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How My Divorce Surprisingly Made Me A Much Stronger Person

How My Divorce Surprisingly Made Me A Much Stronger Person

Recently, I was sitting on the beach with my friend Adam Gilad, who had just finished leading a workshop for divorced men. I was reflecting that since his divorce, he had become one of the happiest, most fulfilled people I knew – even going so far as to lead other divorced people towards their own happiness and self-realization.

I asked him if his divorce had made him stronger, and his answer floored me. He opened my eyes with what he said:

When I got divorced, I thought it was the end of my life. I thought I would lose the connection with my kids. I thought no one would ever date me because I was a “failure” having “lost” my family.

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But what should – according to the popular script –have been my mid-life crisis, turned out to be my mid-life awakening. What I thought was an exposure of my most powerless self for all the world to see turned out to be the springboard of my happiest and most powerful decade ever.

I became stronger as a man – I had to – in fact, I had the privilege to – take stock of who I was, free of the habits of being in a relationships. I got to choose how I wanted to spend my evenings, my weekends. How I wanted to eat. What I wanted to read.

When I didn’t have my kids at home (50%) of the time, I now had MORE time to self-develop and build my confidence than I did before. I attended workshops on self-expression, advanced sexuality, internet business building – and discovered whole new skills and communities I never would have found before.

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I became stronger as a father. Instead of taking the back seat on dinner and homework at night, I either cooked or grabbed a book for us to mine for gems over dinner. Mealtimes became learning times as my sons and I delved together into what it means to be a man, a leader, an artist. Because I had my sons for only 50% of the time, every minute became more precious – so we bugged out for more snowboarding trips, more movies together, more rivers to run, more adventures.

But more important than all that, my sons got to see their Dad in his deepest vulnerability rebuild his life. They saw me nervously preparing for dates. We discussed sex openly and honestly. As I got to know myself better and know what made a good companion, we three guys sat together and talked about how to choose a great partner and what qualities to look for.  We also talked about what to do to be more likable, nurturing, and valuable.

If, as Brené Brown says, vulnerability is the measure of our courage, I became damned courageous. If a relationship broke up, we’d crack open some cold ones and reflect on life, hope, heartbreak, and resilience.

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I became stronger as a provider. Up until my divorce I had been a screenwriter and producer but now needed to create a steadier income. By necessity I threw myself into entrepreneurial training and created a content-marketing business that has sustained me for 11 years. One of the proudest moments of my life was when my then 11 year old, watching me taking notes during a webinar said, “You know, Dad, a lot of people talk about getting rich. But you’re doing something about it!”

In fact, I wasn’t trying to get rich, I was trying to pay the mortgage!

But above all, I became stronger as the driver of my life. When we are married, we fall into habit and can potentially stop taking responsibility for forging our own destinies. We may go with the flow rather than carve new and exciting channels into our futures outside of our comfort zones.

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I soon began to reframe everything. I stopped saying “when I got divorced” and started saying “when I got single” – because I didn’t want to identify with being a “divorced man” but rather a man who was single and was looking forward, not backward.

I corrected those who said that a woman with kids had “baggage”. Instead I encouraged the perspective that a woman’s children were just “bonus” people I get to love in this life.

I undertook the study of what makes love thrive, what makes life worth living, and what it means to be inspired during these years we have on Earth. I challenged everything. I traveled to Peru to study with shamans. I traversed the world with entrepreneurs. I built businesses. Danced in the desert till the sun came up. Dove deep with astounding and sensually alive women. I raised my sons into happy manhood– and recently, married a woman who raises me to my highest self every day and every night.

At the end of my post-divorce decade, I told my sons, while we were sitting on a Caribbean beach after a day of kiteboarding lessons, “Hey, if I died today, please don’t mourn me. I’ve had the most amazing life. Celebrate that I was here.”

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Nick Bastion

Love Expert, Relationship Coach, Author

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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