How To Move On After Divorce

A moving truck helping someone move on after divorce.

Three things you need to do to successfully move on after divorce.

When I think about all the work I do as a divorce and personal life coach and how I help people navigate the chaos and confusion of divorce so they can get on to living the best of their lives, I realize that the bulk of my work really involves 3 tasks.  I work with people who want to move on after their divorce people so they can:

  1. Take care of themselves
  2. Separate the present from the past and create their future
  3. Realize they’re not alone

These are three tasks everyone is required to complete to be able to successfully move on from divorce.

So many people who get divorced give up on themselves.  I was one of them.  I gave up on myself when I got divorced.  I thought that since I’d failed at my most important relationship what’s the point?  Why bother doing anything more than go through the motions of living?  Yes, this was the voice of me experiencing melodrama and situational depression.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, my work as a divorce coach over the last few years has taught me that most people feel a version of this when they get divorced and that it’s not a place anyone should stay for long.

It’s vital that you take care of yourself when you get divorced.  It’s the only way you’ll be able to move on and discover what’s possible for you.  (You’ve also got to take care of yourself to take care of your kids too.)  Taking care of yourself involves things like eating appropriately, getting enough sleep, finding employment if you don’t have it already and asking for help when you need it.

The next big piece of work everyone who’s ready to move on from their divorce needs to complete is separating the present from the past and taking the steps necessary to create the future they really want.

This recognition of the difference between the past, present and future is the focus of any type of coaching.  Most coaches call it closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

However, with divorce, things are a bit trickier because there’s usually such a strong pull back to the past and wanting to understand why the divorce is happening not to mention grieving the marriage and all that went with it.

Don’t worry if you feel like this is the hardest part of moving on from your divorce because this is the one task that most people have the most difficult time with.  The key to completing this particular task quickly is to have appropriate support.  You might look for the support you want and deserve from a family member, friend, clergy, therapist or divorce coach.  Just make sure that the person or people you’re getting support from really know what it’s like to get through divorce and can help you move on from your divorce quickly and completely.

The third task is the one that really helps people make quantum leaps toward their desired futures post-divorce.  Getting involved in a divorce support group or workshop that focuses on both commiserating AND accountability is the quickest way for you to realize that you’re not all alone when you’re going through divorce.

Unfortunately, not all divorce recovery groups are created equal, so you’ll want to do a bit of research to find the one that will work best for you.  You’ll want to ask anyone you know who’s taken a divorce workshop if their workshop provided both an opportunity to share what they were going through AND accountability for moving forward between classes/sessions.  You can also ask your attorney for a recommendation of a good class in the area.  Here are three websites for organizations that offer divorce recovery workshops that you can check out: Divorce Care, Rebuilding Workshops, and When Your Relationship Ends Workshops.

If you’re ready to successfully move on from your divorce, realize that there are only 3 things you need to do: 

  1. Take care of yourself
  2. Separate the present from the past and create your future
  3. Join a community so you recognize that you’re not alone in getting through your divorce

Once you start your work on completing these tasks you’ll develop the focus and determination to not only move on from your divorce, but to get on to making the rest of your life the best of your life.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Which of the three tasks to moving on from divorce do you need to pay the most attention to right now?  Most of us like to think that we need to multi-task to get things done – including healing from divorce, but that’s just not true.  All that anyone can truly focus on at any instant is one thing, so start at the top of the list and see, if you need to take care of yourself, if you need to separate now from the past and design your future, or if you need to search for and join a divorce support group.

What help do you need to accomplish this one task?  When you’re going through divorce, just about everything becomes a bit more difficult to do because of the huge changes divorce brings with it.  It’s 100% OK to ask for some help.  So go ahead and ask for the help you need.  You’re worth it!

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 take the first step to work with me as your personal coach.

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

Compromise Isn’t A Contest

Arguing couple wondering what is compromise.

The ability to compromise is one of the requirements for a successful long-term relationship. Although when the relationship ends, it’s pretty common to realize that what you were calling compromise really wasn’t. You discover you were giving in or giving up for the sake of keeping the peace or being a wonderful partner. In essence, you lost and your partner won.

If someone wins and someone loses, it’s not compromise. It’s a contest and there’s a score.

Although we’re taught to be good sports when we’re kids – you know be a gracious winner and a good sport about losing – I don’t know anyone who likes to lose again and again and again. That’s because continually losing in a contest can lead us to think that we’re less than our opponent. When our opponent is our partner, it’s a recipe for disaster. They start to also believe that we’re less than they are and treat us that way. Then, we start resenting them and lose a little piece of ourselves every time we stuff our thoughts and feelings for the sake of “compromise”.

Compromise isn’t about always doing what someone else expects or wants. Compromise in a relationship is about two people who respect each other being able to freely talk about what their different thoughts and ideas are to arrive at a mutual decision which will allow them to move forward in some way.

Now, you and I both know that this isn’t how most of the real world of relationships works. This “freely talk” stuff is often accompanied by raised voices and maybe a slammed door or two. BUT the key is that both people are able to be heard when they speak about what’s important to them. Granted it can be hard to be heard when two people are yelling at each other so compromise usually works best before the issue reaches a fevered pitch.

When I first got married I thought that compromise just meant that things were able to move forward in some way – not that my feelings and thoughts were valuable and needed to be part of the equation. I believed that so long as my husband was happy that I should be happy by default. If he wanted to do something, then I should be OK with it no matter what I really thought. I convinced myself that we were great at compromising. What I was great at was giving in and giving up so we wouldn’t argue. And every time I did that, I thought less of myself. I lived like that for 18 years. That’s a long time to continually chip away at your self-esteem and identity.

When we divorced, part of me felt free. I wouldn’t need to worry about pleasing him anymore. Another part of me was scared because I realized that meant I could focus on pleasing myself, but I wasn’t really sure what I liked or wanted. It had been so long since I had allowed myself to know me – the real me.

Fast-forward to today and I’ve been remarried for 4 years. I know who I am and what makes me happy. One of the things my new husband and I continue to work on is the art of compromise. I’ll be honest when we first got together we had more contests than compromise. There were plenty of raised voices and doors slamming, but today we’re much better at compromise. Compromise for us requires looking at the bigger picture instead of only what’s going on in the instant. We look at what our overall goals are for ourselves, each other and our relationship. Once we do that, it’s so much easier to compromise instead of battle.

And this experience is why I believe that the ability to compromise, really compromise, is a key part of being in a successful long-term relationship.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

How well did/do you and your ex compromise? Be extremely honest with yourself. Were you always getting your way? Were you always giving in?

How would you like compromise to be different in a new relationship? Most people see the value in compromise instead of conflict or even always getting their way. What’s your opinion?

How will you increase the likelihood of you having the ability to compromise in a new relationship? What do you need to look for in the personality of your new partner to know that you’ll be able to compromise in a way that will nurture the relationship? What do you need to change about the way you communicate to allow compromise the way you envision it to be a part of your new relationship?

Feeling like you would appreciate some outside support with this whole idea? You might want to contact a therapist or a divorce coach to get a different perspective and some tools for how to make your next relationship great.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are contemplating divorce. Should you stay, or should you go is a powerful question and I’m here to help you make a smart decision that will lead to your greatest happiness… whether you stay OR go. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly adviceAnd, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

If you’re looking for more help answering the question “Should I stay or should I go?”, read more in Unhappy Marriage?

Courage And Freedom

For me, my life has been one big life lesson in courage and freedom. Thus it comes as no surprise that helping others find the courage to reach financial freedom has been my career path for the past fifteen years.

As a wealth advisor, I help others have the courage to pursue their dreams and create the financial freedom to live joyful and abundant lives. Does that equate to living a life full of roses—the answer can only be yes if one accepts the thorns alongside the beauty.

The key to embracing our life purpose lies in embracing the challenges along the road to freedom, facing the fears that otherwise hold us back and having the awareness that without a roadmap in hand, financial freedom is but a fleeting dream. It takes real courage to invest one’s money into a volatile market gripped with global economic uncertainty. Throwing caution to the wind is not prudent. But with careful consideration of one’s goals and objectives, flavored with a bias towards risk management, and courage to correct course along the way, financial freedom becomes reality.

We all go through transitions in life—affectionately called “stressors”—-marriage, births, job loss, career changes, major illness, loss of loved ones, divorce, moves, retirement, to name but a few. All transitions share a commonality—they take courage—courage to overcome our fears and courage to embrace the change that results from each event. Financial freedom makes the transitions less stressful. And sometimes the financial freedom comes as a result of the transitions. And yet, financial freedom takes focus, effort, work, determination, and courage.

If you are seeking courage and freedom, then “When the past calls, let it go to voicemail. It has nothing new to say.” With an open mind you can explore, create, and grow, remembering all the while that progress would be impossible if we continue to do things the way we always have. As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death—and saddling up anyway.”

So “saddle up”—find the courage to create a life full of freedom, joy, happiness, and abundance and you will know you are truly living!

This article was contributed by Janet Woods, Wealth Advisor, UBS Financial Services, Inc., 214-373-5918 www.ubs.com/fa/janetlwoods

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

What are your financial goals? Most people dealing with divorce need to visit this question. Divorce usually changes finances dramatically, yet it doesn’t have to ruin your financial future. Allow yourself the freedom to really assess what your financial goals are.

What do you need to do to achieve your financial goals? This is one of those times when it’s important to know what you need before you can ask for help. Everyone has a unique financial situation when they complete their divorce. Some people need to figure out how to invest a lump sum from a retirement account, some people need to find a job, and some people need to figure out how to rebalance their portfolio. Whatever your unique situation is, spending a bit of time figuring out what your most immediate need is will allow you to know exactly whom you need to request assistance from.

Luckily, I know you know how to ask for help (you wouldn’t have found this newsletter if you didn’t) and so you’ll be able to start on your path to reaching your financial goals by working with the correct professional for you. BUT, if you need an assist in knowing which type of professional to work with, I’m only a phone call or email away.

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

Separated Or Divorced: The Easy Road?

Undulating 2-lane road passing through a forest.

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

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

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

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

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are contemplating divorce. Should you stay, or should you go is a powerful question and I’m here to help you make a smart decision that will lead to your greatest happiness… whether you stay OR go. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly adviceAnd, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

If you’re looking for more help answering the question “Should I stay or should I go?”, read more articles in Unhappy Marriage?.

How To Slay Your Dragons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

  • Identify a dragon you’re ready to slay. I recommend starting small. What’s one small thing that’s keeping you stuck?
  • Apply the process above. Allow yourself the time to experiment with this process. I think you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll be able to get in touch with each of your brains and get moving in the right direction for you.

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 confidential consultation with me.

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

A Designer’s Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

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

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

The 8 Keys To Trust In A Post-Divorce Relationship – Part 2

Happy couple who have discovered how to trust again after divorce.

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

As a quick reminder, the first 4 keys were clarity, compassion, character and competency. (You can read the detailed discussion about these keys here.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

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

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

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

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

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

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 adviceIf you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

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

The 8 Keys To Trust In A Post-Divorce Relationship – Part 1

Couple on a cliff overlooking the sea kissing because they've each found the ability to trust after divorce.

You’ve probably heard recommendations from other experts about how long you need to wait after divorce before you start dating. These other experts recommend that you wait anywhere from just 1 year to 1 year for every 4 years you were married.

I disagree with these one-size-fits-all recommendations. I believe that the only requirement for you to be able to successfully date after divorce is that you’ve finished your time in the Divorce Pits. The Divorce Pits are where you experience the most painful feelings of divorce – grief, anger, guilt and rejection.

I hope you can agree with me that you wouldn’t want to date someone consumed with the Divorce Pits. So, if you’re consumed with them, you’re probably not going to find someone who wants to date you either. (You can find out if you’re still in the Divorce Pits by taking the assessment here.)

Once you’re out of the Pits, you’re cleared to date. There are all kinds of ways you can meet people to date and I’ll save a discussion of that for some other time. The point I want to get to here is that your dating should be helping you to determine what you do and don’t like about yourself and others in a relationship. There are all kinds of things that people do and don’t want in a relationship, but the one thing that EVERYONE WANTS is to be able to trust their partner.

Take It Slowly When You’re Re-Learning How To Trust After Divorce

For many of us post-divorce, our ability to trust another isn’t quite working ideally. That’s why I recommend you build your trust in yourself first (read more here), then build your trust in friendships (read more here), before trusting someone in a committed relationship. The question I always get from my clients about this is how do I know if I can trust someone?

You can feel pretty confident about trusting someone in a committed relationship by using 8 different keys. These keys are things that you need to examine both in the other person and in your ability to give to them.

We’ll start with the first four keys today and save the other four for next week’s article. (Read part 2.)

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

  1. Clarity – Clarity refers to the ability you and your partner have communicating with each other AND in the clarity you each have individually about being in the relationship. Are you both open and clear about what you want from the relationship? Are you both clear about what needs you’d like to have the other meet? Are you both clear about what you are and are not willing to do in the relationship? The important point about each of these questions is that you’re clear individually without any pressure from the other person or fear of losing the relationship and that you’re able to clearly communicate this to each other. (You should also be aware that after divorce we all change a lot, so just because you’re clear about what you want today, next month, next quarter, next year, your needs of the relationship may change and you both need to be willing to continue being clear for the duration of the relationship.)
  2. Compassion – Compassion refers to the ability you’ve each got to care for the other. Compassion in a healthy relationship MUST be two-way. There are times when one partner may need more compassion than another, but if the flow of compassion is only one-way, the relationship isn’t conducive to building the level of trust necessary for a long-term committed relationship.
  3. Character – Character is who you each are as individuals and in the relationship. It’s not unusual for people to behave one way in front of others and another way in the privacy of their relationship. If you find that you’re not behaving like yourself in a relationship, that’s not a healthy relationship for you. If you find that you don’t care for the way the person you’re dating regularly behaves, then they’re not the right person for you.
  4. Competency – Competency can sound like a funny criterion for trust in a dating or love relationship, but it’s really important. Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who is simply incapable of meeting your needs of the relationship? I doubt it. That’s why I believe it’s critical that you get some clarity on what you want in a relationship and what you’re willing to give to a relationship. Once you know that, you’ll have an idea of whether or not you’ve both got the competency to be in a relationship together.

I know that this is only half of the list, but it’s a lot of information! These aren’t necessarily simple keys. They require careful thought and a deep awareness of your feelings. But armed with these first keys, you’ve got a great starting point for figuring out if the person or people you’re dating are right for you to enter into a deeper relationship with.

Your Assignment For Learning How To Trust Someone Again:

Get clear about what you want in your post-divorce relationships. You might be looking for your next great love or you might be looking for someone to hang out with and just have fun. It’s important that you get clear about what you want so you’ll be able to know if dating someone is in your best interest or not. AND so that you’ll be able to have clarity telling the other person what you want.

How might you determine if the other person is compassionate? In my experience, this is one of those keys that takes time to evaluate. You might be able to tell enough about someone’s lack of compassion quickly. However, if it’s not glaringly obvious that the other person isn’t compassionate, then seeing how you both act in stressful situations is probably the quickest way to determine your level of compassion for yourselves and each other.

If you’re in a relationship with someone, do you like who you are when you’re with them? For most of us who divorced, when we take an honest look back at our marriage we can usually find something about ourselves in the marriage that we’ve since changed or are in the process of changing. There was something about what our marriage had become that caused us to be less than ourselves. It’s so very important that you not enter into another relationship that might cause you to not appreciate yourself 100%. So, if you don’t like whom you are when you’re with someone, it’s time to end that relationship. If you do like who you are when you’re with someone, the relationship just might be working and you might be closer to building trust.

Is the person you’re in relationship with capable of meeting your needs? Are you capable of meeting theirs? If your answer is “yes” to both questions, you’ve got another key for building trust in this relationship. If not, then this relationship probably isn’t in your best interest to continue for long.

Don’t worry; you don’t have to go through this alone. I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor. I’ve been divorced and I know what you’re going through. My specialty is helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress, pain and uncertainty of divorce. You can join my anonymous 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.

 

If you’re looking for more help with putting together your post-divorce life, you’ll want to read more at Life After Divorce.

Do You REALLY Trust Yourself?

Man quizzically peering from behind a blue wall wondering about trust and divorce recovery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve written a previous blog post about how to do this and instead of re-writing it here, I’ll just direct you to that post: https://drkarenfinn.com/divorce-blog/dealing-with-grief/118-a-quick-and-simple-way-to-dump-divorce-depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

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

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

Know your limits. This is one of those extra bonus things about trusting yourself. As you trust yourself more you’ll know exactly when you need to ask for help and what kind of help you need.

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 confidential consultation with me.

If you’re looking for more help recovering from your divorce, read more articles in Healing After Divorce.

Divorce and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

As I’ve mentioned before, I do a lot of reading and I’ll often be reading several books at the same time. I’ll pick up whichever one fits my mood when I have a few moments to read.

One of the books I’ve got open these days is The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life by Glenn Beck and Keith Ablow, M.D. I found one particular passage interesting because it reminded me about perspective and how my life has changed since I got divorced. The passage is actually a quote from Robert Pirsig’s book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which I read about a year after my divorce was final. Here’s the passage:

The trap consists of a hollowed-out coconut chained to a stake. The coconut has some rice inside which can be grabbed through a small hole. The hole is big enough so that the monkey’s hand can go in, but too small for his fist with rice in it to come out. The monkey reaches in and is suddenly trapped – by nothing more than his own value rigidity. He can’t revalue the rice. He cannot see that freedom without rice is more valuable than capture with it. The villagers are coming to get him and take him away. They’re coming closer…closer!…now!…

There is a fact this monkey should know: if he opens his hand he’s free. But how is he going to discover this fact? Be removing the value rigidity that rates rice above freedom. How is he going to do that? Well, he should somehow try to slow down deliberately and go over ground that he has been over before and see if things he thought were important really were important and, well, stop yanking and just stare at the coconut for a while. Before long he should get a nibble from a little fact wondering if he is interested in it. He should try to understand this fact not so much in terms of his big problem as for its own sake. That problem may not be as big as he thinks it is. That fact may not be as small as he thinks it is either.

When I got divorced, I felt like that trapped monkey – terrified and held captive by my fears about what I thought was important at the time. What I thought was important back then was that my life after divorce needed to work pretty much exactly the same as it had before my divorce – except that I now had an ex-husband. This was the fact whose nibbling I ignored. I ignored the reality that one person cannot be as productive as two people working together. I ignored that it would take me longer to do all of the household chores on my own instead of sharing them with someone else. I ignored the fact that caring for 3 attention-loving pets on my own would be more of a challenge than it was when I was married. I ignored these realities and expected that I could do it all with at least as high a quality as had been done pre-separation and divorce.

I kept ignoring all of these facts about my home life and kept expecting that I could and should do it all as had been done before. I also kept expecting the same high-level of performance from myself at work, at the gym and at play. I expected so much of myself that I virtually eliminated any time for myself – any down time to just relax. I had built a very elaborate trap for myself – one that kept me frazzled and eventually led to burnout.

Today, more than 10 years later, I’m amazed by what an elaborate trap I had created for myself.

The thing is, I’m not the only person who got divorced and created a trap. I regularly meet and work with divorced people who create their own elaborate captivities.

Back then, just like the people I meet and work with today, I simply wasn’t capable of identifying my captivity when I got divorced. I thought it was just how my life was and that somehow I was defective because I couldn’t keep up with everything I thought I had to keep up with. Today I know that wasn’t the case. Today, I know that back then I wanted my rice (all my expectations of myself) and didn’t realize I was selling my freedom to have it.

Like most people dealing with divorce, I’ll bet that you are holding yourself captive unnecessarily too. Check out Your Functional Divorce Assignment to help you identify and loosen the bonds of your trap.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

What trap are you in? There are all kinds of traps people create for themselves when they get divorced. Maybe your trap is similar to mine in that you expect your life to be pretty much the same. Maybe your trap is a belief that you’re too old to ever find another significant other. Maybe your trap is a belief that you have no employable skills and no way of getting any. Or maybe your trap is something else all together. It could be big or small, the size doesn’t matter. What does matter is identifying how you are feeling captive.

What are the reasons you believe your trap exists? Come up with every single reason your trap is real no matter how small or how big. You might want to write them down so you can get them out of your head and make sure you’ve got them all covered. Besides, having them all listed in one place will help you with the next step.

For each of the reasons, ask yourself “Is this reason 100% true?” and “What makes this reason true?” I wish I had known how to ask myself these questions when I was recovering from my divorce. What often happens when I compassionately ask my clients both questions is that they’ll start to get a nibble of a fact they had been ignoring. That nibble will often lead to a new idea or a new perspective that allows their trap to be loosened – at least a little bit – which will often entirely change their trap if not eliminate it completely.

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.

If you’re looking for more help recovering from your divorce, read more articles about Healing After Divorce.