9 Emotionally Profound Lessons I Learned From My Divorce

Everything can be a lesson when pain is the teacher.

And the pain of divorce has taught me SO much.

I learned that I can endure hard things. I learned that I’m smarter and more capable than I ever thought I was. (Even when told things like I’ll never be able to balance a checkbooksilly right?)

I’ve learned that I’m not the person that someone else tells me that I am. I’ve learned that it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to have bad days, and it’s okay to establish boundaries to avoid toxic relationships.

Here’s the rest of what I’ve learned.

Emotional betrayal is the worst kind.

There’s no such thing as an amiable divorce. For instance, the divorce process will teach you that private things won’t be as private as they should. In the book Single On Purpose, author John Kim talks about the concept of owning our stuff and becoming healthy BECAUSE we’re choosing to own our stuff. Emotionally unhealthy people don’t own their stuff. They tell half truths, lies, and aren’t part of an overall constructive process with the goal of healing. And when we share things that shouldn’t be shared, intimate feelings that were created in a private construct of marriage, that’s when emotional betrayal happens.

Another example of emotional betrayal is when one spouse shares details of your divorce with a child that negatively impacts their relationship towards the other spouse. Kids are sponges, they soak up everything. They’re also easily swayed. For instance, if once spouse shares details of their divorced relationship with their sons or daughters, there’s likely to be fallout between that child and the other parent. While not fair, it’s a consequence of divorce. Hopefully both parents can come together and create an environment where your kids can talk openly about how they’re feeling instead of pushing people away, gaslighting, and reacting instead of responding.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that I refuse to engage in conversation that isn’t constructive. It’s SO hard not to fight back and “speak your truth”, but resist fighting back. It’s easy to react instead of respond in a healthy manner. Resist. You’ll be better off because of it.

I’m the only person I can control.

Like so many spouses, I truly believed that I could change my ex’s behavior, her mindset, and attitude. It’s so clear now, but wasn’t at the time, that the only person I could (and should) control is me. I can’t change people and it’s not my responsibility to change others because they need to want to change themselves. Instead, I stayed in a degrading situation while trying to change the outcome. I now face relationship challenges with the understanding that I only have control over me. I’m the only one that can change me. No one has control over how I feel, just the same as I don’t have that power over anyone else. I’m the only person I can control and change. It’s not my role or job to change my spouse. It’s not your job to try and change yours, either.

I’m WAY less judgmental.

Before my divorce, I “knew” it all. Like Cliff Clavin, I was incredibly judgmental of people who were enduring marriage struggles and going through divorces. I used to have a black and white worldview to divorce situations, where now I don’t. Today I have tremendous compassion and empathy for those suffering and experiencing the pain of the end of a marriage. In some ways, it’s easier to experience death than divorce. My biggest discovery since my divorce has been that you never know how you’re going to react to a circumstance until you are actually IN it. I’m much less quick to judge now because life is full of many “gray areas.”

Not everyone is untrustworthy.

Since my divorce, I’ve been asked how I’ve learned to trust again. The truth is, I never stopped trusting others. I’m not a skeptical person by nature, and I tend to trust others until they give me a reason not to. Even though there were lies and half truths told about me, I refused to believe that every person would be the same. I decided early on to NOT become jaded and cynical, and instead treat trust as a gift to give rather than a part of me that was taken away.

I created a different bond with my daughters.

My two daughters are my world and I would do anything for them. Making sure they’re healthy and taken care of is my number one priority. But divorce has connected us in a significantly different way. We’re still healing together as a team, with focusing on building a deep bond as the goal. We’ve wrestled with tough, tough stuff. We’ve fought through things I never imagined we would, and we’ve come through victorious. I’ve learned things about how they felt that have shocked me to my core, and I’ve also said honest words to them that have had profoundly healing results. They constantly surprise me with how smart and mature they both are. Our relationship looks very different than what it once was, but we’re focusing on healing, healthy, and love.

Beware the sunk cost fallacy.

I learned about the concept of the sunk cost fallacy from reading Freakonomics. In a nutshell, it means we refuse to give up on something and admit defeat because of a psychological bias, even when you KNOW that success is impossible. There comes a point in every failed endeavor when the people involved know that success is likely impossible. Yet, we stay stuck in this endeavor or relationship because we’ve invested resources like time, money, and emotion. As we remain stuck in this relationship or endeavor, we are afraid to admit defeat thus feeling like our efforts are a total waste.

That’s the rub. If the endeavor is doomed to fail, the cost is already sunk.

I was focused on my past investments instead of my present and future costs-benefits. I needed to change my focus to decisions that are in my best interests instead of what I’ve invested in the past tense. This fallacy is why so many people struggle to leave bad relationships (and other bad situations).

I had friends, family, therapists, and coaches warn me that I was throwing good love after bad. But I didn’t listen. I loved her so much. I loved our story. I loved our potential. I wanted to believe that if I tried harder, did things differently, or made more compromises, it would turn out okay. The sunk cost fallacy had me in its cold grip.

In every other aspect of my life, I’ve been discerning about how I allocated my time and resources. I used to accept ordinary but don’t anymore. I used to abide by lackluster work but don’t anymore. I’m not okay with unhealthy friendships, and I don’t accept bad habits. But my love for my ex and our marriage blinded me. I was accepting of a lot of things that I shouldn’t have. And the same can be said about me – I’m sure she accepted things about my behaviors that she shouldn’t have. I won’t accept a mediocre relationship ever again – even if the sunk cost is painfully high.

Compromising and settling are two very different things.

People in successful relationships compromise all the time – it’s what makes them successful. Compromise is essential for healthy relationships. It’s also a powerful way of showing love. When partners practice healthy compromise, they alternate in saying, “you’re worth it.”

In unhealthy and imbalanced relationships, compromise ends up being one-sided. One partner says, “you’re worth it,” hoping the other partner will notice the sacrifice and reciprocate. But the reciprocation doesn’t come the way it should. Instead of saying, “you’re worth it,” the partner says, “My way is more important than you are.” If this imbalance persists for too long, the compromising partner will start to feel and believe that they aren’t worth compromising for.

When this happens, compromise turns into settling and accepting things that you shouldn’t. Compromise is the result of an active negotiation between two equal parties while settling is a passive result of one party believing they don’t even deserve to sit at the negotiation table.

I was convinced I was making healthy compromises for the sake of my marriage. But I was settling. I was afraid to speak up, afraid to say what I wanted, and felt emasculated. I wasn’t happily making sacrifices for the woman I loved rather I was giving up on things I cared about because I didn’t feel like I deserved them anymore. I’ll practice healthy compromise, but I won’t settle in my relationships ever again – even if it means walking away.

Shame kept me from seeking help.

Until that point, I’d been trying to deal with the problems in my marriage on my own. None of my friends or family knew how bad things really were. I didn’t want people to see the cracks in our façade. I thought people would think less of me. I thought people would think I’d failed. That I was flawed. That I was damaged.

I was living in shame and shame makes you isolate.

Guilt tells us that we did something bad while shame says I AM bad. Guilt can be a motivator while shame holds us back. Shame makes you think less of yourself and makes you see yourself as undeserving. It makes you afraid to use the most powerful thing in a mental health repertoire: your support system.

Some burdens are too heavy to carry on your own. I could no longer pretend I could do it on my own. I was buckling and forced to ask for help. My support network comforted me, encouraged me, supported me, and loved me. They helped me believe I could overcome my darkest moments.

It’s worth mentioning that you must be careful who you lean on for support. When going through a divorce there are certain people you should never, ever lean on because they don’t have the constructive context to be helpful and objective. For example, your kids shouldn’t be a sounding board for your emotional pain, no matter their ages. This will cause damage to them and also create a cruel, unfair bias towards one of their parents. Kids already go through enough pain and trauma in a divorce, they don’t need the additional burden of trying to navigate your emotions when they’re not properly equipped. Other people you should avoid for support are former in-laws, hyper-religious friends, and romantic flings. Instead, surround yourself with the best, healthiest people that are trained and qualified to help you grow through your grief.

As for my circle of support, I owe them everything. I won’t struggle in silence ever again.

Build a new life if you don’t like the current one.

Going through a divorce feels like the end of the world. But it isn’t.

We FEEL like our marriages become our worlds but a dead marriage is a world that needs to end so you can build a new one. One that fits your needs, preferences, priorities, values, and worldviews.

If you’re going through or recovering from a divorce, I want you to start building. Get excited about building. It will be hard. It will be scary. You will cry, panic, and lose sleep but eventually you’ll be ok.

Going through trials like the end of a marriage is a lot about perspective. You need to find the teachable moments and the things to be grateful for. Be honest with yourself about where you did your best and where you came up short. Reconnect with your values and priorities. Set new goals for yourself and build something spectacular. The ONLY person holding you back is you.

What To Do When Your Partner Says ‘No’ To These Things

Understanding your spouse and partner is one of the most important things to do so you don’t end up divorced, broke, and broken.

Cuz’ let’s be honest…do you REALLY get married ONLY to get divorced?

Of course not. (Not unless you’re a complete nut job.)

So, the opposite is learning about your partner so that you can have a  successful, long-term relationship.

Right?

That said, relationships aren’t without struggles. I’m not arguing that because those don’t exist unless you’re living in a Nicholas Sparks film.

But one of the MOST IMPORTANT things to do inside of a committed relationship is to KNOW them…especially if they come from a divorce situation where they’re bound to have triggers or some sort of trauma.

When you reach the stage in a relationship where you’re thinking about a future with them, thinking of creating a life together with a serious commitment, then you’re going to want to learn about them.

You MUST know if you’re both compatible or not. You’ll want to know their fears, their goals, and their worldviews from finances to fidelity.

While it’s not possible for two freethinkers to agree on everything, you DO want to make sure that your core values align. There are some things that you just have to agree on if you’ve got any shot of making your relationship work.

Here’s a few philosophies you MUST identify to figure out if they’re really the one for you.

“Do You Believe In Marriage?”

For some, the notion of getting remarried someday is about as appealing as a root canal….without Novocain.

For others, they KNOW they will someday. It’s simply a matter of finding the right person. Right being ready + healthy.

Marriage isn’t for everyone, and that’s totally OK. But if it’s something you definitely see in your future and your partner is vehemently against it, you’ve got a major problem on your hands. Time to move on.

“Are You Open To Counseling?”

Relationships are HARD WORK.

Often, there’s seasons of excruciating pain and agony where fun seems like a concept only found in scripts from a Hollywood chick flick.

When couples are in these seasons, they’ll need help.

You’ll need help from professionals who are experts at repairing what’s broken so you can constructively work THROUGH your struggles, together.

In these seasons, you’ll need outside wisdom to examine your issues as a couple. But, if your partner refuses to go to therapy or counseling with you, how can you progress as a couple? How can you heal? How can you fix your issues and create a framework of mutual respect, love, and admiration?

The short answer is you can’t.

Now, you *might* feel that individual therapy will help if you’re partner says ‘no’ to counseling.

Maybe you feel like working on your relationship problems on your own will “magically fix” what’s broken.

It makes sense, right? What else can you do?

Unfortunately, there’s bad news: Research has not shown that individual therapy helps couple’s problems.

In a 2014 article in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy entitled, “Individual Therapy for Couple Problems: Perspectives and Pitfalls” the authors found no evidence that individual therapy is helpful with couple problems.

If your partner isn’t willing to work on your relationship, get healthy, and work to create an atmosphere that’s embedded in unconditional love then you need to think about other options.

And if you’re simply dating, then ask the question about their thoughts on counseling and dating.

Unless you’re robots, you WILL need it someday. Learning about whether or not your future partner is open to it will save you a lot of heartache the closer you become.

If they say ‘no’ to counseling, it might be time to say ‘no’ to them.

“What Do You Think About Monogamy?”

This might sound like a ridiculous question, but you’d be SURPRISED about the differing views of what monogamy is.

You might feel that monogamy is a cut and dried concept, while others think there’s wiggle room.

Things like pornography might be subjective to some while others think it’s harmless.

Some might feel that occasionally chatting with an ex is innocent, while others may see it as betrayal.

If you can’t define your relationship and what constitutes monogamy, then there’s probably heartbreak ahead.

“Do You Support Me Professionally?”

A wise mentor once told me this: Your career can become your mistress.

This is especially true for driven men, who happen to be businesses owners or entrepreneurs.  

Men often find their identities in their vocations and work tireless hours to grow, stretch, and build. Sometimes this means ignoring you.

The best relationships are about a give and take, with compromise being necessary to make things work. If your partner isn’t willing to give you freedom in certain seasons, while helping you build, then they’re probably not for you.

Be sure and talk this over, openly and honestly.

Lay EVERYTHING on the table and express what you REALLY WANT AND DESIRE when it comes to your profession and relationship.

Then, you can choose if this relationship is for you or not.

“How Do You Feel About Money?”

Finances are a huge source of stress for most couples.

If your partner isn’t willing to be transparent about how they feel about money, then it might be a deal breaker.

  • Do they pay for things?
  • What should you pay for?
  • How do you balance these finances?
  • How do you invest?
  • Are you a saver or are you a spender?
  • How do you feel about debt?
  • Do you view money as a tool or a weapon?

Money is just a tool to help you achieve your goals. It shouldn’t be worshipped, and it should never come before relationships.

Those who are high earners should be generous with it not greedy.

Look for these things when entering a serious relationship.

If your financial goals are not aligned, then this probably isn’t the relationship for you.

“What If Your Partner Says ‘No’ To You Sexually Or Otherwise?”

The older I get, the more I believe in stating what you want.

For example, if you DON’T want to visit weird Uncle Eddie’s place for the holidays, then speak up.

If you have certain places you want to travel to, then speak up.

If you want to explore certain things, like skydiving, sexual experiences, or swimming with dolphins then SAY WHAT YOU WANT.

One of the keys to strong relationships is knowing what you want and being willing to ask for it, despite if you get rejected or not.

Being able to clearly express what you want, verbally, is a skill you MUST have to have healthy boundaries.

Hearing no from your partner is HARD, especially for those who have ADHD and things like Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. (Yes, this is a thing.)

However, you HAVE to be okay with hearing no every once in a while because having the freedom to have boundaries is CRITICALLY important.

You HAVE to be willing to accept your partners boundaries and THEIR preferences. Sometimes, them saying no isn’t anything to make a mountain from a molehill even though hearing the word no can be hurtful.

When your partner says no to you do your best to NOT take it personally. I know this is easier said than done but not necessarily easy to do. It might feel like a knife to the heart, but it’s not about you, it’s about them.

I’ll say it again: saying no isn’t about you, it’s about them.

Someone saying no to you isn’t about you being unlovable. Try and remember how hard it can be to actually say no, especially to someone you love. Though it hurts, give your very best to NOT lash out emotionally when someone says no. It’s ok to feel hurt, but it’s not ok to lash out.

This is where putting yourself first is important.

Here’s what I mean: it’s easier to accept no as answer from your partner when you’re eating right, emotionally healthy, and getting the rest you need. If you’re meeting your OWN needs first, it’s easier to pause, practice empathy, and respond instead of reacting.

Conversely, if you’re tired, stressed, and emotional it’s virtually impossible to practice empathy and constructively respond.

Rather than making assumptions, find out why they said no. This process needs to be done in a genuinely curious way, not in an aggressive manner. If you’re feeling defensive it will come across as an indictment and the conversation will stop. Reacting by being defensive stops vulnerability and your partner will shut down.

Remember, when communicating you must express your feelings in an ‘I’ sentence instead of a ‘you’ sentence.

Expressing yourself by saying “I felt hurt when you said this”, is much more constructive than saying “you hurt me when you did this.” Sentences that begin with ‘you’ create more conflict, which is what you want to avoid.

When you find out why your partner said no to you, you’ll have to determine how you want to move forward. And from there you can work out how to move forward so both your needs are met. This is where good conversation happens instead of making assumptions.

There’s nothing wrong with setting boundaries and saying no.

But a mindset that’s closed off to progress through things like counseling, shut down to growth because of a lack of compromise, and stuck in a perpetual prison of regression, then maybe it’s time you say no to the relationship before you’re in too deep.

To that end, I want to remind you to keep going. You can do hard things. You are lovable, important, and valuable.

Why My Divorce Was The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me (Part Two)

I was SO angry in the months following my divorce.

I’ve NEVER experienced feelings SO intense.

I didn’t know what to do with them.

I didn’t know how to manage them.

I didn’t know what was happening.

Where TF are these feelings coming from? And WHY are they SO intense?”, I used to think.

I would fall asleep crying my eyes out and wake up much the same.

I have NO clue how I survived.

I THOUGHT I was strong and tough….but I learned that I wasn’t. I needed a support team to help me get through this.

I couldn’t go through this on my own.

For ONCE in my life, I would have to ask for help.

Help is HARD to ask for, isn’t it?

For me, asking for help is INCREDIBLY hard.

Delegating at work, not so much, but being vulnerable and asking someone to sit with me, cry with me, and support me while I was a hot mess is something entirely different.

Emotional support is a different kind of support.

It meant I’d have to open up and share how I’m feeling. It meant I would have to let others in. I couldn’t stay closed off anymore if I was going to heal emotionally.

Being married for 21 years had taught me many things.

Being married and unhealthy for most of it taught me things like how to build walls around my heart, how to live in constant fight-flight mode, and how to live in a state of being emotionally closed off.

I had chosen NOT to work through the hurts and wounds from my past, trauma as a kid, and other “stuff.” All this equated to operating very independently. (Don’t mistake being independent with being resourceful or a free-thinking problem solver – they are very different.)

Everything I did, except for family time and traveling, was on my own. I had grown accustomed to making choices without talking with or asking anyone. For me, marriage was like I lived with a roommate; we slept in the same bed and ate together, but there was zero emotional intimacy.

Without that intimacy, it created an environment where asking for help was a foreign concept. From simple tasks in the garage, to big financial choices, I RARELY asked for help.  

I’m still not great at it, but I don’t struggle with it like I once did. Being self-aware of this emotional failing all but guarantees that I won’t struggle with this forever.

I THOUGHT I was strong, but I wasn’t.

So hard to admit, isn’t it?

I feel like we ALL like to THINK we’re mentally tough and resilient.

Let’s be honest, no one likes to admit they’re weak, right?

For me, my life has been marked by MANY trials and adversities, so naturally I thought a divorce would be something that would hard but not THAT hard.

Now, I NEVER thought for a second that it would be a walk in the park.

Hardly.

I know OF the emotional aspects of it, the financial aspects, and the ones that would affect my kids/family. I had head knowledge but not practical wisdom.

Because of previous life trials, I thought I was tougher than I was, and I thought these life events prepared me for a divorce.

  • At age eight I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome.
  • At age seventeen I was almost killed in a freak ski accident.
  • A few years ago I experienced professional stress that caused extreme panic attacks and I even went through a cancer scare.

I’ve been through more trials in 40+ years than most people go through in a lifetime.

I figured if I could get through all this, I can get through anything.

But none of what I experienced could prepare me for the rollercoaster of emotions that my divorce took me on.

As a teen with Tourette Syndrome (TS), it was AWFUL. I was picked on, ridiculed, and laughed at. I struggled with being overweight, had adverse reactions to medications, and didn’t know how to function through life with TS and ADHD.

There were days where the tics from Tourette Syndrome would literally consume me to the point where I couldn’t see or function. It was SO bad.

At 17, I literally had to learn to walk and run again because of the freak ski accident that almost took my life. When on the operating table, my heart stopped twice because I had lost SO much blood. They had to resuscitate my heart twice. I should’ve died and it’s a miracle that I’m alive.

Even the surgeon that operated on me, years later, admitted he couldn’t explain why or how I made it out of that surgery because of the damage to my pelvic area, hip, and upper left leg.

Through ALL this, I figured a divorce was only a long line of unfortunate events that I could somehow muster MY OWN strength to persevere through.

I was SO wrong.

Despite the flurry of memes on Instagram telling me that I’m the twin brother of Kal-El (Aka Super-Man), I’m really not.

And while admitting this might feel like a blow to your ego and your confidence, you’re not Super-Man, either. None of us are.

That doesn’t mean we can’t go through hard things. But, as a society we’re SO arrogant and emotionally unhealthy with concepts give us a false sense of confidence.

Does that mean I’m a rubbery pile of wet noodles?

Of course not.

But admitting I’m weak is the first step to gaining perspective that didn’t previously exist. Admitting that I’m weak, broken, and in need of help is critical for God to work in my life. He does his BEST work in those who are the weakest.

In general, growth DOES NOT happen when we’re constantly winning, in first place, rich, fat, and happy.

Growth comes when we’re experiencing a trial, a loss, or some sort of challenge. Failure and loss is a powerful teacher.

I had to rely on others.

Here’s what I DID DO to get through the most intense emotional times after my divorce, and during my devastating seasons.

  • I learned to lean on others – both family and friends.
  • My parents were THE BEST – they guided me in my darkest moments.
  • I started intense therapy – despite the societal stigma, this was the GREATEST source of healing for me because I learned about things that I had NO CLUE were causing me to stay emotionally stuck.
  • I avoided bad things – I avoided alcohol and drugs.
  • I completely changed my diet – ONLY clean foods went into my body, making sure I was physically getting the nutrition I needed. (Everything starts with your gut, and I practiced this almost perfectly, except for the occasional trip to Cold Stone Creamery.)
  • I dove into boxing – this probably saved my life during the pandemic, spending time at my Mixed Martial Arts gym.
  • My faith grew exponentially – I began to realize that God will ALWAYS love me as a masterpiece, He draws close to the broken-hearted, and NEVER gives up on His flock. Ever.

Part of my healing process to get THROUGH my divorce, and afterwards, was learning to hard truth that I NEED others.

You need others, just like I do. You cannot do life successfully on your own.

It’s futile, impossible, and lonely.

There were people who came into my life for a season and others who I wish were still in my life.

I developed some GREAT relationships and pursued some toxic ones.

I learned to relax, learned to sit in the moment, and started practicing the concept of living in the present. (SO hard for me to do because of how fast my brain works and because of how poorly I’ve trained it.)

There were some relationships that I learned a lot from and some I damaged because I wasn’t ready to be in them. Anyone who’s been through a divorce knows EXACTLY what I mean….

To those who spoke unabashed truth into me, even when I acted like I wasn’t listening or ready to hear it – thank you.

You took the time to put energy into me, spent time listening to me, and gave me the most precious gift of all.

You loved me when I was unlovable and helped me heal because of your words and wisdom which acted like salve on an open wound. I put myself in a place where I could hear uncomfortable things in order to grow, and the truth you poured into me was a catalyst for change.

Despite ALL the challenges, I am rocking life. You are, too.

While I definitely feel like I can handle more than I give myself credit for, I’m constantly checking my ego, approaching life’s situations with humility.

To that end, I remind you to keep going. You can do hard things. You are lovable, important, and valuable.

Why My Divorce Was The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me

I am a 43-year-old divorcée.

Whew, admitting that is tough.

For a long time, I couldn’t say those words much less type them.

For about a year after my divorce, I couldn’t say the literal word ‘divorce‘. I felt ashamed….still do in some ways.

Even though the divorce rate in America is somewhere between thirty percent and fifty percent, there’s still a stigma attached to it. There’s still guilt, and shame around not being married.

But the pain of my divorce has taught me SO much. Most of the things I learned from it I would have never learned otherwise.

No one to blame but myself.

One of the biggest takeaways from my divorce is how I blamed my ex when I should’ve focused on owning my stuff.

In the book Single On Purpose by author John Kim, he talks about the concept of radical ownership. Radical ownership of “our stuff” is important because by owning our pasts it helps us move forward in the process of healing and becoming emotionally healthy.

In talking with people who’ve gone through a divorce, the one common denominator was how much they blamed their ex-spouse when refusing to see how THEY contributed to the demise of their marriages.

Very few people take radical ownership of their actions and even less are accountable in owning their stuff. (Thank you to author John Kim)

They refuse to verbally admit, “I feel that I contributed to the fall of my marriage because of….”

And, “I don’t blame my ex because I feel like I equally contributed to the fall of our marriage relationship.”

Saying things out loud can be liberating and few I’ve talked with are willing to do this. (I’ve struggled with this, too)

Because you and I refuse to heal and constructively work through the hurt and pain associated with divorce, we become angry, bitter, and cynical.

There’s a LOT of bitter, angry women who are in survival mode because of their failed marriages.

Conversely, there’s a lot of lazy, selfish guys who are failing to see how their own limiting, negative mindsets contributed to the issues that destroyed a once beautiful relationship.

Now, there’s an exception to every rule and I’ve certainly met with and talked to a few who were REALLY emotionally healthy, owning the broken pieces from their OWN actions.

But the VAST majority did not.

In getting honest with myself, here’s what I discovered: Deep down, in my most vulnerable moments, I felt most angry with myself.

I was my OWN worst critic and felt stuck to move past this dynamic. And because I didn’t own my stuff, I became the byproduct of my thoughts and unforgiveness.  

It was like living in a small, exclusive prison inside my mind.   

THINGS WERE GREAT UNTIL THEY WEREN’T.

Here’s what I also discovered – somewhere along the lines, I’d lost my edge.

I stopped caring.

I stopped showing up as the man she fell in love with.

I stopped showing up as a man I admired.

I got complacent. I got lazy. I even got boring and fat.  

Towards the end of my marriage, I FINALLY realized that I HAD to do better and HAD to change. Because the truth was, I knew I couldn’t solely blame my ex any longer for things that weren’t her fault.

I was the problem.

In fact, I’d spent the past few years of our relationship practically placing bets inside my mind on when my divorce would happen.

I’ve been asked MANY times, what was the ONE event that caused my divorce. The answer is simple: It wasn’t ONLY one thing.

The fade to the end was a slow one. It wasn’t one catastrophic event that caused a violent end, rather it was a culmination of many small things over 21 years.

It was LOTS of little things.

It was speaking in harsh tones. It was compounding resentment. It was unforgiveness.

It was me not caring, not cherishing, and working too much to avoid talking about how I was feeling. Instead, I buried my feelings and emotions. It wasn’t pretty. It was ugly, painful, and messy. And despite the great start, the ending took WAY longer to produce than the beginning.  

Towards the end, I wanted to crawl inside a hole instead of facing the hard facts about my life and the way I HADN’T shown up.

YOU LEARN WHO YOUR FRIEND AREN’T.

One of the most eye-opening aspects of divorce was experiencing how much it hurt when those closest to me pulled away.

It’s no secret that I’m a man of faith, so naturally many of my friends are Christians. But I found that faith doesn’t necessarily equal healthy.

Most of my faith-based friends weren’t there. The so-called church, the body of Christ, failed.

And that’s the definition of a tragedy, isn’t it? – when the body of Christ fails to care about one another when there’s SUCH a magnificent opportunity to show love in action.

I can count on one hand how many faith-based friends reached out, knowing the pain I was going through. There were few calls, messages, and little empathy.

And that’s not an indictment on Christians, only truth as I experienced. I’m not trying to say Christians suck because they don’t.

But when the shepherd of the flock sees a sheep that’s injured, he tends to it. The shepherd doesn’t let it die. If a sheep, or member of the flock has a broken bone or is wounded, the shepherd cares for it and works to get the sheep healthy.

They love that sheep well. 

I firmly believe that the best time to walk next to someone and love them is when they’re in intense pain. I feel it’s a privilege to come along side someone and help them simply get through the day when they’re reeling from the discouragement of a life event such as a divorce.

But that’s rarely reality.

Those closest to you will often back away when they don’t know how to respond to something that scares them. It’s not necessarily their fault – they haven’t addressed things in their own lives to learn how to communicate with someone who’s profoundly hurting. Most people (Not all) are terrible empathizers.

So, if or when you experience a divorce, do your best to NOT become angry towards those who appear to abandon you because they really aren’t.

Some will, but most just don’t know how to respond.

YOU LEARN WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE.

One of the best parts of my divorce was the community I chose to surround  myself with.

The healthy, new people that helped me grieve and then grow.

They walked WITH me through the grief, pain, and fire.

They sat WITH me because they’d experienced the same pain. They listened and extended empathy.

They walked WITH me because they knew from experience how hurtful it was when THEIR loved ones didn’t extend this same emotional support.

Because of these new relationships, this new “team”, my life is better than it’s ever been.

I went from broken to unbreakable because of the work I put into myself and because of the love, grace, gratitude, and encouragement that I received.

The healing that’s taken place has been transformative.

You truly are the sum of the people you surround yourself with.

If you choose to hang out with those who enable your poor thought processes, then you’ll stay stuck. If you choose to surround yourself with people who don’t challenge your thinking or give you a push in the small of the back occasionally, then you’ll fail to grow.

FAILING TO GROW BECAUSE OF MY MISPLACED ENERGY WASN’T AN OPTION.

Here’s what I mean by that: I wasn’t willing to trade my energy with those who didn’t deserve it anymore.

For me to grow and heal, I need to surround myself with those who would build me up AND admonish me. For me to get (And stay) out of my funk, this was EXACTLY what I needed.

When you’re in grieving mode and a season of healing, the last thing I need is friends who are going to enable me to make all kinds of crappy choices. (I’m already great at that on my own)

You want a support network of family and friends who will guide you spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

When enduring a trial, you want support from those who will encourage you to feel your feelings, and ones who will help you get up when you need it.

Be careful and wise with whom you give your energy to.

FEEL YOUR FEELINGS. (This is for the men reading this)

Most men I know struggle to be emotionally available.

Not all, but most.

They feel that sharing their feelings is some sort of indictment against them, attacking their manhood.

They feel that by sharing their feelings, it’ll lessen the bravado of “being a man.” As if it’s somehow bad because having a penis is an excuse to act like a caveman, only grunting instead of learning to use words and share our emotions with our spouses.

One of the most valuable lessons I learned over the last year was learning to share my feelings.

I’m obviously not sharing with complete strangers, rather with my small, strong support team – including other guys that are in my circle.

I’m not perfect, but I’m definitely not shy about sharing my feelings anymore. I’m not hesitant in talking about my emotions or how I’m struggling inside.

That said, I think most men (And women, too) should guard their hearts to a certain extent. It’s not okay to share everything.

But, once you are in a trusting, safe and loving relationship, there shouldn’t be any issues with sharing feelings in the right context.

To the men reading this: It’s OKAY to feel your feelings.

When I was in the middle of my worst emotional agony, the wisdom I received was this: feel your feels.

It’s okay to be emotional. It’s okay to feel sad and depressed. It’s okay to not be okay.

What you’re feeling is only a season, then it WILL get better.

It’s okay to sit in your agony and cry and feel your emotions.

The WORST wisdom I got was when someone close to me told me to “stop wallowing and get over it.”

It’s OKAY to have feelings, feel them, and grieve. I know I did and I’m now better because of it.

And if you’re a guy reading this, then you should know that it’s OKAY to cry and get emotional.

LOVE YOURSELF WELL.

One of my best friends used to tell me You need to love yourself well.”

More about what loving yourself well means in a minute….

You see, I didn’t JUST go through a divorce. My divorce wasn’t the ONLY part of my pain that I endured over the last two years.

  • My best friend passed away a couple weeks before my divorce was finalized.
  • My relationship with my daughters was VERY fractured. (NOT their fault, they were innocent bystanders)
  • My first holiday season was a lonely one.
  • My weight dropped to around 165 lbs., which is NOT physically healthy for me.
  • I went through a gnarly bout of depression.

I couldn’t see the forest through the trees because I was SO consumed by the details of my grief. I NEVER thought I would get through it all.

Part of what kept me from choosing to love myself, and generally feeling stuck, was the struggle with my overall mindset.

My brain was holding me captive in a mess of insecurities, pain, remorse, and regret.

  • I struggled with imagining if ANYONE wanted to love me.
  • I struggled with a self-defeating attitude.
  • I struggled with feeling like I was a victim. (Which I wasn’t)
  • I struggled with feeling like I disappointed my, like a failure.
  • I struggled with feelings of doubt and fear with my business, wondering if my budding consulting firm would make it. (Pandemic + 40% revenue loss + divorce = nasty recipe)
  • I wondered if I’d ever fall in love again where someone would accept me for me.
  • I wondered (Still do) if a woman will ever love me enough to see past my insecurities.
  • I questioned God’s purpose for my life.

Until I didn’t.

About a year after my divorce, I began to see that I didn’t HAVE to stay stuck.

I didn’t HAVE to wonder if someone was going to love me for me, if someone wanted to be a part of my life, and what my purpose was.

Looking back, it was like watching a butterfly hatch from a cocoon.

I’m still learning, growing, and focusing on getting emotionally healthy but the last couple of years have been transformative because I’ve learned to love myself well.

Learning to love myself well means learning to surrender my fears, shed old habits, and get rid of unconstructive relationships.

I’ve learned to be more honest than ever before, more vulnerable, while at the same time being prudent in my conversations by using discretion. Not everyone deserves my energy or yours. Loving yourself well means knowing when to share and when not to share.

It means recognizing that it’s OKAY to have different feelings, giving yourself a break, and extend grace to yourself.

Loving myself well means that I MUST recognize that I’m not going through ANY of this alone. It means I need to take care of myself emotionally and physically while exploring new interests.

Interests like skydiving, traveling, and cooking. (I’ve become a pretty good cook)

Hardship prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.  

Choosing to love myself has made me aware to how my own thought process was working AGAINST me.

Through this hardship, I finally learned to love myself well and explore an adventure that the best classic novels are made of. Struggles of a divorce don’t HAVE to define us even though many of us let it.

So, own your stuff, be careful who you associate with and put your energy into, learn to become emotionally healthy by embracing your feelings, and love yourself well.

Lastly, no matter what you’re going through I want you to say this out loud to yourself.

Right now – say this out loud.

I am charming, talented, smart, funny, strong, wise, and loved and valued. I am a masterpiece.

Repeat it please.

I am charming, talented, smart, funny, strong, wise, and loved and valued. I am a masterpiece.

I am, too.

You’re seriously rocking life.

Keep going. You are lovable, important, and valuable.

Why You Should Never Say ‘I Will Never’

never say never text write on paper

Have you ever said you would NEVER do something, yet ended up doing it despite your strongest declaration?

Think back to your younger self.

Maybe you said you’d never cheat on your taxes, yet you did. Maybe you said you’d never lie yet fabricated something.

Maybe you said you’d never cheat on a spouse yet did. Perhaps you’ve said you’ll never smoke, or never get a divorce yet you’re addicted to cigarettes or single.

How many times have you broken a promise to yourself after you saying you never would? How many times have you broken a promise to a friend, family member, or your kids after saying you’d ‘never’ do that.

Ever been there?

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard others (and myself) make, declarations with such conviction and confidence, I’d be a rich man, typing this from a beach in Barbados instead of my couch in fifteen-below weather.

The fact is, even the most passionate worldviews rarely go as planned and those assertions don’t hold up. As certain as some things may seem today, you may look back in a week, or year or five and realize how little you saw coming in your life that would force you to do something you said you never would.

I always think twice now before crossing my arms in stubbornness after writing something in stone.

Why should I never say never?

The main reason you shouldn’t say ‘I’ll never do that’ is because we are fated to error by a variety of factors that we have absolutely no control over.

Humans are complicated and emotional creatures. We are flooded by feelings, circumstances, and our environment which is important to note because we can’t predict a particular outcome 100% of the time.

I can’t predict the person that you’ll become or the decisions you’ll make in a year any better than Zoltar can predict Tom Hanks future in the movie Big.

The other reason you should avoid saying ‘never’ is science. #science

Your subconscious can’t understand negotiations, which is important because when you say ‘never’, it most times happens.

For instance, if I were to say something like “I will never smoke again”, your subconscious receives the order “I will smoke again.”

Let’s give it a try.

For a moment I want you to not think of a house, not think of a car, and not think of a pink elephant.

Are you noticing something?

Our subconscious is completely ignoring the term “not” and instead you immediately had the image in your mind of the house, car, and even the pink elephant.

Research shows that you and I rarely make rational decisions.

Listen to this fantastic Storybrand podcast about why your brain and mine are addicted to negativity, drama, and why we rarely make rational choices.

Conventional wisdom among researchers tells us that humans can indeed make great decisions but only when their subconscious brain is involved in making the choice.

Emotion is why we buy junk food and eat it when grocery shopping when hungry. Emotion and irrational thought is why you self-medicate with sex, sugar, or drugs when you’re lonely or feeling rejected.

By in large, you and I make the vast majority of our decisions based on emotion, not logic, which is driven by our subconscious state.

So, saying “I will never do x” is a logical statement, but will be overcome by our subconscious mind.

What’s happens when you do that thing you said “never” to?

Now, I’m not questioning the intention or sincerity of your word or anyone else’s.

If you say you’re going to do something, I have to trust you until you don’t.

But, I won’t fully trust it when someone says ‘I’ll never do x.’

I also won’t hold it against them if they go against their word. You shouldn’t either.

After all, people change. We go through incredibly hard life-experiences, and maybe something they said ‘no’ to is exactly what they NEED to do in their current season.

We shouldn’t judge someone if they choose to do something today that they once said never to because I’ve learned that life changes people, which can be a good thing.

Saying “never” is like chaining yourself and depriving yourself from something that you may change your mind about in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to run back to your ex after telling yourself that you would never go back to him or her.

What I AM saying is that there is no need for justification of your actions by doing or saying something you once said never to, after making a promise to yourself or to the world.

There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind and being flexible. Living in extremes like only black and white all the time isn’t healthy.

None of us know the kind of person you will become in the future. You don’t know what you’ll say ‘yes’ to or what you’ll say ‘no’ to. The trick is to avoid being so dogmatic in your never-attitude that you don’t burn bridges. The key is to live your life and allow yourself to enjoy the journey along the way.

Like the OneRepublic song, I Lived, the goal should be to own every second that this world could give, see so many places, the things that I did, with every broken bone I swear I lived.

Be careful saying never, and don’t be afraid to break that promise to yourself by doing what you once said you never would and live.

One Word: How The One Word Methodology Will Change Your Life

one-word

I love the movie City Slickers.

It’s a comedy starring Billy Crystal as Mitch, a vacationing businessman,  who takes on the adventure of driving cattle.

In the middle of the movie, Mitch meets a rough-around-the-edges cowhand named Curly, played by Jack Palance.

Curly tells Mitch that the secret to a great life is only one thing.

Curly even emphasizes his point by holding one finger and saying, “You need to stick to that one thing.

Mitch asks, “What is that one thing?

Curly’s reply is That’s what you gotta figure out!”

I thought One Word was a joke.

How can reading a book about a single word really have that much impact on my life?

I’ve read thousands of books in my lifetime and what I’ve found is there are very few originals. Meaning, most books about business, self-help, marketing, etc., are regurgitated from someone else’s point of view.

Most content I read in books isn’t anything profound or new.

But, once I got into One Word, I realized this was vastly different.

I’d describe One Word as this: a methodology and process for simplifying your life through the focusing on only One Word for an entire year.

This process and methodology creates clarity,  passion, and life-change.

You see, resolutions fail, and goals can be easily forgotten, but One Word sticks.

By living a single word that embodies the essence of your life at this moment, you’ll find refreshed purpose throughout an entire year.

How to choose your One Word.

Choosing your One Word is a three-step process.

  1. Prepare your heart by looking in.
  2. Discover your word by looking up.
  3. Live your word by looking out.

one-word-process-davecscott

Step 1: Prepare Your Heart By Looking In.

This first steps forces you to take time to unplug from the noise and distractions of daily life.

It asks you to quiet your mind, listen, and ask yourself these questions while journaling your thoughts:

  • What do I need? This isn’t about what you want, rather what you truly need. What areas of your life need the most change and why is this change necessary?
  • What’s in my way? This question asks what’s preventing me from having what I need? Sometimes the barriers in your life might just be staring at you in the mirror.
  • What needs to go? Maybe you’re being held hostage by past hurts, wounds, or mistakes. Perhaps this pain and anger needs to get resolved so you can heal and in order to move forward.

Step 2: Discover Your Word By Looking Up.

Not to get overtly religious, but there IS a spiritual aspect to choosing your One Word.

This part was the most enjoyable because it forced me to surrender control (ironically my 2019 One Word was surrender) and seek understanding at the highest level.

Because this is my fourth year doing this, I typically start in September/October and take time to listen. This process of listening can take days, weeks, or months.

It’s a process of elimination where I write down several words that come to mind, pray about them, seek wisdom from my mentors and peers, and ultimately trust my One Word will come.

It always does.

Step 3: Live Your Word by Looking Out.

Once you’ve moved through the first two steps, you’re ready to live your word out loud.

You’ll want to integrate your One Word into your daily life by doing things like posting your word in prominent places, sharing it with those you trust, communicating to your inner circle, or by making your One Word a screensaver.

It’s critical to remember and focus on your word throughout the year because it’s easy to forget your word with life’s stresses and challenges constantly distracting you.

My One Word started four years ago with the word Intentional.

Then it was Breakthrough.

Then, last year, it was Surrender.

In 2020 my One Word was Change.

Last year it was Hope.

In 2022, my One Word is Resilient.

A very good friend of mine pointed out the correlation between these four words. Take a look:

Intentional -> Breakthrough -> Surrender -> Change -> Hope -> Resilient.

I don’t believe there are coincidences in life, and everything happens for a reason. That said, the correlation is astonishing as to what my One Word’s are doing to change my life.

*UPDATE:*

Since penning this blog piece, I’ve endured some soul-crushing life circumstances which has made this process that much more important to me.

I almost lost my business as a result of the pandemic, I went through a divorce, and experienced some mental health struggles that were excruciating.

The One Word process isn’t about choosing a word to guide your life, rather it’s about uncovering a word that will drive growth by examining your past successes, struggles, as well as your future hopes, dreams and concerns.

As a part of this growth, I was challenged by someone who’s very close to me. They said this: Start being the kind of man that would make a woman want to stay with you and love you. 

I’m choosing to take this a step further by focusing on being the kind of human people want to hang out with, the kind of dad that kids brag about, and the kind of man that a woman would want to gush over as her forever-partner.

Once you have your word you’ll find you can narrow your focus and simplify just about everything in your life and work.

My biggest takeaways were:

  1. Busyness is a modern-day epidemic robbing us of our life.
  2. Busyness puts you into survival mode, leaving no time for mission and meaning.
  3. Busyness makes me callous and can make me hard to caring about the things I care about.
  4. The key to eliminating busyness is a narrow focus around simplicity provided by my One Word.

Let me challenge you, intrepid entrepreneur and reader, how are you simplifying your life and embracing focus in order to grow?

Get your copy of One Word by clicking here to learn more. 

What I Really Mean When I Say, ‘I’m Fine’

fine

In the 2003 hit movie The Italian Job, there’s a scene where the main character says he’s fine.

The supporting character, played by Donald Sutherland, quickly corrects a young Mark Wahlberg by saying “Do you know what fine stands for?

Freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional.

And that’s why I love Donald Sutherland and his character.

How many times have you said ‘I’m fine.

Dozens of times?

Hundreds perhaps? Maybe even thousands of times over your lifetime.

I’m no psychologist, but here’s what I’ve found it to really mean when people say they’re fine.

  • I’m trying hard to pretend that I’m okay inside, but I’m really not.
  • I’m not fine, and I don’t feel safe/comfortable sharing with you what’s really going on in my life.
  • I’m too scared to tell you how I really feel.
  • I don’t know how I’m doing, to be quite honest.
  • I’m afraid if I admit to not being fine, you’ll see me as weak and as a complainer.
  • I’m not fine and I don’t want to burden you with my problems because I don’t think others really care about me.
  • I’m tired because of my life circumstance and don’t have the energy to explain why I’m not doing well.
  • I’m frustrated or upset, but I don’t want to rock the boat.
  • I was taught by my super-strict Christian parents that feelings are bad and that my feelings aren’t valid, so I suppress them.
  • I need someone who will listen to me, and not try to fix things so I can open up and tell you why I’m not fine.
  • I am sad inside, maybe struggling with anxiety and depression, and want to isolate myself.

How to respond when someone says they’re ‘fine.’

The next time your waiter at a restaurant asks how you are, I’m not saying you need to share your life story with them.

On the contrary, use prudence and discretion.

The expectation should be that many of our daily interactions are superficial, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Not every conversation needs to be, or should be, deep and meaningful.

As you and I go about our days, especially working in a professional environment, we should understand that over-sharing can be an issue. But not all interactions are surface and superficial.

The problem begins when “I’m fine” becomes the norm. The problem begins when “I’m fine” becomes a habit, like a reflex that you apply to your interactions with friends, family, and even the person staring back at you in the mirror.

If every response to the question ‘how are you’ is ‘fine‘ then I’d argue you’re not.

And sometimes that’s okay!

It’s okay to not be okay every once in awhile. It’s okay to be just fine if you’re going through a rough season or your life situation sucks.

Recently, a good friend of mine had to cut out his business partner of over 20 years. They had a long history of conflict and strife, and the one had to go. “I feel fine, Dave. I don’t feel horrible, but I also don’t feel great. What I’m going through is hard and I’m grieving losing my best friend and partner. So, I’m fine.

Another friend of mine recently became a single dad. His wife left him for another man, leaving him to raise three kids on his own, two of which are girls. That’s tough for any dad to raise girls, let alone as a single father. “I’m fine, Dave. Really, I’ll be okay I’m just fine.

Another business professional I’m close is going through a divorce after his wife has been openly cheating on him for years. The worst part: he’s got a terminal illness and she’s choosing her other relationship over him. “Dave, I don’t know how to say it other than to say I’m fine…and for now I’m okay with that.

Ever watch the YouTube video called It’s Not About The Nail?

Click here to watch it. –> (https://bit.ly/MnyfOZ)

It’s great. It’s about a couple where she’s simply trying to tell her partner about some frustrations she’s having, only to find him wanting to fix the problem instead of listen to her.

When someone says they’re fine, the worst thing you can do is try to dig only to learn what they’re struggling with and try and fix their problem.

The best way to respond to someone who’s fine, and clearly struggling, is to listen to them in order to understand. (listening and listening to understand are not the same)

Stop what you’re doing for five minutes and ask some probing questions to get them to open up. Tell them things to make them feel safe because if the person who’s really struggling with being fine doesn’t trust you, they won’t open up.

Things like:

  • Being fine doesn’t sound awesome. I’m wondering if you can tell me how you’re really feeling?
  • Just fine? Sounds like fine is masking something else you want to get off your chest. Can you open up to me and tell me more?
  • How come you’re just fine instead of good, or great, or even horrible?
  • Look buster, Donald Sutherland once said that being fine means your freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional. Tell me more…how come you’re only fine?

When responding, try not to use the word ‘why’ in your sentences because using the word ‘why’ can trigger a defensive reaction. Instead, ask your questions using the phrase ‘how come.’ It’s softer and will yield a better result in your conversations.

Going through tough stuff is okay.

It’s okay to grieve the loss of a close friend and business partner.

It’s okay to admit you’re tired from your life circumstance.

It’s okay to have rotten days.

But, living in a state of perpetual misery is not ever okay or fine.

Living in a state of perpetual misery is robbing yourself of the beauty of opening up to someone through the exercise of vulnerability. As humans, we all need connection through relationships and that can only come from the courage to respond with authenticity.

It’s hard, I get it. Sharing hard things and being vulnerable can feel like you’re getting naked in front of a sea of people who will laugh at you once they see what you look like. Getting vulnerable can feel like going against the grain.

Being vulnerable can put you in the position of being hurt. Maybe you’ve opened up to someone recently and instead of extend some empathy and grace, they wounded you with their response.

Being vulnerable can be a little painful.

But, what’s the alternative?

Bottling up what you’re going through can lead to negative stress, anxiety/panic attacks, affect your heart-health, decrease your lifespan, force you into isolation, and puts you at risk for depression.

I’m no Einstein, but that doesn’t sound fun or desirable.

The next time somebody asks you how you are, respond intentionally with these words and watch your interactions change.

  • Sad
  • Nervous
  • Excited
  • Anxious
  • Lonely
  • Energized
  • Confused
  • Frazzled
  • Aroused
  • Irritated
  • Content
  • Elated
  • Angry
  • Lost
  • Melancholy
  • Fatigued
  • Overwhelmed
  • Engaged
  • Hurt
  • Frightened
  • Relieved
  • Embarrassed
  • Jealous
  • Unsure
  • Grief-stricken
  • Grateful
  • Rough around the edges

You can even respond with just fine.

I think we all can agree that this life is stressful enough without empathy, grace, and compassion.

Imagine a place where people you interacted with actually listened, loved, and cared enough to understand.

Imagine a world where you and I listened to those who inside were once miserable, but because you took time to understand their struggles they’re no longer fine.

 

 

Why Parents Shouldn’t Teach Their Kids To Be Nice (do this instead)

davecscott-blog-do-not-teach-kids-to-be-nice-fargo-minneapolis-blog

This goes against everything I’ve ever been taught.

Do not teach your kids to be nice. 

Before you begin sending me hate email, assuming that I’m somehow advocating that you should teach your kids to be narcissistic jerks, let me ask you something:

  • Do you want your kids to have healthy relationships? (on their end at least)
  • Do you want your kids to have relationships that aren’t one-sided, one’s where they don’t get taken advantage of?
  • Do you want you kids to get out of life what they want because they practice the art of good communication?
  • Do you want your kids to be a doormat to the schoolyard bully?
  • Do you want your kids, especially daughters, to have a strong, independent backbone, not having to rely on someone else to dictate their future for them?

I don’t want my daughters to get taken advantage of, and I want them to learn to communicate what they want in life, instead of being afraid to speak up because of social conditioning that taught them to “be nice.”

I want them to be classy and lady-like, similar to their great-grandmother, but I also want them to be tough and know how to change a car tire, if need be.

Lord knows most young men (the Starbucks-drinking-bearded-hipster-types) don’t know how to do these things.

There’s something to be said for nice kids, but there’s also plenty to be said for not raising kids who become doormats to people who knowingly hurt them.

The question I ask myself is this: Am I raising my daughters to give away their cookies, their lunch, their homework to the schoolyard tyrant? Or, am I raising my daughters to be ninja-like in their pursuit of openness, vulnerability, and even radical candor, as Kim Scott calls it.

Lets first define what being nice is and the detriments to it.

What does it mean to be nice?

First, “be nice” is one of the most common phrases we say to our kids, especially little ones.

It comes out of our mouth without thinking, like a gut reaction to our fear that little Tommy or Tammy will grow up to be unscrupulous and cruel.

If we are brutally honest with ourselves, when we teach our kids to “be nice” it implies:  “do whatever it takes to keep the peace,” or “don’t ruffle feathers,” or “don’t be so darn assertive, vociferous, opinionated and loud.

On a deeper level it carries the mandate to “give up something about yourself or your belongings even though you don’t want to.”

Girls, especially, are given a heavy dosage of “be sweet” because being sweet and nice is lady-like.

But what does this really mean?

It usually means “stuff your feelings down inside, swallow them hard, and just smile even though you want to scream.”

Let’s talk about the deeper meaning of these mandates we pass onto our children. Being nice means:

  • Deny, avoid and distract yourself from your true feelings.
  • Avoid conflict and find a compromise at all costs.
  • Don’t be assertive, instead find a way to get along with the other person even though that person is a narcissistic fool who wants to use and abuse you.

In my experience, especially in business, what I’ve found is this: the core problem with the message of “be nice” is a lack of appreciation for the sacred power of boundaries and vulnerability, even though by being open and vulnerable it will hurt someone’s feelings.

When I do this as a dad, teaching my daughters to be nice instead of emotionally self-aware, I teach them that it’s more important to be in a one-sided and dysfunctional relationship, personal or professional, no matter the damage it does to them.

That’s what it means to “be nice.”

What’s it mean to be kind? (the difference between being nice and kind)

Being “kind” isn’t the same as being “nice.”

Don’t confuse the two. You can still be kind, while tackling conflict and being direct with people.

Kindness is rooted in empathy and acceptance.

When I was younger, I thought kindness meant being nice to other people and making them happy.

What life has taught me is that kindness starts with yourself and kindness starts at home. It means treating yourself as you would anyone else you care about. We usually talk about and hear about kindness in relation to other people, but kindness towards yourself is just as important.

You might have heard the sentiment you can’t love other people until you can love yourself. While I don’t believe this is 100% true, I think how you treat and talk to yourself becomes the foundation from which you approach other relationships. Kindness isn’t only about how you treat other people, it’s about extending the same intentions to our yourself too.

Being kind does not always look like being ‘nice.’ Having a ‘pleasant disposition’ does not mean always making other people happy. Some of the happiest looking people I know are completely and utterly miserable on the inside. Sometimes kindness means disappointing other people because you have to say “no” and disappoint them.

Kindness is based on your own values and worldviews, while niceness is how how other people see you.

Kindness is difficult. Sometimes being kind means saying “no.” One of the most common situations in which this is the case involves the line between kindness and enabling.

For example, if someone keeps asking for money but spends it on drugs, alcohol, or by racking up unnecessary debt, it’s kinder to refuse to lend them more money and instead look for other ways to support them rather than to keep enabling them. It might be nicer (and feel more comfortable) in the short-term to lend or give them more money, but that’s not helping them in the long-term (and it’s probably not helping you either).

If someone is struggling with unhealthy behaviors or patterns, sometimes it is kinder to let them face the consequences of their actions than to keep enabling them to continue.

The same principle applies to your relationship with yourself. There’s a subtle but important difference between self-care and self-indulgence. Self-care rarely looks pretty or feels comfortable in the moment. Sometimes kindness means telling yourself to get out of bed and go to the gym, even though it’s cold, raining and you’d much rather stay in bed and veg out in front of Netflix.

True kindness can be tough, and it might leave you feeling less than kind. But even when you say no to yourself or others, you can do so from a place of love and compassion.

That’s because kindness is rooted in empathy and acceptance.

Teach this instead of being nice.

The focus needs to change from creating a false sense of harmony by “being nice”, as Patrick Lencioni calls it, and instead teach our kids this:

  • Engage with others from an authentic place.
  • Know your boundaries and don’t allow anyone to cross over them.
  • Respect the boundaries and freedoms of others.
  • Not everyone is going to like you nor should they have to.
  • You don’t need to be friends with everyone nor should you feel the need to. (family included)
  • You are not defined by others, your actions, or your mistakes.
  • Lying to yourself for the sake of a relationship will ultimately end in dysfunction.
  • Sometimes it is more important to be honest than “nice” even if it means someone will end up crying because their feelings got hurt.
  • If “nice” comes at the cost of authenticity, it is better to veer away from the relationship.
  • Those who love you will allow you to be honest and authentic at all costs.

The next time little Tommy or Tammy comes home bemoaning the fact that their bestie was mean to them, which caused her to be mean back, don’t be quick to jump in and say, “be nice!”

Instead, engage in a deeper conversation around what true friendship means, and more importantly, how this experience is a lesson about learning which friends are good for the soul and which damage the soul.

Relationships that are good for the ego will always let us down in the end, but those that are good for our soul will stay eternal no matter how “not nice” we are because they value the valor it takes to be vulnerable over any other virtue.

It is time to move away from robotic messages of convenience that we feed our kids and instead challenge ourselves to probe toward more inconvenient truths.

It takes a lot longer to teach our children how to honor boundaries and stay authentic than it does to parse out the phrase, “be nice.”

However, at the end of the day, it is these teachings that will hold true to them in times of strife. It is here that they will remember their parents telling them to attune to the truth and follow it, all based on a foundation of authenticity, self-awareness and direction.

So, the next time little Tommy or Tammy comes home (whether your kids are little or teens like mine) bemoaning the fact that their bff was mean to them, avoid saying “be nice.”

Instead, engage in a deeper conversation around what healthy relationships are, and more importantly, how their experience is a lesson about learning which friends are good for them and which are not.

The America I Know and Love: My rebuttal to Slate.com

I don’t write about politics on my personal blog.

As a rule, I try not to touch the topic with a ten-foot pole, outside of ‘liking’ the occasional Tweet or sharing the occasional Facebook post.

But, today, I’m breaking my rule.

It’s time to set the record straight by addressing some things that are blatantly false and negatively influencing readers. I don’t want to attack anyone, just the opposite, in fact. I want you to step away from this blog piece feeling incredibly encouraged.

What I recently read in a Slate.com article sickened me. It was chock-full of gross misrepresentations and blatant deceptions.

I’m sick of lies, aren’t you?

I was a Democrat

Let me start by saying I love this country.

It’s not hard for me to express how much I love America. I was born and raised here and enjoy every bit of it regardless of who’s president.

I also grew up and identified as a Democrat.

There’s nothing wrong in saying the D-word or being affiliated with that party. I certainly don’t hate anyone who believes differently than I do. (PSA: You shouldn’t either.)

There’s two reasons I subscribed to this political party. One, was because of the influence of my parents and the other reason was because of where I grew up.

Politically, I grew up in northeastern Minnesota on a place known as the Iron Range. Living in this region meant you leaned to the left of the political spectrum. Growing up in northeastern Minnesota in the late 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s meant you voted blue. If you grew up here, it meant you were a Democrat.

I am a Conservative

For me, something snapped when I went to college.

I formed my own worldview that would later catapult me to the conservative worldviews I hold today.

Which is odd because most colleges are diametrically opposed to a conservative worldview.

Two events in my life triggered my tip towards conservative values. The first was when I met the late Senator Paul Wellstone.

The late Senator and I shared a brief interaction at a college campaign event I attended. I asked Senator Wellstone some straightforward questions about funding for students of Minnesota state universities and what he was doing to help. Twice, he completely avoided the question and instead pivoted into some speech about how he’s focused on protecting the middle class and the working class.

The exchange with the Senator bothered me. It wasn’t his lack of an answer that bothered me, as I fully expect politicians to be vague when answering questions. What upset me was the way he handled himself leaving us “common folk” feeling like we didn’t matter. That’s when I determined the Democratic party that I grew up believing was good and right, was wrong (for me, at least).

My affection and love for the United States Constitution is the other conviction that drove me to form my conservative worldview.

I believe we have a Constitution for a reason, and like the late Charles Krauthammer, I think the Constitution is one of the most miraculous and extraordinary documents ever written.

I subscribe to the belief that states can govern themselves with limited federal oversight. I also believe in low regulation. I’ve rarely seen anything that’s micro-managed through regulation produce anything that’s good.

I believe that every single American citizen has the right and freedom to give themselves a better life through education, wealth, and service. Every American deserves the freedom to obtain this through hard work.

These benefits (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) are freedoms that should never, ever be taken away from American citizens. These freedoms are also the foundation of my conservative worldview.

Living in northeastern Minnesota, I was influenced to think that conservatives are bad people.

I was influenced to think that conservatives are money-grubbing monsters who hate the poor, the widowed, and the elderly. The media and most of the teachers who educated me perpetuated this worldview.

But, that’s not the real world and that’s not what I experienced.

Over time, I slowly began to learn that conservatives were not bad people or the monsters that the media led me to believe.

No President is that diabolical

In a recent Slate.com article, author Lili Loofbourow called the President corrupt and weak.

To make a generalization that President Trump is “corrupt and weak,” based on some unproven improprieties, isn’t right. No one is that smart or diabolical to be involved in that many scandals of corruption, all at the same time.

If these so-called scandals were true about the President, then that’s one heck of a storyline that some writer needs to turn into a money-making Jack Reacher novel.

Let’s replay this narrative that the left will want you and I to believe:

  • A sitting President single-handedly rigs an entire election with foreign help from Russia (and cleverly run Facebook ad campaigns).
  • He does so while sleeping with a pornstar.
  • He continues to do so while making billions of dollars from government contracts that were guaranteed with help from his business cronies.
  • Law enforcement, attorneys, and the FBI have zero indictable proof that he’s somehow breaking the law, and not one law enforcement agency has any tangible evidence of any of these allegations.
  • Even though we have some of the finest and smartest law enforcement officials on the planet, not one of them has a shred of anything tangible that links our President to any of the wicked deeds that are being portrayed by the mainstream media.

It sounds like one, big conspiracy theory doesn’t it?

No one is that diabolical to commit these evil acts, and somehow do them in less than 24 months after taking office.

Your rights and my rights are not being eroded

As a nation, we’ve never been as free as we are today. Let’s break down these freedoms.

  • The Women’s suffrage movement granted women the right to vote, in 1920.
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 allowed everyone to vote, no matter your skin color.
  • Abortion’s are legal, per the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. (this will never be overturned)
  • In 2015, the Supreme Court struck down bans on same-sex marriage, legalizing it in all fifty states.
  • Divorce is legal so you can get out of any marriage, straight or gay.
  • While guns are still legal in the U.S., there are now more background checks and regulations than ever before, along with bans on specific types of weapons that didn’t originally exist with the creation of the 2nd Amendment.
  • LGBTQ and Transgenders have rights and protections.
  • Everyone has the freedom to live and work wherever they want.
  • Access to money (and debt) has never been easier through credit cards, banks, etc.
  • Organized religions are being regulated at higher numbers than ever before, and yet everyone still has the freedom to pray to whatever god they want.
  • Immigrants CAN enter into the United States unlawfully and can even receive basic benefits despite not being lawful citizens.
  • And, sadly, anyone can still burn the American flag in protest without being arrested.

So, tell me, what can’t a person do in America?

What is SO bad about living in America that you’d need to write an article titled “The America We Thought We Knew Is Gone?”

What I see is a list of freedoms that only continues to grow.

The lies we are told

What grieves me is that I see a nation of sheep, myself included, that are led astray by stories that are nothing more than crafty fables with words that tickle our ears.

Oh, the lies we are told – lies that are spoken with little to no consequence.

It’s disturbing that authors are writing pieces about virtues such as truth when the very basis of many of their so-called truths are built on a foundation of poison.

The constant bombardment of lies makes you jaded, cynical, and fills you full of hatred.

These lies are told in small, disguised methods. The lies are told to the young, the impressionable, and the gullible. The liars and deceivers say ‘the way this country is being run is wrecking your life and keeping it the same is called capitalism. Things could be better and that’s called socialism.

These lies are being published under the guise of op-ed’s and opinion pieces. These lies are published by large media outlets, aka the mainstream media. These lies say things like it’s okay to tax (and punish) businesses to a high degree, make healthcare complicated and expensive, despise the wealthy, regulate everything including the internet by calling it neutral, and extend zero empathy.

And, if I disagree with what you say, protest in mob while physically attacking me and my family with vengeance.

This is the result of the lies you and I are being fed. These lies aren’t coming from the current White House, either.

The America I know and love

Kids aren’t being violently ripped from their parents at the U.S. border, civil rights are not in danger, and Roe v Wade will never be overturned.

Are there issues that exist in America? Yes, there are.

Is our nation perfect? No, far from it.

But it’s a million times better than the alternative. Like I asked earlier, what freedoms that we’ve been granted in the last one hundred years are being taken away?

The answer is none.

The America I know and love has veered far off course and requires serious changes to get back on track. Much of the damage that’s been done to our country can’t be undone in one election cycle.

There’s been more than forty years of bad policy, trickle-down economics, bad trade deals, career politicians following in their father’s footsteps, philandering adulterers who perjured themselves to a grand jury, and eight long years of a community organizer who used the office of the president as a training ground.

The America I know and love has been fed a lie that that the rich are bad and shouldn’t get to be successful. Yet, isn’t success, wealth, and the American dream what’s being sold to entice immigrants to come to America? Isn’t this the country where we preach to immigrants the beauty of a life where they can build something special on a foundation of freedom and prosperity?

Maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe the American dream, to some, is when all these riches are given to them by the government through the philosophy of sharing the wealth.

The America I know and love stays out of the pocketbooks and lives of its citizens. It fixes a tax code that’s incredibly counterproductive and celebrates small business owners, gay or straight. It doesn’t criticize those who cut spending on services that are barely used and mostly abused. It doesn’t raid social security, while taking little action with regard to improving the quality of life for our nation’s veterans.

The America I know and love doesn’t lie about an income inequality problem that’s mostly a myth. Greed is insatiable, yes, but greed is only insatiable for those with power, authority, and a sense of entitlement. The America I love embraces protests, as long as there’s a positive outcome and action.

Do you see many positive outcomes and positive actions from groups like Antifa or others? I don’t. What’s intentional about screaming, looting, committing acts of violence, all in the name of protesting?

Are we a nation that simply runs to protest when we don’t get our way like a spoiled child, or are we a nation that takes action in order to have positive impact? After all, wasn’t it Martin Luther King himself who encouraged action by stating “if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

I won’t ever respect a protest without positive action behind it.

I’m not sad living in America. I’m encouraged because for the first time in decades, I feel empowered, even emboldened. There’s a large wave of Americans, both young and old, who are equally as empowered and emboldened as I am, and who are taking action.

Just search for #WalkAway Campaign and you’ll see exactly what I mean. I’m proud to stand with my fellow American’s who are champions of the #WalkAway movement.

Our nation is at a point where a breakthrough is necessary, and it begins with us, it’s citizens. If we believe every negative thing we hear and see, we will become that negative thing we focus on.

The America I love is not about who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s about the love our forefathers had for one another when they formed this great republic. They argued and fought but did so because they cared for and loved one another, not because they wanted to kill each other. They saw the need to create a nation that governed itself with civility, law and freedom.

They saw the need to desperately flee one tyrant 3,000 miles away and avoid a nation with 3,000 tyrants less than one mile away.

Charles Krauthammer once said “Ideas matter. Legislative proposals matter. Slick campaigns and dazzling speeches can work for a while, but the magic always wears off.”

Don’t believe the literary magic you read online, especially the ones that are slick and dazzle you.

Instead, believe in the America that offers the freedom to hope, worship, and pursue a life of liberty and happiness.

I Have Tourette Syndrome and Why I Love It

Famous Marvel Universe screenwriter and producer Christopher Markus said, “hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”

He couldn’t be more right. 

When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called Tourette Syndrome. (aka TS)

This is my story of being diagnosed with TS and why I love it. 

The diagnosis. 

It all started when I was about 7 or 8.

I started having these weird, uncontrollable movements with my body.

I couldn’t explain them. My parents couldn’t explain it. No one could explain it.

At first, these uncontrollable movements came in the form of flexing certain parts of my body like my hand, arm, or neck. Then, I eventually started making weird sounds that I couldn’t control. The sounds were even more unusual, like small grunting sounds or a faint barking. (I know, it sounds really weird) 

It was insanely scary. 

My parents didn’t really know what to do so they sought help from neurological experts and doctors where it was finally determined that I had a rare neurological disorder called Tourette Syndrome. (aka TS)

The worst part: I was about to enter my tween and teen years with an affliction that awkwardly drew attention to myself through very unnatural means. The tween years and teen years can be mean and cruel, and that’s without without drawing attention to yourself with TS.

Here I was making noises and movements that resembled something out of the Rob Schneider movie, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.

The next 5-10 years would be pretty tough.

What is Tourette Syndrome (TS).

First, let me explain what TS is not.

TS is nothing to be scared of. It’s not a disease, it’s not a bacterial infection or a virus. You can’t spread it by shaking someone’s hand or by breathing on someone.

TS is a neurological disorder. Meaning, I was born with it. 

To give you some context, here are some common types of neurological disorders that you’ve probably heard of, that are similar to Tourette Syndrome:

  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

TS is nothing like the devastating nature of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Epilepsy, but living with it (especially as a kid) is still hard. 

TS is characterized by one main symptom: repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. Remember the weird movements I talked about earlier? Those are called tics.

Tics are a part of life for TS’ers. Tics can change, they can go away, and they can get worse under stress.

That’s what TS is and isn’t.

Living with Tourette Syndrome (TS).

The disorder is named for Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, the pioneering French neurologist who in 1885 first described the condition in an 86-year-old French noblewoman.

The early symptoms of TS are typically noticed first in childhood, with the average onset between the ages of 3 and 9 years.

TS occurs in people from all ethnic groups; males are affected about three to four times more than females. It is estimated that 200,000 Americans have the most severe form of TS, and as many as one in 100 exhibit milder and less complex symptoms such as chronic motor or vocal tics.

Although TS can be a chronic condition with symptoms lasting a lifetime, most people with the condition experience their worst tic symptoms in their teens, with improvement occurring in the late teens and continuing into adulthood.

While having TS is challenging, you can live a pretty normal life. 

Normal being running, jumping, making decisions, and doing long division. 

Dealing with Tourette Syndrome (TS).

In many ways, I felt like a guinea pig in growing up with TS.

Not only was I on medications that had other unintended consequences, but there wasn’t much in the form of support, outside my family. 

Dealing with TS wasn’t as simple as taking a magic pill and the problem went away.

Dealing with TS was far from easy. At the time, the late 1980’s, TS was rare. Less then 100,000 people worldwide were diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. That’s less than .002% of the entire world’s population being diagnosed with TS. 

If only there was an actual easy button, like the Staples commercials.

I dealt and coped with TS through a variation of ways, some good and some bad.

  • Medication helped me cope, but it also messed with my metabolism and caused weight gain. (as if having TS and being a teen was bad enough, I was instantly the resident chubby-kid)
  • I would cope by isolating myself from the shame and embarrassment of not being able to interact with my friends because my tics were so bad. 
  • I struggled with a negative self-image of myself because I was overweight and stressed, and I was suicidal and depressed. 
  • I read books and comic books. (Silver Surfer was my favorite comic hero)
  • I would write.
  • I even read the dictionary and encyclopedia when I ran out of books to read. 
  • I played baseball up through little league and developed a love of soccer.

Dealing with TS has other interesting challenges, too. I tend to be a perfectionist, who hates clutter on desk surfaces and counter-tops. I rearrange things when I travel and even fluffy carpet needs to be pointed 100% in the same direction. 

Sounds nuts, I get it. I’ve had to get really creative in working through the struggles of having Tourette’s. Looking back, however, I wouldn’t trade the experience of dealing with it for the world. 

What I learned from Tourette Syndrome (TS).

Christopher Markus, one of the screenwriters for the Marvel movies, said “hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”

I believe he’s right.

You can consider hardship as this terrible, unfortunate event, which makes you hard and bitter. Or, you can use hardship to learn and grow.

I’ve never viewed hardship, trials, or failures as a bad thing. I’ve always viewed trials and hardship as something to mold me and shape me. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy pain or humiliation. I don’t think any reasonable person does. But, I also understand that trials in life exist and that life isn’t fair. Not everyone wins, not everyone gets a trophy (and shouldn’t) and not everything is rainbows and unicorns. 

Even though life ain’t always fun and sometimes you wonder if the good Lord is punishing you, you must choose where to emotionally live.

When encountering life’s trials and hardships, you have the freedom to chose how it affects you. We all have this freedom. You can choose to live in these circumstances or you can choose to move past them and focus on finding the joy in your situation. 

A CEO friend of mine put the word grateful into his companies core values because of how impactful it is to find joy when walking through the valley.

When battling the symptoms of TS, in the in the thick of my teen years, I was ridiculed by my fellow students, mocked by mean kids, and teased incessantly. I wanted to die. I thought my trial would never end and most days wanted to be invisible. 

Then it all changed. 

How Tourette Syndrome (TS) changed me.

As I grew through my late teen years, many of my more severe tics and symptoms of TS went away.

I eventually stopped taking the medications that helped subdue my tics, and my body returned to normal. 

My tics slowly went away and my confidence improved. I began the journey of healing through many of the emotional hurts and wounds I had experienced during the worst times of growing up with Tourette Syndrome. 

It was like a new beginning. I refused to be a victim and refused to live defeated. 

TS has changed a lot about how I view things.

At 40, I now view trials through a different set of lenses. My life, and yours too, is a direct reflection of the perspective we hold.

When you and I look at the state of our lives, what does it reflect? What does it reflect about who you are and how you see yourself? What does it reflect about your relationships, your work, your hobbies, and your purpose?

Is your life merely happenstance, or are you intentional in creating a life that reflects a rich tapestry of moments?

TS changed me in that I started to realize that my life doesn’t need to be an artificial state of bliss, yet it doesn’t have to be dead, either. Just because I have a physical ailment that’s awkward and sometimes embarrassing, doesn’t mean I’m doomed to living a pessimistic, monotonous, and frustrating existence chock full of cynical patterns.

I love that I have Tourette Syndrome and that the experiences of living with TS refined my attitude. I embrace my 32 year old diagnosis because it’s a part of me that’ll never change. I’ve overcome many things that others have not. I’ve learned forgiveness, perseverance, and empathy when many around me will never get to endure this life-lesson.

What’s your Tourette Syndrome?

Everyone has a “thorn”, or their own version of Tourette Syndrome. 

In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away…but he said “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses…I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

That “thorn” is some weakness or experience that’s shaped you or impacted you, something to keep you grounded because of your weakness. For me, that grounding is in Christ because I am weak, so His grace and strength lifts me up. 

Maybe you’ve struggled with, and beat, breast cancer.

Maybe you’ve gone through a divorce, or the death of a child or spouse. Perhaps you’ve suffered emotional or physical abuse, had an abortion, are a recovered drug addict, or a recovered alcoholic. Perhaps you’ve even cheated death.

Whatever it is you’ve gone through, you have a choice when learning to live with your thorn.

You have the freedom to choose to use this adversity as a means to finding purpose in your life, as well as incredible joy and growth, or you can fall into the common trap of letting something negatively define you as some sort of victim.

Whatever it is you’ve gone through, or are in the midst of, use your experience as your ministry to encourage others and encounter tremendous joy.

And if you’re a fellow TS’er, like me, I’d love to hear from you and encourage you. Email me by clicking here and I’d love to listen to your story.