You are so much stronger than you think.
“I abdicated responsibility for myself.” That’s what I heard every time I looked in the mirror.
“I abdicated responsibility for myself.” I heard it again anytime I allowed myself even a brief break from being busy — way too busy.
“I abdicated responsibility for myself. I abdicated responsibility for myself. I abdicated responsibility for myself.” It was a horrible, accusing chant that never let up.
It was also true.
When I got divorced, I had to face a lot of things — a lot of things that didn’t make me feel so hot about myself. This one, giving up responsibility for myself, was one of the hardest because it was so embarrassing; because I was an incredibly responsible person when it came to everyone and everything else, and because I wasn’t exactly sure how to take responsibility for me.
Like most girls my age, I grew up with a set of confusing expectations. My mom stayed at home. Her daily focus was on raising the five of us kids and taking care of our home. My dad was the breadwinner and took care of the yard and cars. Yet my parents were well aware of the social changes going on in the 70s and encouraged me to get an education so I’d be able to take care of myself financially. The funny thing was that they still held onto the expectation that I would help take care of my siblings and help my mom when dad was out of town. Mom and Dad took very good care of me while I was growing up. But, when I look back, I realize I learned to “do it all” for everyone else. I didn’t really learn how to take care of me in any way — besides financially.
This dynamic played out in my first marriage with me being able to handle the finances, to get a great education and a great job when I graduated, to make sure my husband was happy, and … to completely ignore what I needed. Back then I decided it wasn’t a priority for me to take care of myself because I thought it was my husband’s job to do that. I thought he should just know what I needed in the way that I just knew what he needed.
This was a recipe for disaster. It seemed that the harder I worked at making sure my husband was taken care of, the worse I felt. I started having anxiety and panic attacks. At first, my husband was worried and would rush me to the ER to make sure things were OK, but over the years he got to the point where he was exhausted with my panic attacks and would ask if we really had to go to the hospital again. Realizing that I had abdicated responsibility for myself after my divorce was just the beginning of my journey of self-discovery — a journey that began with changing the beliefs that no longer worked for me.
One of the first beliefs I set about changing was “I am incapable of taking care of me. That’s someone else’s job.” I started tackling this one where I thought it would be easiest; something inside my comfort zone. I decided that I was capable of taking care of me financially. Although I had the knowledge and the skills to take care of my financial needs, I didn’t have the belief that I could do it “just” for me.
What finally helped me believe I could take care of myself financially was when I opened up to a friend who helped me look at my income and expenses. He helped me see that everything was OK: I could pay my bills and be responsible and take care of myself. I began to understand that I could depend on myself. Maybe, for now, only financially — but it was a start that I could build on.
The next belief I changed was “I need to be punished for getting divorced.” Besides living with the expectation that God would strike me dead if I did anything fun, this belief caused me to punish myself. I thought that the purpose of my life was to work hard and take care of everyone and everything I felt responsible for — again, except for me.
If I did things that got in the way of my “purpose”, then I needed to be punished. One of the things I did to punish myself was to avoid eating. Luckily, there was a wonderful couple, Bob and Gloria, who lived across the street from me. They were the same ages as my parents and from the same part of the country. They would have me over to eat dinner with them virtually every night and Gloria would always encourage me to eat by making things she knew I liked. Slowly, I began to realize that I was human and it was OK to take care of me. Eventually, my inner dialogue about needing to be punished disappeared.
Another belief I changed on my way to taking responsibility for me was that I should expect someone I was dating to take care of me, because I was taking care of them. This one was a little trickier for me to work with because it involved my relationships with others; it wasn’t just about me. I challenged this belief by listening to the stories of the men in my divorce recovery class, and by talking with my therapist about what a healthy relationship is. I challenged this belief by dating, having my heart broken and dating again. And I challenged this belief by reading a lot about self-care, which is how I first learned about life coaching!
There were many other beliefs I needed to adjust the incessant refrain of “I abdicated responsibility for myself” finally stopped. But the method I used to change these other beliefs was the same as I used for the changes I’ve already shared with you. I first became aware of the one belief that needed to shift. I allowed myself to trust that I knew what needed to change, and that I could trust others to respond when I asked for the help I knew I needed. That’s one of the most responsible things anyone can do.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
What are your current responsibilities? Many people have too many responsibilities that they somehow just wound up having. It’s almost like they’re responsibility magnets. Take some time and get really clear about what your current responsibilities are.
What have you given up to meet these responsibilities? For each of the responsibilities you’ve identified, ask yourself what if anything you’ve given up to meet the expectations of the responsibility. Some responsibilities have a high price — like the one I paid to make sure everyone around me was well cared for. Other responsibilities have little to no price. Then look at all you’ve given up to meet all of these responsibilities.
If you’re not satisfied with your responsibilities, how can you adjust them so you’re taking better care of you? The answer I hear most often when I ask this question of my clients is “I don’t know. Do you have any suggestions?” I love hearing this answer because it means the person is ready and willing to ask for help and support. That’s where I started off changing my beliefs and my life when I got divorced and I know it’s just the next positive step on this one person’s amazing life journey.
Do you need some suggestions for adjusting your responsibilities so you can take better care of you? You might want to start with asking a trusted friend, your parents or other family member, your clergy person, a therapist or life coach. You can even reach out to me and schedule a Complimentary Consultation.
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. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.
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
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Last week, one of my dear friends sent me a message. He sends messages just about every day to his friends to inspire and comfort. Jon’s one of those guys with a really big heart who knows how to make sure his friends really feel how much he cares for them.
This one message he sent to me last week really got me to thinking. It read, “…doubt is the rust of life. Doubt holds you landlocked in paralysis unable to move either way. The time you spent doubting is the time you are not alive. So, rid yourself of the doubt, take that step one way or another, your heart knows what is best, but take it right now.”
What an incredible message! It was like Jon had looked right at me and told me exactly what I needed to hear and what I knew I needed to share with you.
Doubt is one of the major immobilizing emotions of divorce. Uncertainty comes in all kinds of different shapes and sizes during divorce. There’s doubt about whether or not the decision to divorce is the right one, there’s doubt about how to best help the kids understand the divorce, there’s doubt about what life will be like during and after the legal proceedings and fees along with all kinds of other self-doubts.
The doubts that come with divorce are usually an indication of fear and a need to reconcile your previous way of life or doing things with the way things are or even could be in the future. It’s normal to have doubts and fears when your life changes dramatically. However, they can also become debilitating and that’s definitely something to avoid.
Instead, doubts are best used as a way to become aware that there’s something deeper to be explored and brought out to the light. One of the quickest ways I know to allow yourself to bring that something deeper up to the surface is through a thoughtful relaxation exercise. I’ll share the exercise with you in Your Functional Divorce Assignment.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the ground. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale, start to imagine all the stress and strain from your body draining out. Draining from the top of your head, down through you neck, your torso, your legs and out through the bottom of your feet deep, deep into the ground.
Continue breathing deeply. Every time you exhale imagine more of the stress and strain in your body draining out through the bottoms of your feet deep, deep into the ground.
Enjoy the sensation of your body beginning to relax. Your neck and shoulders are loosening up. You’re sitting deeper into the chair and your entire body is relaxed as the stress and strain continue to drain out of your body.
When you’re feeling calm and relaxed, gently ask yourself about your doubt and what decision you need to make. As you remain relaxed, an answer to your question will emerge. It may or may not be the answer you were expecting, but you will have an answer that you can move forward with to dispel your doubt.
I know doing this technique on your own can be a bit challenging. So, if you’re serious about wanting to dispel your doubt and would like some help, let me know. You can reach me by email at email@example.com and by phone at 817-993-0561.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a private consultation with me.
Most of us tend to be forward thinkers. We’re always looking at what’s next. As soon as we finish one thing, we rarely take the time to savor our success before we’re off to the next task or adventure.
This time of year, most Americans are gung-ho about their New Year’s resolutions before the struggling of achieving them sets in over the next few days.
One of the best ways to build the strength and determination to achieve your New Year’s resolutions is to build your belief in yourself by spending a little time reviewing all the good things that happened in 2012 – especially those things that help you know you can achieve your resolutions.
When you’re going through divorce, it’s especially important that you take time out to savor the good things. For most people, divorce has a way of coloring things with a more negative cast. The thing is there are usually good things that happened during the past year too. It’s worth the time to find and appreciate them so your world view can be a bit rosier and happier.
When I review all the things I’ve done, accomplished, and experienced in the previous year, I’m always amazed at how much good stuff I packed into the year! It takes me a couple hours to review my calendar, my business results, photos, my facebook wall posts, and my tweets for the previous year. Besides allowing me the time to appreciate my family, friends, business associates and clients, my year-end review helps me to prepare for the coming year and set more realistic resolutions for the New Year.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Make your year-end review a priority and schedule a couple of hours for it. Once a year, it’s totally worth taking this time for yourself to review where you’ve been and see where you’d like to go.
Gather together your calendar, pictures and anything else that will help you remember all the good stuff from 2012. You may be like me and want to check out your facebook wall too!
Keep your appointment with yourself. Enjoy reviewing all the wonderful things that you got to do, see, and accomplish in 2012. Use the oomph you get from this to help you set and accomplish the resolutions you’ve made for yourself.
Schedule more time if you need it. I find that sometimes people need a bit more time to get through their year-end review when they’re going through divorce. Sometimes the review can trigger some other emotions that need to be worked through. If that happens to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Allow yourself the time you need to process your thoughts and feelings and then get back to enjoying the good things.
If you’re ready for an outside perspective and ready to get the help you deserve to make 2013 your best yet, reach out to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 817-993-0561. We can schedule a Complimentary Consultation to help you put your plans in place for making 2013 your best year yet!
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
Life changes a lot when you separate and divorce. Things that used to be a regular part of life just aren’t anymore. And when things change in unexpected ways, we can get scared, frustrated and angry.
When clients begin working with me, they’re usually experiencing some combination of fear, frustration and anger. One of the first things we do is dive into what’s behind or at the root of these emotions. What we usually discover on our deep dive are limits that have been disregarded in some way. The limits could be behaviors, expectations, thoughts, beliefs or even habits.
The identification of your personal limits is a critical part of restructuring your life during and after divorce.
Some people are quite adept at identifying their limits – what they can and can’t do, what they think and why they think it, what they expect and why they expect it and what their habits of thought, belief, response and action are.
Others aren’t as aware of their limits. They aren’t quite sure of what their limits are or even if they want to know because they do and think what others tell them to.
And then there are people everywhere in between these two extremes.
Regardless of your starting point, I think knowing and understanding your limits is one of the key pieces to successfully navigating divorce. Your limits can help you understand what’s truly important to you as you negotiate your settlement. And knowing your limits will even allow you to ask for help and support when you need it.
Your limits will be tested, pushed, prodded, and beat against before, during, and after your separation and divorce. Who’s doing all this “exploring”? EVERYONE. Or at least it will probably feel that way. However, the chief “explorers” are usually your soon-to-be-ex and you. I’ll bet you already get how your soon-to-be-ex figures in here, but did you expect to also be one the chief “explorers”? The thing is that by virtue of going through the divorce process you’re asking yourself to completely redefine what your life is like. And anytime you or anyone else changes it’s a matter of testing and exploring previous limits.
I know all the testing, pushing, prodding, and beating against limits is at a minimum uncomfortable and at worst excruciating. However, the payoff is either an adjustment or a reaffirming of your limits along with, ideally, improved ways of communicating them to yourself and others. With your new limits you’re most often better off than you were with your old limits. Kinda like that old adage – what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.
Great, right? There’s going to be some struggle and then things will be better. UGH! There’s nothing there about how to make the transition from married to divorce easier! And here’s where I’m going to tell you that the way to make things easier is to be flexible and loving while you’re exploring your limits so you can adjust and evaluate them by choice instead of by force.
By allowing yourself to be flexible as you explore your limits you’ll be much more able to understand and choose what to do with your limits and your life as you move forward through your divorce process. The flexibility will also allow you to negotiate from a more confident spot because you’ll be able to more easily see the options available to you. Developing the ability to be flexible will help you now as you’re navigating your divorce, but throughout your life.
Your Functional Divorce Assignment:
Know your limits. As you’re proceeding through your separation and divorce process take note of your limits. You’ll probably become aware of them most easily when you’re experiencing a strong emotion.
Explore your limits. Once you’ve identified a limit, ask yourself questions like “How did I develop this limit?”, “What’s the benefit of this limit?”, and “What might adjusting this limit be like?” Take note of what you discover about yourself.
Adjust your limits. Exploring limits almost always gives you new ideas of how to be, act, and think. Take advantage of your discoveries and adjust your limits in ways that make you feel wonderful!
As always, I’m here if you need some help in increasing your flexibility. You can reach my by email at email@example.com and by phone at 817-993-0561.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
© 2012 Karen Finn. All rights reserved under all copyright conventions.
On Wednesday last week, I had a busy day planned. I had a breakfast meeting in one part of town immediately followed by a one-on-one meeting and a luncheon in a completely different part of town. Then I needed to head back to my office for a call with my coach and to get some other tasks done before heading out for my dinner plans.
My day got even busier than expected because I didn’t do the simple things I know I need to do to be at my best.
I’ve learned that I need to eat a substantial breakfast in the morning. If I don’t, I have a hard time thinking and moving. My body just doesn’t have the energy it needs to keep all systems working – at least that’s how I think of it – unless I feed myself well in the morning.
Well, my breakfast meeting was VERY light on the breakfast part. You might expect that I would take something with me just in case I needed something more for breakfast. And you’d be right! I did take something with me – a Clif bar.
Unfortunately, that Clif bar was the small, simple thing that wound up making a BIG difference in my day.
When my breakfast meeting ended I hopped in my car and gobbled up my Clif bar and headed to my next meeting. I wasn’t feeling my best because I didn’t have anywhere near as heavy a breakfast as I usually do, but I knew I could make it through until lunch without too much stomach rumbling.
The location of my one-on-one meeting and luncheon was in downtown Fort Worth and so I drove to a parking garage and starting making the slow left-hand turns to work my way up the levels of the garage until I could find a parking spot. I passed a few up because they were next to HUGE pick-up trucks and I just didn’t think I’d be able to fit my car into them.
Then, I found a GREAT spot! It was on an end with one of those yellow cement posts on one side and a small car on the other.
So I turned on my signal and started to pull in. CRUNCH! My stomach sank. I had hit the yellow cement post.
OK, I thought, if I pull out the same way I pulled in then it wouldn’t be too bad. I put my car in reverse and slowly pressed on the gas pedal. SCREECH!
Well, that didn’t work too well, so I thought maybe if I turn my wheels slightly and pull forward again, I’ll get off of the post. GRRRRRRRRRRRR THUMP! Yeah, that didn’t work too well either.
Luckily, with that GRRRRRRRRRRRR THUMP! I was FINALLY able to reposition my car so I could pull out of the space without any more damage.
I then started making my slow left turns again until I found a GREAT BIG spot to park in.
After getting safely situated in this new spot I turned off the ignition and sat for a moment trying to understand exactly what had happened. It took a moment and then it hit me. I hadn’t taken care of myself by doing the simple things I needed to do. I skipped my regular breakfast and wasn’t at my best. Because I wasn’t at my best, I was having difficulty thinking and moving (driving in this case) and I smashed up my car. As you can probably guess, it wasn’t one of my proudest moments, but it was another reminder that sometimes small, simple things can make a BIG difference.
One of the things I hear about regularly from my clients is that it can be hard to do the things they know they need to do to take care of themselves when they’re going through divorce. The divorce is just such a monumental change in their lives that it can seemingly be easier to skimp on or simply skip the things they need to do to be at their best. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I challenge them to rethink that just a bit and make the time they need to take care of themselves.
However, they don’t tell me all the subtle and simple ways they stop taking care of themselves because sometimes they’re not aware of it themselves. So, I often probe a bit deeper to help them figure out other ways they might make small, simple changes to take better care of themselves. In this week’s Your Functional Divorce Assignment I’m going to help you do the same.
Your Little Things Make A Big Difference Assignment:
Take a moment and think about which of the following you need to be at your best: adequate sleep, exercise, proper nutrition, fun, meaningful work, relaxation, great relationships with your kids, friends and family. For most people they need all of them. We all need to take care of our bodies by getting enough sleep, enough exercise and good food to eat. We all need to let our hair down to have some fun and relax. We all need to know that what we do matters. We all need to have meaningful relationships with others. This stuff is just part of being human.
Ideally, if I were to ask you to rate each of these on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being perfect and 1 being needs a bunch of work) you’d rate each of these as a 10. But, life isn’t like that – especially when you’re working through divorce. Go ahead and rate your sleep, your exercise, your nutrition, your fun, your work, your ability to relax and your relationships on a scale of 1-10.
For the one you rated the highest, celebrate it! It can be especially difficult to take care of yourself when you’re dealing with divorce and the fact that you’re doing great in at least one of these categories is wonderful!
For the one that rated the lowest, what one small, simple thing might you do to make a BIG difference? I know it can be difficult to come up with something sometimes, but it might be something as simple as it was for me – eat a big enough breakfast to be at my best. If after a few minutes you’re still having a difficult time and you really are committed to making the small, simple changes you know you need to make to more easily navigate through your divorce, reach out to me. Schedule a Complimentary Consultation. Together I’m confident we can identify what small, simple things you might do differently to make a BIG difference in your transition from married to single.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach. I help people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a private consultation with me.
If you’re looking for more help recovering from your divorce, read more articles about Healing After Divorce.
I love the Beatles. OK, it’s more accurate to say I love the Beatles album 1. I consider it “happy music” and often put it on when I’ve got a long drive ahead of me or when I just need a pick-me-up. One of the songs on the album is Help!
If you’re not familiar with the lyrics of the song, you can find them on Metro Lyric’s website. For me, the idea behind the song is that we learn how to be independent when we’re young and as we grow and mature we yearn and search for interdependence.
When we’re born we’re completely dependent on others and essentially helpless. All we can do is cry and scream when we want help. Then, when we turn about 2 we begin to discover our own power and the magic word “NO!”. That’s when our natural desire is to begin to find out who we are independent of our parents. Most of us tend to begin intently striving for our independence during our teen years. Some of us wait until we get to college to become independent and some, like me, don’t realize our full independence until much later. Regardless of when you establish your independence, it’s an important milestone and the ability to exclaim “I did it!” is one of the headiest moments anyone can experience.
And yet, after we’ve achieved independence and it’s glories, there’s often the desire for connection with others. I’m not talking about a temporary connection, but a deep meaningful connection that helps us to know that we’re not alone in our life. This is the search for interdependence and where we recognize our true power – our ability to be part of something so much larger than us that nurtures and supports us and everyone else in ways beyond what we could ever do on our own.
The key to this power, our true power, is the ability to be vulnerable and ask for help when we need it. This is different that asking for help simply because you want something that you’re unwilling to do for yourself. This is about asking for help because you’ve been working toward and straining for something and you realize you’re just not able to do it all on your own, you need the help of someone to take the next step, to ease some of the burden, to be connected with all that you can be and all that is. This is the type of asking that true interdependence demands. I believe this is true maturity. I also believe this interdependence creates a joy and meaning in life that is beyond compare.
My thought is that we all live lives that are combination of dependent and interdependent thoughts, habits, beliefs and actions. I think of the path between dependent, independent and interdependent being a continuum. Probably the easiest way to visualize it is as a line with dependent at the far left, independent someplace in the middle and interdependent is at the far right.
I’ve yet to meet someone who is living completely interdependent life. Of course, there are lots of people I’ve not met yet.
Your Friendly Coaching Assignment:
Where are you on the continuum of living a dependent, an independent and an interdependent life? What I find is that the answer depends on which part of my life I’m thinking about. You may find the same is true for your too. If that’s the case, answer the question for each part of your life. I’m sure your answer(s) will be interesting.
Are there parts of your life that you’d like to move more toward independent or interdependent? This can be a tough question to answer for a lot of people because we aren’t really sure if such a change is possible or we might be plain afraid of the consequences of such a change.
If you answered “no” to the last question, good for you! Chances are great that you’re comfortable with your life exactly as it is now. That’s a wonderful thing!
If you answered “yes” to the last question, get ready for an adventure! Figuring out how to realize more of your own power is the greatest adventure anyone can take. You’ll discover so much about yourself that you’ll be in awe of whom you truly are and who those around you are. That’s been true for me anyway. I also know that it’s not always the easiest adventure to undertake and yet every time I move from dependence to independence and then to interdependence I am ALWAYS happy I have.
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.