This week is a week of change for me. My wonderful assistant, Rosie, is saying goodbye and my new assistant Brianna is coming into the fold. We are creatures of habit and change can be uncomfortable, challenging and stressful. It is a part of life and the sooner we are able to embrace it, the sooner we are able to begin our new journey forward. One of the most ominous obstacles of divorce is finding a way to embrace all the coming change.
Jack Welch, the longtime CEO of General Electric famously said, “With change comes opportunity.” That is all well and good but we as humans also find great comfort in what we know and what we are accustomed to. Sydney J. Harris said, “Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.” Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” With divorce comes great change. Comprehending what life might look like after divorce can be overwhelming and frightening. It feels impossible to listen to Socrates’ words and let go of the past and focus on the future. The challenge is to figure out a way to leave what was behind so that we are in a healthy place to embrace what comes ahead. This week’s blog focuses on the challenge of letting go of the past to embrace the future. This is no easy task when you stand on the precipice of change that you really didn’t want to begin with.
Strategies for Letting Go. So, what are some strategies to place yourself in a position to be able to move forward?
Shift focus from Resentment to Appreciation. One effective way of letting go is to be able to work through any resentments you have of the past and to appreciate the good things that came from the experience. It is easy to focus on the bad times when the relationship is ending but inevitably there was some good that came from it all. That can be the gift of the children from the marriage. It can be the good memories and experiences as well as the personal growth that took place. It helps us to let go of all the negative baggage when we are able to carry some appreciation for the good things that we also gained from the whole experience. Remaining angry does nothing to help us move forward and instead often keeps us stuck in that place in between what was and what will be. I do not say that the resentment and anger are not justified. Often there are crummy things that have happened leading to the divorce and it is natural to have these feelings. It is when we are able to resolve these feelings and recognize that they are not serving us, that progress can be made.
Forgiveness Another way of placing our resentments and anger in the past is finding a way to forgive when we feel we have been slighted. This might be a lot to ask, depending on the particulars. It might also be helpful to soul search for our own role in the breakdown of the relationship and apologize if warranted. Finding a way to get those feelings out in the open can help to lift the heavy weight from our shoulders. The most painful, long and contentious divorces I have witnessed involved spouses that were driven by their anger toward one another. Unfortunately this approach does not bring vindication and resolve. Instead, it keeps the couple mired in conflict, often for years. On the other hand, couples that I have witnessed taking some time to air their grievances with one another and getting help if needed to find ways to forgive one another are much better equipped to move forward and embrace the coming change.
Anticipation Another strategy for getting through looming change is to find things to look forward to. Pick up things that you enjoy but maybe haven’t found the time for. Better yet, come up with new things to do that might offer new challenges. Pursue things that might bring you to a better place. Focus on your health. Be open to new relationships with others. Having excitement for the future can reduce our time dwelling on the past.
I am yet to hear any divorcing person say that their anger and resentment served them well in moving through their divorce. Finding ways to work through the pain of the breakup by taking healthy steps to resolve ill will, focusing on the positive, finding ways to forgive and apologize, and finding things to get excited about that lie ahead are all ways to begin to embrace change.
So, Back to My Change. For starters, I want to make it clear that I do not equate the change taking place in my office with the life altering change that takes place in divorce.
Change has its own Richter scale and the change in my office is a light tremor compared to the full blown earthquake of divorce. There are some common themes, however. This week is a perfect time for me to appreciate what I have had and to get excited about what will come. This is a valuable process whatever change heads our way.
If you have recently had any interaction with my office you would most certainly have bumped into my wonderful assistant, Rosie Riley. She has been fabulous and it is hard to lose such a giving and caring aide. When we find those people who help our business shine, it is hard to see them go. She was thoughtful and organized in her work and was constantly trying to find ways to make the business better. My clients had nothing but good things to say about her. I never felt the need to look over her shoulder and had comfort that she was always getting things done. She was dependable. She was pleasant to be around. I am thankful for having the opportunity to have her work for me and for all that she contributed to my practice. I am excited for her in what lies ahead because her vision, her work ethic, and her passion will help her accomplish great things.
Anticipation. I, thankfully, am also excited about what lies ahead. Rosie helped me see those attributes that were important to me for the person to have who would take her place. I am excited to introduce you all to my new assistant, Brianna Kappner. I was lucky to find someone who shares many of the wonderful attributes of Rosie. I appreciate her taking on this new challenge and look forward to experiencing the special gifts of her own character that she will bring to the job. I hope that she too can share the same anticipation of this new chapter we will write together and that we will both grow from the experience.
Change is hard. As Sydney J. Harris mentioned, we can love it and hate it at the same time. When we can acknowledge, appreciate and then let go of the past we can begin that journey and embrace that wonderful next chapter of life that lies ahead.