Nov 14, 2019
7 Truths about my Divorce – Part Two
Truth #2: I am wise and my mistakes only prove that I am also human.
Lie: I am stupid and my mistakes prove it.
Divorce can be a very confusing time of life as we struggle with so many major changes to our home, family and finances. It is normal to develop a sort of “brain fog” that makes it more difficult to make decisions. Sometimes we lose confidence in ourselves and begin saying some very mean things to and about ourselves. We catch ourselves saying that we are “dumb” or “stupid” even an “idiot”.
Think about whether you have said those words to yourself and whether you would ever say them to someone you really cared about. Yet caring for and about ourselves during this difficult time is exactly what we need to do. Noticing and eliminating the destructive words we say to ourselves is vital to our well-being.
Breathe through your thoughts
Let’s begin with the “noticing”. With our minds running wild with fears, regrets and anger, it is a real challenge to slow it down so you can notice your thoughts. Try these suggestions to get in touch with your thinking.
The best technique for most people is find a quite spot and simply close your eyes and focus on your breath; coming in and going out. Breathe very deeply for a few breaths and then return to your natural breathing pattern and continue to follow it in and out.
This breathing exercise will naturally de-activate your sympathetic nervous system which is the flight, fight or freeze response that we inherited from our primitive ancestors. The focused breathing then activates your parasympathetic nervous system which slows and calms our minds and body.
This is the stage where we are ready to watch our thoughts and identify the destructive ones that are often based on the “lies” we tell ourselves rather than the “truth” that liberates us from the negativity.
Make breathing your morning wake-up routine
You can try this breathing exercise at any time during the day or night; however, it will become more instilled in you if you practice it every morning. It is most effective just after you wake up and before you turn on the noise and distractions of cell phones, computers or TV.
Set a timer for five or ten minutes and use the time to quietly breath and observe our thoughts. You can quietly label them in your mind as “harmful”, “helpful” or “neutral”. You can continue to increase the time to 20 or 30 minutes each day; consistency is the key.
Build a small routine into a meditation practice
These are the beginning steps of building a meditation practice which is ultimately the best tool for you to quiet your mind and negative thinking. Neuroscientists have done many studies that prove that a regular meditation practice rewires your brain in very positive ways.
The good news is you don’t have to shave your head and put on robes to get the benefit. Of course, running off to a monastery may seem like a good escape from the perilous pains of divorce. However, there are many good local meditation teachers available to assist you.
You can also use on-line tools and apps such as “Head Space” or “Insight Timer” to help you become more skilled at observing and steering your thoughts in a more positive direction. These resources can give you the foundation for building a meditation practice that truly enhances your life for years to come.
It’s OK to make mistakes – you’ll recover
Next let’s talk about the mistakes that you have made and will continue to make throughout your divorce phase of life. This past week we heard from a woman who was feeling very bad because, since her divorce began last year, she is not thinking clearly so her business is suffering. She just got an account that was the biggest and best she ever had but she feels she is may lose it because she is not as “sharp” as she was before. She has gone from sailing through her work to muddling through it.
The best guidance we could give her was to understand that she is going through a major life crisis. Studies show that divorce is the second most traumatic event in life; only the death of a spouse is greater. Instead of beating herself up about not being at her peak, we encouraged her to be kind to herself and accept that “This too shall pass”. Even if she loses this client, she will gain others once she has navigated through her divorce and returns to (or perhaps exceeds) her previous level of high mental functioning.
It is very helpful to continue to remind yourself that this difficult phase of life will leave you stronger, wiser and happier if you stop spending your energies beating yourself up. Set your intention and attention on being extra kind and understanding with yourself as you go through this painful period.
Be kind to yourself
Finally, do your best to remember and accept that you are human and, like all humans, you will never be perfect. You will make mistakes and each time that you do, remember that your mistakes do not mean that you are stupid or bad, they are nothing more than “opportunities to learn” which will continue to come throughout your life.
You do have wisdom and, although it may be covered up in a heavy layer of confusion, it will eventually reveal itself. Taking these steps will help you tap into that wisdom that is deep inside of you and will always lead you in the best direction toward the optimum life that you deserve.
©2019 Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation
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