Changing Your Mood Might Be As Easy As Changing Your Shirt

One of the most curious things that happened when I was going through my divorce was that I started to wear black almost all the time. What was so curious about it was that I had always loved color, but for some reason I didn’t understand then, I was drawn to wearing all black for quite a while. It was really different for me and many of my friends commented on my new wardrobe choices.

At the time, I didn’t think too much about it. And after about 6 months, I started to wear more colorful clothing again.

A few years ago, while doing research about emotions and ways that environment affects our moods, I found there is a wealth of research on how colors affect our moods and vice versa. I was really surprised by what I learned because it explained why I had been drawn to different colors while I was going through the worst of my divorce.

Here are some of the things I’d like to share with you about color and how it can affect or reflect feelings:

Black Many of us associate the color black with mourning and that was my first guess as to why I was drawn to it during the worst of my divorce.  Well, according to color therapy theory, black is also the color that gives us space for reflection and inner searching.  I have to tell you that I was doing a whole lot of thinking and trying to figure things out while going through my divorce and so this makes a lot of sense to me.
Blue Blue is the color of a beautiful Caribbean sea and the color of a sunny sky.  Like a sunny day spent lazing on the beach, blue is the color of relaxation.  Color theorists say that blue also promotes relaxation and healing.
Red Red is a VERY energizing color.  You probably remember from watching cartoons when you were a kid that when characters were angry their eyes became red.  You’ve probably also heard the phrase “seeing red” to indicate that someone is angry.  Red intensifies emotions, especially anger.
Yellow Yellow is an interesting color from a color theory point of view.  It is said to stimulate mental activity, promote feelings of self-confidence and increase alertness.  Who wouldn’t want a healthy dose of those feelings?
White White light contains all the colors.  If you need clarity in your thoughts, white may just be the color you need to see more of.

So does this color theory work? Many believe it does. I know that I enjoy being surrounded by colors and that some days I prefer one color over another. I know that when I feel confident and calm, I do tend to wear blue. When I’m feeling vibrant, I tend to choose red. And when I need things to be more organized and clean, I tend to choose white.

What color are you wearing today? Is it a reflection of your mood or thoughts? Is it just the first clean thing you grabbed to put on? Or is it your signature color? You just might be surprised about what the color of your shirt says about how you’re feeling and thinking.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Determine if color therapy could be useful in your life. This week, have some fun noting the colors you wear each day and how you feel. At the end of the week, compare your color/mood combinations to the list above and see if your moods matched the colors.

If you find a correlation between the colors you wore and your moods, experiment with adding more of the colors you were wearing when you felt good. Adding pops of the colors that help you to feel good into your home and office could help you to get back to and maintain a good feeling.

If you don’t find a correlation between the colors you wore and your moods, don’t worry, it just means that you’re probably not especially sensitive to colors right now.

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 to change your mood after divorce, read more articles about Healing After Divorce.

Just finished a great book – Raising the Kid You Love with the Ex You Hate

Image of co-parenting book: Raising the kid you love with the ex you hate

Edward Farber, PhD is releasing his new book Raising the Kid You Love with the Ex You Hate next week. I was lucky enough to receive an Advance Reviewer’s Copy and I do mean lucky.

Ed’s book is full of fabulous advice about how to make the business of co-parenting work after the business of marriage has failed. The basis of his advice about successful co-parenting hinges on these three principles:

  1. Your child needs both parents
  2. Reduce parental conflict after the separation
  3. Both parents make decisions

Parents who can agree to abide by these three principles will have a headstart in helping their children be happy, healthy adults. To be implemented well, each parent needs to be consistently focused on them and communicate regularly with their ex to make sure they’re on the same page. Continuing to interact with your ex after divorce may not be something you look forward to, but, as Dr Farber points out, it’s necessary to being able to raise the kid you love.

I really appreciated reading this no non-sense approach to making co-parenting work along with the real-life stories from Ed’s practice, but probably the best part of this book is the fact that he shares ideas for non-ideal co-parenting situations. He offers suggestions for dealing with an ex who is more interested in revenge than in successfully co-parenting, for how the co-parenting arrangement will naturally need to change as your kid grows older, for dealing with an ex who has emotional, psychological or addictive disorders, and even for dealing with kids who may be embellishing the truth to get into your good graces.

This book is an ideal resource for parents who are divorced or divorcing and committed to continuing to be great parents.

You can check out the book at Raising the Kid You Love with the Ex You Hate.

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.

If you’re looking for more help on how to navigate the challenges of your life now, read more articles on Life After Divorce.

Step 1 For Finding Me-Time In Your Busy Day: Set Timer For 5 Minutes

Isn’t it easy to get caught up in everything that’s going on and demanding our attention? There’s work, our family and friends, our community activities, our health, chores, TV and the internet. PLUS the divorce! It’s all clamoring for attention RIGHT NOW! Wouldn’t it be great to be able to stop the world for a moment and regroup?

Well, stopping the world for just a moment is EXACTLY what I believe you should get in the habit of doing every day. Sounds like a dream, right? OK, so no one can truly stop the world, but you can certainly stop participating in everything for just a few minutes every day. My recommendation is that you take at least 5 minutes every day for “me time”.

The benefits of regular me-time are amazing! They include a reduction in stress, the ability to think more clearly, seeing the “big picture”, and increased energy.

Here’s what you’ll need to be able to stop the world and get your own “me time”: a timer, a comfortable place to sit, and an agreement with everyone else that you are not to be disturbed for 5 minutes.

Step 1: set timer for 5 minutes. Yes, seriously! Set the timer so you can relax knowing you won’t lose track of time.

Step 2: Get comfortable where you’re sitting and close your eyes. Grab a pillow. Curl your legs up underneath you. Pull a blanket over you so you feel cozy. Do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable.

Step 3: Take a deep breath in, hold it for a second and then s-l-o-w-l-y exhale. Notice that while you are exhaling, your shoulders loosen up a bit. Keeping your eyes closed; continue your deep breathing until the timer sounds.

Step 4: Slowly open your eyes, when the timer sounds. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Let yourself re-orient to your surroundings and enjoy how relaxed you’re feeling. Now, go ahead and turn off the timer and let the world start up again.

Your Friendly Coaching Assignment:

Schedule 5 minutes of me-time in the next 24 hours. I find that most people are so used to doing what they believe has to be done for everyone else, that it can be hard to find even 5 minutes to take care of themselves. That’s why this step is so important. Decide when you have 5 minutes that you can dedicate to taking care of you and schedule it into your day.

Keep your appointment with yourself. In order for you to get the benefits of your me-time, you’ve actually got to do it. So, once you get the time scheduled, take the 5 minutes to recharge. I bet you’ll be happy you did!

Do it! The more consistently you give yourself the gift of me-time the easier you’ll find it is to handle all the twists and turns and demands for attention that pop up in your life.

If you’d like more do-able ideas for creating more me-time in your life, give me a call at 817-993-0561 so we can schedule a Complimentary Consultation and together we’ll figure out a way for you to have more me-time.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a private consultation with me.

Wrapping Up 2012

Most of us tend to be forward thinkers. We’re always looking at what’s next. As soon as we finish one thing, we rarely take the time to savor our success before we’re off to the next task or adventure.

This time of year, most Americans are gung-ho about their New Year’s resolutions before the struggling of achieving them sets in over the next few days.

One of the best ways to build the strength and determination to achieve your New Year’s resolutions is to build your belief in yourself by spending a little time reviewing all the good things that happened in 2012 – especially those things that help you know you can achieve your resolutions.

When you’re going through divorce, it’s especially important that you take time out to savor the good things. For most people, divorce has a way of coloring things with a more negative cast. The thing is there are usually good things that happened during the past year too. It’s worth the time to find and appreciate them so your world view can be a bit rosier and happier.

When I review all the things I’ve done, accomplished, and experienced in the previous year, I’m always amazed at how much good stuff I packed into the year! It takes me a couple hours to review my calendar, my business results, photos, my facebook wall posts, and my tweets for the previous year. Besides allowing me the time to appreciate my family, friends, business associates and clients, my year-end review helps me to prepare for the coming year and set more realistic resolutions for the New Year.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Make your year-end review a priority and schedule a couple of hours for it. Once a year, it’s totally worth taking this time for yourself to review where you’ve been and see where you’d like to go.

Gather together your calendar, pictures and anything else that will help you remember all the good stuff from 2012. You may be like me and want to check out your facebook wall too!

Keep your appointment with yourself. Enjoy reviewing all the wonderful things that you got to do, see, and accomplish in 2012. Use the oomph you get from this to help you set and accomplish the resolutions you’ve made for yourself.

Schedule more time if you need it. I find that sometimes people need a bit more time to get through their year-end review when they’re going through divorce. Sometimes the review can trigger some other emotions that need to be worked through. If that happens to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Allow yourself the time you need to process your thoughts and feelings and then get back to enjoying the good things.

If you’re ready for an outside perspective and ready to get the help you deserve to make 2013 your best yet, reach out to me by email at karen@functionaldivorce.com or by phone at 817-993-0561. We can schedule a Complimentary Consultation to help you put your plans in place for making 2013 your best year yet!

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

21 Tips For Surviving The Holidays

The holiday season is typically a time for celebration with friends and family. Yet, when you’re divorcing, the holiday season can feel anything but merry. To help you enjoy this holiday season instead of dreading it, here are 21 tips you can use today.

1. Be patient

Even in the best of times, the holidays are usually a bit hectic. However, when you’re celebrating the holidays for the first time on your own, they can feel more than hectic. They can feel overwhelming! You’ve got so much going on emotionally with the divorce that the added tasks, events and scheduling of the holidays can all be just a bit too much. Be patient with yourself and your kids as you navigate the holidays. This is new and different for everyone and a little patience will go a long way toward making your first holidays post-separation/divorce enjoyable.

2. Be flexible

The holidays are about celebrating with family and friends and don’t HAVE to occur on only one specific day. I find that people with children who are celebrating the holidays for the first time as a single parent often get tied up in the idea that holidays can only happen on the official day marked on the calendar. For example, it’s not unusual for them to think that Thanksgiving Day can ONLY happen on the fourth Thursday of November. However, with a bit of advanced planning (See hint 16.), you may decide that Thanksgiving will actually happen the Saturday before the fourth Thursday of November so you can celebrate it with your kids. Having Thanksgiving early even has the added benefit of allowing you to avoid the crowd buying their last-minute turkey and fixings on the Saturday before the fourth Thursday of November.

3. Focus on others

Another way to enjoy the holiday season is to focus on those less fortunate than you. Consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or at a center that provides holiday “shopping” for needy families. I can guarantee that when you focus on providing joy for those less fortunate than you, an amazing thing happens; you forget about your troubles and appreciate what you do have even more.

4. It’s not about the stuff!

Gift giving is often a big part of the holiday season and with separation and divorce, the funds available for gift giving are usually less. However, gifts don’t need to be purchased to be appreciated. Sometimes the gift of time and attention means more than any store-bought gift ever could.

5. Let happiness happen

For a lot of people going through divorce, it can seem strange to experience any emotion other than some form of upset. Divorce is an upsetting event that can be almost all consuming. However, if you start to feel happy as a result of the holiday events, ENJOY the feeling! You deserve to be happy.

6. Reach out to family and friends

Almost everyone I know wishes someone could read their mind and offer help when it’s needed. On the other hand, I don’t know anyone who can read minds with any real reliability. The message here is if you need a little extra help to get your holidays merrier, be sure and ask for it. Don’t wait for someone to guess what you need.

7. Make new family traditions

With divorce so many things change. Some of these changes are not so comfortable, but some of these changes are good and might even be fun. What new family tradition can you introduce this holiday season to keep things fun?

8. Nix the guilt

So many divorced parents feel guilty about how the kids’ holidays will be different. The thing is different doesn’t mean bad or wrong. Different is just different. If you nix the guilt and embrace the new way your holidays will be, then your kids will enjoy the holidays too.

9. Work with your ex in a cooperative manner for kids sake

One of the things I always tell my clients is that their divorce is between them and their former spouse. The holidays can be a wonderful experience for the kids provided that’s the shared goal you and your former spouse have for them.

10. Continue your traditions, but simplify them

You may have holiday traditions that are important to you, but they just are not possible now that you’re divorced. What can you do to tweak these traditions so that you can still have them?

For example, maybe you had a holiday tradition of going skiing. If that kind of a trip isn’t possible this year, you may choose to do something else that captures the essence of the traditional ski trip. You may decide to play ski jumping on the Wii, have a marshmallow fight instead of a snowball fight and drink hot chocolate afterwards. Let your creativity flow and I know you’ll be able to create a modified tradition this year that you’ll still enjoy.

11. Don’t spend the holidays alone

It can be tempting to crawl into a cave and hibernate during our first holidays alone – especially if your ex has the kids. However, I urge you to resist the temptation. There’s no reason to punish yourself, for that’s what hiding in a cave during the holidays is. I’m not saying that you don’t need time alone. You absolutely do. I’m just suggesting that instead of spending all of the holiday season alone, make an effort to go out and spend some time with others. I promise that you’ll get a different perspective of your first holidays alone if you open yourself up to even a little fun celebrating the holidays with others.

12. Take care of your health

The funny thing about the holiday season is that it coincides with the cold and flu season. This, along with the stress that usually accompanies divorce, makes you a bit more susceptible to catching a bug. So, take good care of yourself by getting plenty of rest, exercise and good nutrition.

13. Give yourself a gift

This being the first holiday season post separation/divorce, you probably won’t be receiving a gift from your ex. The thing is, you probably won’t be buying them a gift either. Since your gift giving list has decreased by at least one, why not add yourself to your list? Go ahead and buy yourself something that you’ll truly enjoy this holiday season. (You may also want to make sure it’s not something that you’ll regret purchasing in the New Year when the payments for it start.)

14. Count your blessings

It’s easy to get caught up in what’s different this holiday season – in the negative sense. Flip that upside down and count what’s different AND positive this holiday season.

15. Lean on your faith

Whatever your beliefs are, you just might be able to find solace in your faith when you’re not feeling the “Ho Ho Ho!” in the holidays.

16. Plan ahead

The most important thing to have when you want something to happen at a certain time is a plan. Wanting to have happy holidays requires a plan too. Plan ahead to make it more likely you’ll have a happy holiday season.

17. Cultivate gratitude

Developing an attitude of gratitude does wonders for the way you view the world. This was one of the most important skills I developed when I got divorced. It helped me to be more positive and proactive about changing the things that needed to be changed not just at the holidays, but year-round.

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

18. What do you love most about holiday season?

People like the cooler weather, giving and receiving gifts, decorations. Whatever it is that you love most about the holiday season, figure out a way to get more of it. Once you do that, you’ll definitely have happier holidays.

19. What activities put you in a holiday mood?

When I ask clients this question I hear answers like shopping, parties, decorating, watching football, Christmas lights, and caroling. The next question I ask them is “How can you do more of these and get even more enjoyment out of the holiday season?” What are you answers to these two questions?

20. Be realistic

Your life is in the midst of a major change. For most people, separation and divorce brings increased responsibilities along with decreased financial means and free-time. Be sure and factor these facts in this holiday season. If you do, I’ll bet you’ll find it easier to be realistic with the expectations you have of yourself, your family and the holidays this year.

21. One holiday at a time

The holiday season can easily be a blur of activities that pretty much start as soon as the jack-o-lantern is off the front porch on the morning of November 1st. Prevent the blur by focusing on just one holiday at a time. Avoid multi-tasking and the potential for overwhelm by taking the holidays just as they come, one… at… a… time.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Choose one of the tips to implement immediately. Sometimes seeing a long list of tips can cause us to start to gloss over them. I know these tips work, so take a moment now and choose one of them that you can implement right now and then do it!

Choose a tip that addresses your biggest concern about the holidays and put it to use. It’s pretty normal for the tip that can be most helpful to not necessarily be the easiest to implement. If that’s the case for you, take a moment now and select the tip that would address your biggest concern. And, when you’re ready, take a deep breath and figure out how you can implement that tip to help you enjoy your holidays just a bit more.

Come back to the tips frequently throughout the holiday season. Just because you’ve tried a tip out once doesn’t mean that you’re done with it. Keep these tips handy and visit them throughout the holidays anytime you could use a little bit of help. And, of course, if you’d like to schedule a Complimentary Consultation with me to discuss your particular situation, just send me an email or give me a call.

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

© 2012 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.

Stop Scaring Yourself!

books about dealing with divorce

Here’s how to stop letting your imagination make things seem so much worse than they really are.

Since it’s the season for scary stuff, I thought I’d tell you a couple of horror stories I told myself when I was getting divorced. The first story is the everyday story. The second is the special event story.

I’ll start with the everyday story. I started telling myself various versions of this story shortly after my ex-husband and I separated in March of 2002.

My fears were LARGE. They invaded almost every facet of my life. I was afraid of living alone. I was afraid of not being able to support myself. I was afraid that I’d get sick from eating food that had gone bad. I was afraid of getting fat. I was afraid of getting old. I was afraid of losing my job.

I’m guessing you get the picture. It’s what I used to do with each of these fears that made up the everyday story.

Here’s one version of the story. I’m afraid of losing my job. Then I’d tell myself that if I lost my job, then I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay my bills. If I wasn’t able to pay my bills, then I’d lose my house and have to live on the street. If I had to live on the street then I wouldn’t’ survive long and I’d die a horrible death.

Here’s another version of the story. I’m afraid of getting fat. If I get fat, then no one will ever want to date me. If no one ever wants to date me, then I’ll never get remarried. If I never get remarried, then I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life. If I’m alone for the rest of my life, I’ll be living alone forever (which amped up the scary factor). If I’m living alone forever, then what would happen if I lost my job? If I lost my job then I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. If I can’t pay my bills, then I’ll lose my house and have to live on the street. If I had to live on the street then I wouldn’t survive long and I’d die a horrible death.

Are you getting the idea of my everyday story? I was convinced that if any one of my fears came true then I wouldn’t survive long and I was going to die a horrible death.

OK, now for the special event story.

Shortly before my divorce was finalized, some friends from graduate school invited me to join them in Spain. Although I was in desperate need of a vacation, it took some convincing before I finally agreed to join them in Spain for a week. Initially, I needed convincing because I was afraid of spending the money just in case I lost my job. (Yes, that does mean that I started telling myself the everyday story.)

As the day for departure approached, I was happily anticipating and dreading it at the same time. I started telling myself that I was a horrible person because I was getting divorced and that I deserved to die. The closer the day for departure loomed, the more convinced I was that I was probably going to die in a plane crash because I didn’t deserve to have fun. I made myself miserable and a nervous wreck. All of the fun I could have had anticipating the vacation I turned into torment and torture.

As you already know, my horror story didn’t come true. I didn’t die in a horrible plane crash. I even managed to have some fun in Spain and on the way home I was too tired to worry about whether or not the plane crashed.

So what’s the point of me telling you my stories? Well, what I’ve found over the years is that many people dealing with divorce torture themselves with their own horror stories. I’ve heard horror stories about never being happy again. I’ve heard horror stories about never being financially well off again. I’ve heard horror stories about children never loving their parents again. I’ve even heard horror stories similar to my own.

In case you’re telling yourself horror stories, I want you to know two things. First, you’re not alone; many people tell themselves horror stories when they’re dealing with divorce. Second, it’s OK to tell someone who won’t judge you, about your stories and have them help you create a better story – a story that inspires you and makes you happy to be you.

Your Healing After Divorce Assignment:

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Identify the horror stories you’re telling yourself. What are the stories you’re telling yourself about your future? Anything that doesn’t inspire happiness and positive anticipation of the future just might be a horror story.

Stop torturing yourself and reach out for help in rewriting your horror story. If you’re ready to change the story you’re telling yourself into one with a happy ending, schedule a Complimentary Consultation with me. We’ll discuss how coaching can help you more quickly and completely work through your divorce and rewrite your story. Simply contact me now either by email karen@drkarenfinn.com or by phone 817-993-0561 and I’ll be happy to schedule some time with you.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice.

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

From Endings To Beginnings

For most people, spring brings to mind sprouting plants, rain showers and new beginnings. And yet, despite the season, most people going through divorce find it hard at times to think of beginning anything new when what was -their marriage- is ending.

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the things that just won’t be any more -growing old together, taking that dreamed of second (or maybe first) honeymoon. It is sad that those things won’t be. And yet, your life will go on. You will be joyful and happy again -even if it doesn’t quite seem like it right now.

What do you say to the idea of starting to think and dream of things to say “hello” to? I hope I heard you say “YES!”

One of the things I know about any relationship and especially marriage is that you make compromises along the way. Maybe your former spouse snores like a freight train and in order to get any kind of sleep at night you’ve worn ear plugs to bed for the last 20 years! Or maybe your former spouse had food allergies and was allergic to garlic. So you haven’t eaten garlic bread or ordered pizza for the last 5 years. (Yes. I do know someone who was in a relationship with someone allergic to garlic. No, it wasn’t me.)

I’m guessing there are certain compromises you’ve made during your marriage -things that you simply won’t have to do anymore. Am I right? Well, these are exactly the things that you can now say “hello” to now.

You Functional Divorce Assignment:

Make a list of compromises you made during your marriage. Put it all down. Did you give up a favorite hobby? Did you change what you ate? Did you change how you spoke?

Decide what you want to invite back into your life. Take a good look at your list. What on the list do you want to start doing again? What on your list do you want to start having again?

Write a “hello” letter. Using that list of things you want to invite back into your life, write a letter to yourself about all the things you’re going to invite back into your life. This is your “hello” or new beginnings letter.

Pick one. Which thing that you’re saying “hello” to are you ready to do or have right now? Make sure it’s something that you’ll enjoy now and feel good about in the long term. Then, just go after it!

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.