In an effort to build consistency, going to try and have the Monday postings expand on the main themes of the book series. No matter how one enters a divorce, either by your own choice or the choice of your soon-to-be-ex, there are three focus areas you must always address throughout the process and after:
– Take care of yourself
– Take care of your children
– Take care of your case
I am a firm believer that the most important element is taking care of yourself. Your children are extremely important and require a huge amount of your focus, not only planning a future that is best suited to their needs but also helping them through the divorce. The way you handle your case will ultimately determine the custody and visitation that sets the foundation for your children. Those areas are very important, but to be handled at their best, you must be at your best, which requires attending to your own care. In stressful times as the demands on us increase, it is natural, especially the way we dads are hardwired, for us to drop our needs in order to address the increase in demand. It is this natural tendency that you must fight so that you stay on top of your game.
Book 1 covers the importance of self-care and many simple ways to attend to your physical needs. It also touches on the importance of attending to your mental needs. I came across an article the other day discussing regret, how it can be healthy but also toxic if left unchecked:
The process of divorce is extremely stressful, resulting in opening the mind up to ripe conditions for negative emotions. While it is natural to do some soul searching during the process, one can easily let regret slip into rumination. It is important to work to control your thoughts and where they lead you. As an example, your kids will be hurt by the news of divorce. There will be much sadness, blame, and frustration which can wear at you. No matter what control you had in the divorce situation, your natural instinct will be to regret moments and paths from the past that led to the breakup. The healthy side of those thoughts is to keep them focused on self-assessment and learning. It is a dangerous time though to delve too deep into these assessments. You are open to slipping into non-productive rumination.
You cannot change the past, only learn from it. All you can do is focus on your actions going forward to help steer the future down the road you desire. You only have so much energy to apply to your fight. Keep the energy harnessed on thoughts and efforts that you can control. You can’t control how your children react to divorce. But you can control how you help them. You can control how you take care of yourself so you can be alert to times when they need you. The divorce may be the cause of their churn right now, but you can’t change that. Use your energy to reach out to friends and experts to help you understand their frustrations so you can help, even by just listening and being there for them.
When we talk about taking care of yourself, it is easy to think about the body. Eat right, exercise, and get a good night’s rest and you have attacked some basic, but important areas. Your mind and the emotions and stress resulting from your thoughts are far more difficult to tackle. Many need help to sort through those areas. Not focusing the same attention to the mental aspects of your health as you do to the physical is not really taking care of yourself. Additionally, more studies are popping up every day to show how negatively prolonged stress affects your physical health. Mind and body really are connected. Make sure you take care of your whole self and keep your efforts focused on things you can control while letting go of areas you can’t control.