Divorce could be one of the worst experiences of your life. Each and every day, you ride waves of fear, doubt, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and confusion about the choices you are making – or failing to make. It can leave you feeling bitter, victimized, and depressed.
Or, divorce could be one of your life’s greatest transitions, filled with learning, deep healing, and growth. Each and every day, you could take another step forward, calmly making decisions that follow thoughtful investigation and introspection. You could learn a lot about yourself and your values along the way. In fact, the process of divorce could leave you feeling confident, renewed, and ready for life’s next adventure.
You have a choice.
So many people default to misery in divorce. (And hey, I’m not pointing fingers; I wasn’t always happy during my divorce.) But it isn’t our only option! With the right mindset and a powerful set of tools, you can create a very different experience of divorce – one that feels empowered, aligned and aware. In other words, one that feels “right.”
What is a soul-centered divorce? To put it simply, a soul-centered divorce is one that feels guided by your inner wisdom. The process inspires confident decision-making, and actions that support those things that are most important to you.
The soul-centered divorce is a simple, yet powerful process that I developed over 22 years as a licensed attorney and mediator. It also draws on 25 years of experience with divorce (both my own and my clients), as well as a lifelong exploration of spirituality, religion, and consciousness. Where those areas of understanding overlap, I developed a process that cuts through the noise and confusion of divorce, helps you tap into your intuition and insight, and reveals evolved choices.
A soul-centered divorce asks you to trust in yourself, knowing that you can make the “best” choices. It invites you to be faithful to your core beliefs, and to reject unsolicited advice and societal pressures. It gives you courage (even within the rigid confines of the legal system, or in the face of an angry spouse), and it helps you be deliberate with your thoughts and actions, no matter how challenging the circumstances.
The process of The Soul-Centered Divorce is only seven steps, but it will give you the focus, foundation and guidance you need to move through each and every phase of your divorce. The steps are as follows.
Step One: Make a commitment
In order to navigate the divorce process with as much clarity, peace of mind, dignity and wisdom as possible, it is critical to establish a strong and purposeful mindset. So, with the intention of operating from your higher self, you may commit to:
- Being faithful to your core values and beliefs
- Acting with integrity, optimism, and clarity of purpose
- Acknowledging your fears and limitations
- Staying in the present to reduce worries and doubts
- Taking good care of your spiritual, emotional, financial, and physical health
- Eliminating destructive habits and counterproductive behaviors
- Consciously using tools and resources that help you get divorced with confidence and clarity
- Surrounding yourself with trustworthy and supportive people
- Taking consistent action, even when it makes you feel uncomfortable
Making choices and taking actions that are aligned with your core values
Step Two: Getting grounded and tapping into your inner voice
As you go through the process of divorce, you will hear many voices: your spouse, children, friends, family, lawyer, accountant, mediator, and/or judge. You’ll also hear countless voices in your head: the voices of fear, loathing, guilt, insecurity, anger, impatience, frustration, reason, confidence, clarity, and a whirlwind of positive and negative emotions. These internal and external voices compete for your attention, often becoming so loud that they drown out your true inner voice.
Your inner voice comes from deep within, and different people call it different things: intuition, the voice of God, angels, Spirit, Source, wisdom or instinct.
Everyone has an inner voice; it developed over millions of years, enabling mankind to survive and evolve. Regardless of what we call it or where it originates, it is your personal compass or guide that, when given room to speak, will help you through life.
If you already have a practice that calms your body, quiets your mind, and puts you in touch with your inner voice, take 10 to 45 minutes daily to settle yourself.
If your practice involves physical activities or rituals that you cannot do anytime and anywhere, I encourage you to create a variation of your practice that can be done in a matter of minutes, whenever you need to tune in to your inner voice quickly (e.g. in a courtroom, lawyer’s office or other restrictive setting). I use breathwork and mindfulness meditation to center and tune in to my inner wisdom.
You will find free guided mindfulness meditations led by my favorite teachers via these links: Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Buddhistgeeks, and Dharmaseed, which offers a free phone app you can use anytime, anywhere.
Step Three: Identifying your core values
Core values are beliefs or concepts that resonate very strongly with you. They serve as guidelines that you can use to make decisions and determine the actions that will serve you best.
Values are not goals; goals are desired outcomes. Values are an intrinsic part of who you are. You rely on them to structure your life, and you have for a long time.
If you don’t have clearly defined values, you end up drifting through life, making choices according to external circumstances and social pressures. On the other hand, when you know your core values, instead of basing your decisions on other people’s opinions and expectations, or on your fleeting moods, you make them with courage, purpose and direction.
Identifying your core values and relying upon them are essential to a soul-centered divorce. They will help you see clearly which choices honor your spirit. And, no matter what the outcome, you will feel more long-term satisfaction knowing that you acted with authenticity and integrity.
Step Four: Gathering the facts and information
Questions, questions, questions! The process of getting divorced involves so many questions. You have questions, your lawyer or mediator has questions, your spouse has questions, his lawyer has questions, and if there are other professionals involved, like judges, court clerks, child specialists, appraisers, accountants, valuators, and vocational evaluators, they too have questions.
Questions in divorce can be very simple or extremely complex, depending on the nature of the question and its related process or laws. Questions can uncover information about the present, future. or very distant past, and they may delve deeply into highly personal matters like child rearing, extramarital affairs, addictions, criminal histories, and illness.
Gathering relevant facts and information that paint a more complete picture of your circumstances, the applicable laws and procedures, and your spouse’s circumstances can help you make better choices.
Here is a sample list of questions that, when answered, may uncover additional facts and information that help you make a soul centered divorce decision.
- Does your spouse actually have the income or assets to pay support? If so, is there sufficient evidence to prove it?
- If your spouse has the income or assets to pay support, what does the law in your state say about his/her obligation, if any, to pay it?
- In your lawyer’s opinion, what is the likelihood that the court will order your spouse to pay support and that you will be able to collect it?
- How much will it cost to file a motion asking for support?
- How will you pay your attorney if you file a motion for support and win or lose?
- How long will it take to receive support from your spouse if your attorney files a motion and the court grants your request?
- Other than losing the motion, are there any other risks associated with filing a motion (i.e. could you be ordered to pay your spouse’s attorney fees and costs if you lose)?
- Are you currently scheduled to participate in a court facilitated settlement conference? If so, could you address the issue there and then? When is the settlement conference scheduled?
- Are you currently scheduled for trial? If so, could you address the issue then and there? When is trial scheduled?
- Will your spouse participate in mediation in an attempt to amicably resolve the issue?
- If your spouse will agree to participate in mediation, how will the mediator be paid?
- In lieu of filing a motion, can you sell any assets during the pendency of your divorce to cover your financial needs? If so, do you need your spouse’s prior consent?
- Can you and your spouse agree to divide a joint marital or community property asset now, instead of waiting until your divorce is final?
- Can you trade with your spouse, a non-liquid asset for a liquid asset (i.e. a car for the funds on deposit in a bank account)?
- Can you borrow money from a friend, family member, bank or other source?
- Are you eligible to receive unemployment compensation, disability compensation or any other government benefits?
- Can you find a roommate or move?
- If you are unable to find a new job in your normal area of experience, are there other positions that you are qualified to hold?
Step Five: Brainstorming your options
Brainstorming is a technique that allows you to generate creative solutions to problems. It is useful when you are making major life decisions that you may have never faced or even considered before. It also is particularly useful when you hit a stalemate and want to uncover additional options for resolving issues.
Brainstorming can be done alone or with the help of others who are experienced with the problems you are seeking to resolve. During divorce, it can be extremely helpful to speak with an experienced family lawyer who is probably aware of many unique solutions used by other divorcing people to resolve similar issues. It also can be beneficial to speak with a friend or family member who faced the same issues in divorce. Opening yourself up to all options and trustworthy sources of new ideas may help you uncover solutions that you never considered, or even knew existed.
Step Six: Applying a core values test
Once you know and understand your core values, and have identified all of the possible solutions or options for resolving the issues in your divorce, you can determine whether each option aligns with your core beliefs. During this process, ask yourself:
- “Which of my core values, if any, will be met if I chose this option?”
- “What does my inner voice, instinct, intuition or body tell me about choosing or rejecting this option?”
- “What would I have to give up in order to choose this option?”
- “Do the benefits outweigh the costs of choosing this option?”
- “Is it practical for me to choose this option?”
Step Seven: Making a decision and taking action
By taking time to thoughtfully identify your core values and rank your options, you are now in position to use this information to guide your decisions and actions.
As you make your decisions and take actions that align with your core values, please keep in mind that there are some risks in this process. Because you are making choices based on the things that are most important to you, your friends and family may not understand your decisions. They may ask why you’re not choosing to fight harder. You might wonder if you made the right choices.
The question you must repeatedly ask and answer during a soul-centered divorce is: “Can I commit to this decision and live with the outcome?” If you find the answer is no, you may wish to repeat steps three through seven.
Remember to practice your grounding exercise – and trust your inner voice. If it tells you that an option other than the one with the best numbers is the one you can commit to and live with – go for it.