How To Move On After Divorce

A moving truck helping someone move on after divorce.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

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

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

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or take the first step to work with me as your personal coach.

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

Compromise Isn’t A Contest

Arguing couple wondering what is compromise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Create Your Short-Cut To Divorce Recovery

Divorce is devastating. In the beginning, it can leave you feeling lost, alone, confused, depressed and even unlovable. Then, you start to feel angry and vengeful on top of feeling lost, alone, confused, depressed and unlovable. After a while you just don’t know which horrible emotion you’re going to experience next. It can be kind of like being blindfolded, tied up and stuck on a run-away rollercoaster of misery. All you want is to just feel “normal” again.

Unfortunately, for most people, finding their way back to “normal” isn’t obvious or easy after divorce. Because of this the divorce rollercoaster ride can seem never ending.

But, there is a way to short-circuit this horrific ride of negative emotions. It requires you to know 10 specific things about yourself.

By knowing just these 10 things about yourself, you can start to feel more like you because you’ll be directly disproving one of the most horrible negative thoughts anyone can have – believing that you are unlovable.

Knowing that you are lovable is one of the most critical beliefs for living a happy life. It’s part of our wiring as humans. We need to have a sense of belonging and love to thrive.

But that’s exactly what divorce strips away from us – our sense of belonging and love. That’s why it’s vital that you develop a new sense of belonging and love independent of your ex ASAP.

You can create your new sense of belonging and love by knowing 10 things about yourself. The 10 things you need to know are 10 reasons why you like yourself. These 10 reasons can be anything, anything at all.

When I was going through my divorce and was first introduced to this idea, I had a really difficult time coming up with my list of 10 reasons I liked myself. I mean REALLY difficult. I remember 2 of the items on my first list with a sense of pity and compassion that I had such a poor sense of who I was. One of those items was “I like that I know how to drive because it means that I don’t have to rely on anyone else to take me where I want to go when I want to go there.” The second one was “I like that I can bake good cookies.” I saw so little to love in me that I had to resort to appreciating things that I could do instead of who I was. BUT the really great thing about this was that I was willing to do the exercise and truly think about things I liked about me.

And, believe it or not, this list of 10 things I liked about myself was the beginning of me starting to feel better about being me. It allowed me to start slowing down my rollercoaster of misery. It was also the beginning of me being able to start seeing me as lovable again because I was willing to start loving myself for just being me.

That’s exactly what I want for you. I want you to be able to short-circuit your rollercoaster ride of negative emotions by knowing just 10 things about yourself – 10 things you like about you. Knowing this can be exactly what you need to start to feel more like you again, to move on from your divorce more quickly and on to living the BEST of your life.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Create a list of at least 10 things you like about you. Taking the time to do this is so important to you getting over your divorce quickly. However, for many people making the list is kinda tough. If you find that you’re having difficulty coming up with 10 things, go ahead and ask a friend or family member to tell you one or two things they appreciate about you. It will probably be just the thing to help you get going to discovering 10 things you like about yourself.

Just making the list isn’t enough. You need to read it out loud to yourself with positive emotion in the morning when you first get up and at night before you go to bed. Reminding yourself of what’s great about you at least twice a day every day will start to shift those negative thoughts to more positive ones and allow you to short-circuit the negative-emotion rollercoaster ride we all go on with divorce.

At some point, you’re going to want to change your list. You may want to add to it, or you might want to just replace one of the items with something else. Go ahead! Make your list of reasons why you like yourself a “living document”. Update your list as frequently as you’d like. Before too long, you’ll discover that the things you like about yourself will shift to being even more positive. When that happens, you’ll also notice that you’ll be feeling better overall and well on your way to feeling “normal” again.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly adviceIf you’re ready to take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Assignment For Learning How To Trust Someone Again:

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

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

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

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

Don’t worry; you don’t have to go through this alone. I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor. I’ve been divorced and I know what you’re going through. My specialty is helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress, pain and uncertainty of divorce. You can join my anonymous newsletter list for free weekly advice. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

 

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

Who Can You Trust?

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

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

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

Karen Finn

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

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

Fiona Apple

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

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

Anton Chekhov

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

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

Frank Crane

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

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

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

Democritus

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Steps to Spring Clean Your Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Friendly Coaching Assignment:

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

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

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

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

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

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly adviceAnd, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.

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

8 Documents To Update After Your Divorce

Man working on updating documents after his divorce.

If you don’t update them, you won’t like what happens.

There are just a ton of legal, financial and medical documents you’re expected to keep track of to help protect and provide for you (and your family) in all kinds of different situations. For most of us it is overwhelming to try to understand and manage it all – especially when you’re going through the divorce roller coaster of emotions.

Unfortunately, there are lots of people who don’t bother with updating or changing any document outside of the divorce decree. That’s where the problems start. For example, if you were to forget to update the beneficiary to your IRA, your ex could inherit it.

Because it is so difficult to keep track of all the documents you might have and want to update when you get divorced, here’s a list of some of the more common documents you’ll want to make sure to update when you get divorced. (You’ll also want to review them on a yearly basis too.)

  • Retirement Plans (e.g., 401K, IRA, pension plan, etc.)* Retirement plans are monies set aside for an individual’s retirement. When the individual dies, their beneficiary will receive these monies.
  • Life Insurance Policy* A life insurance policy can provide for your family after your death and pay for your funeral costs.
  • Will & Trust* These documents can identify the persons or entities that will receive your property when you die, for you to appoint a guardian for your minor children, appoint those you wish to manage your estate, and revoke or alter a previous will. Remember to update your beneficiaries to reflect your new marital status. You’ll probably also want to review the guardians and managers of your estate.**
  • W-4* This document helps your employer to withhold the correct federal income tax from your pay. With your changed marital status, you might want to adjust your number of dependents to reflect your newly single status.**
  • Medical Treatment Authorization and Consent Form* This form is important when your children are not with either a parent or legal guardian. Because your children are probably in different care situations than before your divorce, you might want to make sure whomever is watching your children can help your children get appropriate medical care should they need it.**
  • Medical Power of Attorney* This document designates a person whom you trust to make health care decisions on your behalf should you be unable to make those decisions. You’ll probably want to make sure you update who this person is.**
  • Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates* A directive helps you communicate your wishes about medical treatment if you are no longer to make decisions due to illness or incapacity. Most people have their spouse listed as the person to make these decisions. If this is what you’ve done, you’ll probably want to make sure to update who this person is.**
  • HIPPA Authorizations at each of your doctors* The HIPPA allows you to indicate who besides you may have access to your medical information. We usually complete these forms allowing the doctor’s office to leave your healthcare information with our spouse. If you did this, you might want to change this at each of your doctor’s offices.**

* The purposes identified in this list are just casual descriptions. For legal descriptions, you’ll want to contact the appropriate authority.
** The changes to consider are just suggestions. You’ll want to work with the appropriate authority to verify which changes are appropriate for you.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

Which of these documents do you have? For each of the documents listed in the table that you’ve already got, take the time to review and update them.

Which of these documents are you missing? For each of the documents you are missing, look at the purpose of the document and see if you want or need to have it. For each document that you want or need, have the appropriate professional create it for you.

Where are your documents? There are some documents that you’ll want to keep handy. You’ll want to make sure that the appropriate family members know where your documents are kept. You’ll probably also want to make copies of the documents for yourself and family members so everyone who might need them has them.

There are other documents, like the HIPPA Authorizations at each of your doctor’s offices, which someone else will keep the originals of so that you’ll just have copies. You’ll want to keep tabs on these as well so you’ll have an easy time updating them next year.

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.

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