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.

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.

Who Can You Trust?

To heal from divorce, you must learn to trust again.

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

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

Karen Finn

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

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

Fiona Apple

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

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

Anton Chekhov

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

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

Frank Crane

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

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

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

Democritus

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

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

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

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

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

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

Part 3: How To Decrease Stress When You’re Going Through Divorce

I enjoy watching Project Runway because of the amazing outfits the contestants make. This season there was one designer, Patricia, who was the stereotypical creative genius. Her creativity was AMAZING and her workspace was a total disaster. In fact, the state of her space made others on the show concerned!

Patricia’s workspace and the response others had to it made me laugh with a touch of embarrassment because, like Patricia, when I start working on a project, I’m not neat. I have things strewn all over the place which really wouldn’t be bad except for the fact that I’m on to the next project before I’ve cleaned up the debris from the first one. After a few projects, my office looks like the Tasmanian devil from the Bugs Bunny cartoons has paid a visit. I tell myself that what matters is getting the next project done, but what I’ve FINALLY realized is that the general disaster area that I let my workspace become really impacts not only my ability to work, but how comfortable people (including me) feel coming into my office!

So 3 weeks ago, I had the help of an amazing professional organizer, Ashley Easley of MasterPeace Solutions. She helped me fine-tune what I was doing into a really workable process that easily allows me to be creative with my projects and keep things nicely organized. Now I feel good and energized being in my office. I’ve also noticed that everyone else is less reluctant to enter now too.

And here’s how this all matters to you. Even in the best of times, your environment plays a big part in how you feel. When you’re going through divorce, you’re even more sensitive to your environment.

A lot of the stress of divorce comes from a sense of not being in control of the situations you find yourself in. Having your surroundings unorganized adds to the general sense of chaos and loss of control. So, one way many people find to decrease the stress they feel during divorce is to organize and clean. Then there are others (and, yes, I fell into this category) who just look at the disorganization as being too much to deal with and then don’t do anything.

Just in case you’re like me, I’m going to share with you Ashley’s 5 C’s of Organizing. I know that if I had had these 5 C’s back then, the plan would have given me hope that I could indeed help my stress by organizing my surroundings OR that there were professionals available to help me.

  1. Categorize – Sort like items together. When Ashley was helping me with my office we had a bunch of papers on my desk that needed to be dealt with. She helped me divide everything into piles on the floor of “to be filed”, “recycle”, “shred”, “needs more work”, and “goes in another place”.
  2. Consolidate – Once we had the piles created (or really anytime the piles got too big for me to look at) I shredded what needed to be shredded and deposited the things from the recycle pile into the recycle bin in the garage.
  3. Create – Once we had a handle on what needed to stay in my office and what needed to leave, we were able to figure out where everything needed to go and create space for it.
  4. Contain – What I needed to help me get my office under control was file folders and letter boxes. By creating specific spots to put all the papers that I deal with as part of my work, it’s been TONS easier to find what I need when I need it and to put things away when I’m done with them.
  5. Continue – This is where I was really concerned, would I be able to continue keeping things in their proper places and getting rid of the things I didn’t need any more? Well, I’m not batting 1000 yet, but I’m doing pretty great! You can judge for yourself by taking a look at the before and after photos of my office. (Yes, I took the after photo today.)

You can use this same technique to tackle one area of your home or office that is adding to the chaos of your divorce. It might be a drawer, closet, desk, room or even your attic! Today’s Your Functional Divorce Assignment will help you de-stress your environment.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Pick the one area you want to take control of. I suggest starting small at first. You’ve got a lot going on and being easy on yourself as you go through this process will make it more likely you’ll successfully finish it.

Schedule a block of time where you can focus on gaining control of the area. If you have kids, you might want to choose a weekend when the kids are with their other parent.

Put Ashley’s 5C’s of Organization to work. Having used the 5 C’s with Ashley, I can tell you, it’s pretty easy to follow when you have the discipline to do it and not get caught up in “rediscovering” what you’ve unearthed. I was thankful to have Ashley around to help me focus on completing the job. And, with the focus she provided, we made amazing progress in our time together!

Ask for help if you need it. It’s truly OK to ask for help to keep you focused on gaining control of the area you’ve picked. You might want to call a friend to support you, call your coach to keep you accountable, or hire a professional organizer like Ashley!

Enjoy. Yes, the last step is to enjoy the fruits of your labor and the greater sense of peace from having a little less chaos in your life.

And in case you missed them, here are links to part 1 and part 2.

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 interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

 

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

Part 2: How To Decrease Stress When You’re Going Through Divorce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

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

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

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

In case you missed it, here’s a link to part 1. And here’s a link to part 3.

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 interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

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

3 Steps to Spring Clean Your Relationships

One of the tasks on nearly everyone’s to-do list this time of year is spring cleaning. After having our homes closed up for the winter, it’s nice to open up the windows and make our homes spick-and-span. I guess it goes along with spring in general since it’s when nature is new and fresh again.

As I was thinking about my own spring cleaning, I started to wonder about the possibility of spring cleaning our relationships. (Yes, technically I guess this thought process counts as procrastinating, but I’ll leave that discussion, the bucket of cleaning supplies, and the toilet for another time.)

I realized that relationships, just like our homes, need to be refreshed, cleaned up and have all the junk removed from them periodically.

There is plenty of advice on the web for what you need to do to thoroughly spring clean your home, but I’ll bet this will be your first list of what to do to spring clean your relationships!

1. Get rid of the junk – lots of people have relationships in which they can’t be themselves; they’re always acting and pretending to be what the other person wants. These types of relationships are junk because you’re not able to be authentically you and they’re very draining.

Now when I say get rid of the junk relationships, I don’t necessarily mean get rid of the relationship itself. What I mean is that the way the relationship currently exists needs to change. It needs to change in a way that allows you to be completely yourself and allows the other person to be completely themselves too.

2. Air things out – at some time or another, we’ve all chosen to keep quiet and stew over something that’s happened in a relationship. I know it was probably the best answer at the time we made it, but it’s not the best answer in the long term. The reason is that these things can cause resentment and undermine a relationship.

Taking great care of relationships means that it’s important we take the time to clear the air by addressing what needs to be addressed and/or forgiving what needs to be forgiven so we can breathe easier within each of our relationships.

3. Clean all the surfaces – our best relationships are multi-faceted. They support us in all kinds of ways. We share our lives with each other – the joys, sadnesses, fears and triumphs. We give each other room to dream about how we want our lives to be and we help each other accomplish our dreams. We also have fun together – lots of fun!

It’s worth the time to think about each relationship and figure out how each facet within it is working. Are both people feeling supported and sharing the important stuff along with the superficial? When’s the last time you just had some fun together?

Although this list only has 3 items on it, completing these tasks will definitely require some work. But let me assure you that the work is DEFINITELY worth it because, as my husband likes to regularly remind me, no one is an island and we all do better when our relationships are working.

Now that I’ve completed my thoughts on spring cleaning relationships, I guess it’s time to give my attention back to the bucket of cleaning supplies and the toilet.

Your Friendly Coaching Assignment:

Pick out a relationship you’d like to spruce up for spring. Each of our relationships can use a periodic renewal. Pick the one you’d like to focus on improving.

Start with the junk. What are the ways you’re not being 100% you in the relationship you want to spruce up? Are you suspicious that the other person isn’t being 100% themselves? If there is any lack of authenticity within the relationship, you’ll probably want to help each other to be 100% authentic or else decide the relationship is not going to be a deep one.

Open the windows of communication. Once you know the relationship is worth keeping and nurturing, you’ll want to be sure and air out what needs to be aired. Letting go of past grievances either by talking about them and/or by forgiving them will definitely breathe new life into any relationship.

Get out your white glove and check all the surfaces. Since every relationship is multi-faceted, taking some time to make sure every surface of your relationship is working for both of you is vital to growing and improving it.

Repeat as necessary and enjoy the rest of the year with your renewed relationships.

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 adviceAnd, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

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