

But it is always a sign that something isn’t right on the homefront. And, before you just throw in the towel, pay attention to how you (and your spouse) are feeling, and take action.

How is the marriage itself affected when it is unhealthy?

Here is where you may notice the most tell-tale signs of an unhealthy marriage. 

The challenge with problems that exist between you and your spouse is the tendency to blame and procrastinate.

You’re feeling badly because she did (fill in the blank). 

You don’t want to have sex because he doesn’t (fill in the blank).

You don’t share your feelings because s/he “should just know.” Or “s/he never used to be this way.”

The absence or infrequency of sex, for example, is a huge red flag. You’re either having it or you’re not. It’s either gratifying or it’s not.

But one thing’s for sure: Sex is that intimate distinction between romantic love and all other love. When it’s healthy, it has physical, emotional, and relational benefits.

And, when it disappears, all three areas suffer from the loss.

When is a marriage unhealthy in terms of conflict?

When it comes to fighting, too much, too little, and the absence of rules of engagement are all potential indicators of an unhealthy marriage.

You didn’t commit to a lifetime with your partner with anticipation of fighting all the time.

Likewise, you have always known — with your head, anyway — that marriage involves tough times and sometimes tough disagreements.

But how often are you disagreeing compared to the times you’re sharing common values, viewpoints, and visions?

And how do you engage in those disagreements? Do you hear yourself starting every sentence with “You always/never do/don’t”? Or “You make me feel (fill in your own negative emotion)”?

Perhaps you’re on the receiving end of that communication style. 

And perhaps you are both equally guilty and don’t have a clue how not to do it.

If and when you notice that one or both of you are avoiding the other, your marriage is undoubtedly crying for help.

You fell in love with the person with whom you most enjoyed sharing your time and soul. This person was the first you wanted to shower with good news and take comfort in with bad news.

You knew that this was the person with whom you could get through anything. And gosh darn it, nobody else in the world made you laugh or smile so much!

But now you may be seeking the company of friends (or potential emotional affair partners) instead of spending time with your spouse.

Date night may be a thing of the past.

And the responsibilities of home life may have fallen into the category of too-mundane-to-endure.

While the list of signs of an unhappy or unhealthy marriage is long, there is a group of signs that should always give you pause.

Relationship discussions regularly reference the research of John Gottman. And for good reason.

His Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have served as accurate predictors of a marriage’s demise or survivability.

If you notice a pattern of criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and/or stonewalling in your relationship, it’s time to get help…

…that is, if you want to fix an unhealthy marriage and get that lovin’ feeling back.

The simple act of asking When is a marriage unhealthy? is not an indication of doom. If your curiosity is born out of love and commitment, it may be the doorway to renewal and greater happiness. 

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a life and divorce coach who helps people, just like you, who are unhappily married. For immediate help, you can download your FREE copy of “Contemplating Divorce? Here’s What You Need To Know”. And if you’re interested in working with me personally, you can book an introductory 30-minute private coaching session with me.

Looking for more information about how to live a happy and healthy life? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Building A Happy Life

How Unexpected Events Give You The Opportunity To Increase Self-Awareness

Man sitting on a balcony and contemplating his self-awareness.

When the unexpected comes knocking (and it always will), how do you greet it? As an anxiety-inducing uh-oh that needs to be circumvented or eradicated altogether? Or as an opportunity to increase self-awareness and problem-solving skills?

This whole concept of self-awareness may conjure up images of escaping to Walden Pond with an Oprah’s Book Club bestseller. New Age-y, impractical, midlife-enlightenment stuff that makes eyes roll and guests leave the dinner table before dessert.

But not so fast….

While any term preceded by “self-“ may sound like a topic for another day, no prefix is more conducive to a vibrant life with healthy relationships.

And the foundation of all these “selfies” is self-awareness. 

Life, in its broadest sense, is about lessons. And those lessons grow out of our perceptions of and responses to the events life presents to us.

As you develop self-awareness, you also develop communication and relationship skills — genuine, sustainable, transferable skills.

And, as you increase self-awareness, you also develop leadership skills that can improve every area of your life.

Think about a favorite teacher, boss, or project lead. Why was that specific person chosen for that specific position? And what made him/her so good at it?

Chances are your answers will include qualities like compassion, empathy, self-control, integrity, and the ability to handle unexpected events and emergencies.

Self-awareness refers to your ability to identify, understand, and manage your emotions. Only then can you do the same for others.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is having emotions that you can’t identify, understand, or manage. Your feelings have you, not the other way around.

If you operate at this level, you’re likely to live in fear of anything that is unpredictable or unexpected. 

It’s uncomfortable to have emotions you don’t recognize. It’s like having a stranger in your home…and he’s not planning on leaving.

You have to make the choice, usually subconsciously, that you are going to block out your feelings. As they consume you from the inside out, you busy your life from the outside in. Comfy, cozy denial.

But you won’t really be comfortable, despite your rehearsed ability to maintain a certain amount of numbness in your status quo.

Chances are you will experience heightened anxiety, and not just about one issue. Everything becomes cause for anxiety.

Living with generalized anxiety disorder disrupts every aspect of life, whether or not the sufferer is aware. 

The quest to keep life orderly, predictable, and under control leads to a fear-based existence that is anything but under control.

And all that because of those emotions that don’t get named, let alone embraced and listened to.

Back to those life lessons….

You know the saying, “Be careful what you ask for.” Scream to the universe, “Give me patience!” and guess what the universe is going to provide?

The opportunity to demonstrate patience.

After all, how will you ever know you have it if you can’t put it into practice?

And so it is with unexpected events and the opportunity to increase self-awareness.

Once you decide to see the universe as a benevolent teacher, you will realize that everything in your life is there for your good.

You want to become better at your job? 

You want to have a happier love relationship? 

You want to feel comfortable having difficult conversations? 

You want to learn how to speak effectively to different viewpoints? 

You want to be the person that others trust in a crisis?

You want to be the person that others confide in?

You want to stop being afraid of “what might happen if” and start living life more fully, courageously, confidently?

Then guess where the journey begins.

Yes, the yellow brick road starts with your foot on the starting point of self-awareness. And life is paved with opportunities to keep it growing.

But that means meeting the unexpected, befriending it, and allowing it to journey with you.

What presents as a brainless scarecrow becomes a prodding of your curiosity and your quest for greater knowledge.

And what would knowledge be without the heart and courage to apply it?

Each unexpected encounter is a wake-up call to the traveler who wants a meaningful journey.

As each encounter, each unexpected event, is welcomed without fear, you learn more about yourself. 

What do I need to learn? What has kept me from learning it until now? 

What am I so afraid of? What’s the worst that can happen? Do I not trust myself to handle whatever comes my way? Why or why not?

And what do I need to love more unconditionally within myself so that I can love others more unconditionally?

As you increase self-awareness, often without fanfare, your life begins to open, expand, blossom.

Living with anxiety is like looking through a high-powered zoom lens. What’s in the foreground is in sharp, isolated focus. But the periphery and background are blurred because of the narrow field of vision created by the lens.

Self-awareness, on the other hand, is like a wide-angle lens that brings everything into focus. You see left to right, front to back. There is no need to obsess about one subject in the foreground, unless a situation calls for that kind of focus.

The challenge, of course, is in the process of recognition and identification.

Something happens that makes your stomach feel queasy and makes you want to run away. It triggers an eerie, visceral remembrance, and you just don’t want to go there.

And yet, your inability — or downright refusal — to invite the feeling to your consciousness for exploration puts a little more of your life under lock and key.

You admire your colleague who somehow manages to survey the situation and ultimately bring it to a creative resolution. 

Why can’t I be like that?

Oh, but you can!

There are plenty of ways to increase self-awareness. The key is to set the intention and then “slow down the moment” to ask what it wants to teach you.

That promotion you want? Observe those in upper positions and ask yourself what they do well that you struggle with. Perhaps ask to interview one of them so you can become better at your job. (Bonus points.)

Those difficult conversations with combative topics? Take a listening approach for a while. Listen for things you may not have considered before. 

And listen for expressions that make you feel uneasy or threatened. Is it really the topic that turns you off? Or is it the way people express their thoughts and opinions in your presence? 

Do you recognize yourself in that uneasiness? Or do you recognize a communication flaw in your relationships — one that your own personal growth could help to remedy?

Those “what if’s” you’re always so afraid of? Take on one challenge with the mindset that whether you succeed or fail is really a neutral outcome. You’re taking it on to learn, to grow, and to shrink the monster that has been lurking in your imagination.

How did you feel about committing to something new or uncomfortable? How did you feel after you completed it? 

Give the feeling(s) a name — happy, sad, exhilarated, embarrassed. And meditate on where those responses originated in your life…and if and where they still belong.

When your life is mired in predictability, you don’t have the motivation to stretch outside your Netflix-and-chill comfort zone. Auto-pilot takes so much less effort.

But it also keeps your life in the basement, sequestered far below the penthouse where the view and the party are.

Say thank you to the benevolent universe. And trust the unexpected events it sends you as messengers charged with leading you to your highest self. 

I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in increasing self-awareness and becoming more you despite all that’s happening in your life right now.

Looking for more information about how you can cultivate your self-awareness? You’ll find what you’re looking for in How To Be More Self-Aware.

How To Create A Happy And Healthy Life For Yourself

Woman jumping for joy because she is living a happy and healthy life.

It seems like such a given of an aspiration, doesn’t it — the simple desire for a happy and healthy life?  And yet, guilds of writers, philosophers, and Buddha wannabes expound on how to achieve it.

For all our modern advances and easy-access knowledge, we humans still go about trying to reinvent the wheel. Or so it seems with the simplest of quests.

And that meddling little thing called Life sure has a way of interrupting its own bliss at the most inopportune times.

In the infinite wisdom of Rosanne Rosanna Danna, “It’s always something. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. It’s always something.” 

Sometimes we humans just need to be reminded. Pulled back a little. Put on pause. Baptized in a font of crystal clear simplicity and essential proverbs to keep us connected to what matters.

If you’re in need of a little refresher course in building a happy life that’s healthy too, you’re in the right place.

Some of these practices belong in your daily routine. And some lend themselves more to a weekly, monthly, or yearly routine. But they will all help to reawaken your happiness.

Here are some easy tips for steering your life in the direction of happiness and health.

• Eat nutritious foods.

Eating healthfully can seem so boring, especially if you have to do all the prep and cooking. It’s far easier to reach for a box in the freezer or that chocolate stash in your purse.

But our bodies — these miraculous, perfectly orchestrated servants during our time on earth — rely on quality fuel to do their job. Eating plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, for example, does more than just help maintain a healthy gut and weight. It also helps provide sustainable energy and a balanced mood.

Yes, you really are what you eat.

• Drink plenty of water.

Your body needs water for every single function. Without it, toxins and metabolic waste are forced to linger in your body.

Many dysfunctions — physical, mental, and emotional — can be traced back, at least in part, to dehydration. If you’re not providing a steady flow of water throughout the day, your body will be forced to recycle the old stuff. Yuk.

• Get plenty of sleep and have a sleep schedule.

Leading a happy and healthy life requires knowing when it’s time to work…time to play…and time to rest.

If you shave off even one hour of sleep a night, you will be a full night sleep-deprived by the end of the week. And the effects of sleep deprivation can be debilitating to your body, mind, productivity, and happiness, both now and down the road.

• Exercise.

Your body was designed to move. Indulge it, and reap the rewards of all those wonderful endorphins that exercise releases.

Take a walk after dinner.

Put on some music and dance with your family in the evening.

Enroll in a new weekly class.

Get on your Peloton and give your digital trainer a ride for his money.

Just make intentional, sustained movement a part of your daily life.

• Get out into nature.

Nature has a way of connecting us to what is pure and “now.” There is a frequency to the sights, sounds, and energy of nature that is calming and healing to the mind and spirit.

Find new trails for walking your dog.

Buy an annual pass to your state parks and visit a new one every month.

Plant flowers in the spring and fall.

Put your bare feet into a flowing creek.

Climb a mountain, sit on a rock, watch a falcon dive.

Just “be” in Creation.

Consider taking your love for nature one step further and volunteer to help with clean-up efforts in your own community.

• Stay connected to people you love and enjoy.

Social connection has been proven time and time again to be essential to a happy and healthy life. Those who maintain meaningful connections with friends and family live longer and are healthier and happier than those who isolate.

• Help someone else.

There is nothing like doing for others that does so much for your own happiness. And the more genuine and selfless your intentions, the more genuine and lingering your own satisfaction will be. That’s just the way kindness, generosity, and love work.

Imagine what an amazing world it would be if everyone was committed to helping others!

You don’t even have to go looking for opportunities. Just say “yes” to the countless invitations that present themselves to you in both small and big ways. By opening your heart to giving, you also open your heart to receiving. Isn’t it wonderful the way that works?

• Simplify.

When is the last time you heard of someone leaving a peaceful, happy, simple existence to take on the craziness of Wall Street?

Not that it doesn’t happen. But the stories that capture our attention are the ones that involve leaving the craziness to find joy in simplicity.

You can embrace the same principle without giving up your day job or moving out of town. Just start decluttering, letting go, simplifying.

Create a ritual around the process if doing so helps you release what no longer serves you. And always keep a visual of the calmness and peace that come from living with purpose and intention.

• Go somewhere new at least once a year.

Everyone needs a break from the daily grind. Every mind needs fresh stimulation. And every relationship — even the one with yourself — needs a periodic adventure to re-energize itself.

If you’re tight on funds, make the most of a day or weekend drive. The benefits of this ritual are really dependent on your own intentions and openness to life’s surprises.

• Practice gratitude.

Gratitude is perhaps the simplest, most benevolent key to “being in the moment.” It stops you from reaching into the future with longing for what you don’t have. And it stops you from looking into the past for things that belonged only to the past.

An attitude of gratitude sets your focus on what is. It is a commitment to looking for beauty, goodness, and abundance — in nature, in the world, in others.

• Smile!

Try wallowing in a pity party with a big smile on your face. Right? Kind of silly, isn’t it?

The very act of smiling has a positive effect on health, mood, and perspective. You have had a lifetime of connecting smiling and laughing with happiness and fun. So it’s no wonder that your brain rebuilds that bridge when a smile crosses your face.

And the added bonus is that your smile may be the greatest gift in someone else’s day.

You’ve probably noticed that nothing here is earth-shattering. Some tips are about caring for your physical health, some are about caring for your emotional health, and some are about caring for others.

In the long run, creating a happy and healthy life comes down to a mindset.

And, to return to the wisdom of Gilda:

“Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”

YT: Dr. Karen Finn is a life coach. Her writing has appeared on MSN, Yahoo! & eHarmony among others. You can learn more about Karen and her work at drkarenfinn.com.

Blog: I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in putting together the pieces so you can create a happy and healthy life for yourself.

Looking for more information about how to live a happy and healthy life? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Building A Happy Life

How To Be Able To Look Back And Say, “My Life Got Better After Divorce

Man giving 2 thumbs up because he can say, "My life got better after divorce."

The process of divorce — the lead-up, the decision, the legal circus — is often more about getting out of unhappiness than stepping into happiness. Being able to say, “My life got better after divorce” may be a long time coming. But holding onto that vision can fuel your healing and progress.

If you’re the one initiating the split, you may be driven by the hope of a happier life after the divorce. You may be making plans in your daydream hours, if only to give yourself energy through a difficult and draining process.

Whether or not you want the divorce, you may also be plagued by the fear that your life will never be good again. Insecurities about your lovability, self-worth, relationship skills, financial security, employment, lifestyle, parenting, and social life can wreak havoc on hope.

But there are ways to set yourself up for both happiness and success.

And there are ways to strengthen your resolve en route to the day when you will say, with retrospect, “My life got better after divorce.”

  • Grieve.

    It’s certainly not the part of divorce you look forward to or think of as making your life better. But dealing with grief after divorce really isn’t an option. 

    It’s also not a predictable, linear process that you can schedule. But you can schedule sessions with a therapist or support group to help you recognize, embrace, and get through this inevitable consequence. 

    Losing your marriage and the dreams that came with it is a big deal. And the hole that loss leaves behind can be just as big. 
  • Be proactive.

    You may not feel you have energy for more than just getting through your divorce. And you may have been emotionally drained before the process even started. 

    But, if you can take little steps every day in the direction of your current and future well-being, you’ll thank yourself later. 

    Divorce comes with inevitable fears and apprehensions. It’s a big unknown, even in familiar territory like parenting. 

    If you’re in the early stages of your divorce, start educating yourself and seeking out experts in essential areas. Take the position that you’re a blank slate. Research, ask questions, prepare, document. 

    Make it your goal to set yourself (and your children) up for immediate, short-term, and long-term success and happiness. 

    Think about how you want your life to look and feel several years out, and work toward that vision.
  • Create your circle of friendship and support.

    Engagements and weddings are cause for celebration and coming together. You can’t wait to “announce,” send out invitations, put your wedding picture in the paper. 

    Divorce, on the other hand, can be incredibly isolating. You know half of marriages end up here, but, for some reason, you’re the only one going through it right now. 

    Reason tells you that’s not so. But emotions tell you it is. 

    Start building your sacred circle of support. And be selective. 

    You don’t have to write people off or do a mass “unfriending” purge on social media. But get comfortable with the idea that some people who have been part of your married life may not be part of your single life. 

    And some acquaintances may unexpectedly rise to the level of trusted confidantes and forever friends. 

    Open yourself to support groups, both in-person and online. Consider hiring a divorce strategist or life coach. 

    Find a therapist you will be able to trust for the long journey ahead. 

    And revel in the fact that you are the one creating your new life and new (or renewed) relationships.
  • Take the high road.

    Much as you would like to look back on your life, marriage, and divorce with no regrets, you’re bound to have some. You can’t do anything to change the past, but you can decide how you go forward. 

    Even if your marriage was filled with fighting and childish behavior, you don’t have to carry that baggage into your new life. 

    You may still feel anger toward your ex. You may wish you never have to see his/her face again. But, especially if you have children together, a complete wipe-out isn’t likely. 

    You always have the choice in how you conduct yourself. You get to choose how you speak and behave around — and even think about — your ex. 

    You get to choose your words and outlook when you speak about your ex (and your children’s other parent) to others. 

    If you have proactively created your trusted circle of support, you have a safe place to scream, cry, and get things off your chest. 

    Exercising prudence and self-control when it comes to your ex may feel frustrating early on. But taking the high road will protect your relationship with your children and strengthen (and inspire) your relationships with family and friends. 

    And it will open unforeseen avenues for you down the road.
  • Shift your perspective.

    “My life got better after divorce.” 

    You’ve probably heard other people say that…and you’ve probably rolled your eyes and thought, “Yeah, right. That person didn’t have my spouse. That person didn’t have kids. That person didn’t have financial worries. That person, that person….” 

    And you would be correct…to an extent. 

    Your marriage was uniquely yours. And so is your divorce. 

    This is your journey, your story of evolving and developing self-awareness, your threshold into a destiny you co-create. 

    It’s also your opportunity to shift your perspective away from comparisons and self-pity and toward growth and self-reliance. 

    Your divorce marks an end. But, in the circle of life, an end is also a beginning. The two are inseparable.
  • Rediscover your passions.

    This is a time to remember where you put the key to your lockbox of passions when you were married. 

    What interests did you put on a shelf so your spouse’s interests could take priority? What talents had to wait for expression while you raised kids? What secret yearnings have you always had but kept hidden because “they wouldn’t get it”? 

    Now is the time to embrace your curiosity and creativity. 

    The idea that you answer to you may take some time to get used to. 

    But opening the closet door and giving your old self, your old passions, your old dreams some breathing room is a great start.
  • Become your own best friend.

    Nothing is more important than this. And nothing is potentially more difficult, especially in the wake of a demoralizing life event that can make you question your self-worth. 

    Learning to be OK alone — just you, your feelings, your memories, your self-judgment, your fears — can be a painful, unwelcomed process. 

    But there is nothing better than reaching that place where choosing and trusting your “all-oneness” brings a smile to your face. 

Some things can only be acknowledged in hindsight. That’s why we look to our elders for wisdom.

We hope to find in their insight some seeds of preparation and prevention to plant in our own lives.

You may have no idea today how your life will look years down the road. But you can always live today as preparation for saying, “My life got better after divorce. And I never imagined it could be this good.”

(Need more tips on how to have a better life after divorce than when you were married? Click here.)

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. If you’d like additional support rebuilding your life after divorce, you can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or you can schedule a 30-minute private consultation with me.

Looking for more information about how to start over after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life After Divorce.

Wondering “Why Is My Marriage Unhappy?” Here’s What You Need To Do

Woman looking forlornly at her husband who is engrossed in his phone.

How did we end up here? Why is my marriage unhappy? We had such big dreams when we got married, and now we just exist. 

Crossing the threshold into married life is often a bigger leap than couples are prepared for.

You’ve been there. You remember the bliss, the take-the-world-by-storm dream of all life’s possibilities.

You remember having almost everything in common. And you remember filling in the gaps of your differences with the creation of new and positive agreements to strengthen your connection.

You probably even remember acknowledging beneath the snow of pixie dust that “life won’t always be perfect.” But no matter, you would “lean on one another and get through it together.”

And yet, somehow you have arrived at the stark awareness of your disappointment and dissatisfaction. 

Why is my marriage unhappy? Is it me? Is it him/her? Is it “us”? How do I figure it out? And can we get back to being happy?

Getting your marriage compass redirected to true north involves more than spinning in circles and waiting for the needle to settle. It requires a mapping of your coordinates, as well as your surroundings.

You may have only recently articulated those despondent descriptors – unhappy, miserable, bored, frustrated, hopeless. But you didn’t arrive at them overnight.

The “overnight” awareness of them, however, can trick you into reaching for “overnight” explanations and solutions.

Getting an answer to “Why is my marriage unhappy?” first requires a recognition of what an unhappy marriage looks like. Are you simply unhappy, dissatisfied, disappointed? Or are you in an unhealthy, even toxic, irrevocable marriage?

(*Note: This article addresses unhappy marriages that have not escalated to the level of being abusive or toxic. If you are experiencing physical or emotional abuse, please reach out for help immediately. Here is the link to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.)

Here are 6 signs of an unhappy marriage, accompanied by steps you can take and questions you can ask to figure out if and how they apply to you.

1. You’re not having sex.

It’s natural and expected that, somewhere in the early stages of marriage, you’re not driven to rip off one another’s clothes in public. And, at some point, your body is going to remind you that sleep is a good (and essential) commodity. 

But, if you’re no longer or only rarely having sex, there is probably more going on. And the absence of this exclusive expression of intimacy can lead to a spiraling in other areas of your relationship. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself (and your spouse): 

  • Have I lost my physical attraction to my spouse? 
  • Am I intentionally withholding sex as punishment or as a statement of my unhappiness? 
  • Is there a physical or medical reason behind the lack of sex
  • Do we have healthy communication about sex – our needs, desires, inhibitions, fantasies? 
  • Are we making time for sex in our relationship or treating it as an afterthought or chore? 
  • Does either partner have body image issues? 
  • Has there ever been a sexual betrayal or infidelity in our marriage? 

As debilitating as these issues may seem when sex has fallen off the table, they’re really just detours. 

Honest answers to these questions will give you a starting place to restore physical intimacy. 

They will also help direct you to expert help in this more-common-than-you-think area.

2. Nothing is fun anymore. 

Your first thought when “Why is my marriage unhappy?” pops up may simply be, “Nothing is fun anymore.” 

So life has settled in. Children, jobs, mortgage, bills, age, fatigue, crises. It can all shift your focus away from the enjoyment of life to the drudgery of life’s obligations. 

Besides, you did all that fun stuff when you were young and dating. Nothing is new, and you have adult responsibilities. 

Hit pause. Back up. Listen to yourself explain all the reasons there’s no fun in your marriage. 

And ask yourself: 

  • Does “life” have the final say, or do we? 
  • Are we even making the effort to keep our relationship alive and new? 
  • When did date night go by the wayside? 
  • Do we even laugh together anymore? 
  • Do we take ourselves too seriously? 
  • When is the last time we planned to do something together that neither one of us has ever done before? 

“Fun” is a perspective, a mindset, a release of inflexible guardrails that restrain the energy of creativity and discovery. 

Make the effort to create opportunities for fun in your relationship. And let it creep back in, one giggle, one ROFL at a time.

3. You don’t feel heard. 

Communication, communication, communication. It’s so much more than what is spoken. It’s what’s heard…and what the speaker believes was heard. 

This perception of being valued enough to be listened to and heard at a heart level is central to emotional intimacy. (And emotional intimacy is central to physical intimacy – at least for women.) 

The erosive danger of not feeling heard is the tendency to “return the favor.” 

We set precedents by how we treat others. We also teach others how to treat us. 

Marriage is that one place that is supposed to afford the greatest emotional safety for vulnerable self-expression. It’s supposed to be the place where you feel you can get your needs met – or at least heard and lovingly responded to. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What need am I bottling up because I feel unheard? 
  • What do I need from my spouse to make me feel safe in expressing myself? 
  • Do I even feel that I can get my needs met in this marriage, or do I honestly believe my spouse doesn’t care? 
  • Am I doing my part to hear my spouse with my heart? 
  • Am I teaching him/her how to treat me by the effort I make to listen and respond with love? 
  • Are we both willing to work with a professional who can guide us in more effective communication?

4. You fantasize about life without your spouse. 

Daydreaming about escaping your marriage is a big red flag. And it can happen only when enough space has been created between two people so that mental energy can be devoted elsewhere. 

It’s a sign that you’re not getting out of your marriage what you need. 

But it can also be a sign that you’re not putting into your marriage the energy that it needs. 

So ask yourself: 

  • What is it that I’m longing for and not getting? 
  • Is that a realistic desire or just a fantasy? 
  • Have I truly lost my love for my spouse? 
  • Do I believe my spouse no longer loves me? 
  • Or are we just “stuck,” unable to navigate our way back to happiness without help?

5. You don’t want the same things anymore. 

“Common values” is one of the strongholds of a healthy relationship. Core issues like faith and attitudes about children, family, careers, and money bind couples in a common cause and life direction. 

But people naturally evolve in their desires as they mature. Youth makes them want to take on the world; age makes home the best place to be. 

Tastes change. Even political and religious views change. 

How are two people supposed to stay together if the glue that bound them starts to dissolve? 

The key is always communication. Always. 

Unless one of you has decided overnight to join a cult, changes in attitudes and preferences are an evolution. 

Experiences and observations trigger thought and often the challenge of long-held beliefs. Biases break down…or go up. Ambitions soften or shift. 

The beauty of marriage is that you have the opportunity to evolve toward your highest self in the company of a faithful companion. 

The two of you get to work through past hurts and deprogram deep-seated malware from your youths. 

And you get to do it while traveling on individual trajectories that share one another’s influence to create a common trajectory. 

It really is the miracle of “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.” 

If you are convinced you and your spouse “just want different things now,” do some digging. And do a lot of listening – to yourself and to your partner. 

So often the core that once defined and centralized your relationship is still there. 

Its expression may have changed, matured, sloughed off unessentials, or simply shifted its weight. But the essence of what truly matters is usually still there. 

  • Have you been blindsided because you haven’t been communicating about the little things? 
  • Have you missed the opportunities to discuss experiences that have challenged long-held thought patterns? 
  • Have you been afraid to admit that you may have been wrong on some things? 
  • Have you allowed your common vision to get buried under the laundry pile of your own wants and grievances?

6. Work and kids consume your lives. 

Sometimes the answer to “Why is my marriage unhappy?” is buried in the very things that make it happy. 

Careers are the products of aspiration and hard work. Children are the manifestation of love and hope for the future. 

It’s easy to see how they could take precedence over everything else in your life. 

The problem arises when you and your spouse forget that your relationship, your marriage, is the umbilical cord that feeds everything else in your lives. 

So often a marriage that feels unhappy is really just unfocused, unnourished, unprioritized. 

Ask yourself and your spouse: 

  • Have we used our obligations to children and careers as justification for ignoring our marriage?
  • What would our marriage look like if we put it back at the top of our priority list?

Knowing what an unhappy marriage looks like is one thing. But knowing how to look at and examine – honestly, vulnerably – an unhappy marriage is another.

And sometimes that involves asking for help. 

Being unsure can actually be a good sign. Deciding your marriage is valuable enough to find the answers is a great sign.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a life and divorce coach who helps people, just like you, who are unhappily married. For immediate help, you can download your FREE copy of “Contemplating Divorce? Here’s What You Need To Know”. And if you’re interested in working with me personally, you can book an introductory 30-minute private coaching session with me.

Looking for more ideas for what to do about your unhappy marriage? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Unhappy Marriage.

How Can Self-Awareness Be Developed?

Woman looking up while standing in a forest and contemplating her self-awareness.

There are destinations we never reach, though we persevere on the journey. And there are books that are never finished, though the author continues to outline and edit. But what about the self – that perpetual, cradle-to-coffin quest that remains ever elusive? Can we consciously “build” on it? And, if so, how can self-awareness be developed?

The irony of self-awareness is that it exceeds mere awareness. 

At some point early in life, the child looks in the mirror and connects his reflection with the physical being standing before the glass.

This objective awareness is just that objective. It doesn’t exude from an evaluative processing or contemplation of experience. It has no moral relevance, no inspiration for behavioral modification.

And yet, awareness of the objective self is foundational to what comes after: the subjective self.

It’s here, where the mirror reflects inward, that self-awareness steps out on a lifetime journey. And, though there may be looking back, there can never be turning back.

Roy Baumeister describes the concept of self-awareness as:

Anticipating how others perceive you, evaluating yourself and your actions according to collective beliefs and values, and caring about how others evaluate you.

Even within the quiet containment of the individual self, self-awareness has profound social relevance. So much so that, as Carl Jung said, “There is no cure and no improving of the world that does not begin with the individual himself.”

We can easily vouch for the ongoing human effort to improve (or, in some cases, destroy) the world. It’s that intentional application of consciousness that separates us from creatures of pure instinct.

But not every “self” has the same level of awareness or the same merit of intention. The often glaring disparity is the maddening undercurrent of broken relationships and even wars.

If we are to have a better world within ourselves, within our families, within our communities we must ask and answer for ourselves this question: How can self-awareness be developed?

Here are a handful of tips to get you started on this most worthwhile journey.

· Look at yourself objectively. 

Once you have launched your lifetime journey of the subjective self, looking at yourself objectively can feel unnatural, even risky. 

It means stepping back from yourself enough that you can be “aware of your awareness.” 

It means detaching from your ego its insecurities, its fears, its pride so you can observe and evaluate your thoughts and behaviors. 

What’s working well? What’s not? Where and why are you succeeding, and where and why is your progress stalled? 

What kinds of reactions and responses do you get from others? And how do you react and respond to others? 

This ability to self-evaluate without sheltering your ego is an essential building block to integrity and leadership.

· Clear your brain space by journaling. 

There’s something about writing things down that is both liberating and edifying. 

By dumping your thoughts and musings onto paper, you free yourself of the need to keep them circulating in your active memory. 

Also, if a thought, feeling, fear, idea, or goal makes it from your brain to your pen, it’s important enough to reflect on. Sometimes you need your unconscious mind to help your conscious mind stand up and take notice. 

The other benefit of keeping a journal is that you free up that mental logjam so fresh thoughts and ideas can come in. Think of it as a process of getting unstuck and creating mental movement. 

Change, after all, is just a form of movement. And how can self-awareness be developed without change?

· Practice daily reflection. 

This practice is really the heart of all self-awareness work. It’s only by that journey inward that self-awareness evolves. 

It’s easier said than done, obviously, especially in a fast-paced, demanding world. But start small and work your way up. 

Create space for yourself to be reflective a quiet room, a walk in nature. 

Think about recent events and encounters in your life. What triggered you, inspired you, delighted you, upset you? How did you respond? 

Did you respond out of your old, conditioned self or out of your evolving self? 

Think about your goals. What have you settled for and why? 

As you can see, reflection can take any number of paths. 

And that’s the point to bravely try the various paths and decide which you should tread again on your journey.

· Make a bucket list. 

Dreaming and planning are essential elements of a vital life. They keep you connected to both purpose and possibility. 

Having bucket-list goals can give you reason to get up in the morning. It can also indirectly shape your behaviors because the goals are your own, and therefore you are the only one who can work toward them. 

Something as simple as planning a mini-vacation can be a revealing process of growth in self-awareness. 

Perhaps you haven’t been conscious of saving money, but now you need money for your vacation. Suddenly you are in the position of having to examine your own habits and how they have held you back. 

Creating a bucket list not only gives you experiences to anticipate, but connects you to the thoughts and behaviors necessary to manifest them.

· Ask for and welcome feedback. 

How can self-awareness be developed without a sense of who you are in relation to others? 

Everything in life is about relationship with yourself, with others, with nature, with God/the Universe/your higher Self. And it’s in this context that every “self” has the boundless opportunity to grow and ascend to new heights of being. 

But this is also the context that puts the mirror right in front of your face. 

The key to living a healthy social dynamic is being aware of your contributions to that dynamic and the nature of their influence. 

Some of that awareness can and should be self-generated. But it takes great courage and a commitment to personal growth to seek out the perspectives and feedback of others. 

Sometimes it’s the thoughtfully, genuinely communicated feedback of others that most effectively cuts through the veil of self-delusion, denial, and avoidance. 

Like the unconscious mind dumping its thoughts into a journal like a cry for acknowledgment, honest feedback from others can be profoundly influencing.

The commitment to developing your self-awareness will have its natural ebbs and flows. But, once you realize how self-awareness can help you, you’ll begin to see it as the key to unlocking your best life.

And remember, self-awareness, like all the intangible treasures of life, is not a destination. It is, as Thoreau describes, an ongoing search, an ever-new acquaintance:

“Let me forever go in search of myself; never for a moment think that I have found myself; be as a stranger to myself, never a familiar, seeking acquaintance still.”

Henry David Thoreau

I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in cultivating greater self-awareness and becoming more you.

Looking for more information about how you can cultivate your self-awareness? You’ll find what you’re looking for in How To Be More Self-Aware.

6 Easy Ways To Better Enjoy Your Life And Be Happy

Woman laughing as she struggles with holding a s’more.

The effort to get ahead, enjoy your life, and be happy can, at times, feel like being trapped on a destinationless hamster wheel. When it comes to that simple quest, we’re all pretty much the same.

And yet, for all those years of self-help books and Oprah-in-the-afternoons, happiness can still seem frustratingly elusive.

The Dalai Lama makes it all sound so simple, so matter of fact: The purpose of our lives is to be happy.

Well, isn’t that special? your mind may quip with an eye roll. I have ten children, three mortgages, two jobs, and no car. When do I have time to enjoy my life?

Everyone comes with a story. And everyone can be rendered miserable or unconditionally happy because – and regardless – of that story.

Joy is your birthright. It’s the unburdened, uncorrupted state of your being when you enter this world. You have no attachment to malice or the seemingly insurmountable requisites of living a responsible, adult life.

But life has its ways, doesn’t it? It delivers unavoidable disappointments, exhaustive demands, no-win choices, and inevitable loss.

How, then, are you supposed to enjoy your life and be happy? Is it even possible to be genuinely happy in this life?

The answer to the second question, of course, is yes, however distant the delight in life may seem.

Sometimes you simply need to step back and tap into all those highlighted lines in your self-help library. We are all guilty of making things more difficult than they need to be and seeing our lives as “never enough.”

You didn’t win Powerball last week?

Me neither.

But you might be surprised at how easy it can be to better enjoy your life and be happy. 

Here are 6 tips to get you off to an uplifting start.

  1. Turn off the news.

    Unless you have a cable package that includes a “Good News Only” channel, don’t steep yourself in the endless woes of the news. 
    There was a time when the news preceded or followed dinner and was over in an hour. But now it’s 24/7, just like the doom and gloom it reports. 

    Chances are, if the world is coming to an end, you’re going to hear about it. You don’t have to put your head into the sand to simply put some boundaries around what you listen to.

  2. Practice compassion.

    We’ve all heard the adage that one of the best ways to enjoy your life and be happy is to get outside yourself. Help someone else. Elevate someone else’s spirits and life.

    We’ve all heard the adage that one of the best ways to enjoy your life and be happy is to get outside yourself. Help someone else. Elevate someone else’s spirits and life. 

    There is a direct correlation between the ability to experience others’ feelings with a desire to help and the happiness you feel within yourself

    By shifting your focus away from your own issues in order to help someone else, your stress levels decrease. You feel happier while seeking someone else’s happiness. 

    And, as a result, you make healthier choices for yourself, thereby keeping the positive cycle in motion. 

    Acts of compassion require so little. Baking cookies today? Bake an extra dozen and take them to a lonely neighbor. Pay for someone’s coffee. Visit someone in a nursing home. Listen attentively to someone who is grieving and needs to talk. 

    Why is it that caring about someone else can make you feel so good within yourself? 

    Because compassion for others is your highest, purest calling. It comes from a place of unconditional love. 

    And it reminds your own spirit that you can do great things, even in small ways.

  3. Declutter.

    Would you ever imagine that those piles of I’ll-get-to-it-later papers could negatively affect both your physical and mental health? Dishes left in the sink, clothes left around the bedroom, toys on the floor, unfinished craft projects. 

    You may not be the next case on Hoarders, but all that stuff-without-a-purpose-or-place taxes your brain in a similar way. 

    It increases your stress, reduces your sleep, and diminishes your cognition. 

    Clutter decreases your focus, and therefore your productivity. 

    It even leads to bad habits like mindless eating. 

    Want to better enjoy your life and be happy? Give your brain the order it craves, and watch your life open like a window on a spring day.

  4. Create a happiness ritual.

    Instead of expecting happiness to land in your lap, invite it into your life. Be conscious of its importance in your life and be mindful of acknowledging it as you open and close your day. 

    What are you looking forward to today? What made you smile or laugh today? What caught you pleasantly by surprise? What happy experience are you penciling in for tomorrow? 

    Using rituals can be an effective way to rise out of complacency and be mindful of both what you have and what you can create.

  5. Learn to play for fun and not to win.

    How many times have you avoided playing a game because you were afraid you weren’t good enough to perform well? I’ve never swung a bat before. What if I swing at the air and never hit the ball? Everyone here is so competitive. I don’t want to look clumsy or foolish. 

    Unless you’re training for the Olympics, give yourself the freedom to play...just to play. 

    Play is as important for adults as it is for children. It decreases stress, releases feel-good endorphins, generates brain cell development, and builds friendships and social skills. 

    Whether you’re sleuthing with Mrs. Peacock and Colonel Mustard in a game of Clue or playing kickball with the neighborhood kids, just play. 

    What better way to enjoy your life and be happy than to embrace the child within? 

  6. Practice gratitude.

    One of the secrets that all happy people know about being genuinely happy is that gratitude changes everything. 

    Instead of needing more and more to be happy, focus on being happy with what you have. 

    Counting your blessings will make you feel loved by life. It will help diminish your stress over doing and having more because you will realize you have all you need. 

    Gratitude also helps you stay grounded in the present because you’re not regretting the past or worrying about the future. 

    How do you practice gratitude? Slow down enough to be aware of small things that make you feel good, valued, happy. 

    Start a gratitude journal and write down at least five things a day for which you are grateful. 

    Make it a point to say thank you as often as possible. Find reasons to thank people. You’ll be surprised how much your awareness deepens as you practice that powerful statement. 

    You’ll also be surprised by how people – and life – respond.

Want some more easy tips for living a happy life? Click here.

Learning to better enjoy your life and be happy isn’t a quest that needs to take you far from home. It can be as simple as clicking your heels together three times and telling yourself that you’ve always had the key.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in putting together the pieces so you can experience both success and happiness.

Looking for more information about how you can have a happier life? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Building A Happy Life.

5 Reasons Being Self-Aware Is A Practice & Not A Destination

Man sitting in a room of potted plants thinking about being self-aware.

Funny thing about self-awareness. You need a certain amount of awareness in order to pursue it. A little chicken-and-egg quest for your best self…and a cyclical reminder that being self-aware is a practice, not a destination.

Self-awareness is a component of emotional intelligence. And, like the intelligence we associate with academics, there is no end point – only layering and refining. 

The more you know, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you know. And ‘round and ‘round we go.

And so it is with being self-aware. A little light cast into a dark corner not only reveals what needs to be cleaned, but inspires the possibilities when light floods the whole room.

The foundation for this ever-emerging quality of self-awareness begins in infancy, when there is little more than physical awareness. An empty stomach signals a wailing to be fed. A loud noise startles a peaceful sleep. 

The child is immersed in sensory stimulation. The experience is “objective,” “external,” survival-driven…until the sun rises over the horizon and reveals an inner response to the experience.

A thought, a feeling, a curiosity attaches to the experience. This “outer” life is working its way inside.

And so the “sense of self” is born.

At some point there is not only awareness, but awareness of the awareness. And then awareness of accountability for that awareness.

And therein lies the cornerstone of a building that is never complete.

Here are 5 reasons that being self-aware is a practice and not a destination.

  1. Self-awareness brings you face-to-face with your own core beliefs.

     Do you ever wonder how you became the person you are? 

    When you articulate your beliefs and values, do you hear your parents’ voices coming out of your mouth? 

    Have you ever challenged those beliefs – religious, political, social, financial? 

    History is a tough nut to crack. What you inherit during your formative years is as tough to undo as language and feeding yourself. 

    In that regard, the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree. 

    Unless you’re encouraged from a young age to challenge beliefs before owning them, you may have no idea how you got here. 

    You may stereotype certain people based on race, gender, religion, or income. You may believe one political party has the only answers and refuse to consider another viewpoint. 

    Then one day you come face-to-face with a person or experience that challenges everything you say you believe. Things aren’t as neatly packaged as you had been led to believe. 

    And suddenly you must make choices. Do you do the hard work of examining why you believe what you believe? Or do you walk away from the opportunity to expand your life and deepen its meaning? 

    That nudge, that stopping in your tracks, that discomfort – all are essential to being self-aware. 

    And the reshaping of your beliefs won’t happen in an instant. Personal enlightenment is a process of choosing better ways one thought, one experience, one challenge at a time.

  2. Self-awareness brings you face-to-face with your strengths.

     Self-awareness isn’t all about fessing up to your faults. It is equally about recognizing your strengths and gifts. 

    Why would anyone need to work on recognizing his or her strengths? you may be asking. 

    While some people are self-aggrandizing and misguided in terms of their strengths, others don’t acknowledge theirs. 

    And there could be any number of reasons. Competition. Fear. Parental disparagement during childhood. Disappointments in life. Even the deep-seated sense of responsibility for using those strengths for a greater good and the resistance to that effort. 

    Being self-aware will ask you if you are being all you can be. It will ask you to examine how the world responds to you. 

    Do others trust you, admire you, seek you out for the consistency of specific gifts? 

    And self-awareness will reawaken the connection between your dreams and the gifts you have been given to manifest them. That alone makes the commitment worthwhile!

  3. Self-awareness brings you face-to-face with your weaknesses.

     Every coin has two sides. And any truth serum that brings your strengths to the fore will do the same for your weaknesses. 

    While it’s far easier to bask in the kudos of all your merits, the fearless examination of your flaws can be life changing. 

    That uncomfortable look at what begs for improvement is one of the biggest reasons that emotional self-awareness is difficult for some people to attain

    Again, not an overnight process. Looking at the thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and weaknesses that harm your relationships and limit your life takes courage. 

    And courage, like all virtues and worthy pursuits, is practiced.

  4. Deepening self-awareness requires peace of mind, time, and attention.

     Auto-pilot may have its conveniences, but it can also be dangerous. 

    It can lead to the dismissal of any accountability for where you’re going and how you’re getting there. You get too comfortable. You stop “checking in.” You go from point A to point B with no awareness of how you got there. 

    The busy-ness and chaos of life in a fast-paced, competitive world force you to choose the pursuit of peacefulness. Time isn’t going to pause. Quiet and calm aren’t going to magically consume you.

    And yet, the process of being self-aware and increasing self-awareness requires dedicated time, attention, and mindfulness. 

    When you’re not necessarily looking forward to what your self-awareness work will reveal and ask of you, going into a contemplative or meditation mode can be difficult. 

    Again, practice. Today you may last two thoughts, tomorrow two minutes, next month two hours.

  5. Being self-aware means being aware of how others see you.

     If you’re going to do all this self-awareness work, surely you want to know How can self-awareness help me? 

    While the benefits of self-awareness are endless, one of its greatest pay-offs is its effect on relationships. 

    As a matter of fact, self-awareness is essential to any healthy relationship. It’s at the heart of owning one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors without blaming others. 

    And the avoidance of blame is integral to problem-solving and the development of intimacy. 

    Knowing how others perceive you, while it shouldn’t define your sense of self, will give you insight into the effectiveness of your self-expression. 

    Do people feel safe having difficult conversations with you, or do they feel they can’t get a word in edgewise? Are you perceived as kind, just, thoughtful, confident, capable? Or do people avoid you, distrust you, limit their contact with you? 

    These considerations will give you insight not only into yourself, but into your relationships, as well. 

    Is there truth to those perceptions, both positive and negative? What do those perceptions say about you? 

    And what do they say about those who have them? Are you making wise choices about where and with whom you spend your time? 

    How people see each other speaks volumes about both the observer and the observed. 

    How do you think the world sees you? How do you think those closest to you see you? 

    As you get further along in your self-awareness work, you may find the courage to ask…and to reflect upon the answer.

Many things in life are destination-driven. Get the football over the goal line, the golf ball into the hole, the million-dollar deal closed, the kids successfully launched.

And yet, the experience of every destination reached, whether a goal or a tropical island, is influenced by that which has no destination.

Being self-aware affects every aspect of your “being.” And, the more you practice it, the happier you will be…at every destination.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn and I’m a life coach. Schedule a 30-minute private consultation for support in cultivating greater self-awareness and becoming more you.

Looking for more information about how you can cultivate your self-awareness? You’ll find what you’re looking for in How To Be More Self-Aware.

7 Uplifting Life-After-Divorce Quotes

Notepad with one of the best life-after-divorce quotes: What is coming, is better than what’s gone.

Sometimes there’s no way to put your feelings into words. Divorce can cast a pretty long shadow over your vision for the future and leave you feeling hopeless. That’s when it’s time to turn to the authors, the poets, and the been-there-survived-it veterans of loss for some uplifting life-after-divorce quotes.

While cleverly crafted proverbs can’t wave a magic wand of healing over your pain, they can offer clarity and food for thought.

Here are 7 uplifting life-after-divorce quotes to get you looking at the positive side of your new life.

  1. When the wrong people leave your life, the right things start to happen. (Zig Ziglar)

    We’ve all heard the adage that “you are who you hang around.” And any time spent diving into self-help books will remind you that the people in your life are simply mirrors of yourself. 

    In other words, the company you keep has a profound influence on how you think and on the choices you make. 

    It’s also a reflection of your influence. 

    Unfortunately, marrying someone doesn’t guarantee the quality or integrity of his or her influence. It also doesn’t guarantee that your relationship will bring out the best in one another. 

    A person doesn’t have to be a “bad” person to be wrong for your life. If you and your spouse are stuck in patterns you can’t break through, you may notice that you’re “stuck” in other ways, too. 

    As painful as divorce is, sometimes it opens the door to just the right energy for your life.

  2. If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello. (Paulo Coehlo)

    You may be convinced that the end of your marriage spells the end of love for you. But that’s simply not true. 

    Granted, you may not know how to tell the difference between a rebound relationship and the real thing in the early post-divorce days. But you just may come to the amazing realization that the most important relationship you can have is the one with yourself. 

    Embracing that self-discovery is a “new hello” that will prepare you to create the life you want. It may or may not involve romance or marriage. But you will be the one making the choice. 

    Saying goodbye to your marriage is one thing. Saying goodbye to your own ways of thinking and communicating that didn’t serve your relationship is quite another. 

    It demonstrates a hard-won metamorphosis and a readiness to meet life head-on with confidence and a seasoned self to offer.

  3. Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. (J.K. Rowling)

    Ahh, when it comes to uplifting life-after-divorce quotes, what better metaphor is there than springing off rock bottom? 

    Your divorce may be the lowest point in your life so far. But it’s also a solid starting point for changing direction. 

    The old house has been torn down and it’s time to rebuild…on your terms…to your vision. 

    Think you can’t pick yourself up out of the rubble of divorce and rebuild your life? Read J.K. Rowling’s rags-to-riches story of life after divorce.

  4. Sometimes you don’t feel the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release. (Unknown)

    If you’ve ever carried a heavy knapsack of books on your back, you know how light you feel when you take it off. 

    You may have walked across campus not giving your books another thought. You tightened your muscles and stood up a little straighter, not thinking about your adjustments for the added weight. 

    But once you slid that heavy pack off your back, you realized the weight you had been lugging around. 

    Emotional weight has the same effect. And divorce, despite its long healing process, can be the sliding off of that heavy knapsack. 

    Suddenly you realize all the adjustments you have made in order to carry the emotional weight in your marriage.

  5. Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself. (Deborah Reber) 

    Divorce is, above all else, a learning experience. That is, if you choose to learn from it. 

    You can stay stuck in a crippling sense of failure or harness the lessons life so generously offers in every situation. 

    You don’t have to spend the rest of your life hating your ex in order to put your marriage behind you. 

    But, if you’re going to rise above the loss, you will have to own your own contributions to it. 

    You will also have to own your changes and choices going forward. 

    After all, you’re the only person you can control. And now you’re in charge of your own life.

  6. I used to hope that you’d bring me flowers. Now I plant my own. (Rachel Wolchin)

    It’s a wonderful, liberating feeling to know that you don’t have to wait for someone else to do nice things for you. 

    Something as simple as buying flowers can become an indulgence you give yourself just to make yourself feel good. No waiting, hoping, hinting. 

    And planting flowers in your own yard? Even better! 

    Of course, flowers are as much a metaphor as a literal reference. 

    The beauty of your new singlehood is that you get to write new rules for your own life. 

    And you get to show up for yourself without waiting or hoping for someone else to show up.

  7. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. (Marilyn Monroe)

    It’s often only in hindsight that we see purpose in life’s darkest moments. 

    Perhaps that’s because we have plowed through and risen up against the odds to be able to assign purpose. Purpose to the past. Purpose to the future. 

    As impossible as it may seem to rise from the ashes, trust that Life knows how to transform your pain. 

    Even when there is regret, Life offers the consolation of wisdom to prepare you for something even better. Something you wouldn’t have even recognized if you hadn’t experienced and endured the pain.

Getting through divorce is, in many ways, a lesson in resilience.

It’s also a lesson in resourcefulness. Where will you turn for answers, support, inspiration?

Taping self-help notes and life-after-divorce quotes to your mirror may seem far-fetched at first. 

But remember that you’re writing the rules now. And that means you get to fill your home, your mind, your life with anything and everything that lifts you up.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and life coach. If you’d like additional support rebuilding your life after divorce, you can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or you can schedule a 30-minute private consultation with me.

Looking for more information about how to start over after divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Life After Divorce.