When I began this series of articles for divorced entrepreneur dads (D.E.D.s), my goal was to help men who were struggling with or had dealt with divorce. I know from my experience with divorce there can be guilt, stress, anxiety, pain, insecurity, and financial strain. Oh, and did I mention loss? That’s perhaps the most overlooked word in the discussion of divorce. Clearly, most people understand that divorce creates a loss, but the magnitude of that word’s impact on our lives is often misrepresented or misunderstood.
D.E.D. is not dead, so we need to stop acting as if we are. This article is not about “sucking it up and being a man,” as it’s okay to reel from loss. It’s also okay to grieve from divorce and associated struggles. What’s not okay, is to let the word loss define us.
Loss does not have to be synonymous with “lose,” so labeling our self or others as losers can be damaging in so many ways. Self-talk that focuses on negativity often leads to huge barriers. Those barriers can cause depression, stress, self-doubt, insecurities (the evil sister to self-doubt), anger, suicide, and years of self-manifested oppression. Even saying, “I’m such a loser” in jest is harmful, no matter your age or position in life. You are the words you use to define yourself.
I host a top 10 business podcast show, called BOSS Academy Radio. Three years ago, I was watching a TED Talk where this amazing speaker was talking about our minds can be easily influenced. The speaker, Marisa Peer, shared how our brain is designed to protect us from pain and harm but is also easily influenced according to our thoughts and words. She shared some great examples, and one of those was a visual demonstration that changed my outlook on life.
She stood on stage and told the audience to imagine they were holding a lemon in their hand, which was outstretched. She then asked viewers to imagine that lemon cut in half. At this point she suggested bringing that imaginary lemon up to your nose and take a whiff, emphasizing that you need to try and see a lemon. When I went through this exercise, I could faintly smell lemons. At this point, she insists that you should take a bite out of this imaginary lemon. Immediately my mouth puckered, I salivated, and I tasted the sour of a lemon.
While a great stage trick, it proves that we, as humans, are so easily manipulated. More importantly, it shows that we believe what we tell ourselves. Self-talk can destroy us or can lift us to new heights.
I started off talking about loss, but now I’m discussing mindset? Before you question my capacity to stay on track, “loss” is simply a mindset. Yes, divorce loss can be related to loss of sleep, money, appetite, friends, careers, or even loss of family. You can even have a loss of words with your ex-wife or loss may be even related to deep emotional pain.
There are even aspects that may be court ordered or out of our control in other ways, but doesn’t everything I’ve referenced come back to mindset? How we react to these situations can manifest negative emotions, which often translates to poor self-talk. That inner discussion leads to seeking and almost welcoming more bad things to happen. If you think I’m wrong, then explain why depressed people often seek significance from the story of loss?
If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll likely admit that it feels good when we get pats on the back from people telling us “It’s going to be okay.” Or, “you’re a good person, and you don’t deserve this.” It’s a well-intended outpouring of love from others that makes us feel warm inside during a time when we feel dead inside. Depending on your emotional state, that feeling fuels more negative self-talk, because your brain believes you want more of that love and comfort.
We all want love, but shouldn’t it be the kind that lifts us up? Our friends and family mean well, but they also don’t know the storm brewing inside of your brain. They don’t know the hurt, anger, and self-pity that is fueling a self-loathing dialogue that brings more negativity to your life. After all, the story that you’re telling is creating a victim that needs to be comforted. Unfortunately, the more we seek or receive that type of support, the more it defines our place in victim-hood and the more it fuels depression and other struggles.
Suffering a loss does not mean you have become lost. In fact, the more you find yourself, the more you realize that the loss you experienced may be the most empowering lesson life could teach you. The average divorce takes between three and four years to lead to healing. Men often believe they don’t need help in their journey, but there are far too many instances where divorce leads to depression and depression leads to suicide to ignore. You don’t have to go through the journey alone, and the more you realize that, the more you can turn your loss into your gain.
Fellowship and brotherhood is often the last thing you want in your times of struggle, but they are probably the most important things you can seek in life even in the best of times. Man was not meant to be alone, even if that’s what you believe you currently want and need. That’s why I created a group on Facebook that is for D.E.D.s and anyone who can relate to our struggles. It’s free to join, and it’s a place to share and come together. You can learn more by visiting: http://bit.ly/dedfacebook. We’d love to learn from your experience and share ours with you. After all, our loss can lead to our greatest gain if we band together and share.
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Originally Published on LinkedIn