Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward. – Henry Ford
If you have ever gone through a divorce, you know the feeling. It’s something you never forget: a deep sadness that something you invested a huge amount of your heart and soul in did not turn out as planned.
At times like these, it’s easy to feel as though everyone who looks at you is quietly judging you. Even worse are those self-critical internal voices that come flooding in: “You messed up the most important thing in your life!” “What is this going to do to the kids?” “How could you let this happen?”
Divorce isn’t the only thing that can make us feel this way. Getting fired from a job we love, a thwarted business venture, failing the bar exam for the third time—anything important to us that goes bad has the potential to challenge our self-esteem and send us to an emotional low.
First off, appreciate that such feelings are natural and common, and they’re not necessarily indicative of actual reality. Not succeeding at some endeavor doesn’t make you a “failure” any more than tripping on a frayed rug means you have no backbone or sense of balance. You walk straight and true ninety-nine percent of the time; the one time you trip doesn’t define you as clumsy. Likewise, the fact that you need a divorce doesn’t mean you are incapable of having a successful marriage or relationship in the future. Avoid extrapolating, “awful-izing” or exaggerating. All that can be said, objectively, is that you are going through one difficult moment in a lifetime of moments.
If you’re currently fighting overwhelming feelings related to this theme, please consider the following:
The more important it is to you, the more deeply you feel it when it doesn’t work out.
You probably wouldn’t call yourself a failure if your kid beats you at Monopoly (not that this would ever happen). A game of Monopoly just isn’t that significant to you. But when something fails that truly matters, it’s far easier to personalize it. When something like a career or a marriage doesn’t work out, the reason you take things so personally is simply that you’ve imbued the outcome with deep meaning.
You can’t control everything.
You know this is true, but let’s say it again anyway: there are circumstances over which we have no control. Despite any mistakes you might have made, your spouse made decisions, too, and you can’t take the blame for those decisions. It’s likewise unreasonable to blame yourself for a bad economy taking its toll on your business or a storm ruining your crops. It’s healthy to own our mistakes; it’s unhealthy to blame ourselves for the things we can’t control.
Learning from a setback turns it into a success.
The most successful people commonly attest they learned far more from their failures than from their successes. Not to deny the losses, but every balance sheet has two columns, says author/coach Dixie Gallaspie. Every failure comes with lessons and opportunities, it’s up to you to identify them.
Lastly, reflect on this quote, especially when you hit bumps in the road.
I find this quote from philosopher Alfred D. Souza particularly poignant and beautiful in its own way: For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
If you live in California and are going through a divorce, my team and I are here to provide sound advice, representation and support without judgment. Call the Law Offices of Silky Sahnan today at 888-228-1098 for a confidential consultation.