You might say, “I want a peaceful divorce, but I don’t feel it!” When it comes to divorce or separation and the ensuing implosion of the family unit, there are many easy-to-take paths that tend to be random, sloppy, and disordered. There are countless opportunities to create a cyclone out of a rain shower. There are no quick ﬁxes—pain-free—when it comes to divorce. There are simply paths to take that are life-enhancing and others that are life-destroying. Sometimes circumstances provide a gentle nudge to ﬁnd a higher path.
In the absence of “quick ﬁxes,” I started working on settlement techniques for reducing this pain and turmoil for the litigants in my courtroom. Interestingly, my investigation began as an attempt to ﬂush out and then address all of the fears that blocked settlement in complicated child-custody cases. I asked the litigants to write down their worst fears concerning how their divorce would impact their relationship with their children, their concerns about the other party’s parenting, and their ideal goals for their divorce. I began to notice that the sheer act of writing these down created a major shift in the litigants’ emotional responsiveness and malleability in settling cases. I found that when fears were articulated, they could be addressed. Often a previously unrevealed fear lurking beneath the surface caused the emotional blockage that was obstructing the settlement.
The act of
Do you want to learn the lessons your divorce has to teach you? They are all there for the taking. Even if you believe that meeting your mate was a result of random occurrences, the relationship that resulted has great meaning because of the lessons it yields for you. Your lessons come through the choices you make, and your choices create your character. Elevating your wisdom, applying it, and sharing it with the people around you give meaning to your existence.
Creating a Personal Manifesto will solidify your intention to be the person you want to
It is not easy to make this declaration, the essence of which is that every choice you make in life, every small step along the way, matters in your transformation. The high road is not the easiest path in the short run, but it is the least painful, and even when there is
What Does a Personal Manifesto Look Like?
Let’s start with this: the Personal Manifesto process is highly individualized. Yours won’t necessarily look like anyone else’s. There are no rules, just guidelines to get you started and something I call “transformational warm-ups”—a series of questions to get you thinking and to shake up your perspective.
Remember, it’s all about ﬁguring out where you are now, then deciding where you want to go and who you want to be when you get there. So shed your inhibitions, discard conventional wisdom, banish fear, and get started.
You may fear
I have a few other comments about the process you are about to begin
Your Personal Manifesto will be revised several times before you get to the working document. Do not worry about perfection— striving for perfection can be the insidious enemy of getting this done, particularly because the work to be done is emotional in nature.
As you continue with the chapters in this book, further revisions may become necessary or desirable, so don’t focus on getting to that unattainable “ﬁnal” product.
Some readers may feel what I am describing is nothing more than keeping a journal or diary. Wrong. Journaling over a period of time may be a healthy and revealing habit. However, it differs signiﬁcantly from the process of creating your Personal Manifesto because although your ﬁrst draft feels like journaling, that is merely the starting point. The first draft provides the baseline for growth. The next drafts start to layer analysis and revelation on top of experience and emotion, and frankly, that’s where the real power becomes accessible. The reward for this work is not only
power,but also strength. Chaos and confusion isthe soil from which your Manifesto will be born.
The goal of your Personal Manifesto is healing and growth, and for that, you need to document where you’ve been, where you are now, and your aspirations for where (and for whom) you will be tomorrow. This process works, whether we fully understand it or not.
This article was excerpted with permission from the book The Good Karma Divorce: Avoid Litigation, Turn Negative Emotions into Positive Actions, and Get On with the Rest of Your Life by Judge Michele F. Lowrance, published by HarperCollins Publishers.
Michele F. Lowrance has been a domestic-relations judge in the Circuit Court of Illinois since 1995. A child of divorce who was raised by her grandparents, Judge Lowrance has been divorced and has devoted her professional life to helping those similarly situated. For more information visit www.michelelowrance.com.