Saturday, April 14, 2007

Law of Evolution #1: Accept Responsibility

Evolutionary Law #1: I will accept responsibility for my life and station, as everything in my life is caused by my interactions with the world and the people in it. I will not seek to blame people or external circumstances for my life and the events in it. Instead, I will be empowered by the responsibility I am willing to shoulder.

One of the first decisions I made about my post-divorce life was that I would no longer be a victim to the circumstances of my life. This meant taking responsibility and acknowledging that I am the source of everything around me. In order to begin my evolution, I had to strike an agreement with myself that I would no longer live as a victim, or place the blame on external forces for the state or condition of my life.

At the end of my marriage and early in our divorce, I found myself feeling angry, betrayed, injured, and abandoned. I felt like I was given up on; that my wife decided I wasn't good enough, or worthy of her company. And what did I do? I tried to win her back. When she rejected me again, I tried to the noble thing and sacrifice my future for her benefit. In the middle of all this, I had a moment of clarity where I realized that my internal feelings were being based on external events. My self worth and image were being defined not by what I felt or what was important to me, but rather by the events that while in my life and specifically the thoughts, actions, and opinions of my wife, were not in my control.

See, as people we cannot control the thoughts, emotions, or actions of other people. Of course we can influence; we do this every day. As much as I thought that being together was the right thing to do, I realized that my relationship was based less on my needs being met and more on my reacting to her happiness. In hindsight, I now realize how unhealthy this was for me, and how it slowly eroded my passion and will to grow during our time together.

Empowerment Through Responsibility

Now, there are two different ways to accept responsibility. One leads down a path of empowerment a growth; the other leads to guilt, anger, blame, and resentment. An exercise that I recommend is to write statements of responsibility that describe where you are in your life. Here are some things to remember:
  • The goal is to gain clarity about where your life is, and your role in creating what is around you. These statements should lack judgement, and focus only on gaining clarity.
  • To be responsible means to accept in a humble manner your role in the events of your life.
  • At this point, these statements should not try to solve problems. The idea behind this exercise is to be clear, not to necessarily define a direction or path (that comes later).
  • Empowerment rarely follows self-destructive behavior -- so stay away from statements that lay blame or guilt at your feet, or that eat away/negate a positive self image.
  • Try to limit the scope of your statements to your immediate surroundings and environment (wife, children, family, friends, career).
  • Lastly, focus on quality vs. quantity. It will serve you more to author a handful of honest, vulnerable, humble, and responsible observations that help center your life and perceptions than to create a large list items that are not accurate or relevant.

I have posted an example of this exercise specific to my own failed marriage that can serve as a guide of sorts. Everyone takes their own path on this journey. It is my hope that we can share our experiences, learn from them, and move our lives forward in a constructive and empowering may.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Evolution Begins With a Decision

This is an open letter to all men currently in the process of getting divorced, and especially to those who are struggling to move their life forward. I know your pain and frustration. I understand your sense of loss and injustice. I can relate to the uncertainty in front of you. Amidst all this upheaval, and uncertainty, I want to let you know that you, my friend, are not alone. There are thousands, I fear, like you and I. Paralyzed. Scared. Depressed. Guilty. Needy. Shot.

Well, let me tell you that I'm tired of feeling like this. Period.

I have made the decision to let my divorce become the most empowering experience of my life. My divorce is now an opportunity for me, at age 36, to re-define my life; to take my life back, as cliche's go. I will create a life that is driven by my desires, needs, and goals. I will create this life by respecting my beliefs, appreciating my needs, and valuing relationships with other people. And I will no longer live in fear of the future.

A great piece of advice that a mentor once gave me was "when you learn something that improve your life, stop and try to teach it to at least three people right away." The idea behind this law of evolution is that things that are good for your life are typically good for others; when you teach someone something that enriches their life you enrich your own. Well, I am here to share my life experience, be honest about what has worked for me and what has not, and be real with my words. My greatest hope for this endeavor is that I achieve all I set out to do, and that my experience empowers those of you ready for a change to move your life foward.

Evolution, whether we realize it or not, simply requires a decision to change. I have made mine, and hopefully my journey can help you make yours.