Ok well maybe not your whole self.
December is the month of ramping up before winding down. It is crazy. Personally, everyone is busy with family, holidays, and end of the year parties. Professionally, most are swamped with trying to get all of the final sales and numbers in while preparing for all of the big things to come starting in January of 2016. My big ramp up is for the launch of my new novel in January, Strangers on Newbury Street. (And yes, #shamelessselfpromotion)! Honestly, with all of the stress it is not that surprising that January through March is nicknamed “Divorce Season”. Stress takes a toll on everyone and everything.
In December, people tend to take a look at changes they want to make in their lives, goals they want to achieve over the next year, resolutions, and even things they no longer want to be a part of.
Having been through a divorce I do not take the word or the process lightly. I do however feel there is some value in the process. Divorce is final. It takes time. It takes a toll emotionally, physically, and financially. Divorce often has rules and contingencies. And like it or not, when it happens, it changes your world in ways you may have never imagined. I ended up across the country in Beverly Hills, California, living a completely different life.
Now I am not suggesting anyone should go out and get divorced; quite the contrary. But what if you could apply that finality of divorce to something you would like to change or get rid of about yourself, your work, or your relationship? And what if, actually committing to it, absolutely and with finality could change your life for the better? For Example:
In a Relationship: How many times have you had the exact same argument with your partner? Years later, even if you are arguing about something completely different, it circles back to the same issue. It takes a toll. What if you could both commit to finally divorcing yourselves from that issue once and for all? What relief would you both be feeling?
Professionally: How many times have you started the new year saying, “this year I will be organized,” or, “this year I will no longer procrastinate,” or “this year I will…” What if you actually committed to what you said you were going to do? What would your life look like if you made that change?
Personally: How many times have you tried to quit smoking? Tried to lose that extra ten pounds? Tried to start eating healthy and exercising more? Tried to stop being afraid? Tried to move toward what you have always dreamed of? How awesome would you feel if you did?
So how do you do it? Well, it is a process. Start by applying the rules of divorce to whatever you want to get rid of. How? I am glad you asked.
- Start with careful consideration: Very few people enter a divorce lightly. They have been pondering and considering for quite some time. Most have considered the pros and cons to changing nothing or changing everything. Make your lists.
- Tell someone. Tell a friend, a partner (especially if it involves them), a confidant what you are thinking of divorcing yourself from. This makes it a bit more real.
- List the consequences and the gains for giving up the bad habit or cycle. You may initially think that divorcing yourself from a habit or cycle that you don’t like is all gain, but it’s not. Not initially anyway. Any negative habit or cycle has some benefit to you, you might not want to admit it; but if you really want to divorce yourself from it you have to. You must be honest. When I smoked, there were times when smoking was my stress reliever and my best friend. It was killing me, but I got benefits. So the consequence of giving up smoking meant I was losing a stress reliever and a best friend. OR those “trump card resentments” that you throw at your partner when you need to win an argument, benefit you somehow. (but usually only in the short-term). The consequence to giving up your trump resentments means you are not always going to win.
- Brainstorm alternatives for your consequences or negative gains. For example, other stress relievers besides food or smoking. If you are holding onto resentments in your relationship, how can you let them go?
- Create a contract, with your partner, or friend, or confidant, that outlines in detail the penalties you or both of you will suffer if you do not adhere to the contract and the gains you will make if you do. For example: A $5.00 donation in a fun jar for everyday you do not smoke; a $10 immediate donation given to someone or a charity for every day you do. If either party brings up the argument you are divorcing yourselves from he/she will a) not be engaged with; b) the contract will be brought out for them to review; and c) will have to do the housework alone for 2 weeks. For every month we go without having that argument we will celebrate by doing …whatever you chose.
- Make it official. Sign the contract. Have a witness sign the contract.
- Celebrate your new beginning, the relief, and the excitement.
Here’s to you! Divorce yourselves from the old to make room for the new!
Sarah E Stewart, MSW,CPC
Life Coach & Author