Things I Wish I'd Known Regarding Fear
The definition of Fear, according to the Cambridge Dictionary is as follows:
An unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful, or bad that is happening or might happen
Now think about your divorce, or your mindset as you consider a divorce.
Based on the definition above, are you truly fearful? Do you anticipate danger or pain? Or is the real danger or pain coming from simply staying in an unhappy marriage? Being literally stuck in a situation where you are unhappy for the foreseeable and maybe long term future?
Fear is the second root cause of procrastination... Many of us spend far too long in an unhappy marriage. Why? Often, because that marriage is a known factor. It's predictable - it's what we and our kids know as life, and to consider change is to consider a litany of unknowns. What will happen? Where will we live? Can we afford two homes? How will we co-parent? Will I be financially secure? Do I need to go back to work full time? Who gets the kids on Thanksgiving? How will the other parent cope and deal with single parenting? Will my ex start dating? Will I? What if I never meet anyone? And so on... and so on...
BUT, what if you could securely and confidently answer some of these questions?
Try these exercises for me - Start to look at your expenses- monthly and annually. Write them down.
Look at your income - write that down.
What it would cost to stay in your home?
Are there places you can move locally if you divorce?
Are there apartments, townhomes, smaller homes nearby that would enable your children to remain in their current schools that would be more affordable?
What might a parenting schedule look like?
Who could you rely on for support- both emotionally and physically as you begin the transition of separating?
Once you get some of these answers on paper, do you feel as fearful?
I often tell my clients that fear is fueled by a lack of feeling in control. I push them to take the actions that will allow them to feel more in control which in turn, takes the power away from the fear (Fear is their mind guessing and worrying about the future). As we start to sort out the realities of our situation and see facts in front of us, we get a degree of comfort and can begin to move forward. I recently read an article in Fast Company (4/1/19 issue) that stated, "Fear... can cripple you, but it can also take your life to a whole new level. Choose the latter by identifying where it comes from and develop a plan of action to confront it." The plan, the facts, the realities - will propel you forward, into the life you want and deserve.
A good friend of mine who's finalizing her divorce recently said to me "I want to take every unhappily married couple, sit them down and tell them how amazingly liberating and empowering it is to decide to choose you and go through with that divorce you've been contemplating. Once I faced my fears, I realized my kids actually saw and understood the toxic dynamic and even supported my decision. I realized that while still a little intimidating, this life change was actually pretty exciting. I get to begin again and design a life exactly as I want it, rather than be paralyzed from my fears of failing if I decide to leave." This sentiment reminded me of the words of the divine Nina Simone, “I'll tell you what Freedom is to me. No fear.” In other words - If you want to change your life, you must confront the fears that have been holding you back all of this time - confront them, acknowledge them, then knock them the heck out of your way.