Saturday, September 25, 2010

Post-Divorce 12-Step Program

What do you think of a post-divorce 12-step program? You know, for recovering divorcees. Has it been done? Goggle reveals nothing. I’ll have to brush up on my 12-steps. No, I’m not an addict and don’t want to pass myself off as one. Though there’s always Addicted to Love, of course.

My 60-second post-divorce 12-step manual.

Step 1. Recognize you were powerless to stop the divorce. It happened. What’s done is done.

Step 2. Only a power greater than ourselves can restore sanity, e.g., running, yoga, mindfulness, god, therapy, coaching.

Step 3. Turn yourself over to the greater power. You must want to get better and move on.

Step 4. Make a fearless moral inventory. How have you lived your life? And how do you want to live it? This is a good time for a change.

Step 5. Admit your wrongs.  Identify weaknesses and failings.

Steps 6 and 7. Be ready to have your greater power remove these defects. Whatever your greater power, put it to work here. Personally, I think that means you. Work to get your act together.

Step 8. Make a list of those you have harmed. There are always those we have pushed aside if not downright harmed, particularly in the midst of the post-divorce trauma, if not before.

Step 9. Make amends to those you have harmed. It’s a good time to sort out your issues with people.

Step 10. Continue with your personal inventory and when wrong, admit it promptly.

Step 11. Through prayer and meditation (or running, music, etc). improve our connection with our higher power.

Step 12. Carry the message to others. I survived divorce. You can too!

I like the 12-step focus on being a better person. It’s a good focus for all that negative post-divorce energy.

Mood music: Addicted to Love, Robert Palmer.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Post-Divorce Intentions

Mindful behavior involves intentions. In short, you consciously decide what you’d like to be doing and then set an intention to do that thing. Consider what you’d like to be doing differently post-divorce, and what intentions you might need to set to make that happen.

You have to consider the things you’re struggling with and what your intentions might be. Some of the possibilities for post-divorce intentions are:

*I notice my many positive qualities (being divorced is not my central defining characteristic).
*I am present in the moment (and not dwelling on how things were or could have been).
*I take care of things myself (even if I haven’t always done so).
*I speak only in neutral or positive terms about Jon, Jill or whoever (i.e., your ex).
*I focus on wholesome, healthy thoughts about my divorce (not unwholesome or unhealthy thoughts).
*I believe being single is a normal, healthy state (not a lowly life form just above an amoeba).

Identify your intention(s) and go through these four steps.

First, be aware of your intention. Let’s take the intention, I believe being single is a normal state. Negative thoughts that come up about being divorced (e.g., I’m a failure, Everyone is married but me, You have to be in a couple to be happy) are thoughts to notice but not dwell on.

Second, remind yourself of the intention when you notice the negative thinking. When you notice you're thinking that everyone is married except you, remind yourself that being single is normal, that many people are single, even never-married, and are perfectly normal.

Third, keep the intention in mind with some reminder you develop. You have a beloved object you’ve acquired after the divorce that you put on your dresser to remind yourself every morning that your intention is to live with the knowledge that being single is a normal, healthy state. You set a reminder on your phone that pops up every 3 hours that says, I’m a powerful, attractive person. Each is a structure you establish that reminds you of your intention.

Fourth, keep track of how you’re doing with your intention and notice the gains you make. If you feel you can do better, design a plan for doing so without criticism or judgment. Perhaps the object on your dresser is working well, but you need something at the office too. Great! Do it.

Being aware of our intentions and setting them mindfully can be a real help post-divorce.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Post-Divorce Forgiveness

I’ve looked at self-forgiveness post-divorce, and other-forgiveness in general. How about forgiving the other party in the divorce? The REACH acronym proposed by Worthington works for the post-divorce situation.

R – Recall the hurt. Whatever the reasons it ended, there was hurt (as if you’ve forgotten). See it, feel it, taste it. Without first grabbing hold, you can’t let go.

E – Empathize with the other person. Try to understand why s/he needed to do what s/he did, why they couldn’t be the person you needed, why you couldn’t make it work together.

A – Altruistically give forgiveness. It’s a gift to be given with no personal gain (though honestly, the research on forgiveness shows that it will feel good and be good for your health).

C – Commit to forgiving publicly. You don’t have to put an ad in the paper, but you do have to make it concrete in some way. Write a forgiveness letter (give it or don’t), journal about it, tell someone.

H – Hold onto forgiveness. As opposed to revenge, anger and hate. Try to practice it. Develop an intention to forgive and act on it. In fact, you may want to start with an intention to forgive, and work from there.

Who knows, some day you might want to write them a gratitude letter. After all, if I didn’t go through yesterday, I wouldn’t be right here today.

Music to forgive by: Taxi, Harry Chapin

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reduce Post-Divorce Stress with Mindfulness

I really like mindfulness techniques for getting more centered, calm and managing stress under any circumstances.  Anyone can learn to be less judgmental, more patient, more present, more intentional and more authentic. 

Have a look at my recent eZine article on the subject with specific attention to the post-divorce situation.  And namaste baby.