Written By Featured Guest Blogger (and our friend) Elizabeth Winkler, MA LMFT
What if we could create more love in the world through the process of breakups, separations, and divorce? This may sound strange, but it is entirely possible for those who are willing to do the internal work. This is what I call "Mindful Untethering." I have created five tenets to follow and come back to as guides for the internal "divorce" that is necessary for individuals to find peace, empowerment, and ultimately the abundant love that lies within each one of us
- THE PATH OF HAPPINESS IS INSIDE
“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way…” Thich Nhat Hanh said. He is one of the leading Buddhist teachers in the West and the man Martin Luther King called "...an apostle of peace and nonviolence..."
Our world is over-saturated with contested divorces where both parties are intertwined in a long, arduous road full of legal battles. This leaves people in a state of fight or flight where decision-making is unclear and fear based. You have chosen to take a different path with It’s Over Easy, and that is a monumental step. It may seem odd to be facing your divorce and to consider anything remotely close to happiness. However, I would like for you to consider that this can be a doorway into both internal and external freedom.
Many people divorce externally on paper but they never divorce internally. People uncouple because they are unhappy, but in my experience, that unhappiness will follow you if you don’t do the inner work of Mindful Untethering. The choice is yours to either make this a growth experience, or a tragic event that guides your life forever. So I like to start with, “Do you want to be happy?” Many clients will react with, “how can I be happy, I am getting a divorce?”
When we have all of these unhappy feelings inside, choosing to be happy can feel impossible. However, this is exactly why we need to untether ourselves internally from this pain so that we can let it go. If you don’t, you will never be “divorced” and never be truly happy. Give yourself the true freedom to be on a path of happiness. So, if you answered “Yes, I want to be happy” and you realize you have the power to choose this path inside, then we can move to the next step, which tells you how to get there.
- ENLIGHTENED PARENTS, ENLIGHTENED CHILDREN
This tenet obviously applies to people with kids, but they are an important community to address. I have found that the most powerful guidance for couples with children is this next bit of information. Children of divorce are at risk for developing certain emotional issues triggered by the traumatic stress a divorce can ignite. How well their parents get along during the divorce process and post-divorce can mitigate this risk. Once parents realize this, I have seen them magically move from battling with lawyers to recognizing that with mediation and therapy they have the power to preserve and grow a healthy and happy long-term relationship for ALL parties. You can build a strong and abundant bridge that your children will gleefully run back and forth on, or one that feels similar to the insecure, rickety bridge over troubled waters in Indiana Jones.
It’s Over Easy provides many useful tools for parents to use to build a strong, stable bridge, and to become effective co-parents, including calendars that both parents can use, with scheduling preferences, and tools to help parents work out custody issues. The platform also provides a space where both parents can communicate using the in-platform chat feature so that everything is in one place. When parents use the in-platform chat feature, there is a record of your conversations if you need to reference or download them for important information. This clarity is a gift for everyone involved because less is lost between two homes.
I tell clients that their focus needs to be on the health of the whole family, including your ex who has now become your “co-parent.” Even though your family will now be in two homes, you will forever be tied together through your children. Do you want to be happy given this reality? You have the opportunity to grow more happiness and love by letting go of your own agenda (ego) and focusing on the whole. Remind yourself that the parents’ enlightened decisions provide the bridge that the children will cross toward each of you on their way to independence and adulthood. The way in which you continue to deal with your ex-partner has the potential to be a positive or negative influence on how your children will manage relationships in their future. Enlightened decisions create an environment in both homes that will stabilize and protect the children that you both love.
- WHO IS AT THE WHEEL?
In divorces, there are so many broken pieces and messy situations that clients feel overwhelmed. In order to give them back to themselves, they need to become aware of their power. Think of the self like a car and there are many passengers inside. We can see that we let different drivers guide us on the road of life and often we do this without awareness. We often unconsciously let the insecure, scared, and fearful passengers take over simply because their voices are often much louder and more distracting. We have the opportunity to be more aware and awake here. The dialogue begins with, who is driving inside?
Often I find FEAR to be the biggest culprit, which leads to more fear, resentment and sometimes hate. If you want happiness, you cannot let fear be your guide. Would you be willing to let someone else take the driver’s seat so that you can have more clarity, peace, and ultimately happiness? Expansion of our internal awareness of the inner voices we hear allows one to no longer identify from a place of negative fearful thinking. Through this awareness, one can experience inner freedom. Through techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, neutralization of patterned thinking, mantra, somatic exercises, breath work, interviewing the different splintered aspects of self inside, as well as emotional releasing of the pain from the heart; the client can become highly aware of the inner voice that can create chaos or calm.
The therapeutic guidance takes the client back to letting the highly aware “Self” drive down this road ahead. At times there could be a lot of traffic, unexpected weather, accidents, and other reckless drivers on the road, but if your car is driven by someone who is aware and centered, then the results will be much better then if the car were being driven by a reactive, fearful being. This doesn’t mean you are cold and without emotion, you are just better equipped to handle any situation that passes before you. The work done here is all about letting go of pain in the heart, a.k.a. “the files” from this relationship (and often others), and starting to recognize the noise of the chattering mind as a reaction to that pain. When clients can see their strength beyond the mind and heart, stabilization can occur.
- FOCUS ON WHAT WORKS, STRENGTHS
What we focus on grows. When focused on your ex-partner’s strengths it is much easier to build a working, healthy, and often happy relationship. This clarity helps with dealing with your ex-partner. I love what Yogi Bhajan said, which helps give clarity to people who are struggling with their ex-partners behaviors:
“…if you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about you as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all…”
There are often many areas of “weaknesses” clients have identified in the other as well as within themselves. Clients work with these weaknesses (limiting beliefs) as things to let go of internally (often more pain to release) and see the blessing of physical distance to certain behaviors (e.g. cheating). Clients find it easier to work through their own limiting beliefs because they are no longer cohabitating so it is less triggered in their life. The harder those challenging aspects of the ex are just direct the client back to more untethering of the relationship internally and more emotional releases. For newly divorced co-parents, finding that balance of each parent’s strengths for the family and focusing on those strengths, helps to create a peaceful and centered family.
- CELEBRATING YOUR UNIQUE EVOLUTION
Divorce does not need to be seen as a type of failure. Due to cultural norms, projections, and assumptions, divorce has held a very dark and negative space in the world. Often some couples do better once they are no longer married. They can grow as families in ways that they could not together under one roof. This becomes possible when couples are able to build a foundation with two caring parents who are respectful to each other and honor the long-term health of everyone in the family. Do not let others limit what your unique family can do. You have the power to break down the walls and ceilings of history. The face of divorce is changing in the world and you have a part to play in that. Let's change this together and make this world a more loving, accepting place for ALL people.
Through the use of these 5 tenets, we can build a more compassionate world for children and families who are going through the divorce process. Divorce does not have to be negative – rather, it can be seen as an evolution of you and your family’s life. I am grateful to work together with It’s Over Easy to help change the face of divorce one dissolution at a time and to do my part to create more love in the world.