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.

Courage And Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

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

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

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

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

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.

How YOUR Anger Affects Your Children During Divorce

Wendy Archer is a parental alienation expert.

It’s only natural to feel some anger when a marriage breaks down to the point of no return. It is understandable to be angry when feeling betrayed by anyone, especially a spouse or ex-spouse. Anger is such a powerful emotion that sometimes it is nearly impossible to keep it to ourselves, even during moments when we know we should. This is not to say that anger should be avoided or hidden. Recognizing and dealing with anger is an important part of healing and moving on from a divorce. There are right times, right places and right ways to acknowledge, express and work through anger towards your ex-spouse…none of which are in front of your children!

Regardless of how angry you are and regardless of how justified your anger might be towards the other parent, burdening your children with your anger towards the other parent is not only unfair to your children but can cause them very serious emotional harm.

Children naturally love both of their parents, regardless of their adult mistakes and regardless of how flawed or imperfect the parents may be. When one parent disparages the other parent to or in front of a child, it is like a knife in that child’s heart. Disparaging the other parent to or in front of a child can present itself in many forms including the following…

  1. Making verbal comments that insult, ridicule, discredit or disrespect the other parent. This includes comments about the other parent’s physical appearance, financial status, employment or any other aspect of that parent’s life.
  2. Physical gestures or body language that implies the other parent is not worthy of respect. This can include gestures such as eye rolling or loud sighs or sarcastic laughs or even a certain tone of voice that implies a negative message regarding the other parent.
  3. Actions of custody interference towards the other parent out of anger or to seek revenge. This includes any behavior that crosses the appropriate boundaries established by separation or divorce. Some examples include obsessive and intrusive questioning about time spent with the other parent, frequent interruptions of time spent with the other parent and refusal to comply with the custody schedule.

In addition to children naturally loving both parents, children also naturally want to please and have approval from both of their parents. Burdening children with your anger towards the other parent places your children in an impossible loyalty bind by making them feel that may must choose to support and endorse your anger. While on the outside your child may seem supportive and in agreement with your hostility, it is a fact that on the inside your angry words and actions against their other parent are breaking your child’s heart. As if children of divorce don’t have enough to deal with, these inappropriate actions towards the other parent known as “alienating behaviors” causes children additional unnecessary stress. Just as a train without brakes picks up momentum, alienating behaviors pick up steam and escalate if the brakes are not put on. Sadly, alienating behaviors gone out of control ultimately lead to lifelong emotional and relationship issues for the children who are unfairly put “in the middle” of parents with unresolved and misdirected anger. Studies show that children put into this situation often suffer from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self-harm and thoughts of suicide.

To not engage in alienating behaviors, separated or divorced parents must learn how to interact in a healthy way under the circumstances of no longer being in the same household. This is known as co-parenting. We must be realistic that this can be easier said than done at times so it’s important to utilize tools to help us navigate through the anger without making our children casualties of our adult issues.

Fortunately, there are tools and resources available to specifically help in this area. A few tools and resources that can help are as follows…

  1. Counseling or therapy with a licensed professional. Recognize that if you are unable to stop yourself from exposing your children to any alienating behaviors due to your anger, YOU need help! Again, it is understandable to feel anger when a relationship ends especially if you feel betrayed. There is no shame in needing help to deal with and get through such a painful time in your life. Take an honest look at your behaviors and do what you need to do improve your emotional health for the sake of your children.
  2. Co-parenting classes. Due to recent awareness of the damaging effects of alienating behaviors on children, co-parenting classes are readily available. Co-parenting classes can be found through community centers, counseling offices, life coaches and other resources. Classes can be taken in person or online. Obviously, it takes both parents to commit to properly co-parenting. It might be difficult or sometimes impossible to get the other parent to commit to co-parenting. If you are still going through the divorce process, ask your attorney to have co-parenting classes court ordered to be completed by both parents before the divorce is finalized. One example of co-parenting classes can be found at http://www.childreninthemiddle.com/.
  3. Co-parenting communication tools. Establishing and following proper boundaries is the key to co-parenting. To properly co-parent is to “stick to the business of parenting” and to not cross the new boundaries put into place by divorce. A co-parenting communication tool such as Our Family Wizard can be invaluable in this regard. Co-parenting communication tools such as Our Family Wizard provides parents with email accounts, calendars, file sharing and other resources tailored to facilitate proper and respectful co-parenting with appropriate boundaries. Children can also be engaged with the use of email accounts and calendars while utilizing filters that prevent the children from being burdened with the adult communications and decisions. Using co-parenting tools such as Our Family Wizard can alleviate a lot of stress and anxiety when trying to establish and honor the boundaries of proper co-parenting. If you’re still going through the divorce process, ask your attorney to have the use of a co-parenting communication tool court ordered in your final divorce decree. A resource such as Our Family Wizard simplifies co-parenting by giving parents the tools needed to “stick to the business of parenting.” For more information about Our Family Wizard, visit http://www.ourfamilywizard.com/ofw/.

Your children love and want a relationship with the other parent even if you no longer love or want a relationship with the other parent. Not only do your children want a relationship with their other parent, they NEED a relationship with their other parent. It is not about you or about your anger towards the other parent. It is about the health and well-being of your children.

The bottom line is you must put your love for your children above your anger towards their other parent. Putting your love for your children above your anger towards their other parent is the greatest gift you will ever give your children and while you might not believe it today, someday you will see it was also one of the greatest gifts you ever gave yourself.

For more information about co-parenting, alienating behaviors and parental alienation please contact Wendy Archer of Parental Alienation Awareness Organization USA at wendyarcher@rocketmail.com. The North Texas Chapter of Parental Alienation Awareness Organization USA holds monthly meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of every month in Southlake Texas. More information can be found by joining the PAAO USA North Texas Chapter facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/paaonorthtexas/.

Your Functional Divorce Coaching Assignment:

How have you inadvertently let your anger about your divorce affect your children? This is a tough question. No one is a perfect parent regardless of whether or not they’re dealing with divorce. The purpose of this question is to allow you to examine where you might be able to improve your parenting. After all, it’s awareness that is the first part of changing for the better.

 

You might also enjoy reading…

The 8 Keys To Trust In A Post-Divorce Relationship

 

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

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.

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.

Do You REALLY Trust Yourself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

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

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

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

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

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

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.

How A Small Shift Made A World Of Difference

As I was driving home from a networking event a couple of weeks ago, the low-gas light came on in my car. I was so tired from all the activities of the day that I decided to wait until the next morning to fill my car up.

The next morning, I headed over to the gas station at Walmart. As I got closer to the store, I debated with myself about whether I wanted to cut through the parking lot or wait through an extra light to get to the pumps. If I went through the parking lot, I ran the risk of needing to wait for people crossing the road and other cars jockeying for the best parking spot. If I waited for the light, I was stuck making 2 left-hand turns at lights. I really don’t like having to wait for the lights to make the turns, so I chose to cut through the parking lot.

As I neared the entrance to Walmart, there was this older guy pushing his cart down the middle of the road. My first thought was, “Figures! I knew something like this would happen.” Then I changed my mind and realized that in a few more years, that might be me struggling to maintain my dignity and do my own shopping even though it was hard for me to walk and wanting to minimize the walking I had to do even if it meant walking in the middle of the street to get to my car. That thought immediately changed how I was feeling. Instead of being frustrated and impatient, I relaxed and patiently waited for the man to get across the street.

After he moved out of the middle of the road, I continued on my way and filled my car up with gas. I had a few things I wanted to pick up at Walmart, so I drove back through the parking lot in search for my own spot.

As I was slowly making my way up and down the aisles, I thought I spotted the same older guy walking back up to the store. No, it couldn’t be, I reasoned. It must just be another old man that reminded me of the first. I found a great parking spot and walked into the store to buy a couple of things.

As I was walking out of the store I noticed an old guy sitting on one of those motorized carts with his head in his hands. I almost got all the way out the doors before I realized that it was the same guy I kept seeing! I walked up to him and asked, “Didn’t I see you walk out of the store earlier?” He told me yes and that he was having a hard time finding his car. I asked him what kind of car he was driving and he told me a dark blue Kia. So I started out of the store on a mission to find his car for him.

I got just outside and I realized that I would never spot his car and that I should ask him if he was comfortable with me driving him around the parking lot looking for his car. He about jumped out of the motorized cart he was so happy to have me help him like that. We gathered up his bags and started out to my car.

I could tell he was really pushing himself to walk quickly, but I kept a slow pace and just chatted with him about where I had parked and hoping to give him the idea that I had plenty of time and I was parked close enough that he wouldn’t have to walk too far.

And then, just as we reached the parking aisle, he looked over to the right and said, “Is that my car?” Sure enough, he found his car right away – before we had even reached mine.

As I was helping him get his bags into his car, he admitted that he wasn’t supposed to be out walking without his walker and that he was so thankful to be back to his car.

Now it was a little thing for me to notice that an old man was walking down the middle of the street in a parking lot. It was another little thing for me to notice an old man walking back into Walmart. And it was yet another little thing for me to notice a tired old man sitting in a motorized shopping cart. But it was a big thing to that man.

Little things are like that. Individually, they’re itty-bitty things, but added together, they can make a world of difference. I’m not just talking about how little things can add up for helping someone else, but even for us. In fact, this idea of itty-bitty things added together is a major philosophy behind the work I do. For anyone going through divorce, making little changes in perception and then taking action can create a world of difference.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

What little things have you chosen not to notice that might make a big difference in your life? Just like my noticing the old man walking back and forth through the Walmart parking lot, what might you need to notice about you or your kids as you’re transitioning from married to single?

Now that you’ve noticed something you might have overlooked before what do you need to do to make a difference? The thing you choose to do might be something small, but sometimes something small is all it takes to make a world of difference.

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.

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

Divorce Is Tough. The Mortgage Doesn’t Have To Be.

Should your life after divorce include living in the marital home?

By Mark Watson, Loan Officer, Guardian Mortgage Company, Inc.
www.guardianmortgageonline.com

This is a terrific article. It’s jam-packed with information that I am so happy to be able to share! I’ve added just a few comments in square brackets [].

If you are going through a divorce, you are probably exhausted by all the details and decisions that have to be made as the two of you separate. Even in the most amicable situations it can be very emotional. [Remember there are the 5 facets of divorce – social, emotional, legal, financial and functional – that all overlap. So it makes sense that in the midst of making the decisions required to divorce that you would experience a lot of emotions.]

There is usually a lot of discussion about the house as it usually represents the family’s largest asset. [Dealing with an asset would be an example of the financial facet of divorce. When dealing with the financial facet of divorce it’s best to remain primarily in a business mindset instead of an emotional one because you’ll be better able to make decisions you can live with for the long haul.]

While divorce is a tough process, resolving the mortgage doesn’t have to be. According to Mark Watson, Vice President of Guardian Mortgage Company in Plano, Texas, there are three things homeowners can do to make it easier on themselves:

  1. Make realistic decisions.
  2. Understand your loan options.
  3. Seek help.

Make Realistic Decisions.

In many divorces, the home is refinanced in the name of one of the spouses and any profit or losses are negotiated between the couple. Sometimes the home is sold, and sometimes there is a long-term agreement in place about the home. Occasionally, a house with no mortgage is given to one spouse as part of the divorce settlement.

“It makes no difference to the mortgage company whether or not the name changes on the mortgage,” notes Watson. “However, the spouse no longer living in the home usually does not want to be responsible for it. Plus, they may want some cash out of it.”

If your house is paid off, a quit claim deed can be an easy solution to home ownership in a divorce settlement and make your life after divorce easier.

If there is no mortgage on the home, and one spouse plans to keep it as part of the settlement, the process is simple. “The attorney prepares a quit-claim deed and records it as part of the divorce,” says Watson. “The home belongs to just one spouse from that point forward.”

Most homes have a mortgage, though. There are a number of questions that must be answered in order to pick the right process for your situation, but the most important is “which spouse can afford to keep the home after the divorce?” It is often the most difficult as there is often a lot of emotional attachment towards the house that may not have anything to do with the financial realities of the situation. [The best way to answer these questions is from a business-minded perspective. The “businesses” to be considered are the financial business of each spouse post-divorce as well as the business of raising happy, healthy children. In other words, you need to keep in mind what your life after divorce will really be like if you choose to keep the house.]

The spouse with primary custody of the children will often want to keep the home to provide a stable environment and to stay near school and friends.

“I often see couples where the wife isn’t working and hasn’t worked in years,” says Bruce Rayburn of The Rayburn Group of Ebby Halliday Realtors based in Plano, Texas. “This makes it very hard to qualify for a refinance. Even if both spouses were working at the time of the divorce, it doesn’t mean either spouse can afford the mortgage with only one salary.”

“Even getting child support is often not enough,” Rayburn adds.

Besides the amount of income required to qualify for a refinance, the source of the income makes a difference. “For conforming loans ($417,000 or less in most areas of Texas), alimony and child support cannot count towards qualifying income until there have been at least three months of steady payments. In addition, the paying spouse must be required by law to pay for at least three years after the closing date of the sale,” notes Watson.

“For FHA Loans, the requirement is six months of payment. Furthermore, if the amount of alimony or child support is greater than 30% of the borrower’s income, then a full year’s worth of reliable payments is required.”

[Regardless of where you live you need to know a lot about what the legalities and implications of keeping the house are as you make decisions that will impact your post-divorce lifestyle and residence.]

Understand Your Loan Options.

Many couples believe that they have to sell or refinance the home in order to finalize the divorce, which is not always the case. Sometimes sale or refinance of the home is delayed for months to years. 

According to attorney Penny Phillips of Plano, Texas, many families with children want to keep the family home for them until they are older and/or in college. “In this case, one spouse will sometimes agree to wait to get the equity out of the house until after the children have left,” says Phillips.

In Texas, a lien can be placed on the house – called an Owelty Lien Agreement – such that one spouse will own the house, but the other will still retain rights to equity that was present in the house at the time of the divorce. This gives the first spouse the right to make improvements and to own the home, but the second spouse will get his or her share of the equity later when the kids are grown or the market improves or whatever reason the couple has chosen to wait.

“It is a win-win because the owner-spouse gets the benefit of all improvements and equity growth in the meantime, but the other spouse still gets the benefit of all the years of contributing to the equity when they were married,” adds Phillips.

“Since the home is not sold or refinanced, there is no need for the remaining spouse to get qualified for a new mortgage until the cash-out time. They just need to keep making timely payments. This is a good solution for situations where the divorce is fairly amicable and the spouses can work together for this common goal. I always advise that they tell the mortgage company about the divorce, however, as both partners need to continue to get notices about the loan,” says Phillips.

[Keep in mind that just because a divorce starts out amicably doesn’t mean it will stay that way. So making sure that both spouses continue to get notices about the loan is a smart decision. After all, keeping life after divorce amicable between exes requires regular, respectful communication, but tempers can still flare despite the best efforts.]

“We generally see Owelty Liens when a couple is in the process of refinancing the home,” notes Watson. “You don’t need to wait a specific amount of time to use it, and it has the added benefit of letting you do a “special purpose” refinance and go up to 95% of the appraised value of the home. This provides more equity at the end of the process.

“Current “cash-out” guidelines for refinancing in Texas allow for financing up to 80% of the loan value. A special purpose refinance allows you to get an extra 15% out of the home, which is then shared between the couple as per the terms of their divorce. I always talk to my clients about Owelty Liens because it can make a big difference if one partner is trying to buy another home, for example. Also, if the other partner finds out after the fact that they could have gotten more cash out of the refinance and didn’t, it can cause more unhappiness all around.”

Seek Help.

Dividing up the marriage assets is emotional and financially risky if you are not sure what you are doing. Early in the divorce, both spouses should consult their mortgage provider, realtor and CPA as well as an attorney in order to review their options and the financial and tax consequences of certain decisions. These objective outsiders will help you navigate your particular situation and direct you to other resources. In addition, they can act as a go-between if the divorce is contentious.

[One other divorce professional you may want to contact when dealing with the financial questions of divorce is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. These professionals are trained in how to help couples develop different scenarios for an equitable division of their assets and debts so they’ll each have a better picture of what their financial life after divorce will be like.]

“It is a false economy to do a divorce yourself. I’ve seen couples ruin their credit by doing it wrong. In one case, so many mistakes were made; one partner almost went to jail. It’s not worth it,” said Phillips. “Plus the experts can tell you about Owelty Liens and other ways to get the best out of a bad situation.”

“Lack of communication makes the divorce harder,” says Rayburn. “I often will work with both spouses in a divorce to help sell the old home, refinance and/or find a new, less expensive home if that is their post-divorce reality. I’ve even helped people through multiple relationships over the years because I was able to facilitate communications between the parties.”

“I often give my clients a list of good appraisers to call on,” says Watson. “Even if they don’t plan to sell or refinance right away, they need an appraisal in order to fairly determine the value of the home for the divorce settlement. I can then take that appraisal and show them how much equity is in the house so they can have more meaningful discussions.”

As with most issues related to divorce, there is no single best way to handle your mortgage. Divorcing couples must take a long look at their finances, and make realistic decisions based on a thorough understanding of their options.

Have more questions about how to handle your mortgage through divorce? Contact an experienced loan officer like Mark Watson at Guardian Mortgage Company today about your specific situation. Guardian Mortgage Company has been serving North Texas since 1965. Mark Watson (214) 473-7954.

Your Life After Divorce Assignment:

If you’re at the point of trying to decide what to do with the marital home, focus on the business decision you need to make. Despite how much you are attached to your home, the fact is it’s just a thing, a place. Spending your energy deciding how to best deal with this marital asset instead of what it represents will help you come to the best decision for you – the decision that you’ll be most comfortable with financially and emotionally in the long haul.

If it’s difficult for you to separate the business aspect of this decision from the emotional one, 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 an easier time making the decisions you need to make as part of your divorce and make your life after divorce as good as it can be.

You don’t have to go through this alone. I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor. I understand what you’re going through because I’ve been through it too. I’ve been helping people just like you who are dealing with all the stress and pain of divorce since 2007. You can join my anonymous newsletter list for free weekly advice or email me directly for a free consultation at Karen@functionaldivorce.com.

Are you looking for more tips about setting yourself up for your best possible post-divorce life? You can find more great information at Life After Divorce.