When I was going through my divorce 11 years ago I developed a collection of mantras that I used every day
The Oxford dictionary defines a mantra as a word, phrase or sound that is repeated again and again. I used my mantras every day, to help me manage my emotions, my actions and my approach to what was happening to me. These are my 5 favourite ones:
Choice is better than no choice
When you are facing a divorce, it is easy to feel that you have no power, that there are no choices open to you. Perhaps you feel that your ex holds all the cards, or you feel overwhelmed by the shock of a sudden loss of a relationship and that you have had your choices removed from you. Maybe you feel that your ex’s behaviour leaves you with no choice as to how to react.
The Group Hug says……
This blog doesn’t just apply to divorce – you can think about having mantra’s for any life event; new job, bereavement, dating.”
If you believe you only have one option, you are stuck. If you believe you have two options, you have a dilemma. When you have 3 or more options, you have choice, and choice gives you power.
Next time you feel stuck or that you have no option open to you, challenge yourself to come up with at least 3 options for what you could do, so that when you do act, you are making a conscious choice to go down that particular route.
A small example – your ex sends you an angry email, full of over-exaggerated statements and accusations. What are your choices right now? They might be:
- Ignore it
- Fire back an equally angry response
- Go through the message, pick out the parts that require a response, and reply to those only
- Write a response, put it into your drafts, and revisit it tomorrow
- Call up a good friend and get all your frustration out in a good old rant
You might have other ideas. Once you’ve got all your choices, you now have the power to choose which one (or more) you would prefer.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got, so if what you’re doing isn’t working, try anything else
Ever think you are going around in circles, repeating the same old patterns? Do your arguments sound the same every time? Are you stuck in a cycle of conflict that doesn’t ever seem to end?
Using this mantra to get a different perspective can really help. Next time you find yourself going over the same old thought pattern, having the same old argument, try something different. Respond in a different way, behave in a different way, or speak using different language.
See what happens.
It’s not what happens to you that makes the difference; it’s what you do with what happens to you
I always used this to remind me that when it came down to it, I was responsible for how I handled my divorce, and how I behaved. Very early on, I decided I did not want to be the victim of my divorce. I did not want it to define me or control me. Instead, I wanted to hold my head up high. I decided that “Dignity at all times” would become another mantra for me to live by.
I could have let my divorce turn me into a bitter and angry person, but I chose not to. I saw that hanging onto that anger would only damage me in the long run, and I didn’t want my divorce or my ex-husband to have that power over me or my future.
Dignity at all times
At those times when all I really wanted to do was to fire off that angry email or throw all my ex’s clothes out onto the street, I only had to remind myself of this mantra to feel myself calming down. I knew that in the long run, I’d be grateful to myself for keeping my cool, for being dignified at all times.
I extended that dignity to making sure that every time I saw my ex, I wore clothes I liked, that helped me to feel good about myself, and I knew I looked strong. Just looking strong made me strong.
Stop, breathe, think, respond
This particular mantra was enormously helpful at times of high stress – at meetings with lawyers, at handovers with our children in the early days when I was feeling angry or bereft to see them going to spend time with their dad, or the time when a text arrived at 6 am on a Sunday telling me what a difficult night he’d had with our then-1-year-old.
Sometimes when things happen, and you have an emotional reaction, it is easy to go straight into reacting through an emotional red cloud. By reminding myself to stop, breathe, think and respond, I was able to slow down my reactions, and get control of my emotions enough to remember that my aim was be dignified at all times.
When you use mantras to help make sense of your reality and your actions, they can have a huge effect on your mindset. They become a habitual lens through which you view life and the curveballs that divorce might throw your way.