What Are You Thinking?

After you separate or divorce, the most important tool you have at your disposal is your mindset. What are you thinking? What are you telling yourself? Is your goal to “survive” your divorce? Do you feel like you’re a failure or “damaged goods”? Your thoughts have a powerful impact on your reality.

For me and my three school-age children, I decided that to simply “survive” my divorce would be setting the bar way too low. Instead, I wanted all of us to THRIVE and blossom. I believe we’re never given more than we can handle. I was open to learning the lessons life was teaching me in this relationship breakdown. I didn’t want to stay stuck in anger or fear. I most certainly didn’t want to have to repeat this experience again either!

Getting divorced made me realize how programmed I had been to my own negative internal dialogue. There’s nothing like having a 20-year relationship crumble to turn up the volume on the internal, self-critical thoughts I’d been carrying around my whole life, but never really noticed before. I realized that a very important tool we all have (and don’t use enough) is the power to choose our thoughts.

Dr. Lee Pulos, noted clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia, estimates that we self-talk between 150-300 words per minute. That works out to an astonishing 45,000-50,000 thoughts per day! He estimates that the average person can only last for about 11 seconds without some kind of self-talk. For many of us, a lot of that self-talk is negative – particularly when we’ve experienced some kind of set-back, like a separation or divorce. Dr. Pulos asserts people put themselves in a “waking hypnosis” with this incessant stream of negative self-talk. We’re literally laying down programming in our consciousness that beats us up and sets us up for failure and dissatisfaction.

How do you break-out of the negative self-hypnosis cycle? Here are some easy strategies to get you started:

1. You Don’t Have to Know
Your mind can only know what it has already known or experienced. Life offers us possibilities much broader than we can possibly “know,” if we’re open to seeing them. You don’t know what you don’t know. And that is good news! All you need is a willingness to stay open and learn from your mis-steps and you’ll be amazed at your sense of relief when you don’t have to “know” every single thing. Get curious and ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”

2. Tune into Your Inner Dialogue
Awareness is the critical ingredient to building a more empowering mindset. Break the state of “waking hypnosis” and choose new thoughts that support you. It might require some practice, but it is a conscious choice you can make. If you hear your inner critic getting nasty with you, simply say “Thank you for sharing!” or “Sure, but I deserve to have a great life anyway!” Try walking around with a notebook and jot down some of the dialogue you hear in your head. You may be shocked at the results!

3. Take A Baby Step
So you’ve broken a promise to yourself or fallen back into some old habits you don’t like? First, be willing to forgive yourself. What is one concrete step you could take right now to take you in the direction you want to go? Find something specific and measurable you could act upon right now. Maybe you need to cut yourself some slack, or find an accountability partner to keep you on the straight and narrow. The energy and confidence you’ll feel from accomplishing that one step, no matter how big or small, will be great fuel to get you started.

Author's Bio: 

(c) 2007 Carolyn B. Ellis, Author and Coach. Carolyn is the founder of Thrive After Divorce, Inc. A Harvard graduate, Carolyn is also a Certified Master Integrative Coach™, Teleclass Leader and the first Canadian to be certified as a Spiritual Divorce Coach. She is also a part-time staff member of the Institute for Integrative Coaching at John F. Kennedy University in San Francisco, CA, and has been trained personally by its founder, NY Times best-selling author Debbie Ford. Carolyn’s book, "The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive After Divorce" will be published in early 2007. Her three amazing school age children and bouncy labradoodle dog are her daily sources of inspiration and joy.

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