Life (and Divorce) Happen FOR You, Not To You
That’s a quote by Tony Robbins, the personal and business coach, self-help author of many books, and a motivational speaker. The first two books being “Unlimited Power” and “Awaken the Giant Within”. I read those books in the 80’s and 90’s. Both were written to show people how they could overcome anything in their personal lives in order to have the most authentic and best life possible – for them.
Tony was terribly abused as a child, and a child of several divorces. He left home at age 17. He was encouraged by a high school teacher who recognized that Robbins had a gift for public speaking and for motivating people, even as he was suffering from a complete lack of motivation from his mother. All I knew about Tony in the 80s and 90s was that he had a weight problem, which defined him in a way that affected him socially. Those books were his way of moving his life forward, addressing his weaknesses and turning them into successes.
I was fascinated by his enthusiasm for life, his philosophical perspective on personal success, and his overall approach to life. He was mesmerizing. He was on Oprah, of course. Then he dropped off my radar, not to return until a couple weeks ago. It’s 2021.
I was watching a Netflix special last month about how Robbins conducts his Date with Destiny seminars. I understand it was the first documentary Tony let anyone film of these famous multi-day events. He conducts them about four times a year, around the world. Thousands of people attend, for thousands of dollars. I watched how he conducted himself as a Coach Extraordinaire. In his rough, raw, and passionate way, he got down to the underlying reasons about why, on the surface, attendees said they were attending. The issues they wanted him to address actually morphed into what the actual issues were, and that were being masked by the surface issues that they were defining as their walls, their stumbling blocks.
That got me thinking about divorce. Divorce can either cripple you or be an agent for positive change. The last sentence in my confirmation emails when scheduling clients for filing or for mediation, is “Divorce is a New Beginning”. It is both the end of one journey and the beginning of another one. Like every life change, it’s how we use it to develop, grow, succeed, and establish our level of happiness and joy.
Yes, your physical and financial world will change. We will no longer live in one house with our spouse and children. We may no longer live in the house that has been our refuge for many years. We may have less money to live on, at least for a while, because running two households on the same income provides less income for both spouses. For a while.
But this is all temporary stuff. This is resetting our lives in a way that stablishes a different foundation from which to jump start our new paths.
Divorce happens FOR us, not to us.
If divorce happens FOR us then what do we do with divorce? How do we take this fearful, sad, or joyous event (some people can’t wait to get out of their marriages) and make it a positive life-defining thing that propels us to our best lives ever!
First, you have to want to. You have to want to see divorce as an opportunity to grow, to redirect your life, to live as you may have secretly wanted to live but couldn’t because you had committed yourself to this marriage.
What if you’re too sad to get to this place of wanting to change? What if dealing with your emotions is all you can do right now? Then go through the emotions of sadness. Don’t bury them; feel them. Mourn the marriage. Review your reasons for marrying. Review the reasons for marrying this person. Be honest with yourself and see if there were red flags, warning signs, that you didn’t address before you got married, or during the marriage. Look at everything you fear about the divorce and what you think will be your life after divorce. Address each fear and look at how to turn fear into an action plan for recovery and a future new life.
Second, you have to have the confidence and courage to change. Courage and confidence are not easy to come by, and may seem unattainable, until you realize they are just decision points with an action plan. Think about something you did as a kid or young adult, that wasn’t easy, but you did it. You stepped up and executed whatever needed to be done to accomplish something that seemed insurmountable. And when you look back, whatever you did wasn’t insurmountable because you did it. What are the consequences for not changing? Marginal fulfillment and a less happy and financially rewarding life than what could be yours.
Decide what you want to do. Look at what you have either always wanted to do, but didn’t. Or look at where you and the world are now, and envision what it is you want to contribute to the world and to your own life balance. How do you want to express yourself? What skills and talents would you like to use? What have you wanted to do – what do you want to do – just take the first step and see how that goes. Then take the next step, and so forth. Don’t listen to the noise. Don’t ask people’s opinions; ask for help when you need it, but don’t let people’s opinions get in your way. Create your own world, the personal one that you get to shape and define.
Third, Trust in the universe. Be prepared to go on a journey that might be a little different than the one you set out to take. But allow this natural evolution to be the right one for you. Trust in the universe. Trust that an outcome of an action you took may provide a different result than expected. That’s okay. Look at how to go with the flow. See how this different result can be equally or more beneficial that expected. Quite often, the steps along the way of our journey will provide different outcomes, better outcomes, than what we anticipated. Allow Life to Take Its Course for you. If you are aligned with your choices, life will move you forward.
Eckhardt Tolle, author of Power of Now and A New Earth, says to always live in the present moment for the most peaceful and happy life. If we live in the present moment our lives will be forward-focused; we won’t let the past bog us down; the regrets of the past, missing people who are no longer with us, the decisions we made that come back to haunt us. When we live in the past we can’t move forward. I don’t believe Eckhardt means that we shouldn’t learn from past mistake; I believe he means we shouldn’t berate ourselves for past mistakes, and dwell on them to the point of being immobilized by them. Only the present moment is real; use it to create your future.
Let’s put context to using divorce as a stepping stone to a fabulous future:
- If living alone feels fearful, create a living space that is more suited to you. If you have no children, you are free to move anywhere to begin again.If you do have children, perhaps moving isn’t possible, but establishing your household the way you want it to be is your answer until you are free to move.
- If co-parenting is your challenge because you are divorcing someone who is a high conflict person, you will need to learn communication skills that work in light of your ex’s communication challenges.But since you are no longer married, living in the same house, your communication relationship can change. You are no longer beholden to a difficult spouse because you don’t have to keep peace on a daily basis for the household to be calm. True, the children may still experience some volatility when in the middle of their parents’ communication, but the children can at least have one household that is calm. You can’t control anyone but yourself.
- If money is your challenge, earning a living, or working within a budget, be thankful to divorce for forcing you to look at money and career choice differently. Use divorce to change the way you spend money, save money, and earn money.Living within your means changes as you make more money, while living within your means with less money allows you to grow personal wealth. Wealth is subjective; what one person considers as wealth another person may see differently. Your relationship to money is a direct relationship to your feelings of self-worth. Some people feel deserving of wealth; another person may never see that they deserve or can earn what they consider to be wealth. But money and our personal assessment of ourselves go hand-in-hand. If we feel really good about ourselves, we feel deserving of better: better positions, better salaries, better prices for our goods and services. A family member said to me one day years ago, “I see other people making lots of money in this industry, I should be, too.” And he did. He set his career on a trajectory in which he felt deserving of making more money, charged more for his services, and gave the best product and service he could.
Women, pay close attention to this concept of feeling worthy to be paid more, or to charge more. It’s not that women haven’t been hugely successful financially, but there is still a way to catch up. In order to catch up, we have to simply state our value higher. It’s up to us to create the playing field we want to play on.
- Career.Once on your own post divorce, you can do anything you want to do with your career. I understand that co-parenting may pose limits on where you live, but you’re not a prisoner of the neighborhood in which you live. And your children won’t be minors forever. Depending on how old your youngest is, you may have to do a hybrid career until graduation from high school, but after that, you’re ready to move anywhere you want, and to jump fully into the career you choose. And who knows, once your youngest is on his/her own, you may have other career choices that didn’t exist until then. TRUST the universe. If you make choices authentically, from your soul, from your heart, from your true desires, you are aligning yourself with the universe, and the universe won’t let you down.
If Covid 19 and the pandemic have taught me anything, I have learned that time is precious. Let’s use it fully, consciously, and authentically to let Life Happen For Us.
Divorce is a New Beginning. Divorce Happens FOR us, not To us.
Please share this episode with anyone going through divorce. Subscribe to this podcast. And contact me with questions or with episode topics that you would like me to explore for you.