After Divorce: The Rule of Three

The period after divorce is chaotic as demands fight for attention and everything seems to require a decision and an action. It’s overwhelming with its ability to impact every single facet of your life. And it’s confusing as you struggle to make the right decisions when your emotions are smothering your abilities to think rationally.

So here’s something simple. Straightforward. And yet still helpful.

I call it the rule of three.

Rule 1 – Find Something to Release

In the last few years of my first marriage, I made extra money tutoring. I spent up to 15 hours a week teaching math after my day job of teaching math. Accepting the jobs had become habit. And then the marriage ended suddenly and I had to cancel the tutoring jobs that I had while I worked to find my equilibrium.

In those weeks, I realized that tutoring was something that I no longer wanted to do. In addition to becoming a habit, it had become a burden. A drain on my energy and attitude. And so I let it go. And I immediately felt a little better.

Divorce is an opportunity to examine what is in your life and to discard that which no longer serves you. Find one thing that you’re doing out of habit, out of concern for how others see you or because you feel like you “should” do it. And then release it.

Rule 2 – Find Something to Reintroduce

My ex hated the smell of pancake syrup and bubble gum. And so out of respect for him, I eliminated these foods (okay, food-like compounds) from my diet.

After he left, I found that frozen waffles were one of the few foods that I could choke down. With plenty of syrup, of course. And I enthusiastically chewed the pinkest, fruitiest bubble gum within the confines of the car.

Identify something that you have let go of or allowed to slide from your life that you used to enjoy. What have you eliminated because of time, responsibilities or because of your ex? Find it and then reintroduce it.

Rule 3 – Find Something New to Try

I have always been a doer. I struggle with slowing down and simply being. A few months after my marriage ended, I decided to challenge the view I had of myself and I booked a three night meditation and yoga retreat. To add to the test, I left all of my books – my preferred method of escape – behind.

It was a difficult few days, but it was also a transformative and incredibly powerful experience. I met a fear head-on, shook its hand and discovered that it wasn’t so bad after all.

Reflect on those things that you have told yourself that you “can’t do” or “won’t do.” And then pick one and try it.

 

So that’s it, the rule of three –

One to free in order to create space,

One to bring back to help you reconnect to self

And one to investigate to teach you to be curious rather than afraid.

 

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When Was the Last Time You Did Something That Scares You?

“Try it, maybe you’ll like it,” a parental figure probably pronounced to you at the dinner table some time during your youth.

Your young brain, fueled by the anticipation of disgust, immediately kicked up reasons to avoid the offending food.

Maybe you claimed to have tried it and disliked it. Perhaps you asserted that it is similar to something else you dislike and so, by extension, you obviously wouldn’t have liked that either. Regardless, the internal narrative is woven around the idea that you do not like that food.

Some parents refuse to back down and a battle of wills ensues, a parent’s conviction butting up against a child’s expectations. The longer the battle continues, the firmer the conviction becomes. And even if the parent wins at the dinner table, the expectations of disgust usually make the assumed aversion a reality (at least as far as the child is willing to admit!).

And the chosen narrative is reinforced.

Other caregivers step back, refraining from pushing their child. The more timid children are content to stay within their comfort zones. To stay safely tucked within their beliefs. They enter adulthood having never truly tried that particular food, yet firm in their conviction that it is not for them.

The chosen narrative is reinforced.

Other youngsters are more adventurous and eventually volunteer to try the previously offered food at some point. Perhaps, upon the sampling, they decide that they don’t like the selection. But this time, it’s based on experience rather than expectations. And strangely, even though they don’t prefer the item, it has lost it’s power. It no longer requires so much energy to avoid.

The narrative has been adjusted.

And sometimes, the tentative taste results in a surprise appreciation and what was once avoided now becomes sought after or at least tolerated. The once-enemy has been reduced to simply another item on the menu.

And the narrative has been adjusted.

_____

As adults, we rarely react so strongly to strongly to offered foods and hopefully we avoid power struggles about what we choose to eat. But we still react in this same childish way when it comes to those things that we fear.

Think of the amount of emotional and physical energy you have expended over your lifetime simply to avoid what scares you. Consider the excuses your brain kicks up about why that is something that you “can’t” do. Reflect on how your fear has become woven into the tapestry of your being, becoming part of how you see yourself.

The only way to change the narrative surrounding your fears is to face them. Perhaps you find that it really is something that continues to cause you undo distress or maybe, just maybe, you discover that it really isn’t that big of a deal after all. But regardless, once it is faced, it loses the power that avoidance gives it because our imaginations almost always make the anticipation worse that the actuality.

 

So, when was the last time you did something that scares you?

When was the last time you refused to expend your energy on avoidance and instead decided to invest it in achievement?

When was the last time you challenged your assumptions about yourself and allowed for an opportunity to refine your internal narrative?

Just try it. Maybe you’ll like it.

 

What To Do When You’re “Over It” But It Isn’t Over

“Enough is enough!” my client exclaimed, her frustration and determination both succinctly contained in those words.

It’s a reaction I think we can all relate to. Sometimes life feels like we’re Indiana Jones trapped in that underground room with the walls relentlessly pressing in. At first, we’re responsive. Reactive. We press forward using our hope like a torch lighting the way.

But sometimes life keeps pushing back. And the situation, far from being temporary, begins to feel endless. Even hopeless.

We get tired. Disappointment and aggravation rise as spirits fall. Our mind and body screams for us to tap out, but life isn’t listening.

So what can we do when we’re “over it,” but’s not yet over?

Be Mindful of Your Mindset

When we focus on the end, we neglect to be in the present.

When we label something as “bad,” we have tendency to overlook the good. Whatever you nurture, grows.

When we assign happiness and success to external things, we neglect to make the internal changes needed to do better once the external circumstances change.

Take time to recognize, remember and be grateful for the beautiful moments this period has had to offer. And think about how you can cultivate those in the months or years to come.

Be present and mindful in these ongoing moments. Practice letting go of expectations and nurturing acceptance.

Refrain from assigning any magical powers to a new situation. If you want different, be different.

Don’t Be a Casualty of a Victim Mindset

When life has you between an elephant and asphalt, it’s easy to throw a pity party and engage in the “why me!” wails. A victimhood mindset is tantalizing. It offers excuses and a respite from responsibility. It often feels good and frequently comes with a generous helping of sympathy and pity.

Yet ultimately, the siren song of victimhood isn’t worth the tradeoff. You’re allowing yourself to be kept in a position of helplessness. Those drawn to you may have a need to be needed and so they have a motivation to keep you needy.  And you can become dependent upon the ministrations of others, forced to constantly up the victim’s cry to maintain support.

Appropriate Breaks

When we’re tired, everything feels overwhelming. Your situation may be ongoing, but that doesn’t mean that you have to allow it mental space 24 hours a day. Sometimes when we have this BIG thing in our lives, we feel like we have to honor it with our constant attentions.

What might it look like it if you simply decide to change the channel for a time? It probably won’t make this thing end any sooner, but it probably won’t make it any worse either. Be wary of falling into the trap of waiting to live, of waiting to happy, until it’s over.

This situation may be a big part of your life right now, but it’s not your whole life.

Unearth Your Agency

Part of your frustration comes from feeling like you have no control. And there probably is quite a bit going on that you cannot change.

But there are some things you can.

Become your own detective, approach with curiosity and be wary of accepting ideas too readily as facts. What aspects of your situation – or more likely, your response to the circumstances, can you control?

Uncover those areas where you have agency and take responsibility for altering those and navigating them towards the direction you’re going.

Mark the Incremental Improvements

If you ran a marathon and only noted the finish line, the race would feel endless and your progress would seem insignificant. If, however, you were aware of every passing mile marker, your headway towards the goal would be readily apparent.

Life is no different. Don’t simply wait for the current circumstances to be over, make an effort to notice the intermediate accomplishments and improvements, no matter how small. No celebration is too big.

 

 

Funnel Your Frustrations

Being “over it” is a compilation of exhaustion and frustration. Use the latter to fuel you out of the former. That anger has energy that can put to good use. Find somewhere to focus your attention and your efforts that is unrelated to your current situation.

Plant a garden. Restore your deck. Replace your brakes. Sign up for yoga teacher training. Start a book club. Initiate a neighborhood walking club. Train a puppy. Master coding. Or calculus. Or a new language.

The “what” matters little. It’s the effort and attention that will help to lift you from your annoyance and perception of being stuck.

One day, that thing that you’re wanting to end, will.

And in the meantime, get busy living.

 

 

 

The Power of “Me Too”

I recently responded to a woman over at Divorce Force. She has just discovered that for 30 of the 34 years she spent with her husband, he had another family. Her post is brief, the details sparse. But I’m confident that one of the many overwhelming emotions she is feeling right now is that of being alone in this experience.

I’m confident because I remember feeling the same. Convinced that there was nobody else who could possibly relate to the shock of sudden abandonment and the crazy making aspects of divorcing someone who made his own reality.

And then I found some message boards. A few articles. A book. And those words all whispered, “Me too.”

“My husband left me a note on the counter and I never heard from him again.”

“My wife simply didn’t come home from work. I found out later that she moved in with her boyfriend that same day.”

“My ex husband  fabricated all of the documents that were submitted to the courts. It’s all lies.”

“My ex wife falsely accused me of being abusive. Now the judge looks at me like I’m the bad one.”

As I read these entries, I felt sorry for those that had endured. And I also felt some relief. Some companionship. Some sense that I had found my tribe.

All because of the power of “me too.”

“Me too” doesn’t try to compete for the greatest pain trophy. It doesn’t try upstage the circumstances or tell a better story. It doesn’t engage in a game of tug of war, attempting to direct all of the energy to one side. “Me too” doesn’t claim to understand all of what another is feeling or to insinuate that the paths are the same.

What “me too” does is tell you that you’re alone in your experience. That others have been in a similar place and can empathize with how you are feeling. “Me too” provides hope as you learn that others who are doing okay now were once not okay. When you hear the words, “me too,” you know you have a compassionate and nonjudgemental ear where you can feel safe and understood.

If you’re feeling alone, seek your tribe and find peace among those who whisper, “me too.” And once you’ve been there and through the other side, be brave enough to remember your own struggles, share your own “me too” and then just be there and listen.

 

 

Turning Microaggressions Into Microappreciations

I hear more and more about microaggressions – slight, often unintended discriminatory comments or behaviors directed towards some individual or group. Microaggressions are subtle and often reveal a subconscious bias.

It’s easy to discount microaggressions. I admit it, I’ve dismissed them as simply one more area that the sensitive “snowflakes” are complaining about. But then I realize that part of why I dismiss it is because of my own discomfort with my own subconscious bias. And when I see the compounding effects that microaggressions can have on anyone – not just the sensitive, “you aren’t allowed to hurt my feelings or offend me” types – I have to admit that they are real and their effects can be considerable.

None of us are immune to being the recipient of microaggression and, perhaps even more disturbing, none of us are immune to committing microaggressions. We all identify with certain groups and view those outside its parameters as “others.” We all hold bias, whether conscious or subconscious, formed from experience, ignorance or transmitted belief. And we all can act in such a way that we are communicating our bias and making others feel badly.

So how can you stop your own acts of microaggression?

In order to recognize your own bias, you have to first accept that you have bias. No human is completely impartial. No person is immune to cognitive shortcuts and assumptions that sway perception and interpretation.

Once bias is accepted, the next step is to recognize it in the moment. And while it’s easy to see in others, it’s much more difficult to observe in ourselves. It all comes down to mindfulness. To being present in the moment. To being aware of your words and your actions and also being observant of their effects.

Let go of your impulse to dismiss it as “nothing” and resist any defensiveness that arises. Aim to use the technique of noting, “Oh, I just gripped my purse tighter when that man walked by and I didn’t do it when the previous people walked by.” Once noted, explore what subconscious belief might lie beneath that action and identify the antecedent (the “cause” or preceding situation) that led to that response.

Using mindfulness again, practice recognizing the antecedent and halting your subconscious biased response before it occurs.

Now here’s the twist. Once recognized, instead of simply stopping one behavior, aim to replace it with another – an intentional act of microappreciation.

So what is microappreciation?

A slight, intentional awareness, recognition and acknowledgement of unity and value.

Whereas microaggression focuses on what we fear, microappreciation centers on what we see.

Microaggression listens to the premonitions of “what if.” Microappreciation abides by the curiosity of “why not?”

Microaggression jumps to conclusions. Microappreciation leaps to awareness.

Microaggression is based on judgments. Microappreciation is centered on observation.

Microaggression stems from bias. Microappreciation comes from openness.

Microaggression assumes a threat. Microappreciation believes in possibility. 

Both are small stones entering into life’s pond, ripples spreading out from their impact.

Let your pebble be one of gratitude.

9 Ways Comparison Steals Your Joy (And How to Take It Back)

We all do it.

We see our friends’ vacation pictures on Facebook and suddenly feel worse about our own travels. Instead of celebrating our promotion, we focus on how we still don’t make as much as the guy down the street. We enjoy our home renovation until we enter a more upscale home, at which point we become aware of all the areas where ours is lacking. We find confidence in our new athletic achievement until we happen to catch a glimpse of someone in the mirror who just happens to be a little stronger, a little leaner, a little younger.

Why is it that comparison has such a propensity for bringing us down?

1 – Comparison Takes You Out of the Moment

Somebody walks up to you and unexpectedly hands you a check for $1,000. After a few moments of confusion and disbelief, the excitement sets in and you begin daydreaming about how you might spend your windfall. And then you notice that the stranger next to you also received a surprise check. For $5,000.

Instantly, you’re pulled from your fantasies. Your pleasant daydreams are replaced with irritation at receiving the lesser amount. Instead of thinking about your gains, you’re focusing on your (entirely imaginary) “loss” of $4,000.

2 – Comparison Can Lead to Demotivation

You vow to get in shape this year. You start by creating a Pinterest “motivational” fitness boards that universally feature people in the top 1% of physiques. You intend for it to inspire you to diet just a little more and to run just a little further.

Instead, the effect is the opposite. When, after months of dedicated diet and exercise, you feel defeated when the reflection in the mirror is still light years away from that of the fitness model. Believing you’ll never get there, you give up.

3 – Comparison Compares Internal to External

You’re alone on a Friday evening. Even though the thought of dining alone in public horrifies you, you summon the nerve to go out because you’re craving your favorite dish at the restaurant down the street. While eating your dinner, you spot another solo diner. Only this one appears confident and at ease with being alone.

“Why can’t I be confident by myself like that person?” you ask yourself, feeling even more awkward than before. Meanwhile, the solo diner has spotted you and is simultaneously envying your outward poise in dining alone.

 

4 – Comparison Leads to False Beliefs Based on Incomplete Information

Your friends seem to lead the perfect lives. According to the pictures they share on social media, their homes are always organized, their kids are always smiling, the vacations are epic and the marriages are perfect.

Behind the scenes, there’s a different story. The camera only comes out when the house is clean and the angles of the shots are carefully selected. For every one picture of smiling kids, ten more – with frowns, screams and frustrated expressions – have been deleted. The vacations had their idyllic moments and those are the ones selected to share. And the marriage, like all marriages, has its good moments and its hard ones.

5 – Comparison Prompts Cross Examination of Decisions

When it came to selecting a career, you left no stone unturned. You carefully inventoried your skills and interests. You calculated the income you needed to support the lifestyle you wanted and analyzed the demands of the job compared to the role you wanted it to play in your life.

And by all accounts, you made a good decision. You’re successful, you’re happy and you’re able to afford the life you want. And then you make a new friend who works in an entirely different – and to you, exotic, field. And you start to wonder if you made the right choice all those years ago.

6 – Comparison Lowers Satisfaction

You’ve been studying really hard the entire semester. When you see the “A” printed on the top of your test, you think, “Finally, all that hard work has paid off.” You’re feeling good about your effort, your progress and your standing in the class.

And then you happen to see the “A+” on the paper handed back to the person next to you. “I’m so stupid,” you think. “I shouldn’t even be in this program.”

7 – Comparison Contributes to F.O.M.O. (Fear of Missing Out)

It’s finally happening. You’ve scrimped and saved for two years to afford this trip to Hawaii and you’re on your way. Once you settle in to your hotel, you fire up the Wi Fi and see that your friends are having brunch together.

Suddenly, you question your decision. Hawaii is great, but what might you be missing back home. For the next week, you find that thoughts of what you may be missing out on keep intruding on your vacation.

8 – Comparison Contributes to Anxiety

Your partner got a new coworker recently. An opposite sex coworker. At first, you didn’t think much of it. And then you happened to see a picture. And then you heard about some of the new hire’s accomplishments.

And now you’re worried as you line your traits up against theirs and you find yourself lacking. You begin to question what your partner sees in you and you begin to question their interactions with their workmate.

9 – Comparison Increases Loneliness

You’re having a good day and decide to continue it by treating yourself to a rare pricey latte. While waiting for your drink, you engage in a little harmless people watching.

Only it turns out to not be so harmless. As your eye roves the patrons, you subconsciously compare something that you’re insecure about (your hair, your weight, your wardrobe) to that of another person. And as you tabulate these juxtapositions, you begin to feel as though you no longer belong.

If comparison makes us feel worse, why do we do it?

I tease my students about not being the “slowest zebra” to encourage them to stay focused on their work. And it’s effective. They don’t want to be the outlier, the one left behind and in danger of being eaten by the watchful lion.

We have evolved to constantly question and gauge our status. We want and even need to know where we fit within the group.

When humans lived in smaller social groups, this comparison was relatively harmless. Maybe you’re the worst in the village at collecting water but you can feel confident in being the best hunter.

Yet in the modern world, there is no limit to the number of people we can compare ourselves to. And not just in an abstract, yeah I know Billy makes more money than me way, but in an in-your-face with never-ending pictures and video way on our devices.

And here’s where biology has become cruel. We are rewarded with a little squirt of dopamine for each image we view or each status we read. Even though we feel worse after our social media survey.

We are literally rewarded for doing something that makes us feel worse.

Is comparison ever advantageous?

I teach accelerated math. As in the smart kids that are working a couple grade levels ahead of the average student. Throughout the year, they are only able to compare themselves to other students in their class. And so they can easily become down on themselves when they struggle on an Algebra II assignment. In 7th grade.

In preparation for the state tests, I lowered the rigor and brought in on-level materials. I loved seeing my “struggling” students light up when they realized how easy the grade level math was. By comparing themselves to the larger group, they realized where they really stand.

The opposite can also hold true. When you’re the big fish in a small pond, it’s easy to feel over-confident. And once you’re introduced to larger waters, the shock can be overwhelming. In my mind, this is one of the (few) benefits of large-scale standardized testing – you get an idea of where you (or your children) stand.

Comparison can also serve to highlight gaps or areas of need in your own life. I often pay attention to when feelings of envy rear their ugly head. Then I dig into the underlying reasons. And then I do something about it.

For example, I realized that I was having major jealousy when I saw or read about vacation trips. And once I made the down payment for my fall trip to Costa Rica, the need to compare and the bitter feelings around it disappeared.

Comparison, when approached carefully and mindfully, can also lead to motivation. Rather than seeking out those who are so far from you as to be in another category altogether, look for mentors that are a few steps ahead.

How can I keep comparison from stealing my joy?

Think of comparison like desert, not like the vegetables. It’s best to indulge only occasionally and consciously.

When comparing yourself to others, ensure that you’re only comparing your external to their external. When we compare our internal dialogue to what we can see in someone else, we are using a false metric.

Rather than look to those who are at the pinnacle of where you want to be, look for those whose story you can identify with. It’s a more realistic comparison and one that can give you useful information.

Remember that when the pool is large enough, there will always be those who are better than you in some way. When you’re feel despondent about your rank on one characteristic, make the effort to note an area where you excel.

And finally, be wary of the comparison rabbit-hole of social media. Pay attention to your mood before and after time spent online. If you’re feeling worse, comparison (even if it’s done subconsicously) may be the root cause.

Take a breather. Take a step back.

Remember that others don’t change who you are.

And take back your joy.

 

 

Let That Shit Go

When I walked into my yoga studio this past Monday evening, I saw a woman with the most amazing shirt. Under a simple image of a figure in a pose, were the words:

Let that shit go.

I laughed. I smiled. And I reflected back on my day, the first day back at school after spring break. A day filled with tired, yet nervous kids, as we all prepared for the upcoming standardized testing season.

I felt my shoulders kissing my ears as they still were still struggling to carry the load of the day. I recognized that my mind hadn’t left the school and was still busy tweaking the lesson for the following day. I sensed a current of anxiety coursing through my body, fearful that I would somehow mess up the testing in some critical and unforgivable way. I realized that I was already anticipating what I needed to accomplish after the yoga practice instead of making preparations for my yoga class.

And then I made a decision and with my next exhale, I followed the advice of her shirt and I let that shit go.

As we go through our days, we collect worries and troubles like a young child collects pebbles on a walk through the park. We stuff our pockets, line our shoes and fill our hands with as much as we can carry. We become overloaded, burdened, with the weight we carry. We curse it, we complain about it. Yet we rarely follow a form of the advice we would give to the child overloaded with collected treasures on a walk –

Let that shit go.

Mistakes

When I was in kindergarten, I got in trouble for talking in class. My consequence for the misdeed was a missed recess. The talking was a simple mistake, a lapse in judgment rather than a lapse in character, yet I internalized the mistake. Instead of merely sitting along the wall with the other kids who made a mistake that day, I had to be consoled by my teacher because I was so hard on myself.

Mistakes are inevitable. Mistakes are opportunities. Making a mistake doesn’t make you any less of a person.

Let that shit go.

A Bad Day

Have you ever noticed that once you label a day as “bad,” there seems to be no shortage of ever-compiling evidence to justify that moniker? Every slight, no matter how small, is a sign the world is against you. Every stressor becomes a mountain, every trigger detonates an explosion.

Days aren’t good or bad. They’re simply a measurement of time. And what happens in one fraction of a day doesn’t have to impact the remaining parts.

Let that shit go.

Expecting Things to Be Different

I receive questions and pleas for help on a daily basis where the writer inquires how to go about changing their spouse’s or ex’s behaviors. They enumerate the lies and the irresponsibility. They express their frustrations about the lack of accountability and the absence of emotional intelligence. Sometimes, they lament the circumstances rather than the person, begging for a way to alter their current reality.

But reality is as it is. There are circumstances we cannot change and people beyond our influence. To believe otherwise is maddening and self-limiting.

Let that shit go.

Childhood Wrongs

I once heard a psychologist say that our twenties are the time for facing and addressing any childhood traumas and points of contention. After that, it’s time to take responsibility for the direction of your life.

Some people have had horrible childhoods, filled with insults and assaults upon a vulnerable frame. Childhood ends and with it, the lack of choice and agency that comes from being young. At some point, your life becomes your responsibility.

Let that shit go.

Control

Getting pneumonia 6 weeks before my first – and only – marathon was the best thing that could have happened. Until that infection left me bedridden, I was carefully controlling every bite of food and every step run. The pneumonia was a reminder that I couldn’t control the outcome. (It turned out okay; I still “won” the marathon.)

You can control your responses. You have influence over the process. But the outcomes?

Let that shit go.

An Apology That Never Came

I spent years hoping for an apology from my ex husband. I believed I needed it so that I would know that he felt remorse and so that I could receive closure. It was a life on hold. A wish with no action. I put more faith in the apology than I did in my ability to move on.

Never put the responsibility for your well-being in the hands of the one who hurt you.

Let that shit go.

Fixing Everything

Not everything is a problem. Not everything has a solution. Sometimes things are broken beyond repair and sometimes what we see as flawed, someone else views as perfect. And other times, the fixing may need to be done, but it is not our job to do it.

When we act as “fixer,” we are taking on too much and often hurting others in the process.

Let that shit go.

Perfection

I remember erasing my drawings in art class to the point where I rubbed holes through the paper. In an attempt to make them perfect, I inevitably ruined them.

Life is about being present, not perfect.

Let that shit go.

What Ifs

It’s an easy mental game to play – what would have happened if I chose a different path? It can be entertaining and educational, playing around with the options and outcomes.

Yet what ifs can also be a trap, a way of spending time in manipulated past and an imagined future instead of being where you are.

Let that shit go.

The Need to Be Right

When we listen to respond rather than understand, we’re allowing our need to be right to dominate our interactions. When we lead with the ego, we shortchange others their right to be understood and we limit our own ability to grow.

It’s funny. The more we need to right, the more rarely we are.

Let that shit go.

Outrage

I heard an interesting podcast the other day that had an expert in social media discuss how the big players – Google, Facebook and Instagram – manipulate us into spending time on site and interacting with the content. The types of posts that receive the most investment of time and energy are not the feel-good ones, not the informational ones, but the ones that cause a feeling of outrage.

It’s not just the social media big boys that bully us with outrage. Think of others who provoke you, push your buttons and get under your skin. What’s your typical response? We are all prone to reactions. Outrage short circuits our rational minds and prompts irrational responses even while it serves as fuel for the ones prompting it.

Let that shit go.

Occasional Hurt Feelings

Sometimes I wish I had a bad memory, that painful things that had been said to me would blur over time and fade into the backdrop. But that’s not the case. I have to be very deliberate about releasing the hurt that has come from words spoken without thought or said when emotionally flooded.

We all unintentionally hurt others sometimes. We say the wrong thing. Forget an important milestone. Neglect to respond in the right way. And feelings get bruised. And bruises heal.

Let that shit go.

Self-Flagellation

Guilt serves a purpose. Much like the inflatable gutter guards in children’s bowling, it helps to guide us along our intended path. Yet guilt has a propensity for growing outside its allotted space, suffocating us in the process.

When you mess up, own it and then either change it or apologize. And once you learn from it, the guilt and self-punishment serve no further purpose.

Let that shit go.

Excessive Judgment

Some behaviors deserve judgment. Intentionally harm a child or an animal and I’m going to judge you all the way to prison. Yet most behaviors require less judgment and more curiosity.

It’s easy to think that your way is the right way and that when you don’t understand somebody’s beliefs and decisions, it means they’re wrong. Yet different isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s just different. Judgment won’t change their mind, but it will keep you from expanding yours.

Let that shit go.

Comparisons

Have you every felt good about an accomplishment only to feel incompetent and jealous when you measured them against another person’s.

Comparisons are empty. You’re holding your inner life up against somebody else’s outer one. You’re allowing somebody else’s achievements to have an influence on your own. What somebody else has earned has no bearing on what you have attained. Let them be and you do you.

Let that shit go.

Busyness

I struggle with feeling guilty and lazy when I take some for myself. I find it all-too easy to identify with my accomplishments and view my worth through my deeds.

You are not defined by the number of events on your calendar and the number of items crossed off your to-do list. It’s okay to step away from doing and allow yourself to simply be.

Let that shit go.

Because I never proofread my posts, I am sure that there are typos here. But I’m okay with that. Because I learned a long time ago to

let that shit go.

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Finding Yourself When You’ve Lost Your Compass

I went on a hike the other day with an amazing group of people. One of the women was not an outdoor person and so before she headed off, her loved ones gave her some tips, including, “Make sure you have a compass.”

I found her rotating her compass until she located true north and then she looked up at me and said, “Now that I have north, what do I do with it?”

I explained that without a map or general mental picture of the area, a compass can basically only ensure that you’re not traveling in circles, chasing your tail while in pursuit of an exit.

Conversely, a map without a compass is also of limited use. A goal without orientation or direction provides little more than hope.

But when combined, a map and a compass become a powerful tool. A wise and prudent guide in your hand taking you from where you are to where you want to be.


Any major life transition is not unlike being lost in the woods. The terrain is unfamiliar, the steps feel endless and panic can easily set in as you frantically seek an exit.

Start With Your Goal

Hopefully you have at least the rough outlines of a map – a picture of where you’ve been and where you want to go. Take the time to firm up this image. What words do you associate with the life you want to have? What does this life look like? Feel like? Make it as specific and tangible as possible.

Find Your True North

Reconnect with your core values and purpose. Think about those beliefs and passions that have persisted in you since childhood. If you’re struggling to identify these in yourself, ask your loved ones what words come to mind when they think about you. Look for similarities and trends in their answers. Let this be your guide.

Identify Your Obstacles

You know where you want to go and you know where you’re starting. Determine and name the possible barriers in the way of your destination. Although it’s tempting to begin your journey and just hope for the best, it’s prudent to be both mentally and physically prepared for the difficult stretches.

Hold Your Course

Once you have chosen your path, deviate from it as needed with your compass in hand. If you veer too far, you may find that you have lost your focus on what is important. If you refuse to be flexible in your approach, you may find that you become stuck.

Be Realistic In Your Goals

Much like the scale on a map, the scope of life’s journeys can be deceptive. Always allow plenty of time to get from one landmark to another and be forgiving with yourself about needing periods of rest. And remember that suggested times needed for the trail are just that – suggestions. Your use may vary.

Don’t Be Afraid to Explore

When you have you goals mapped out and you’re using your compass as a guide, it’s hard to get too lost. So take some time to explore what lies off the beaten path. Yes, it may be a dead end. But it also may be just what you’ve been looking for.

 

Am I Doing the Right Thing?

It’s one of the most common questions we all share.

And one of the hardest to answer.

“Am I doing the right thing?”

This query may be about a parenting decision, a choice at work or about the status of a relationship. It can be a major life decision, a switch that changes the entire track of your life. Or, it may be a passing matter of minor importance.

The question seeks reassurance, a guarantee of sorts that if a particular path is chosen and the steps are taken, the desired outcome will eventually be reached.

But of course, life offers us no such promises, provides no warranties. Instead, we are tasked with trying to make the best decisions possible with limited resources and incomplete information.

So how in the real world do you know if you’re doing the right thing?

It Just Feels Right

When you’re doing the right thing, it will resonate with you. The right thing is not something that brings forth feelings of shame or guilt. Pay attention if you experience feelings that you need to hide your actions; that’s a sure sign that something isn’t right. The right thing may click into place suddenly or it may grow slowly until you experience more certainty. Either way, your intuition will tell you when you’re doing the right thing.

Yet the right thing is not a perfect choice. A singular selection that makes everything better. At some point, you have to release the notion of perfect and simply do the best you can.

It’s Not Coming From a Place of Fear or Anger

Sometimes fear tells us that something is right in an effort to avoid confrontation or discomfort. Similarly, anger can maintain a convincing argument for a particular course of action by creating a sense that you are responsible for doling out punishments. But the right thing comes from a quiet and sure mind. The right thing may call for consequence, but it does not come from a place of vengeance. The right thing may require distance, but it is because of a fear of approach.

Do not expect appreciation or even understanding from others even when you’re doing the right thing. If they have become accustomed to your enabling, they will certainly rebel. If you’re refusing to shield someone from consequence, they will place blame. Just as the response does not make something wrong, it also cannot alone tell you that it’s right.

It is in Alignment With Your Purpose and Goals

Something can be good and still not be the right thing for you if it does not match up with your bigger picture. Be honest with yourself and stay true to your goals. Make sure that your actions align with your intentions.

Let go of any expectation for immediate change. The right thing can take time. And even then, what you hope for may never happen. Trust in the process and release the result.

It is Reality-Based and Accepts Your Locus of Control

The right thing is rooted in reality, anchored firmly in the soil and accepting of its limited reach. The right thing is limited to what you can control and is accepting of that responsibility.

The right thing is not helping someone so much that they can no longer help themselves. The right thing is not seeking to change another or asserting that you know what is right for somebody else. The right thing is not wishful thinking, coming from a place of make believe and blind hope.

The right thing may not be easy. You may find that others prefer to live in a land of fantasy. Doing the right thing can be lonely, isolating.

Yet it’s also empowering. Because when you are doing the right thing, you have nothing to hide. From others. And especially from yourself.

 

How to Rewrite Your Divorce Story

When divorce happens, it can leave you feeling like a failure. Powerless and adrift in your life. It’s easy to internalize these feelings, to recite them to yourself as if they were gospel.

But what might happen if you change your story? Take back your power?

And rewrite your divorce?

Learn the steps you need to take to release your divorce find your voice again.