Divorced? Badmouthing Your Ex Is Bad For Your Children

By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

We all do it from time to time. Make a sarcastic comment about our ex, criticize something they did or didn’t do, gesture or grimace our faces when referring to our former spouse. When we do it in front of, near or within hearing distance of our children, we set ourselves up for a hornet’s nest of problems.

Sure, we all know this, but it’s easy to forget or let slide. It hurts our children when they hear one of their parents put down the other. This is so even if your child does not say anything about it. With rare exceptions, children innately feel they are part of both parents. They love them both even when that love isn’t returned to them in the same way.

What Your Kids Think — They Believe

When you put down their other parent your children are likely to interpret it as a put-down of part of them. When both parents are guilty of this behavior, it can create a great confusion along with a sense of unworthiness and low self-esteem. “Something’s wrong with me” becomes the child’s unconscious belief.

I know it’s challenging sometimes not to criticize your ex, especially when you feel totally justified in doing so. Find a friend or therapist to vent to. Don’t do it around your children. And, whenever possible, find some good things to say about their other parent – or hold your tongue.

The lesson here is simple. Destructive comments about your ex can impact your children in many negative ways. It creates anxiety and insecurity. It raises their level of fear. It makes them question how much they can trust you and your opinions – or trust themselves. And it adds a level of unhappiness into their lives that they do not need … or deserve!

Catch Yourself Before You Do It!

When you have a problem with your ex, take it directly to them – and not to or through the children. Don’t exploit a difficult relationship, or difference of opinion with your ex, by editorializing about him or her to the kids. It’s easy to slip – especially when your frustration level is mounting.

Listen to and monitor your comments to your children about their other parent. Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether you might be guilty of this subtle form of parental alienation:
• Are you hearing yourself say: “Sounds like you picked that up from your Dad/Mom.”
• Do you make a negative retort about your child’s behavior and end it with “just like your father/mother?”
• Do you frequently compare your ex with other divorced parents you know making sure the kids get the negative judgment?
• Do you counter every positive comment your child makes about your ex with, “Yeah, but …” and finish it with a downer?
• Do you make your children feel guilty for having had fun visiting the other parent or liking something in their home?
• Do you throw around biting statements like “If Mom/Dad really loved you …”
• Do you try to frighten or intimidate your kids during a disagreement by saying “If you don’t like it here, then go live with your Mom/Dad?

It’s easy to fall into these behavior patterns – and they can effectively manipulate your children’s behavior – for the short-term. But in the long run you will be slowly eroding your personal relationship with the children you love and alienating their affection. This will bite you back in the years to come, especially as your children move into and through their teens.

Be The Role Model Your Kids Need

As a parent, you want to raise children with a healthy sense of self-worth. You want children who are trusting and trust-worthy – who are open to creating loving relationships in their lives. It’s not divorce per se that emotionally scars children. It’s how you, as a parent, model your behavior before, during and after your divorce. If you model maturity, dignity and integrity whenever challenges occur, that’s what your children will see and more likely the path they will take in their own relationships. You can’t make life choices for them, but you sure can influence their choices and perceptions about the world when they are young and vulnerable!

Minding your tongue around your children can be one of the most difficult behaviors to master after a divorce. It is also one of the behaviors that will reap the greatest rewards in the well-being of your family. Don’t let anger, bitterness and indiscriminate remarks affect and harm your children. Keep a “conscious” diligence on your commentary and your ex is more likely to follow suit, as well. If he or she doesn’t, your kids will naturally pick up on the different energy and gravitate toward the parent taking the high road. Ultimately that parent will win their respect and admiration. Shouldn’t that parent be you?
* * *

Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of numerous books, e-courses and programs on divorcing with children and co-parenting successfully. For instant download of her FREE EBOOK on Doing Co-Parenting Right: Success Strategies For Avoiding Painful Mistakes! go to: childcentereddivorce.com/book

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© Rosalind Sedacca All rights reserved.



Will My Marriage Survive COVID-19?

If you are asking yourself this question, you need to know you are not alone.  Our families in the United States did not ring in the new year prepared for the total upheaval our lives would take so quickly beginning as early as February 2020.  When Coronavirus arrived to disrupt our American liberties, we did not have time to even get toilet paper stocked, much less think about enhancing our conflict resolution skills for what would become a very long period of family isolation.

Therefore, it is not a surprise that people are reexamining their marriage relationships.  That’s exactly what happened in China.  According to various news reports, provinces throughout China reported record-high numbers of divorce filings in early March, leading to long backlogs in the divorces.  China had been optimistically hoping for a baby boom, rolling out campaigns encouraging couples to support the nation by getting busy in the bedroom, and even loosening the one-child policy.  However, it appears that being quarantined together does not make the heart grow fonder.

What causes a “good marriage” to fail?  As a divorce attorney, I have spent significant time with hundreds of clients helping them through the divorce process.  While experts recite dramatic events, such as infidelity or money problems, as the cause of a divorce, I have found these are really symptoms of a marriage that is already broken.  Throughout my practice, I have noticed that previously “good marriages” tend to fail due to complacency, uncommon interests, and failure to connect.

Complacency. Complacency happens when couples take each other for granted, and stop showing appreciation and gratitude for their partner.  It’s so easy to become comfortable in your stretchy sweat pants (especially when quarantined), and to stop putting effort into showing up for your partner in a way that says, “you are important to me.”  If you recognize this feeling of complacency in your own heart, I would challenge you to find something you can do for your partner tomorrow.  Bring him or her a cup of coffee in the morning, write a little love note with something you appreciate about your partner, or go out of your way to help your partner do one of his or her daily chores.  It may or may not bring a smile to their face – but it won’t make your situation worse.  And it might even ignite a spark.

Uncommon Interests.  It’s not unusual for individuals in a marriage to have different interests.  In a healthy marriage, couples will support each other in their common and separate interests, and may even go along to events that are not really “of interest” to that spouse out of care and concern for their partner.  In couples facing marital difficulty, however, there is no effort to show support for the interests of the other partners.  Couples stop spending time together, even when they’re stuck in the same living quarters round the clock.  Instead of cooking meals together, or starting a garden one of you has always wanted to have, you spend time on your devices, distancing from each other.  If you have stopped showing any interest in the things that matter to your spouse, think about whether you are willing to give up an evening to do something with your partner that he or she wants to do.  You might just find a new “common interest.”

Failure to Connect.  It is easy to become disconnected in marriage, especially in relationships where there is a lot of blame and criticism.  So many couples struggle with trying to connect because they don’t know how to talk about the stuff that’s really bothering them, so they stop talking at all.  Of course, the real “connector” in a marriage is sexual intimacy.  It is not unusual for many divorcing couples to admit they’ve been living in a marriage without sexual intimacy for an extended period of time, in some cases more than ten years.  If you’ve stopped having sex with your spouse, that is a serious red flag.  For most people who have gone without sexual intimacy for a long time, it can be very difficult to reignite that spark.  You should consider speaking with a therapist trained in this area, even before you approach your spouse about this issue.  There may be underlying health or emotional issues that need to be dealt with compassionately so you don’t add fuel to the fire.

When couples become complacent, lose interest, and forget how to connect, they become vulnerable to the external forces that ultimately result in divorce, like infidelity.

If you are afraid your marriage is on the rocks, what should you do?  Now is the time for you to get really clear about your values, your options, and ultimately your decision.

  1. Clarify your Values. If you are questioning whether your marriage will survive, you are no doubt fighting an internal battle of value conflicts.  On the one hand, you value marriage and family.  You don’t want your children to grow up in a broken home.  On the other hand, there may be other values you have regarding your own personal goals and dreams, that cannot be fulfilled in your marriage.  It may be very difficult for you to identify what you value, if you ‘ve spent years trying to please everyone around you.  Now is the time to get really clear about what YOU value.  What do you want your children to learn about marriage and family from the example you are setting for them?
  2. Understand your Options. So often, when people think about divorce, they have preconceived ideas about divorce that bear no resemblance to reality.  One of the best things you can do is explore all the options available to you.  Spend an hour with a divorce attorney to get a better understanding of what divorce might mean in your situation.  Learn about different process options, such as Collaborative Divorce.  Research different therapists, and learn about Discernment Counseling, which is not marriage therapy, but rather provides a means for a couple together to discern whether they are each willing to do what they can do to save their marriage.  Whenever you feel stuck in situation, you need to know you always have options.  Exploring those options will help you make an empowered decision.
  3. Make a Decision. The most important thing you will do is make a decision.  Sitting on the fence is painful.  So many people live their lives sitting on the fence, not really committing to their marriage, but not having the courage to call it quits, either.

If being quarantined in your home with your partner has brought to light the dysfunction in your marriage, now is the time to decide what you are going to do to fix it.  Will you double down on efforts to restore your marriage, by investing in your partner, supporting his or her interests, showing gratitude and building connection?  Or, if it’s too late, will you choose divorce.  Divorce is not a destination, or a defining moment.  It is a process, with a beginning and an end, that prepares you for the next chapter in your life.  What will you decide?

Jennifer S. Hargrave is a family law attorney in Dallas, Texas, and is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  She is the owner of Hargrave Family Law.  www.HargraveFamilyLaw.com



How To Be Happy Again After Divorce

Whenever you go through a difficult life situation like divorce it’s tempting to seek out short-term pleasure as a way to dull the pain. As emotions run high, quick-fix answers like drinking or one night stands can lead to a temporary amelioration of the hurt you’re experiencing, but they’ll ultimately leave you feeling empty and unhappy.

As you pick yourself up in the wake of a divorce, it’s important to channel your recovery efforts towards wise, healthy goals that will cultivate a sincere appreciation for life and help you feel genuinely happy once again.

From Seeking Pleasure to Seeking Happiness

The first step in finding true happiness post-divorce is to begin identifying the difference between pleasure and happiness. This can be found in both your activities and your thoughts.

You can start this process by studying cognitive distortions. This can make it easier to identify negative thought patterns (including seeking after pleasure to temporary dull pain). Things like mental filters, disqualifying the positive, and jumping to conclusions can all color your thoughts in a negative light — and by extension push you towards those “quick fixes” more readily.

Instead, look for the areas where you’ve found genuine goodness and happiness in the past. What have your healthy relationships looked like? What has your condition consisted of when you were at your peak of physical fitness? How did your emotional reactions come across when you were in a good place?

In addition, look for areas where you’ve been hiding from the truth. What real-life things have you been avoiding? Here are a few challenges to give yourself as you sort through your thoughts and emotions:

● You can accept that it’s okay to fail.
● Don’t give in to a victim mentality — be strong.
● Identify your key values and don’t compromise on them going forward.
● Leave the past in the past whenever possible.
● Avoid toxic relationships and aim to develop positive, healthy ones.

As you identify these items, begin to set clear goals and objectives as benchmarks for you to work towards in the future.

Cultivating the Good

As you sift through the negative and the positive in your life and set up healthy goals, you can begin to invest in finding your “most ideal self.” These efforts should focus on authentic, sustainable elements of your life that are aimed at cultivating genuine results.

Eating Healthy

One area that is important to cultivate is how you eat. Comfort food is never more comforting (or alluring) than when you’re drowning in the immense, overwhelming feelings of separating from someone. However, it’s important to resist this temptation to eat junk food that is temporarily comforting.

Instead, strive to study and learn about how to maintain a healthy diet. While all diets are different, there are some general tenets of healthy eating that always hold true. For instance, overly processed food; excessive fats, salt, and sugars; and unbalanced meals can all have negative effects on your health. Instead, strive to:

● Eat well-balanced meals.
● Stock up on healthy snacks.
● Cook your own food.

These habits will help you stay focused on the good — and you’ll feel physically better in the process, too.

Properly Use Social Media

Another area that’s easy to abuse is social media. Like food, social media can be a two-edged sword, with real pros and cons depending on how you’re using it.

For instance, on the one hand, it’s been shown that social media can alleviate feelings of isolation when it’s used to connect with others and bolster support systems.

On the other hand, when social media is used to avoid face-to-face interactions or to develop unrealistic opinions and other’s happiness and success, it can have profoundly negative effects on your recovery.

Whether you’re talking about food, social media, or any other facet of your life, it’s important to look for ways to weed out the bad and cultivate the good in each and every activity.

Moving Forward

As you avoid pleasure and focus on real happiness, you’ll begin to regain a measure of control over your thoughts and emotions. Once that happens, you can begin to look for ways to create positive, forward momentum as you re-enter normal life. A few suggestions include:

Exploring love languages: Learning about how to understand both your own and other’s love languages can help improve your relationships with others around you.
● Meditate and/or pray: You may be afraid to let your brain rest in the moment, but it is one of the best ways to address your pain and truly find inner peace and happiness again.
● Study your enneagram: Consider taking a test to discover your enneagram number. This can help you better understand how you function, how to address your hurt, and how to truly pursue what you value.

Learning to Believe in Love Again

It may sound cliche, but one of the most important goals in your shift from pleasure to happiness should be the ultimate pursuit to restore your faith in love. You may have felt betrayed, bruised, and battered by past experiences, and you’re not alone in those feelings.

However, past pain should never be an impenetrable barrier to future happiness. Instead, strive to identify that pain, avoid the meaningless pleasures, and hone in on both discovering true happiness and developing your most ideal self in the process.

Sam Bowman has a passion for healthy living and positivity. As a seasoned digital writer, he covers just about every subject that’s out there while diving a little deeper into divorce and mental health topics. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.


Mother’s Day Reflections: 7 Lessons Learned from My Divorce

By Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

Mother’s Day is a perfect time to reflect on how my divorce changed my relationship with my daughter. When I was a young teenager, I used to make lists of the things that I would teach a daughter – if I was lucky enough to have one. Since I’m a natural born coach, I’ve been thinking about what lessons I want to pass on to my daughter. In the meantime, it struck me recently how much my daughter has taught me about love, letting go, and resiliency.

Being a mom has always felt like an honor, a gift – something to feel proud of! However, no one prepared me for how much my relationship with my daughter would be altered by my divorce. Too much closeness, misunderstandings, love, and conflicts – there are many ways to describe this relationship and not a lot of research to draw from.

Since nearly one third of all daughters have parents who are divorced in America, and most of them reside with their mothers after the breakup, I was surprised to find so few studies on this topic. Perhaps it’s because we live in a culture psychologist Harriet Lerner refers to as mother-blaming rather than supportive of mothers. In The Dance of Connection Learner writes, “Mothers are held responsible not only for their own behavior (which is fair enough) but also for their children’s behavior, which they can influence but not control.”

Some studies posit that the mother-daughter relationship becomes more intense after divorce due to proximity and amount of time spent together. Psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington studied 1,400 divorced families over a period of thirty years. She considered the connection between mothers and daughters to be a protective factor after divorce. After extensive examination, Hetherington concluded that preadolescent girls develop close supportive relationships with their mothers but that this shifts during adolescence when there is more upheaval in their lives. In For Better or for Worse, she writes “In adolescence, there is a notable increase in conflict in these relationships, particularly between early maturing daughters and their mothers.” She concludes, “In addition, divorced mothers and their adult daughters are closer than divorced mothers and sons, and sons feel somewhat closer than daughters to their fathers.”

It makes sense that the mother-daughter bond would intensify after divorce since girls spend much less time with their fathers according to Dr. Linda Nielsen, author of Between Fathers and Daughters. She writes: “Sadly, only 10-15 percent of fathers and daughters get to enjoy the benefits of shared parenting.” Nielsen is a supporter of shared parenting, whenever possible, and recommends that parents encourage their daughter to spend close to equal time with both parents. Giving her messages such as “Both your dad and I made mistakes in our marriage, but we are good parents” will help your daughter to avoid loyalty conflicts and will strengthen her connection with both of her parents.

What are some concerns about the mother-daughter bond after divorce? Based on more than two decades of research on fathers and daughters, Linda Nielsen concludes that many mothers lean too heavily on their daughters for advice and caretaking and this can turn the daughter against her father. Another point made by Nielsen that I noted in my own research, is that daughters are more upset about and negatively impacted by parental conflict than sons post-divorce. Specifically, high parental conflict before and after divorce, was associated with lowered self-esteem for girls more so than sons in my study. Since girls tend to be more focused on relationships, and spend more time with their mothers post-divorce, it makes since that they would internalize feeling of low self-worth during times of conflict and take it personally when their father is absent or inconsistent in his contacts.

Some mothers may get too involved in their daughter’s lives after their divorce and have difficulty setting boundaries. An expert on parenting and gender issues, Dr. Peggy Drexler notes that many mothers want to feel connected to their daughters and, in many cases, their daughters’ friends. She writes, “At a time when there is so much societal pressure to stay young, this helps keep us feeling youthful. It also helps us feel appreciated long after our children stop “needing” us to survive. Dr. Drexler makes the point that many mothers seek validation through their daughters. In my opinion, this need could be exaggerated after divorce when the mother’s coping skills might be strained. In fact, the mother-daughter best friend idea doesn’t leave room for the more traditional role of mom and could even lead to a competitive edge between them.

Like many divorced Moms, Rita is a woman who craves closeness with her daughter, Shana, and this intensified after her divorce four years ago. During a recent counseling session, for instance, Shana talked about needing space from Rita: “I love my mom but sometimes things get a little stressful between us.” Rita described shopping trips with her seventeen-year-old daughter Shana and her friends. While they both enjoy many aspects of these outings, Shana admits that her mom may be living vicariously through her. Shana says, “My mom likes to go shopping with me and my friends and I don’t have the heart to tell her it’s not cool.”

Boundaries are an important part of any relationship, but they are especially critical for mothers and daughters after the breakup of a family. As mothers, we want our daughters to grow up to be independent and self-confident. But when we are overly involved and encourage them to tell us all of their deep, dark secrets, this may make it problematic for them to break away and to establish their autonomy – a crucial developmental task of adolescent identity formation.

Another important aspect of raising a daughter after divorce is to transmit a message of optimism about relationships. Be careful not to bad-mouth her other parent or to make disparaging comments about love or marriage. Hopefully, the legacy you’ll pass on to your daughter will be one of resiliency and hope.

7 lessons I learned from my daughter:

• Learn to let her go and try not to lean on her too much. Give her space to grow and to develop her own identity – this will strengthen your bond.
• Be her mother and mentor but realize this isn’t the same as being a friend. Don’t confide in her (when it comes to personal information that doesn’t involve her). You can enjoy each other’s company and be connected, yet be autonomous individuals.
• Honor your daughter’s boundaries. Try not to take it personally if she doesn’t want to invite you to join her and/or her friends for social activities.
Be a strong and supportive role model. But in order to help her find her way, she’ll need to question your decisions and personality at times. Lead by example.
• Don’t ask too much of her. Keeping your expectations realistic will improve your relationship with your daughter. She can’t make up for what you didn’t get from other people.
• Have faith in your daughter. While it may be hard to let go, you can delight in watching her grow into a self-confident person.
• Send out a message of hope about relationships. Be careful not to pass on a pessimistic view of love or mistrust of partners. Encouraging her to spend close to equal time with you and her other parent will help to restore her faith in love!

In sum, respecting the differences between you and your daughter will strengthen your connection in the years to come. Letting go means accepting that your daughter is separate from you and that she has her own personality, interests, and choices to make. She needs to learn from her mistakes just like you did. You can’t live through her or save her from the pain that comes with growing into womanhood – but you can delight in her joys.

I’d love to read your comments on this page. Be sure to order my new book “Daughters of Divorce: Overcome The Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship.”

Terry’s new book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, was be published by Sounds True in February of 2020 and can be ordered here.



How to Detach and Let Go with Love

Although it’s painful to see our loved ones be self-destructive, detaching allows us to enjoy our life despite another person’s problems and behavior. Attachment and caring are normal. It’s healthy to get attached to someone we love and care about, but codependent attachment causes us pain and problems in relationships. We become overly attached—not because we love so much but because we need so much.  We need someone to be and act a certain way so that you can feel okay. Managing and controlling, reacting and worrying, and obsessing are counterproductive codependent patterns.  We can become over-involved. The antidote is to detach and let go.

What is Detaching?

Detachment implies neutrality. Detaching is a way of separating the unhealthy emotional glue that keeps us fused in a codependent relationship.

What detaching isn’t

It doesn’t mean physical withdrawal. Nor is detaching emotional withdrawal, such as being aloof, disinterested, emotionally shut down, or ignoring someone.

Detaching doesn’t mean neglecting family responsibilities or leaving someone. Although physical space or separation may be useful as a means of setting boundaries and centering ourselves, this is not what detaching means. For example, some people decide to not have contact with someone, because the relationship is too painful.

Physical proximity is irrelevant. In fact, some divorced couples are more emotionally attached and reactive to one another than most married couples. Someone living far away can push our buttons in a phone call so that we dwell on the conversation for days – or even if there wasn’t one! Detaching is about refocusing and taking charge of ourselves.

Key ingredients of detaching

It involves letting go of our expectations and entanglements with other peoples’ problems and affairs. We stop reacting to things they say and do and obsessing and worrying about things. We take control of our feelings and thoughts, and mind our own business. It doesn’t take away our feelings and concern, but channels them in a healthy manner. In practice, it’s more compassionate and loving than codependent attachment.

Detaching involves four key concepts:

  1. Having appropriate boundaries
  2. Accepting reality
  3. Being in the present, not the past or future
  4. Taking responsibility for our feelings and needs

Detaching is letting go with love

When first learning to detach, people often turn off their feelings or use walls of silence to refrain from codependent behavior, but with persistence, understanding, and compassion, they’re able to let go with love.  Gradually, rather than be invested in changing or controlling others, we can be compassionate and encourage them. We have no need to argue or persuade others, but instead are curious of differing points of view. This shows respect and honors boundaries and separateness. Rather than manipulate people to be like us, we risk being authentic. For example, we can say, “I feel sad when I see you depressed.” Instead of trying to change someone’s need for space or silence, we enjoy our time alone or with someone else. This may sound impossible, but the pay-off is rewarding.

Are You Over-Involved?

When we worry, it’s a sign that we’re attached to a certain outcome. When we’re frustrated with someone, it’s because we’re attached to them being different from who they are and accepting their flaws. When we’re giving unsolicited advice, we’re crossing a boundary and assuming a superior position. We all do this sometimes, but codependents do it excessively. Instead of two people with separate minds and independent feelings, the boundaries are blurred. Does this apply to you?

  1. Do your moods and happiness depend on someone else?
  2. Do you have strong emotional reactions to someone’s opinions, thoughts, feelings, and judgments?
  3. Do you spend time worrying and thinking about someone else’s problems?
  4. Do you analyze someone’s motives or feelings?
  5. Do you think about what someone else is doing, not doing, thinking, or feeling?
  6. Do you neglect your career, hobbies, activities, or friends due to a relationship?
  7. Do you drop other activities if someone else won’t join you or disapproves?
  8. Do you please someone because you’re afraid of rejection?
  9. Do you become anxious doing things alone?

When we’re over-involved, we’re myopic. Others become extensions of us. We try to control their opinions, feelings, and actions to get what we need and feel okay. We try to manage them to avoid witnessing their suffering. We try to impress and please them. We try to persuade them to agree with us or do what we want. Then, we react with hurt or anger when they want won’t. If you relate, learn why detaching is helpful.

Benefits of Detaching

Letting go reaps us profound benefits, not only in the relationship, but in personal growth, inner peace, and all areas of our life.

  • We learn to love
  • We gain peace, freedom, and power
  • We gain time for ourselves
  • We become more resilient to loss
  • We learn independence and responsibility.
  • We encourage that in others

We’re responsible for our thoughts, feelings, actions, and the consequences of those actions. Other people are responsible for theirs. Cheering someone up occasionally or giving him or her more attention is not codependent. A benefit of a good marriage is that spouses nurture one another when one is troubled, but not codependent caretaking, and it’s reciprocal.

In contrast, when we consistently try to change others’ moods or solve their problems, we’re becoming their caretaker based upon the erroneous belief that we can control what’s causing their pain. We’re assuming responsibilities that are theirs, not ours. Sometimes codependent couples unconsciously agree that one spouse has the obligation to make the other happy. That is an impossible task and leads to mutual unhappiness, anger and resentment. The cheerleader is always failing and frustrated, and the recipient feels shame and resentment. Whatever we try won’t be quite right or enough.

How to Detach

Detaching starts with understanding, but it takes time for the heart to really accept that ultimately we’re powerless over others and that our efforts to change someone are unhelpful and possibly detrimental to us, the other person, and the relationship. Take these steps to practice detaching:

  1. Ask yourself if you’re in reality or in denial.
  2. Examine whether your expectations of the other person reasonable.
  3. Honestly examine your motivations. Are they self-serving?
  4. Practice allowing and accepting reality in all aspects of your life.
  5. Allow your feelings.
  6. Practice meditation to be more attached and less reactive.
  7. Practice compassion for the other person.
  8. Be authentic. Make “I” statements about your genuine feelings rather than offer advice.
  9. Practice the tools for detaching in the “14 Tips for Letting Go” on my website.
  10. Attend Al-Anon or CoDA meetings. Read and do the exercises in Codependency for Dummies.

If you answered “yes” to several of the above questions, consider learning more about detaching and get support. Detaching can be very difficult to do on your own.

©Darlene Lancer 2020

Adapted from Codependency for Dummies, 2nd Ed. (2015) by John Wiley & Sons. Darlene is the author of: Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You

Ebooks:

10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

“I’m Not Perfect – I’m Only Human” – How to Beat Perfectionism

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

How to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Self-Love Meditation

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www.whatiscodependency.com

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7 Ways to Cultivate Love in Your Life

Most of us seek someone to love or to love us. We don’t think about cultivating self-love or realize that love originates within. You may be seeking a relationship, but research suggests that singles are actually happier than married people, with the exception of happily married people. But even that dwindles over time. A new study shows that on average, after the first year, spouses return to their baseline state of happiness prior to the marriage. Thus, similar to the conclusions reached in the studies done on lottery winners, after marriage and after winning, we eventually return to how happy we are as individuals.

Thus, our self-esteem matters. Research has well-established that it’s a big factor in the health and happiness in marriage. In fact the level of our self-esteem before the relationship can predict its longevity. Low self-esteem can prevent us from reaping the rewards of love in a relationship.

We think about ourselves based on things we were told, incorrect inferences, and false beliefs informed by trauma and the parenting we received. These learned beliefs, defenses, and habits are not who we are, not our natural, true self. How can we reclaim it?

Cultivating Love

Cultivating self-love is a worthwhile endeavor for ourselves and to have happier relationships. Science has shown these remarkable benefits associated with love:
• Better stress management
• Better sleep
• Better heart health
• Longer lives
• Improved self-esteem
• Greater happiness
• Lowered risk of depression

We are all born innocent and worthy of love. Our flaws, mistakes, and things that happened to us affect us, but are not who we are inherently. Once we understand this, we can begin changing our self-concept and nurturing our real self.

Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds.
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.

Love is like a garden we need to fertilize and cultivate. To fully give and receive love, we must first pull the weeds that sabotage it. We ward off invading pests in the form of toxic relationships, and welcome animals that protect and help our garden grow.

Self-acceptance

What we resist persists. When we don’t accept ourselves, we strengthen a negative self-concept. Low self-esteem is self-reinforcing, making change and self-acceptance difficult. Paradoxically, when we accept our shortcomings, it’s easier to let them go.
Self-acceptance is greater than self-esteem, and self-acceptance paves the way for self-love. It means honoring and accepting all of ourselves, including our shortcomings, appearance, our mistakes, and feelings. Learn to stop self-criticism and Raise Your Self-Esteem.

Self-forgiveness

What we did is not who we are. Staying in self-blame and self-condemnation is harmful. On the other hand, guilt can motivate us to change and reach out to others. Great healing is possible with confession, self-forgiveness, and amends. Overcoming guilt releases us from the past and the person we once were. It paves the way for transformation, wholeness, self-respect, and self-love

Love is indivisible. It’s difficult to love ourselves when we harbor hatred toward someone else. Moreover, resentment toward ourselves or others keeps us stuck. When we forgive others, we feel freer and better about ourselves. Similarly, as we develop self-compassion and forgive ourselves, we’re more accepting and compassionate toward others. There are specific steps and stages in forgiveness. Follow them in Freedom from Guilt and Blame: Finding Self-Forgiveness.

Self-appreciation

After pulling the weeds, we must nourish our garden with self-appreciation. Our mind does not distinguish between praise coming from others or our own words and thoughts. Do you focus on your shortcomings and deny or take for granted your positive attributes? Inventory your strengths, accomplishments, loving qualities, acts of courage, and your desire to give, love, and grow. Practice appreciating yourself and others. Each day write three things you did well and qualities about yourself that you or other people appreciate. Focus on the positive, rather than the negative. It takes time and consistency to replace bad habits with life-affirming ones.

Self-expression

Whether due to growing up in a dysfunctional family system or trauma later in life, when we deny painful emotions, we actually block positive ones as well. When we block pain, we can’t feel joy. We close our hearts and numb ourselves. Repressing feelings is a form of rejecting ourselves that can lead to depression and can cause poor health and disease. We grow self-love when we express our feelings, needs, and wants. Negative feelings dissolve, and positive ones multiply. We’re liberated and have more energy to move forward.

Loving actions

When we ignore, hide, or discount our needs and wants, we become irritable, resentful, and unhappy. But fulfilling our needs and wants is an act of self-love that lifts our spirits. It’s a key to happiness that calms and revitalizes us. Conversely, when we act in ways contrary to our values, such as lying or stealing, we undermine our self-worth. Doing esteemable acts raises our self-esteem. We’re able to hold our head up and feel deserving of respect and love. Do random acts of kindness you can add to your “did well” list.

Practice gratitude

Gratitude is a high vibration that opens our hearts. It’s been scientifically proven to be healing. Practice gratitude by looking for things in your life and in the world to be grateful for – even when you don’t feel it. Write a daily grateful list, and read it to someone.

Self-love visualizations

You can enhance love with visualization. Breathe in and out of the center of your chest. Imagine it opening like a door or flower. Picture pink or green light flowing in and out as you breathe. Focus on beauty and things you’re grateful for. Say loving affirmations. (Listen to my Self-Love Mediation.) Send this love to those you care about, to yourself, to those in need, and to the planet.

The above steps open your heart. Practice expressing love and compassion in all aspects of your life to experience greater peace and joy. Learn more self-nurturing tips.

© 2020 Darlene Lancer All Rights Reserved

Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Author of Codependency for Dummies and Conquering Shame and Codependency: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You

Ebooks:

10 Steps to Self-Esteem

Dealing with a Narcissist: 8 Steps to Raise Self-Esteem and Set Boundaries with Difficult People

How To Speak Your Mind – Become Assertive and Set Limits and webinar How to Be Assertive

Breakup Recovery

“I’m Not Perfect – I’m Only Human” – How to Beat Perfectionism

Spiritual Transformation in the Twelve Steps

Freedom from Guilt and Blame – Finding Self-Forgiveness

Codependency’s Recovery Daily Reflections

How to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Self-Love Meditation

Follow me on Facebook

www.whatiscodependency.com

310.458.0016

 



Conquering Coronavirus Fears In Your Kids: 4 Things To Know And Do!

By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

Talking to your kids about the Coronavirus is certainly one of the most difficult conversations you’ll ever have. Equally significant, it’s a topic that you’ll likely be addressing for some time to come.

Stop and think about it. We’re expecting our children to cope with circumstances beyond their control. Chances are it’s also beyond their scope of comprehension. As a result, your kids are looking to you not only for comfort, but also for answers to help make sense of a new normal that’s different from the life they’ve always known.

This is also the time for co-parent conversations, as well. Discuss your child’s mental and emotional well-being. Use consistent messages to reassure your kids that you are both there for them throughout this stressful period – even if only one parent is physically nearby.

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you try to ease each child’s anxiety and confusion.

1. Remember, we’re all in this together!

No one one alive on the planet has ever experienced anything quite like this before. That means we’re all in this together. It’s comforting for your kids to know that every child around the world has had their lives and schedules changed by the virus. And they all have similar questions. When will this end? Will I go back to a normal routine in school soon? Why are my parents not at work? Why can’t I go out to play with my friends? They also have similar fears. What if one of my parents gets sick? Will grandma be all right? Will daddy get his job back? Will I still go to camp this summer? What about my SATs? What if we run out of food?

This is the time for reassurance. Explain that answers will be coming and those in charge are making the best decisions for us all. Acknowledge the validity of their concerns. Remind them, too, that this is not only happening to them. “You’re not alone. So try to relax and find worthwhile ways to spend your time each day!”

2. Keep your answers succinct and simple!

As a parent you know the importance of talking to your children in an age-appropriate manner. So you may want to take each child aside and have a different conversation if their ages vary. It’s especially important that you not say more than they require. Often we scare our kids by overwhelming them with details or explanations beyond what they need or can absorb. You’ll be having many discussions in the weeks ahead. Answer questions as simply and clearly as possible. Then ask your kids some questions about how they will use this information. Get them thinking about their options and plans for tomorrow. Take things one day at a time.

3. Empower your child to conquer fear!

Fear can consume a child with anxiety, dread, anger and depression. That’s why we want to talk to our kids about identifying and acknowledging their fear. Once they do, they can take steps to let it go and replace fear with other thoughts and action. For young kids you can create a “Coronavirus spray” to use in their room before they go to bed. You can read books on fear to help them feel more brave. Parenting expert Jean Tracy has helpful advice that engages your child in drawing pictures of their fear followed by pictures of how they want to feel instead.

With older children you can talk about fear being a state of mind. Remind them we have a choice in what we think about and what we do with our time. Let’s create a positive mind-set and recognize the positive aspects of life as we know it now. Are you getting more video, TV or tablet time than before? Are you enjoying spending more time with mom or dad at home? Are you playing more with your pets? Are you less stressed about tests and homework? Is life simpler than it used to be?

4. Step up to new opportunities!

There are opportunities all around us for new experiences and adventures. Online learning programs abound. Interested in starting a new hobby? Now’s the time to learn more about it. Want to practice a sport, get more fit, learn an instrument, begin painting, dancing or a new craft? Check out all the online programs and courses available. Educational resources as well as private industries are offering how-to videos for children of all ages. Encourage your child to test the waters and have a Facetime call with friends or family to show what they’re doing and learning. Use this special time as the chance to explore talents and test skills they’ve never tried before. It’s like an unexpected vacation from your normal routine. Here’s your child’s chance to step up, break out and get free from past insecurities or self-imposed limitations.

As a parent you’re there to spark ideas, initiate conversation, and support new activities despite Covid-19. This time of physical restriction doesn’t have to be a time of mental or spiritual restriction for your kids. You can help them discover some of the blessings hidden in our circumstances. They may even thank you!

Don’t lie, mislead or disappoint, but do focus on the positives in your new version of family life. Encourage conversation, especially with their other parent. Be understanding about mood swings. And remind your kids that this too will pass. Life will go on. And there will be brighter days ahead.

*** *** ***

Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
The Voice of Child-Centered Divorce
Rosalind@childcentereddivorce.com
Author: How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce?

www.childcentereddivorce.com

www.childcentereddivorce.com/kids

Founder, Child-Centered Divorce Network

Host: Divorce, Dating & Empowered Living Radio Show & Podcast

https://bit.ly/2QThQW2

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How Can You Get Out From Under the Shadow of Your Parents’ Divorce?

By Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

Do you ever wonder if you’ll get out from under the shadow of your parents’ divorce? Do you worry about repeating the patterns of the past?  The challenge of creating and maintaining a healthy, long-lasting relationship is where your parents fell short. But you have an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and build the kind of relationship that eluded your parents.

There are many reasons why adults raised in divorced homes get stuck in the past and have difficulty establishing healthy relationships in the present. You might find yourself in relationship patterns that mirror your family of origin. It’s understandable that you might repeat patterns that you observed in your childhood home. Another factor may be what Freud referred to as repetition compulsion. This is a tendency that people have to repeat patterns from the past as a way to gain mastery over them. In either case, becoming more aware of the unhealthy relationship patterns that contributed to your parents’ divorce can be a good first step.

Abby, in her late thirties, spent over two decades struggling with ghosts from the past and experiencing turmoil in romantic relationships. Because she had little insight into her past, she found herself reenacting the painful memories of her parents’ marriage and subsequent breakup. Abby’s parents split when she was nine years old when her mother discovered that her father had been cheating on her for years. Her adolescence was a time of turmoil as she lived between her parents’ two desperate worlds and acted out due to the conflict she experienced.

During young adulthood, Abby struggled through a series of unhealthy, short-term relationships until she met her fiancé, Rob, at age thirty-five. Prior to meeting Rob, she hadn’t had a healthy relationship for many years. She admits to sabotaging her relationships by being mistrustful and controlling. As Abby describes her issue with trust, she says, “My first serious boyfriend in college cheated on me several times. He betrayed me just like my dad cheated on my mom. After college, I dated someone named Kyle who was wonderful and treated me right. But since I wasn’t used to wonderful, I left him and picked guys who were the opposite of him. After that, I dated a lot of guys but didn’t have a serious relationship for many years.”

For nearly two decades, Abby avoided making a commitment because she was mistrustful and fearful of ending up like her parents. Like many daughters of divorce, she needed special permission to grieve the loss of her original family. With support from a seasoned therapist, Abby gained the insight to break the self-defeating pattern of mistrust and fear of commitment. When I asked Abby what the most difficult parts of an intimate relationship are, she stopped and nodded: “Trust and intimacy are not my strong suits. I hope that my marriage is nothing like my parents. I hope that it will be based on commitment and communication, which Rob and I have been working on.”

Penny provides another example of a woman who replayed patterns of the past for many years without conscious awareness. In love with the idea of marriage, Penny was looking for the nurturing and intimacy she lacked as a child. Like her mother, Penny was self-sacrificing and was attracted to someone who was her opposite – self-absorbed and unwilling to consider her needs. Ignoring the red flags early in the relationship, she was caught up in a pursuer-distancer pattern with her fiancé Bill, who could never fully commit to marriage. They had been engaged for six years and he was unwilling to set a date for their wedding. Unfortunately, Penny allowed herself to pursue a partner who bore a strong resemblance to her emotionally distant father.

There are many reasons why people have difficulty letting go of the past and moving past divorce. Sometimes, children take their parents’ offenses to heart and blame themselves. After all, all children want to admire their caregivers and so when they do things that are untrustworthy, children blame themselves as a way to make sense of their world. Some people even create a narrative for their life that focuses on suffering and blame. The following tips will help you to heal from the past and to make healthier choices in relationships in the present.

  • Gain awareness about past hurt. For instance, both Abby and Penny learned that their parents’ unhealthy patterns had impacted their choices in partners much more than they realized.

  • Acknowledge the damage that was done and shift to an impersonal perspective.   

  • Find ways to repair the damage by writing a new narrative for your life – one that includes picking partners who are trustworthy and willing to work on a committed relationship.

  • Examine your expectations about intimate relationships. You might be focused on your dream of how a relationship should be rather than the reality of how it is – leading to disappointment.

  • Focus on the things that you can control. Abby realized that she couldn’t control her father’s infidelity but she could choose a life partner who shared her view of fidelity and commitment.

Crafting a new story for your life includes not allowing your parents’ divorce or unhappiness to define who you are as a person.  Develop and use positive intentions or affirmations such as:

  • I accept that I don’t have control over all aspects of my life, but I can exercise the power of choice. I will attempt to make good choices and let go of those things that are beyond my control.

  • I won’t let my parents’ divorce or my past prevent me from making positive choices today.

With time and patience, you can begin to visualize the kind of life you need to thrive. You don’t have to let your past dictate the decisions you make today. Restoring your faith in love includes building relationships based on love, trust, and intimacy. Remember to be gentle with yourself and others on your journey.

Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

Do you find yourself repeating patterns from the past? If so, share your experience or ask us a question. I’d love to read your comments on this page. Be sure to order my new book “Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship.”

Terry’s new book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, was be published by Sounds True in February of 2020 and can be ordered here.



7 Tips to Fall Back in Love with Your Partner

By Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW

The most common complaint of couples today is that they have fallen out of love. However, falling out of love usually does not occur overnight. Likewise, relationship repair takes time and effort on the part of both partners and includes rekindling sexual intimacy and emotional attunement. There are not any foolproof ways for couples to fall back in love but ending destructive relationship patterns is a good first step.

Put an End to Harmful Relationship Patterns

Mariah puts it like this: “I love Jackson, but I’m just not in love with him anymore.” When Mariah drops this bombshell, Jackson responds, “I know we don’t have sex much anymore – but it just seems like a phase we’re going through. I was shocked when Mariah took our kids and slept at her mom’s house for a few days.”

Mariah explains that her feelings have been building up for years and she feels guilty because she is starting to fantasize about being with other men.  Jackson says, “I’m devastated and feel so betrayed. You have no loyalty to me and our sons – there’s no way I saw this coming.”

As Mariah and Jackson describe their typical pattern of relating during their ten years of marriage, it amounts to Mariah seeking out Jackson for emotional and sexual intimacy and Jackson withdrawing.  Jackson describes his disengagement from Mariah as a struggle. “It just feels hard to meet her expectations for always being so close. By the time, I hit the bed most nights I’m dead to the world. I just don’t have the energy I used to because I’m a manager at an exclusive restaurant and on-call several nights a week.

According to experts, the most common reason couples fall out of love and divorce is because of a pursuer-distancer pattern that develops over time. Dr. Sue Johnson identifies the pattern of demand-withdraw as the “Protest Polka” and says it’s one of three “Demon Dialogues.” She explains that when one partner becomes critical and aggressive the other often becomes defensive and distant.

Renowned relationship expert Dr. John Gottman’s research on thousands of couples discovered that partners that get stuck in this pattern the first few years of marriage have more than a 80% chance of divorcing in the first four or five years of marriage. He posits that men have a tendency to withdraw and women to pursue.  This pattern is wired into our physiology and reflects a basic gender difference. In his classic “Love Lab” observations, Dr. Gottman noted that this pattern is a major contributor to marital breakdown.

Nurture Emotional Intimacy

If Mariah and Jackson want to fall back in love again, they need to stop focusing on each other’s flaws and spend their energy fostering a deeper connection. In other words, stop assuming the worst of each other and put an end to demanding their partner change.

In over 40 years of research on couples in his “Love Lab” Dr. Gottman discovered that the two leading causes for divorce are criticism and contempt. In his book Why Marriages Succeed and Fail, he reminds us that criticizing our partner is different from offering a critique or voicing a complaint. The latter two are about specific issues, whereas the former is an attack on the person. For instance, a complaint is: “I want to be included in financial decisions. We agreed that you’d discuss big purchases with me.” In comparison, criticism might be: “You never consider my needs, you’re so selfish.”

Instead, couples who want to rekindle their passion and love need to “turn towards” each other. In The Science of Trust, Dr. Gottman explains that practicing emotional attunement can help you stay connected in spite of your differences. This means “turning toward” one another by showing empathy, and not being defensive.  In other words, both partners need to talk about their feelings in terms of positive need, instead of what they do not need. The speaker is really saying. “Here’s what I feel, and what I need from you.”

Ignite Sexual Passion

During the early phase of a relationship, many couples barely come up for air due to the excitement of falling in love. Unfortunately, this blissful state does not last forever.  Scientists have found that oxytocin (a bonding hormone) is released during the initial stage of infatuation – which causes couples to feel euphoric and turned on by physical affection – such as touching and holding hands. Oxytocin works like a drug, giving us immediate rewards and binding us to our lover.

Author Teresa Atkin advises couples to rewire their brains to experience feelings of pleasure so they can experience emotional and sexual closeness.  She reminds us that the human brain, while wonderfully complex, does not always work in our best interest and we need to rewire it in order to experience pleasurable feelings. She writes, “Research shows that we get a healthy shot of dopamine (the feel good hormone) when we are seeking reward, and when there is something new to experience. Also excitement is transferable, so the heightened arousal that follows say, a roller coaster ride, can be used to rev up your sex life.”

The struggle between Mariah and Jackson is a common one for hard-working couples balancing jobs, parenting, and intimacy.  Sex therapist Laurie Watson, author of Wanting Sex Again: How to Rediscover Your Desire and Heal a Sexless Marriage writes, “Most sexual concerns stem from an interpersonal struggle in the marriage.”

7 tips rev up sexual intimacy and fall back in love:

  •  Get in touch with your pattern of relating. This include ways you might be denying your partner or coming on too strong sexually. Avoid criticizing each other and stop the “blame game.” Mix things up to end the power struggle. For example, the pursuer can try being shy and quietly seductive – perhaps encouraging the distancer to move toward him/her.
  • Break the pursuer-distancer pattern. Distancers need to practice initiating sex more often and pursuers need to find ways to tell their partner “you’re sexy,” while avoiding critique after sex.
  • Increase physical affection. According to Kory Floyd, physical contact releases feel good hormones. Holding hands, hugging, and touching releases oxytocin (the bonding hormone) causing a calming sensation. Studies show  it’s released during sexual orgasm and affectionate touch as well. Physical affection also reduces stress hormones – lowering daily levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Dr. Michael Stysma recommends couples double the length of time they spend kissing, hugging, and touching each other if they want to improve their marriage.
  • Allow tension to build. Our brains experience more pleasure when the anticipation of the reward goes on for some time before we get the actual reward. So take your time, share fantasies, change locations, and make sex more romantic.
  • Vary the kind of sex you have: (gentle, loving-tender sex; intimate sex; highly erotic sex, etc.). Break up the routine and try new things as your sexual needs change.
  • Make sex a priority and set the mood for intimacy before TV or work dulls your passion. A light meal and your favorite music and wine can set the stage for great sex.
  • Separate sex from routine. Try a variety of activities that bring you both pleasure. Avoid discussing problems, household tasks, and your children if you want to bring back the sexual chemistry with your partner. Have fun courting and practice flirting with him or her. Don’t forget to cuddle on the couch and surprise your partner with a kiss.

It’s a good idea to make time for physical affection if you want to enhance the quality of your marriage, according to experts.  It can also reduce your stress level so you feel happier, more loving, and satisfied with your partner. Even if you’re not a touchy-feely person, increasing affectionate touch can help you to sustain a deep, meaningful bond.

Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Her book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.

Terry’s new book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, was published by Sounds True in February of 2020 and can be ordered here.

 

 



Refuse to Be a Victim After Your Divorce

By Lisa Arends

“Let me introduce you to the victim advocate,” offered the policeman who had arrested my husband the day before.

I stopped short. That was the first time that word – victim – had ever been applied to me. I certainly felt victimized. My partner of sixteen years had just abandoned me with a text message, stolen all of my money and then committed bigamy. Yet even though I was still in the acute phase of suffering, I startled at the application of the word “victim.”

Because even though I had been hurt, I did not want to see myself as a victim. Although it felt good for the pain and unfairness to be recognized, the term also made me feel minimized. That word embodied weakness in my mind and I wanted to feel powerful. It spoke of a lack of control and I wanted to be the one to drive my life.

I did not want to be a victim.

But for a time, I was.

In the beginning, I spoke about what was done to me. I looked for resolution and justice from outside sources, hoping for an apology from him and a conviction from the courts. I embraced my pain, feeling justified in holding on to it. Meanwhile, I demonized my ex, removing all semblance of humanity in my view of him.

There was a certain comfort in accepting a role as a victim. I garnered sympathy and commiseration from those around me. I had limited control and limited responsibility. But those same conditions that sheltered me also confined me.

As long as I saw myself as a victim, I would remain one. As long as I was limited by my past, I would remain a prisoner of what happened.

When the desired justice from the courts failed to appear and the hoped-for apology never came, I was left with a decision to make: I could either bemoan the circumstances or I could change my response.

I chose the latter.

I used the following ideas to help shed the guise of victim and make myself the hero of my own life:

Rewrite Your Story

When we are harmed, we often feel powerless, as though we are simply being led through someone else’s story. One of the first steps to renouncing victimhood is to take control of your story. Rewrite it. Reframe it. Narrate it. Change the perspective. Take yourself out of the role of victim (done to me) and put yourself in the role of hero (I did…). Write it or tell it until you believe it.

Pick up a pen and write your happy ending.

Create Purpose

Whatever happened, happened. There is no changing the past. But you can use the past to create something better in the future. Find some anger about what occurred and use that as fuel to drive you to create something better. Look around and see others suffering and use your experience to render aide. Use your rock bottom as a foundation for your life’s purpose.

You have the power to create something wonderful out of something terrible.

Make Changes

When unwanted change is thrust upon our lives, it’s easy to feel hopeless. Learn to recognize the potential hidden within and use the opportunity of uncertainty to create change of your choosing. There is no better time to release what no longer serves you and to embrace new beginnings.

When you’re rebuilding your life from the ground up, you have the power of choice and the wisdom of experience. That’s a powerful pair.

Find Gratitude

One of the powerful and difficult exercises that can empower the victimized is practicing radical gratitude. Face what has caused you the greatest pain, the most suffering, and write down why you are grateful for it. It is an amazing reminder of how much our thoughts rather than our circumstances are responsible for our happiness.

When gratitude is your wrapping paper, everything is a gift.

You are only a victim if you imprison yourself. Release yourself from the shackles of your past and let your spirit soar.

By Lisa Arends, her website is  https://lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com/