I read the book, Deep Survival – Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, by Lawrence Gonzales. As I read I realized that divorce is itself a long period of survival functioning. It affects the the brain chemistry is the same ways. It elicits the same reactions. We must use the same approaches to survive. We must use the same approaches to survive. Many traverse divorce and it is not a life or death situation but there are some things inside you that will die on your way to the final divorce decree, usually they are things believe are vital to our well being but really are not. Asking the question, “What is it time for me to let go of?” Will help you learn from your journey. Knowing how to manage your resources will be key to your survival.
If I were going to write a similar book about surviving divorce I could call it, Surviving Divorce, Who is Empowered by it, Who is Destroyed by it, and Why. Some folks make it to the other side of divorce happier and healthier. Some don’t. And there are some very specific reasons why. At the end of Gonzales’ book he summarizes the survival keys that he discovered as he researched his book. They are so appropriate to divorce that I include them below nearly as he wrote them. Following these principles will not only help you survive divorce, it will help you thrive beyond it.
I’ve numbered Gonzales’ principles below and italicized my comments that pertain to divorce below each principle. Because there are so many I’ll only cover a few at a time in each post. Principles 9 through 12 are below.
People who survive dire situations apply many of these skills:
9. Survivors admonish themselves to make no more mistakes, to be very careful, and to do their very best. They become convinced that they will prevail if they do those things.
Learning what went wrong is an important part of the divorce recovery process. In school we get the lesson and then the test. In life we get the test and must seek to understand the lesson. Understanding what went wrong provides control and empowerment.
10. Survivors manage pain well. They quarantine the thinking/knowledge that is causing the pain. It is called resignation without giving up… survival by surrender. “I’m in pain. I’ll get through it.”
When you are at the point – in divorce or in life – when you are the observer of your experience you’ve made a most important shift. You come to realize that you are not your experience. The Real You is observing the egoic part of you deal with your life circumstances. The Real You is never diminished by circumstances. It is the part that honors what is and knows you’ll get through.
11. Survivors know their abilities and do not over- or underestimate them. They believe that anything is possible and act accordingly. Play leads to invention, which leads to trying something that might have seemed impossible. Survivors are coldly rational about using the world, obtaining what they need, doing what they have to do.
Smart divorcing people recognize the need outside professional help and do not hesitate to engage. Any resource should be utilized in your efforts to survive and thrive beyond divorce.
12. Survivors are not easily frustrated. They are not discouraged by setbacks. They accept that circumstances are constantly changing. They pick themselves up and start the entire process over again, breaking it down into manageable bits. Survivors have a clear reason for going on. There is always one more thing you can do. They come to embrace the world in which they find themselves and see opportunity in adversity.
Survival is part of life whether you are divorcing or not. Life is a tough contest that requires us to give everything we’ve got, and if we don’t have what it requires, to develop it. When we recognize adversity as part of life we roll up our sleeves and do what it takes to move beyond it. The only failure is in giving up.
My work is to help you get through, learn from, and ultimately find many things in the divorce experience for which you can be thankful. You will be different on the other side of divorce. If you work it right you will be stronger, more aware, more present, and more joyful that you ever thought possible.
Now isn’t that a nice thought!?!