This is the article I wrote for the Huffington Post that inspired this website. Please comment with your thoughts.
In my book, I talk a good bit about “those who fail to embrace their own reality.” These are the people who struggle with acceptance of their situations whether it is divorce, custody arrangements, employment, dating relationships or any other area of life. I believe that the ability not only to accept your situation, but to embrace it is the only way you can begin to set and follow your own path and to find sustainable happiness.
What does it mean to embrace your reality? It means that you accept what is. It means you know who you are, where you are and what you want. It means you recognize that the only one who can make you happy is you. The only one who can change your life is you. That blame and anger only serve to defeat you, not the person you blame and have anger toward.
Acknowledging your reality equates to having self-awareness. It is a big part of happiness because when you lack it, you are fighting against where you actually are in your life. You have to own your situation, because when you don’t, you cannot make effective change. And then you have to embrace it. The difference is important. Acknowledging your reality allows you to understand, embracing gives you the power to change.
Let’s look at a few situations I have experienced and observed in the world of dating after divorce that taught me this lesson.
1. The guy who repeatedly said, “My wife, I mean ex-wife.” This guy has not accepted (much less embraced) the fact that he is divorced. How can he move forward? He can’t. He is stuck.
2. The guy who kept telling me what he lost in his divorce...his boat, his house, etc. He is still angry. He resents what happened. As long as he holds on to that, he can’t make change. And no one wants to be around someone who is angry and resentful. The power to change is thwarted when you embrace your anger rather than accept your now.
3. The guy whose profile listed his education as “college,” and upon meeting him answered a question about the nature of his degree with “technically, I didn’t finish college.” Why? Why misrepresent? You are who you are and if someone doesn’t like it, it is their problem. You have made it your problem by lying about it.
4. The woman who is so put upon by being a single mother that she feels entitled. “I am a single mother, so I should have...” Where is her power? Does anyone “deserve?” Or do you deserve what you work for when you take responsibility for your own life?
5. The woman who is so angry that she tells anyone who will listen about the wrong she feels was done to her. Where is her power? Is she allowing her perception to control her future relationships rather than being determined to make her own happiness?
6. The men and women who are victims of their own lives. If you believe that everything that happens in your life is “done to you,” you have effectively given your power away. Bad things happen. Often they are not your fault. But no matter whose fault they are, you have power in your reaction and in your determination to change your situation. If you are not happy, you are not choosing to make a change.
I experienced a divorce in which someone else made decisions that changed the course of my entire life without consulting me. So believe me, I get feeling angry and frustrated by that. There is a time when you need to allow yourself to feel that anger and frustration and then heal. At this point, you are not a fully formed person. You are broken and need time to put yourself back together. The problem occurs when this brokenness becomes a way of life. When you cling to the anger and frustration as a crutch and as an excuse not to move forward and get out there and redefine your path. When I decided to embrace the fact that I was divorced, that I was raising three kids as a single mother, that I had to find a path that was very different from the one I had been on, I began to feel empowered. I could decide what was next. I could decide what kind of relationship I wanted. I was in charge. And I embraced that. And when I embraced that, good things began to happen. I love this phrase: If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree. Words to live by.