Thursday, April 26, 2007

Guy Getting Divorced's 25 Laws of Evolution

As part of my personal evolution from unhappily-married husband to empowered single-guy-to-be, I have found a number of themes or guiding principals that have helped me transform my life. During my journey through divorce, I have devoured as much knowledge as time would allow on subjects ranging from divorce and dating to sexuality and social dynamics to spirituality and emotional well being. While consuming this knowledge, I found a number of common traits, ideals, and themes describing approaches to and benefits derived from empowerment. It is through the consumption of these ideals that I have written the "25 Laws of Evolution" for men experiencing divorce.

These "laws" will be the subjects of future blog entries, and I will write about them in order. As I said in my introduction, I will work to write about two or three of these ideals per week. Building this list and working through it has taken me quite a while. Now that this iteration is complete, though, I am excited about continuing my journey through divorce and measuring what I can accomplish in my life by living through these ideals.

Guy Getting Divorced's 25 Laws to Empowerment

  1. Accept Responsibility. 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.
  2. Measurement is Empowering. In order to evolve constructively, I must remember where I started, acknowledge the roads taken, and consistently measure my progress. Intelligent evolution cannot occur without consistent and accurate personal measurement.
  3. Establish a Support System. As I work to transform my life, I will ask my family and friends for their love, strength, and support. I will communicate the seriousness of this request and explain what specific acts of support I require.
  4. Stop Complaining. I will refrain from complaining about my situation or station in life, as I recognize that complaints do not empower me to be my "best self". I will not judge myself when I do complain, and will increase my self-awareness to recognize the behavior and pre-empt it.
  5. Be Impeccable with Your Appearance. I will master my appearance and groom/clothe with impeccable regularity as I understand that a neat, stylish appearance will have a positive impact on how I view myself and others view me.
  6. Find and Embrace Your Best Self. I will collect, understand, and embrace the best qualities of myself with the understanding that at my best self, I maximize my power, presence, and effectiveness in the world.
  7. Document and Visualize Your Goals. I will take time to document my goals and on a daily basis visualize what my life would be like with these goals realized. I will work to establish these goals by asking myself if my actions are congruent with my desired end results.
  8. Be Present and Accountable. I will focus on my immediate universe, be present and involved in the experiences around me, and accountable to my behavior and actions. I will view accountability as a form of empowerment.
  9. Redefine Failure. I will redefine failure as an opportunity to learn from my experiences, and remove any judgement, guilt, or resentment from these opportunities. In my life, failure is an opportunity to measure progress and measurement provides opportunities to learn.
  10. Honor Your Physical Health. I will honor my physical health with the realization that my physical health must super cede my mental and spiritual health. I will exercise, improve my diet, and remove any health-related "bad habits" that may exist in my life.
  11. Identify and Eliminate Blocking Beliefs. I will document and rid myself of the beliefs I currently perpetuate that fly in direct conflict with my goals, aspirations, and empowering self-image. I will question these beliefs, express in a positive, grounded way why these beliefs no longer apply in my life, and expunge them from my personality.
  12. Abandon Approval. I will stop using approval to achieve status with others, and stop seeking approval from others as a way to validate my self worth. I will abandon approval as a tool for creating and sustaining relationships, and become self-aware of when my behavior is approval seeking. I will recognize that approval perpetuates victimization.
  13. Discover Your Purpose. I will discover my purpose in life and examine how I can incorporate this purpose in all important aspects of my interactions with the people around me. Knowing and living up to my purpose will keep me grounded, focused, and centered to accomplish the goals in my life.
  14. Learn to be Selfish. I will learn to value myself over others in a way that honors my purpose and empowers those around me to appreciate my value. I will work to improve, nurture, and impact myself in positive ways every day understanding that if my needs are not met, I cannot be effective in my life on a consistent basis.
  15. Respect Your Time. I will learn to value my time over the time of others, and structure my life so that I have time to address personal needs, wants, and desires. I will make time educate myself, honor my health, and nurture my needs before tending to the needs of others.
  16. Reinvent Rejection. I will abandon the idea that rejection has the ability to define me, and confront any fears of rejection with intent, passion, and purpose. I will reinvent rejection as an opportunity to risk for reward, instead of risk for failure.
  17. Value the Learning Cycle. I will focus on the learning and the journey associated with acquiring new skill and experience, instead of placing value on the end result of this journey.
  18. Contribute Compassion. I will learn to express compassion to those people around me, and recognize that compassion is the foundation for confidence.
  19. Embrace Sexuality. I will embrace my sexuality, and look to establish and improve my sexual awareness and confidence. I will clearly define my sexual needs, and pursue relationships where those needs are met in a connected, empowering way for myself and my partner.
  20. Radiate Value. I will radiate my value to the people around me beginning with my posture, continuing with my appearance, and ending with my verbal and non-verbal communication. The value and confidence I posses will be clearly communicated, easy to infer, and resonate with others.
  21. Accomplish Forgiveness. I will learn to forgive myself and others, recognizing that the emotions associated with anger, resentment, stubbornness, and pride cause more harm to my well being than good. Being "right" about an injury or grievance clouds my self-image and worth and impedes my ability to empower. I can choose to forgive, but still remember without inflicting myself harm.
  22. Set and Enforce Boundaries. I will establish clear boundaries for myself and others to respect. These boundaries will create a private, safe, and personal space where I can express myself without fear, tentativeness, or remorse. I will enforce these boundaries when they are tested because I recognize the value they provide.
  23. Invest in Relationship Values. I will dedicate part of my time to finding, consuming, and assimilating "relationship values" with the idea that in order to sustain any type of relationship, my values must be congruent with my needs, goals, and partners. As my needs change, I will need to update and adjust both my values and how they are practiced.
  24. Establish and Calibrate Congruence. I will learn to be self aware, and work to maintain a congruent internal and external image. As my external image deviates from my internal set of beliefs, I will calibrate my image to ensure that I am congruent with my beliefs, goals, and value.
  25. Practice Empowerment Daily. I will set aside time on a daily basis to consistently practice personal empowerment, recognizing that anything of value in life requires passion, commitment, and intent to be attained. As I value myself over all others, I will invest in myself be practicing empowerment on a daily basis.

Maybe laws is too strong a word. It is my experience, though, that each of these principals can help ground you as you work through major changes in your life. Divorce for men is so often characterized as a debilitating, devastating process and experience filled with loss, betrayal, and anger. Well, it is these things; and worse sometimes. As men, however, we do not need to let these negative, deconstructive emotions define how we view ourselves or interact with the world. We are, quite simply, better than that. That being said, it is my hope that these laws can help other men break this reactive cycle, and look to better themselves through this experience. As the saying goes, "what does not break me makes me stronger."

Monday, April 23, 2007

So Your Marriage Has Turned To....

If you are current going or have been through a divorce, then this clip should make you laugh. It's a segment of the Gary Shandling Show in which Hank, Gary's sidekick, hits "rock bottom" from his divorce. He's self destructive, self-pitying, self-absorbed, and self-loathing to the point where he says "he wants to end this!" Artie, the show's producer, responds by giving Hank some tough love to help bring him back from the brink and to his senses.

At one point or another, some of us have been here (ok, well, not quite here but in a position where we felt the bottom of our life with the balls of our feet). Everything's impossible. Nothing is clear. Focus is a memory, and "self-pity on the rocks" is the only drink in the 'fridge.

In these moments, it is the love, support, and encouragement of the people around of that help break the self-defeating cycles we trap ourselves in. Something to remember is that "encouragement", though, can wear many faces. In this case, it's a 9mm Beretta (watch the clip).

So if you find yourself feeling like this, talk about it. With everyone. Your lawyer. Your accountant. Your family and friends. Random people. Literally, everyone. Be passionate and emotional when you tell your story. Tell them how "sorry" you are, how "bad" you feel, and how "tough" life is right now for you. Eventually, one of two things are going to happen:
  1. You will get tired of feeling like this. At some point, you will realize that the pity monster carries a heavy price tag. The reality is that depression carries a significant cost health wise (have you ever been depressed and felt good or energetic?). This point of recognition is different for everyone, and hopefully you hit it sooner than later. You should, though, hit it.
  2. Your audience will get tired of hearing your story, and seeing you feel like this. It is a critical mass, of sorts. Your friends and family will, at some point, question or challenge you to get your life back on track and to end your depressing, self-defeating behavior. Now, remember this when they do: they have probably let you wallow for months in your "reality of pity and self-doubt". Don't fight it; don't reject it. Embrace it with a "thank you."

Everyone is different, but if you have gone through a divorce or are currently experiencing one then these feelings should be familiar to you. Hopefully you have enough support around you to work through this with friends. It takes courage to try and change your life, because with that there is an acknowledgement that you can fail. Fear of failure can be paralyzing. Remember, though -- you are not alone, tomorrow is another day, and your experiences do not define you.