When I first separated from my ex, it was hard to refrain from stating what I was going through to a selective audience who would listen. Most of my inner circle knew what was going on and they knew about my painful break-up after 17 years of being married. It’s hard to shift into making a new life when I didn’t ask for the divorce, I had been betrayed, I had no college degree or job, after being at home with my kids for 24/7 I now had to share custody, and my dreams of what I thought were “happily ever after” went up in a puff of smoke. There’s a lot to complain about there, right? And there’s a tremendous amount of pain to work through…
Part of the way women in general process things is to talk about them.
It’s normal to want to talk about things that are going on for you. When people go through a divorce, you’ve probably noticed that the pain and stress of it all creates an alter ego in people–especially your ex. They can do and say really crappy things providing you with plenty to talk about. You hardly recognize the person they were before as you butt heads with them over money and/or the kids. There’s a lot to complain about, no doubt. The person you once knew has become a monster in your eyes and to lessen the effect, you bond with others by complaining about what you’re going through.
Check in with yourself after you go through a session of complaining. How do you feel afterwards? Liberated? Joyous? Lighter? When you complain just to complain, there’s no place to go. You get stuck on the pain and unfairness, and become more frustrated and more resentful of your plight. Your story of victim builds as you continue to complain to others.
You get to choose: [Tweet “Do you want to be a victim or a hero of your life story?”]
Build a hero story. How would a hero of their life create a story of themselves? Well, maybe they’d complain, but at the end of the complaint would come solutions. They wouldn’t linger too long on what’s negatively affecting them, they’d proactively be trying to find solutions to their challenges. A hero doesn’t complain just to complain. A hero is empowered to take charge of their life. They know they are 100% responsible for their thoughts, words, and actions.
See, a victim and a hero perceive their lives differently. A victim stays stuck or looks for someone to rescue them. A hero is empowered to run their lives themselves. They’re proactive, they have a good amount of self-esteem, and they know they can get through the rough spots. They aren’t afraid of being alone with themselves, they know they can reach out to others for help if they need it, and they surround themselves with people who lift them up instead of put them down (and they lift up others as well).
The first year after divorce is the hardest and the one spent with the most acting out. Complaining about your ex is one of the tools people use to lessen the pain. Unfortunately, it can also perpetuate or worsen the pain as well. Complaining by itself doesn’t resolve the pain–it often makes it worse. These complaints can easily be turned into a victim story. While what happened may be tragic, it doesn’t mean you have to be a victim. You can choose to be victor. You can choose to be the hero of your life. Everyone has the opportunity to claim their power wherever they find themselves; whatever they’ve been through.
Complaining serves a purpose. In general, for women, we relate to others by talking. We are also nurturers so a complainer coming to the group will usually get our focus and attention. This serves to unconsciously reward the complainer to come back and complain some more. Unfortunately, too, some complainers turn to their kids for solace and comfort–prime targets for Parental Alienation. If you feel overwhelmed, hire a coach or therapist to get you unstuck. Sometimes unfortunately, there’s only so much complaining you can do before your tribe will tire of a person who is not taking action on improving their situation. Besides, do you really want to define your life by your setbacks or do you want to define it by how inspirational you are?
Picture your life as a nautilus shell. With each challenge, you grow and expand. The little guy inside, at each stage of growth, creates a new chamber to add to its shell, ever-increasing outward in its growth. If you complain, you will not expand outward. The opportunity for learning doesn’t occur and you’ll be stuck repeating your challenge until you process and learn the lesson. Then you can move on, creating expansion. Growth doesn’t happen at the level the problem was created. So when you complain, you stay stuck in the pain. It’s okay to talk about what’s going on for you and the feelings that are coming up except when it becomes a dis-empowering pattern. Recreating the pain without a direction and intention for growth is not fertile ground for the empowerment you need to move forward.
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My passion is to enrich people’s lives by helping them create extraordinary relationships. I am a certified life coach, have a Master’s degree in psychology, and am a Marriage and Family Therapy Candidate. I am the author of Attract Your Soul Mate: A Simple Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life Using the Law of Attraction and Other Spiritual Methods (BRAND NEW!), Transforming Divorce, the Transforming Divorce Workbook, and co-author (with my husband Don Nenninger) of The Secrets of Loving Relationships, and The Art and Science of Parenting: How to Act When Your Kid’s Acting Out. Check out my Shop page for more information on these books and more!
If you are going through a divorce or are divorced, you might be a great candidate for divorce coaching. I help you discover a new path to a brand new life. Get clarity, move past the pain, and move forward into a life you’re excited about! Divorce isn’t an end–it’s your blank slate to start all over again and create a life you LOVE! See if divorce coaching is right for you by clicking here: Get Over Your Divorce Coaching.