Step 12: Live Purposefully Post Divorce
Jun 22, 2020
By Lisa Brick
“Say “yes” to life - and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.” - Eckhart Tolle
Life is its own master. We will never be able to master life. We can, on the other hand, master how we live our lives. That is within our power. This is a particularly important truth when divorce happens.
Divorce upends life as we knew it. It catapults us into facing what wasn’t working, even if we thought it was. Divorce humbles us as it brings us face to face with our delusions, our inabilities, and our insecurities. It shows us where we lack mastery. It also gives us the opportunity to gain mastery in the areas we now know we are lacking in.
Areas we lack master in are quite different from convicting ourselves of lacking as a person. This difference, using divorce as a magnifying glass to focus on where we are lacking skills, is completely different than using divorce to focus on where we are lacking as a person. When the focus is on skill sets and off our fragile egos we are in the perfect position to move towards living life masterfully.
We all have fragile egos, some more bruised and battered than others, yet by shifting our focus from failure as human beings to improving skill sets we simply weren’t exposed to to date is a game changer. This shift alters our present experience. It moves us towards developing mastery at playing the game of life.
We can’t control the game. There will always be the unanticipated, the unavoidable, the undesired. What we can do is improve how we play. We can become forces to be reckoned with, in a positive way.
The Journey Beyond Divorce 12-Step Divorce Recovery Program has introduced us to many of the skills necessary for mastering how we live life. The program introduced us to the following shifts we can make to experience greater peace and be more effective. These shifts are:
- Feel the full spectrum of feelings divorce stimulates, the fear, confusion, anger, relief, shame, etc. so you can begin processing them. Remember, they are feelings. Feelings are temporary, and they dissipate sooner when they are experienced and processed. Remember that when you are projecting negative outcomes, projections are not predictions.
- Keep your focus on you, what you think, feel, and do. This allows you to navigate your divorce and life consciously. Focusing on what your spouse feels and thinks keeps you absent in designing your life. You are the one giving your spouse undue influence in steering your life by keeping your focus on him/her. While you will be responding to your spouse’s actions, by keeping the focus on yourself you can respond proactively and strategically.
- Explore the thoughts behind your feelings. Are they a truly accurate description of reality? If not, what new thoughts can you generate and how do each of these new thoughts change your mood, your available energy, your ability to function effectively?
- Seek solutions to challenging situations. Staying focused on problems without seeking creative solutions perpetuates problems and makes you a participant in sustaining them.
- Recognize the choices you have, even if they are not the choices you want, and use the choices to navigate from where you are to where you’d rather be one situation at a time.
- Allow yourself time to grieve the loss of your life as it had been and the dreams you held for your family as it was. Everyone’s time frame for grieving is different. Feeling the loss, on your time schedule, allows you to heal from it. The losses are real.
- Give up judging your spouse for who he/she is. Know that whoever he/she is is who he/she is. Yes, He/she has limitations, as do we all. Keep the focus on identifying your limitations and exploring how to grow beyond them. When you do you will be in a stronger position to manage your spouse’s limitations and avoid unnecessary conflict.
- Build personal confidence by examining the narrative you have been telling yourself about who you are and what you are capable of. It’s not true. Who you are is greater than who you tell yourself, or your spouse tells you, you are. The limitations you have can be shrunk and the strengths can be enhanced.
- Be aware of the company you keep. Surround yourself with people who comfort you yet also support you to grow at your pace, in your way. A support team is vital for celebration and sagging! Both will occur.
- Identify what you desire as a person and a parent. Set that as your North Star to navigate each present moment by.
- Begin a meditative practice of your choice so you can begin training your attention back to the present moment, the only moment in which you have power to effect change.
With steady reflection and practice you will master these skills and in doing so, begin mastering how you live life. You will clarify your desires, set clear intentions, and design strategic actions to manifest them. You will understand that life has its own rhythms and even with your best efforts the outcomes you experience may not be what you thought they would be. You have the option of trusting that the outcome you get is exactly the outcome you need and integrate it as such. With such and ongoing practice you can engage in life and all its possibilities knowing you are doing your best to master how you live life.
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” - Joseph Campbell