The Problems in the Divorce are All Your Fault….Or Not
Should you take it personally? How much responsibility should you take? Is it all your fault? Is it all your spouse’s fault? Guilt…blame…projection….defensiveness…how you deal with these has a profound effect on your divorce recovery and personal growth.
Imagine you were planning to have a huge family reunion. You invited everyone, made wonderful plans, rented a quaint restaurant. Then, the day before the event, after everyone had flown into town, there was a lightning strike and the restaurant burned down. You scramble to find another place, but everyone other appropriate place in town has been booked for months.
Naturally, you might feel disappointed, frustrated, angry, sad. You would need to express your feelings and probably have a good cry. You might need to mourn the loss of the event you had imagined.
But you wouldn’t feel that the lightning had attacked you personally and deliberately wanted to ruin your family reunion. You wouldn’t spend hours wondering what was wrong with you and how you caused it. Basically, you wouldn’t blame yourself. Yet, that is what many people going through a divorce do.
See what if feels like to have strong emotions without attaching self-blame to the situation?
This way of thinking about the divorce may be especially helpful when the other spouse has substance abuse, has perpetrated domestic violence and/or has a mental illness. There is often the temptation to take some responsibility for the troubled spouse until one realizes that is both damaging to your self esteem and helps deprives your spouse of the opportunity to take responsibility for their problems.
But wait…you’re not off the hook that easily. Remember that problems are your opportunity to explore and to see what you can learn in order to be happier. So let’s look at things another way, using a four-step process developed by Byron Katie. Let’s use the statement, “The divorce is all my fault.”
Step 1: Ask yourself if what you are thinking is true. Be still, use your common sense, your wise inner being, your professional intelligence…use all your capacity for reflection and insight. Is it true? Is the divorce really your fault? Wait patiently and let the answer rise to meet the question. Allow yourself to be surprised by your own deep wisdom.
Step 2: Can you absolutely know that it’s true that the divorce is your fault? Do you know All the factors that went into creating the divorce? For example, are you aware of all the people who influenced the situation and how they did so? Are you aware of the all the past hurts in both of you that may have contributed to the divorce? You get the idea.
Step 3: How do you react when you think the thought that the divorce is all your fault? How do you treat yourself when you think this thought? How do you treat your spouse when you think this thought? For example, do you insult yourself? Do you not take care of yourself? Do you hurt your spouse? Do you lose your focus on your children?
Step 4: Who would you be without this thought? If you were incapable of thinking the thought that the divorce is all your fault, what would that be like? Close your eyes and imagine what that would be like? Sit quietly with it. What would it see? What would you feel? What would you hear?
Step 5: Now play with it by turning it around. Take the original statement and turn it around in various ways. Notice what rings true and what doesn’t. The divorce is Not my fault. Is that true? In what way is it true? In what way is it not true?
Copyright 2008: Sat Tara Kaur Khalsa, M.S., L.P.C. All rights reserved