The Human Spirit:
How it Helps You Emerge After a Divorce
When we’re going through a traumatic experience such as divorce, it’s inspiring to hear stories about others who have endured even more catastrophic life experiences and emerged the victor, rather than the victim. Helen Keller, Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and Elie Weisel are some of the more familiar names, but many of us have personally known individuals who have come through the other side of a wrenching experience with grace and humility.
If we could ask each one—the famous and the familiar—“What got you through your crisis?” in all likelihood the responses would be similar. One by one, they would describe inner resources that enabled them to survive. Brian Luke Seaward, author of Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, calls those qualities “the muscles of the soul.” Courage, faith, humor, patience, compassion, imagination, humbleness, forgiveness, intuition, creativity, optimism, honesty, and love.
It is in exercising those muscles that the health of the human spirit is maintained. And the fitness of the spirit is vital to our total well-being, and especially crucial to transitioning through a major life transition such as divorce.
Following are seven suggestions Seaward offers to enhance the health of the human spirit.
1. The Art of Self-renewal
Self-renewal is a continual process. To be emotionally resilient as well as to be present and attentive to those around us during challenging situations, we must first attend to our own capacity for strength and endurance. Typically this begins with some aspect of the centering process, going within to calm and replenish. It can be as quick and simple as taking a deep cleansing breath and exhaling fully, or a quiet 10-minute meditation, or a weekend retreat or vacation. We need time to re-energize and center ourselves.
2. The Practice of Sacred Rituals
We attribute specific habits and various customs as more special than others, then gravitate toward those activities and make them routine so that we are reminded of life’s sacredness. Special readings or meditations in the morning, witnessing the sunset every night, regular meetings of certain groups to which we belong—all manner of activities can serve as a constant reminder that we are connected to something greater.
3. Sweet Forgiveness
Every act of forgiveness is an act of unconditional love. For forgiveness to be unconditional, you must be willing to let go of all feelings of anger and resentment. This feels difficult to do when we’re stuck in the muds of resentment during divorce, but forgiveness is an essential action to moving on with our lives. We forgive others and we forgive ourselves, the first step toward emotional freedom and inner peace.
4. Embracing the Shadow
Embracing the shadow means to acknowledge negative, judgmental thoughts, and send a message of acceptance and compassion to that part of ourselves where those thoughts and perceptions originate. Often we are our own worst critic. Be gentle with yourself.
5. Keep the Faith
The power of faith requires balance. It is good to remember that “We are given no task too great to bear.” Faith is there to guide us through moments of turbulence. Divorce is a turbulent transition, but it can be the beginning of a whole new future where you can be happier than you can even imagine. Really.
6. Live Your Joy
Living your joy is seeking and appreciating life’s beautiful side. It reminds us to live in the present moment rather than become immobilized by that which is past or that which is yet to come. Discover what you’re passionate about, and commit to bringing those passions into your daily life.
7. Compassion in Action
Compassion in action can be explained in one word—service, and service offers a dividend of love to all parties involved.
Like butterflies emerging from a cocoon, many women have emerged from divorce to a life of unprecedented joy and fulfillment. Follow these seven steps to re-energize YOUR human spirit, and you too will be well on your way to a joyful life after divorce.