Are You Strong Enough to Forgive Your Ex?
Four practical tips from Divorced Dad, Len Stauffenger, for putting out the fire of emotions caused from divorce and putting your kids' welfare first.
When the evil spectre of divorce darkens the doorway of your life, it hurts. You become emotionally fragile and want to push this horror away. You think your ex is more to blame than you are and you'd be perfectly okay if he/she hurt as much as you are hurting now. After all, it's his fault!
It's a basic truth that it took both of you to create this divorce. Regardless of who is to blame for the divorce, you are one of that partnership and you're in this specific experience for your own good. I'm going to share with you a few ideas about how to glean that good from all the goop.
Lots of our spiritual leaders have told us to forgive and forget. Sounds great, but how do we do this with all those raging emotions caroming around inside of us? Through choice, deliberateness, putting our children first on the list, and being introspective.
Choice. You always have a choice in your life. You can live it awash with emotion, or you can choose something different. Taking a deep breath is one choice. Tell your kids that you are working hard to control your emotions. Don't forget: you are their role model. You can have a few moments of silence to recover your equilibrium, and then you can choose to deliberately be calm at that very moment.
Deliberateness. Is it possible your ex will do thing deliberately to stir you up? It's possible. Can you do anything about their actions? You can not. You can control your actions, so decide here and now to think something specific the next time he or she tries to get your goat. How about this: I am centered in my own truth and the lies that come at me fall away harmless without my emotional reaction. Or create one of your own. "I know you are but what am I?" won't work, so you'll have to dig deep and come up with something that will work for you.
Put Your Children First on the List. You want to set an exemplary example for your children. If your emotions are not in control, that's what you are teaching them. If you gossip about your ex in front of them, that's what you are teaching them. If you keep an undisciplined environment, that's what you are teaching them. If you are unforgiving and you refuse to forget what's happened in the past, that's what you are teaching them.
Forgiveness can be easy. You simply say the words "I forgive you." You follow those words with a good reason for why you forgive them. "You must be in a world of hurt yourself to say something so hurtful to me. You must be ignorant of how hurtful those words are to me. You must be awash in emotions yourself to lash out so." You are forgiving and you are giving a reasonable excuse for his behavior to yourself so that you can let go of it. Drop it and move on with your life. Forgiveness is for giving yourself your own next best thing. What a wonderful thing to teach to your children.
Forgetting can be just as easy. In order to forget, you have to think an alternative to what you're trying to let go of. If I said "Don't do something" that's precisely the thing you will think about. Don't think about blue whales. It's there, isn't is? Replace it with another idea: tall giraffes? For getting your next great idea in place of the emotionally-burdened one, just put another good idea in it's place. And then put a guard at the door to your thinking with orders not to let in any purple elephants! You can ease your children into their maturity with these techniques.
Become Introspective. Going within for a few moments when you've got some quiet time can be so beneficial for both you and your children. I came to cherish that last hour of the day when I was alone with my coffee, a book, the TV or just with my journal. It's a great way to sort through the elements of the day, give yourself some distance emotionally from them so that you can decide specifically how you want to handle it the next time. This could be a great time to read a few paragraphs from an inspirational book and think about how they apply to you. Just a few moments can grace you with much needed objectivity during your parenting years.
You could continue to seek for revenge, to blame your ex, to nurse your hurt behind drugs or alcohol, or, you could admit that you also played a role; that it does take two to tango. You can get honest and prevent a second divorce through the exercise of forgiveness. It's good for your kids if you do.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Stauffenger's parents taught him life's simple wisdom. As a divorced dad, he wanted to share that simple wisdom with his girls. "Getting Over It: Wisdom for Divorced Parents," his book, is the solution. Len is an author, a Success Coach and an Attorney. http://www.wisdomfordivorcedparents.com