When life throws a curve ball, you may be overcome with feelings of sadness, confusion, pain or despair. You may want your ex to change, your finances to be different, the betrayal to be undone, the law to be different. While venting and complaining may have emotionally protective value, ultimately they’re not going to make you feel better. And, focusing on the negative is not going to change the fundamental facts of your life. However, there are simple perspective shifts that can help you navigate any adversity and make all the difference in how you feel, how relate to yourself, with your family and in the world around you.
So, how can you start to feel better when everything involving your life seems to be falling apart? By exercising your own agency and starting to take ownership of your power to alter your thinking. The most powerful, and compelling part of each of our reality is informed by the stories in our minds. That inner narrative informs all that you see, do and feel. And, while it’s powerful, with some small shifts in perspective and tweaks to our inner narrative you can shift it slowly, and begin to feel better. Your present circumstances do not define you. Each moment is an opportunity to press re-set and begin to cultivate a new reality. Positive re-framing the facts of your life will activate your ability to heal.
If you take a look at what I call the Five Essential Elements, you can begin to shift your internal narrative in a positive way. Those five elements are: patience, respect, clarity, peace and forgiveness. By focusing on just one of these five elements each and every day, you will become better equipped to move forward in a healthy way.
The Five Essential Elements allow you to press re-start from wherever you are so that your life can truly become better.
Patience through and beyond your difficult process is the key to your future. It opens the path to true feeling calm, and it gives you the strength to live in the present moment with mindful awareness. When you practice patience, you’re training your mind to transform what could be a catastrophe into an intentional and constructive future for your family and for you.
Self respect can be elusive and the most important to hold onto when you are going through shame inducing experience. Respect for yourself, your humanity, your pain, is important so that you can process and move through it. When you notice you are feeling bad about yourself or your situation, consider whether you are exposing yourself to people or circumstances that are feeding the negative loop. For the moment, shelve the relationships that are not serving you. Write yourself a letter naming all the people and experiences that lift you up. Commit to spending more energy engaging in what allows you to best accentuate the positive.
Clarity is your capacity to receive and respond with lucidity, taking nothing personally. Getting clear on priorities is vital in order to negotiate best outcomes for your personal needs. Clarity activates your ability to make smooth, easy decisions. Part of being clear in your decisions depends on how much you can let go of blame and allow yourself to make, acceptance and compassion more accessible. Visualize and internalize specific goals. Keep your focus on positive, forward movement and interactions in order to dispel negativity and keep it out of your orbit.
Of course we all want inner peace. One way to move toward practicing peace is to strive for neutrality, which keeps you free of tension in your mind, heart and body. This freedom allows you to sustain your resources and keep yourself feeling nourished by your own attitudes and choices. Practicing peace helps you reconstruct your divorce or separation as a sanctuary of new possibilities. Recognize that peace is a choice and takes effort. Consciously remove yourself from a pointless argument cycle as you begin to welcome a pathway to peace.
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It’s a moment of letting go of what might have been and realizing that everything is just as it must be. Forgiveness allows us to release grudges and to feel truly free from the inside out. Remember, holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Recognize that your present circumstances are not an indication of your future. Whether you feel wronged or have wronged another, forgiveness begins when you have compassion for yourself.
If you engage in the daily practice of focusing on one of each of these five essential elements, over time you can truly press re-set. This habitual mindfulness of your circumstance and relationship through the lens of patience, respect, clarity, peace and forgiveness will no doubt make your road forward smooth. As the negative loop dissipates, you will begin to clear the path for possibility. You have the POWER RIGHT NOW to design your own elegant, satisfying story moving forward. One re-framed story at time.
Gabrielle Hartley is an attorney, coach, mediator, consultant, speaker and author. She is known for a unique, non-toxic approach to divorce that she developed over two decades in practice. Gabrielle keeps 99% of her cases out of the courtroom and at the negotiating table as she effectively supports her clients to create a healthy, uplifted post-divorce life for them. Gabrielle served as court attorney for Judge Jeffrey Sunshine in NYC matrimonial court and is a member of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation. She currently resides in Northampton, MA with her husband and three sons. Visit Gabrielle at gabriellehartley.com to learn more about hiring Gabrielle for speaking at events, divorce coaching or mediation services.
Better Apart: The Radically Positive Way to Separate (HarperWave), by Gabrielle Hartley, with Elena Brower, is the first book to apply the life changing healing wisdom of meditation and yoga, combined with practical advice to help anyone going through the painful and seemingly intractable realities of divorce. Using powerful, mind-body exercises and legal insight Better Apart shows you how to meaningfully shift your mindset and move forward through any-or all parts of this emotionally fraught process.
BIG THANKS to Attorney Gabrielle Hartley for contributing to this eNewsletter and our Blog. Her book, Better Apart, is must-read if you are contemplating a divorce or separation, or if you are a divorce attorney like me. It should be a textbook in schools. That is how vitally important her concepts are to society at large. Her co-author, Elena Brower, is a world-renowned yoga instructor and spiritual guide. Her teachings, both on and off the mat, have inspired many to go on their own spiritual journey, including me. The collaboration between these two women, a very yin-yang partnership, bringing pragmatic legal concepts, processes and procedures together with physical and spiritual tactics on how to handle such an emotional journey is simply priceless.