Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Post-Divorce Decisions. A Few Small Steps

Do you think of will power as being something that gets tired?  The research shows that as you make more choices, your brain gets tired.  When that happens, your willpower suffers.  The result?  You can no longer make good choices.  If you’re like most people post-divorce, you have a lot of decisions to make.  Alone.

The kids and the ex.
*Should I discuss this with my ex?

The kids.
*When should my kids meet him/her?

*When should I date?

The ex.
*When do I forgive?

The parents.
*How much should I tell them about my finances?

The list goes on and on to include decisions about your boss, co-w0rkers, friends and so on.

Research also shows that you don’t suffer with the same decrement in decision-making and willpower if you don’t let your self-control muscle get too tired.  You can do this by taking a few small steps:

*Get enough rest - tired brains don’t make good choices.
*Eat right - undernourished brains don’t make good choices.
*Make routines – the more routines you have, the fewer decisions you have to make.
*Make rules – the more rules you have (e.g., my kid doesn’t meet my date until the 8th week), the fewer choices you have to make.
* When in doubt, postpone – if you need to think something through (e.g., should I discuss this with my ex) do it when you’re well rested, nourished and feeling on top of things.

The point is that it’s okay to feel a bit overwhelmed with all the decisions you have to make.  You can change your mind, you can make mistakes and you will not be perfect.  But take a few small steps toward making life easier for yourself and you’ll find the decisions get easier.

Music to decide by, Questions, Jack Johnson

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Do Something New Post-Divorce

What better time to try to master something new than post-divorce?  According to Thomas Delong, a Harvard Business School Professor, if we’re not moving forward, we’re regressing.  The only way that individuals change is to do something new, which by definition means you’ll do it poorly…  Delong believes people can change at any age.

Yippee!  We get to do a lot of new things post-divorce.  We can buy our first car, remove the wasp nest from the mailbox, help the kids with homework while cooking dinner and cleaning up the dog’s mess, and hire someone to repair the flooding basement, all on our own.

What does Delong mean by do it poorly?  I think it’s just an admonition that we’re not going to be great at things that we’ve not done before.  So we may not be great at figuring out the post-divorce issues.  But that doesn’t mean we cannot achieve mastery.

What does he mean by at any age?  Pretty simple, huh?  No matter what your age, you can do this, you can make it work, you can make something happen.  In other words, you can master something new.

There are many ways to master post-divorce issues.  Do something new like:

*eating alone in a restaurant
*going to a movie alone
*taking a vacation alone
*getting along better with your ex-spouse
*spending a weekend with the kids alone
*mastering [your personal post-divorce challenge here]

You can also achieve mastery post-divorce on run-of-the-mill life issues by trying new things like learning something new, setting a new intention or developing your creativity.  These all help you feel more competent, confident and happy.

What’s your particular challenge? Try something new to meet that challenge today.

Music to master-the-new by: I’m Movin’ On, Rascal Flatts

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Post-Divorce Myths

There are myths about everything:  depression, marriage, divorce.  But I couldn’t find many post-divorce myths.  So yours truly is going to attempt to right this wrong.
Myths I did find:
Blended families are all like the Brady bunch
Your new partner should love your kids like their own
Step-parents should be equal disciplinarians
Love conquers all problems you and your new mate may experience with the kids
We’ll all get along better now that we’re divorced
My additional myths:
No blended family is like the Brady bunch
Your new partner will not love your kids like their own
Step-parents should not be equal disciplinarians
Love will not conquer all problems you and your new mate may experience with the kids
We will not all get along better now that we’re divorced
My point:
Every family and situation is unique.  Of course all blended families are not like the Brady bunch.  Hell, most non-blended families are not like the Brady bunch.  Some partners will not love your kids anywhere near the way they love their own, but some will.  Some of you will get along a whole lot better after the divorce.  Why?
In addition to demographics like age of kids, age of parents, financial and employment situations, and the like, there are other things that make a difference.  Social support, good stress management strategies, forgiveness, gratitude and a lot of other qualities are going to affect your outcomes.  So try to focus on the things you can change, and have the wisdom to know the things you can’t change.  Final myth: you will be miserable forever.  Truth:  divorce won’t kill you, but it will make you stronger. 
Myths which are believed in tend to become true.  George Orwell

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Want to Make Changes Post-Divorce? What’s Your Type?

This is another of those “borrowed” ideas from running.  Specifically, Greg McMillan has a great piece in Running Times (it’ll be on-line soon) about the different types of runners that turn up for the high school season.  I’m thinking about how we turn up for the post-divorce period.
Type 1 has pride.  I’m divorced and proud of it, you might say.  Okay, maybe not proud, but not ashamed either.  Type 1 is going to approach post-divorce with the same energy and enthusiasm with which they approach other things in life.  This is a problem, and I’m gonna solve it.  Type 1s think, plan and make things happen.  Good for you if you fit this bill.  Just keep doing what you’re doing.  You’re flourishing.
Type 2 is in discovery.  I’m divorced, and it seems like I can cope with this thing.  Type 2s are going to give it their best shot, even though they’re not exactly relishing the opportunity.  Type 2s arrive in college or a job and didn’t realize what a challenge it would be, but they find themselves rising up to it.  Type 2s have a lot of enthusiasm, they’re not seasoned fighters and can get hurt or blocked.  Type 2s just need a little push and support.  If you’re a Type 2, make sure you’re getting the support you need.
Type 3 is dealing with a necessary evil.  I’m divorced, it sucks, and I guess I’ll do what I have to, to get through.  Type 3s spend a lot of time complaining about their situation and very little time considering concrete plans to improve it.  Type 3s say I don’t know, a lot, have no clear goals and little thought that getting through this is going to be mostly up to them.  They have the ability, but they don’t know it.  If you’re a Type 3, you can do this yourself by trying to do some problem solving, getting the support you need or developing a more optimistic attitude.
Type 4 is participating, but not flourishing.  I’m divorced so I guess it’s time to party.  Type 4s have the ability and the will to cope as needed, but aren’t giving 110% to making the post-divorce period the best time of their life.  The Type 4 isn’t complaining, but is just coasting, having some fun, not planning for the future.   Divorce is a major life change (I know, duh) but that means it’s one of those proverbial opportunities to grow and take charge of your life in a big way.
What’s your type?  Look at how you’ve approached other new and difficult situations.  Your response to divorce will probably be much the same.  You can decide if you want to move from your Type 4 to a Type 1, or from your Type 2 to a Type 1.  Since it’s not the cross country team, you don’t get to quit.  You’ve got to try to get yourself into shape and win this thing. 
Who are you? The Who.