By Jeannine Lee
I am often asked, “If you could teach divorcing people only one thing what would it be?” No doubt about the answer to this question: To manage their thinking.
Why? Because we make up stuff. We make up stuff about ourselves, about others, about the way the world works, about our future. We even make up stuff about our past. The thing is, we don’t know if what we are telling ourselves is true or not. Hmmmm. What I know is that our interpretations either help us or they harm us and we get to choose which it is.
There are predictable steps that take us from an event to feeling either good, or feeling crummy. Once we know those steps we can choose how we ultimately want to feel. Want to feel different? Have less pain and overall anguish about your divorce? Choose an interpretation that gives you the results you want.
Briefly, here are the steps.
- Something happens. I call this the event. “I’m getting a divorce.”
- Immediately, without even thinking about it, we decide what that event means to us. “I will never survive this” or “this isn’t what I want but I will be just fine” for example. Our interpretation is based in our usual view of life, i.e. glass is half full or half empty.
- The interpretation triggers an emotional response. The responses will be different according to our interpretation. “I will never survive” feels a whole lot different than, “I will be just fine.”
- The emotional response inspires the actions we subsequently take. “I will never survive” might have us hiding under the covers or pinching every penny, while “I will be just fine” allows us to be in life in more realistic ways. We may not know how we’re going to be just fine, but we interpret (make up) that we are.
These four steps are the same for any event whether it is an email from your attorney, a questionable comment from a friend, or a letter in your mailbox from your soon-to-be Ex. Just watch your reaction the next time something like that happens. Before you open the email or letter, or ask your friend what’s going on, you will have an emotional response that either has you anticipate something good, or resist something awful. The feelings are generated lightening quick before you even open the email.
Most of us naturally gravitate to a negative interpretation since we humans are programmed to avoid pain over seeking pleasure, and this in some way prepares us. Just remember that you get to choose the story you make up. Remember the classic cartoon with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, barking in your ear? YOU are the one who determines which voice is worth listening to.
The way I look at this is, if we’re going to make it up, we might as well make it up in a way that has us feeling a whole lot better. Try this one on: “Yes, I am divorcing. I’m also beautiful of soul, intelligent, and absolutely capable of getting through this and back into a life I love. And, if I want it, I am also capable of creating a connected, generous, and fulfilling love relationship.”
Doesn’t that feel a whole lot better than the way we usually think about things? What story do you want to change today?
Jeannine Lee, ACC, CPCC, GRC, is a certified life, relationship, and grief recovery coach working with singles and couples in all stages of relationship re-design including conscious divorce, effective reconciliations, successful singleness, purposeful partnerships, and life design to use the divorce experience as a powerful transformational tool.
She has trained with such prestigious coaching schools as the Coaches Training Institute, Center for Right Relationship, Complete Life Center, Grief Recovery Institute, and the Relationship Coaching Institute. She has trained with the Colorado Collaborative Divorce Professionals and works as a divorce coach in the collaborative divorce process.
Jeannine Lee is an author and speaker, speaking about the beauties of transition, transformation, and the importance of a designed life. She has been on Talking Divorce, and Dealing with Divorce radio programs as an emotional health expert. Locally she facilitates her Beyond Divorce Recovery and Empowerment; Moving On; and other personal growth programs.
Her book, Beyond Divorce: Stop the Pain. Rekindle Your Happiness. And Put Purpose Back in Your Life is available from her website. You can reach Jeannine by email via her website or by calling 303-746-7000.