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Step 8: Practice Presence Throughout Divorce (12 Step Divorce Recovery Series)

be present change divorce May 19, 2020

By Karen McMahon

Human Beings have developed certain tendencies over millennia, like predicting how the future will be based on the past and present.  Predictions, either conscious or unconscious, tend to provide comfort when things are moving along on a familiar trajectory.  

There’s a sense that “I know what to expect, even if it is not optimal, and I know I can handle it because I am familiar with it.”  Divorce rips this comfort level to shreds. Novel situations, situations we have no experience with, are the very situations that demand we grow whether we want to or not.  

Divorce is a force for change and for positive growth as you learn to manage your emotions, thoughts, and actions more effectively.  

Once our life trajectory is on an unfamiliar track the tendency to predict the future defaults to our deepest fears and insecurities rather than our past accomplishments and successes.  When we begin imagining loneliness and loss, anxiety levels go through the roof. When anxiety levels are high thinking is muddy at best. We make choices that complicate rather than simplify or become paralyzed, unable to make any choices at all.    

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.  

  • Excerpt from The Way of Zen by Alan Watts 

Another tendency when life becomes chaotic is to attempt to make sense of what is happening by examining the past through a hypercritical lens.  Unfortunately, the turmoil in the present and the insecurity of the future has triggered a distortion of our memories and interpretations of the past.  We focus on what we perceive we are losing, how we fell short of being the “ideal” mate, mistakes we made that “caused” the divorce, insults and injuries we either perpetrated or tolerated, and what we “sacrificed” for naught.  Seen through the filter of our insecurities and fears we screwed up our marriages and, if there are children, our children’s lives as well.  

The weight of the warped past reflections and the future travesties we project and carry are incapacitating.  They aren’t full assessments of the factors that went into the decisions we made or the actions we took. The warped reflections prevent us from managing the very real tasks and new responsibilities divorce creates and demands.  

Having these thoughts is inevitable.  Mistaking them for “truth” is not.  

Being able to back up from toxic thoughts and reroute your thinking is absolutely necessary if you are to navigate your season of divorce well and emerge a clearer, more confident, less fearful, healthier human being, and a more grounded and competent parent.  

Here are five (5) tips on how to back up from that ledge of anxiety to the place you have power, here and now:

    1. Honor your fears by acknowledging them. You are looking into the unknown and the unknown is not what the human brain is comfortable with. When you begin acknowledging this fear and label it for what it is, it loses power.  Name it to tame it!

    2. Keep returning your focus from the past or the future to the present moment.  Your thinking at the edge has been hijacked by your fears and insecurities.  It is not an accurate reflection of either the reality of your marriage or your capabilities.  Remind yourself that when you find yourself looking into the abyss or chastising yourself for being a failure, both are phantoms of fear and insecurity.  Solid ground is reminding yourself that divorce is never one person’s fault. Relationships fail after many complex interactions over time. 

    3. Identify what simple, achievable steps you can do now, today, that will improve your situation.  It can be as simple as putting up a wash so you and the kids have clean clothing, making sure you eat a healthy breakfast, and/or the first step towards getting your tax returns from the IRS, going on line to Google ‘how to’.  

    4. Get in the habit of breaking down complex tasks into simple achievable steps and do them one step at a time.  This way even the most complex tasks are eventually accomplished.  

    5. Keep your focus on YOU, who YOU are being and what YOU are doing.  You are the foundation of your life, no one else. Imagine what you can build with a solid, grounded foundation.    


Just as you hold a portion of responsibility for the direction that your marriage is in, you influence the direction of your divorce.  You make this divorce experience easier or more difficult, more or less painful, more or less financially burdensome, and more or less damaging to you and your children by the way you respond to what you hear and see. This is your power, whether you want it or not.  

It is your choice to divorce as well as possible or add to the damage that can result from divorce.  It is also within your power to grow and evolve as a human being and a parent. You are fully capable of divorcing positively, whether you chose divorce or it is being forced upon you, by training your mind to stay in the present, attend to each day thoughtfully, take care of yourself as best you can, and BE STRATEGIC in your responses.  

Regarding the unknowns involved in every divorce?  Over time they clear up.  

Train yourself to prioritize tasks, recognize and step back from fears and insecurities, keep your head where your feet are, in the present, and you will become a healthier and healthier you, to everyone’s advantage.  

Are you ready for this? If so, we are here to help you. Book your FREE Rapid Relief Call NOW! 

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