My life in transition #2 – from resentment to conviction

“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul”
from ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley

I am not by nature an angry person. When anger swept over me in the weeks after my husband left me it was a foreign feeling which I hated. I went to great lengths to conquer those feelings of anger so they did not convert into angry actions. I did not want to become an angry person. I chanelled the anger-energy into spring-cleaning, writing and making a conviction to live by my core values. The poem Invictus became my saving grace and I read it every day. I swore to be the ‘captain of my soul’.

I squashed anger before it took hold. Resentment crept up on me.

Resentment is disguised anger; with subtle differences. Anger is a feeling triggered by a single event; whereas resentment is an underlying attitude and sense of unfairness. Whereas anger is an aggressive retaliation against something received (pain); resentment is a defensive response to something missed out on (care, trust).

Before, my underlying attitude was positivity and calmness. Fleeting annoyances, such as being kept waiting for an appointment or someone behaving rudely, washed over me. Of late, I found myself irritated by such things. How did this come about? How did an act of betrayal by my spouse two years ago, allow me to become disturbed today by a passing remark by a stranger in the supermarket?

After I conquered the anger of the initial insult, I began to wonder how my marriage collapsed without me seeing it coming. I looked for signs. I found some. At the time I had ignored them because I trusted him. The seeds of resentment were planted.

Then I thought of parts of his personality, such as being gregarious. I began to see that as a sign which should have made me wary. Resentment sprouted.

Unrelated yet annoying behaviours of his, that as a trusting caring spouse I overlooked, I now began to see as things I should have objected to. Resentment grew.

Meanwhile, I was alone with my financial security in tatters, still trudging through marital mud, unable to move on. Resentment flourished.

Initial angry feelings directed at him gradually evolved into an attitude of resentment at the unfairness of my changed situation and thinking of myself as stupid for not seeing signs, trusting too much, needlessly putting up with things and being “too nice”.

Struggling with this sense of unfairness, self-blame and mistrust, the classic misguided protection-from-further-hurt thought “I won’t let that happen again” set in. This is the defensive response of resentment. I am not an angry person so I will not lash out in anger, but I will defend myself against further pain and loss The trouble is, it was false protection. I was indeed hurting, in need of security and warmth of others yet I began mistrusting everyone. Instead of empathy at people’s behaviour and acting with warmth and care, my defense armour went up. Being too “nice” got me into trouble before. Trust let me down. I was becoming socially isolated and wary and, in doing so, hurting myself.

Conviction to Core Values

The way out of resentment is the same way out of anger – by a conviction to live by core values. However, it is actually a lot harder to tame resentment as it is an underlying attitude that needs changing, rather than a fleeting feeling.

The simplest way I have found is to re-frame how I see things.
Resentment is against things, against unfairness, against my mistreatment.
On the other hand, a conviction to core values is for things, for fairness, for my well-being. This is a subtle yet profound difference.

Let me see how this re-framing may work for things in my current situation-

‘I was too trusting, too nice, too blinded.’
‘It’s not fair I am still trudging through mud’.
‘I should have moved away to a new life’
‘I cannot trust anyone’

Seeing through the eyes of resentment against things breads anger, blame and envy.

Conviction to core values:
‘I have always been a caring person. I will continue to be so.’
‘I am the person best placed to ensure our settlement is fair and reasonable’
‘I am able to choose if, why and when I shall move’.
‘I can trust myself to be the best person that I can be’

Seeing through the eyes of conviction creates enthusiasm, contentment or joy.

Gone is self-doubt, self-blame, unfairness and mistrust. Now within my focus lies self-compassion and self-forgiveness as a stimulus to create a healthy self-identity to regain my positiveness and act on my core values of courage, kindness, and fairness.


You may want to read Living and Loving after Betrayal. Steven Stosny


My Life in transition #1 – Creating Certainty

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
Robert Frost

I survived the unexpected change to my life of the ending of my marriage. Initially wracked by feelings of shock and sadness; I pushed ahead with positiveness, looking forward to finding contentment and a sense of purpose somewhere in my future. Now in transition between that sadness of the past and hope for my future, I am confronted by a different set of emotions – uncertainty, resentment, resistance, overload and anxiety. I decided to tackle the first one.


My life before my change was predictable. I had a stable marriage, security and trust. The sudden ending of my marriage marked by betrayal involved a huge loss of trust. Trust in others. Trust in myself. Trust in certainty. Before, I trusted that I could rise each day, know my role in life, know what I was going to do with my day and know I was protected. After my change, that certainty was lost. Uncertainty threw my life into chaos and I became anxious and scared.



My self-cure for uncertainty was to create certainty and get me back to a basic level of comfort and security. I did not ask for change but I could master my transition from that change. I could build on those things I know I can rely on.

Firstly, I wrote down those things I have been able to rely on my whole life:

  • The sun will come up every day
  • Myself
  • My mother and sister

In the early days of agony it was a great comfort to me to rise each day and watch the sunrise. It has never let me down.

It took me time to accept I could still trust myself and my own judgement. After a year of self-reflection I concluded that I can.

My mother and sister have been two constants for me the whole of my life. I cannot include my two brothers or children on this list as being younger than me they were not there when I was a small child, though I know they are there for me now.

Secondly, I wrote down my methods to build on certainty:

1. Acting on my values rather than my feelings.
I strive to always act with grace (respect for others) and dignity (respect for myself). This has helped me through confusion and chaos. If I always act in that way, it does not matter what turmoil I face, my life becomes predictable. I become my own stability.

2. Channel my actions into valued responses
If I channel my response into four key areas: improvement, appreciation, protection and connection; then certainty and stability will return to my life.

3.Establish a routine
At times of chaos, I return to my comfort of a predictable daily routine of a healthy diet, reflection, daily exercise and connections with loved ones. This helps me keep a sense of normality and I can follow this routine at home and when away.

4. Maintain a schedule
All other responsibilities (work, family, friends, creativity, community) I schedule into my calendar and project ‘to-do’ lists. My calendar keeps life predictable. My lists keep me sane

5. Goals
For moving ahead into my future I have set my transition goals:
a. Closing the property settlement
b. Implementing the property settlement
c. Establishing new career/purpose
d. Reestablish a new home base

Nine months ago, I had moved out of a lengthy period of affirming my values, beliefs, attitudes and responsibilities including a healthy routine. Then I became lost in a swirl of confusion. Having now finally accepted that my life is in the uncertainty of transition has paradoxically given me a degree of certainty. I know now where I am, where I am going, and how I am going to get there. I have moved forward to a written schedule and a commitment to transition goals. While the first two goals are stepping out of the past, the last two are moving into the golden path toward my future. Writing down my transition goals this past week has been significantly motivating for me.




Adjusting my vision


After my joyous birthday celebrations and pronounced optimism for my future, I had been dragged down again. Having to deal with the practicalities of the property settlement made me feel lonely and resentful. Lonely because I am alone in this process. Resentful because my glorious vision for my future was seemingly put on hold. I wanted to move to my future and I was stuck dealing with the past. I wanted to be done with the past.

Then during the week someone said to me, ‘what would it do for you, if you could re-frame what you are doing as a step towards your future?’


A somewhat obvious, yet not so obvious solution.

The less obvious part was accepting that I could not go directly from my old life to my new life. There is a ‘transformation’ phase in the middle. This is the phase of letting go of my old life in preparation for the new; and at the same time exploring options for the future before I actually begin. However, it is still moving forward. It still holds the steps towards my future. I am indeed in this middle phase of transformation. I am not yet in my future.

Having accepted I am in a phase of transformation, the obvious solution to my distress was to then put those activities required for the property settlement into that phase with me. Thinking of those processes as part of my transformational phase (rather than a limbo state, or back in the past) has been a crucial step for me this past week. The processes have now become crucial and important steps towards my future.

Suddenly the weight on my shoulders has lifted, replaced by a sense of urgency and focus. Instead of resenting having to do them, I am ploughing through the processes from a drawn-up checklist and ticking the boxes as I go. I have discarded feelings of isolation and resentment. I have re-affirmed my code for this divorce process which included that I would at all times act with grace and dignity. Grace being respectful of others. Dignity being a command of respect for myself.


  • I am more accepting of this transformational as a phase and I am in it.
  • I have now stopped asking myself ‘are you there yet?’
  • I have moved forward by completing several small steps in “the process”.
  • I have written down an action plan for getting through the rest.
  • The action plan includes an air of goodwill and respect for all concerned.
  • I have achieved something; something for me, something for my future.
  • I have remained true to my values.
  • I feel good about myself.



Image courtesy:[Tao55]

Patience and perseverence while in the prison-like process of divorce


ID-10077229.njajThe courage I spoke of in my last post has really been put to the test this past fortnight.

I spoke of ‘passive’ courage (showing strength in a difficult situation beyond your control) and ‘active’ courage (choosing to change a situation). There is another place one may find oneself and  that is in the limbo nowhere land of a marital property settlement process. Being caught in that place of nothingness, between the past and future, I am not able to move onto my new life. I am like a butterfly transformed from the caterpillar yet unable to fly away.

These are the downsides of the property settlement process:

  1. Dealing with my previous life-partner in opposition to me.
  2. Being continually confronted with loss of dreams, as they are removed layer by layer
  3. Feeling out of control as the process is dictated by professionals, mainly lawyers.
  4. Wading through the mud of the gathering of information and processing it.
  5. Keeping everything ‘alive’ (ie: the business) while the process is taking place
  6. This is not something I can get over, it is something I must get through.

It is like prison. I am playing a waiting game and yet it requires much time, thought and action from me. Waiting for legal steps to complete; acting on required administrative steps when requested; when all emotions and brain-mush need to be swept aside in order to remain clear-headed and act with logic and reason.

So last week when a few big decisions and actions were required of me in an already busy ‘normal’ week; as I became over-whelmed with the complexities of what needed to be done and the time it would require of me; as I batted with unspoken rage and resentment; as my mind was spinning out of control; as emotions flared and brain-mush returned; I sat down in a quiet moment and ……

….. I realised that it was quiet.

The torment was in my mind.

After some time in that quiet place, my logical clear-thinking brain returned and I planned my week. I then spent time each morning in an activity for myself, then sat quietly in reflection. Doing something for me first thing each day helped squash the feelings of ‘it’s not fair I have to do this’ resentment. However, I made sure I cut the ‘me’ time short so the days did not turn into complete days of nothing. If stressed, I become good at having days of doing nothing. With so much to do, I could not let that happen.

The next part of each day (from 8am) I did a few hours of marital mud processing; then I began normal business activities later in the day. In the evenings I considered the important pressing decisions. Choosing to do marital mud before beginning my real work day was an important coping strategy. When I leave it until the end of the day I battle all day with underlying rage that another evening will be ruined in divorce mud. It is better to get it over with. Pain before pleasure. I also took Thursday off in order to get through the mud. It was awful spending a whole day in the mud, and I took frequent breaks. I got through it. (Phew…. relax for a bit).

Something for me

One of the hardest things I have been struggling with is not being able to find any shred of positiveness in this part of the process. In overcoming grief, you gain grace. In striving to a new life you gain self-esteem. In wading through a marital property settlement process you gain nothing. Yes, patience and perseverance are admirable qualities (and definitely needed) but this week I needed more. I needed something for myself.

Then I thought of one small thing. In the back and forth of many documents between umpteen people I have learned a lot in document management and high-level technical intricacies behind word-processing and spreadsheet applications. These new skills will be of benefit to me in my future endeavors. This may seem like a totally fruitless thing to cling onto. It is not. It is a tiny spark of hope. All is not lost. I still have my spirit for learning new things. Something, one tiny something, has been gained.


Image courtesy[njaj]/


Courage is a character trait that underpins all others. Courage is at the testing point of every other worthwhile value – love, kindness, fairness, forgiveness, hope, authenticity, reliability, determination, achievement. To make any of these happen, you need courage.

There are four components of courage:

  1. Mastery over fear – bravery
  2. Integrity – choosing a valued response
  3. Navigation – driving your own behaviour
  4. Determination.  – perseverance despite setbacks or obstacles

Your MIND controls courage with careful thought, reflection, and consideration. It grows stronger in time, setting it apart from bravery on its own which can be impulsive.

Mastery over fear is facing your fear, looking it in the eye, admitting ‘this is what I fear’ and resolving to conquer it.

Integrity: Choosing a valued response

Courage can be passive or active.

Passive courage is when you have a situation thrown at you and you simply have to deal with it. Sink or swim. There tends to be only one aim – survival. Nevertheless one can choose to survive with grace and dignity, or with bitterness and resentment. Even though the situation may be out of your control, your response is always within your control. In a fearful situation, it takes courage to choose a valued response aligned to your values.

Active courage is a purposeful decision to change a situation. It may be to make an intolerable situation bearable; a good situation better; or a decision to grow rather than stagnate.

Navigation: Driving your own behaviour

This is sometimes phrased “action”. I have chosen to use the term “behaviour” rather than “action” because I believe that sometimes “no action” can still be a choice aligned to your values. For example, choosing to refrain from revenge or retaliation after a wrong-doing takes much strength, even though it is seemingly doing nothing. Conversely standing up to someone or something more powerful than yourself also takes courage. The first example is inaction, the second is action; yet both are behaviours aligned to a chosen response aligned to values. The key factor is taking control and moving forward on your choice.


The last component of courage is a determination to achieve, complete a task, or keep going despite setbacks and obstacles. The key word is ‘or’. It can be as courageous to keep going in a seemingly hopeless situation (such as overcoming a physical disability) as to drive forward to successful completion a worthwhile project.

My situation:

Here are some of my fears:

  • Fear of loss: companionship, stability, identity, trust, dreams, financial security
  • Fear of uncomfortable feelings: sadness, anger, frustration, resentment
  • Fear of confrontation
  • Fear of losing control of my life
  • Fear of loss of my authentic self
  • Fear of someone or something more powerful than myself
  • Fear of mistrusting myself and my own abilities
  • Fear of consequences: shame, humiliation, embarrassment, criticism
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of change
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear to strive

Since my world turned upside down, I feel I have “mastered” many of my fears although I certainly have not conquered them all. I feel I have shown passive courage to my life situation and responded with behaviours aligned to my values.

Do I also have active courage? Am I able to change my life and take it in a different direction? Is this type of courage the same thing as overcoming an adversity?

Here is what I believe to be a key stumbling block. I was in deep pain when my husband left me. Gradually I learned to survive. I faced that pain and conquered it. I have learned to adapt and cope with the discomfort that remains. I know I can keep surviving at this level of discomfort and continue to show courage in doing so. What makes me fear to strive to the next level is the anticipation of what I may or may not suffer in the process of striving.

What I mean by that is; have I come to accept a low-grade level of discomfort as my “normal” that I can cope with? Am I afraid to step out of that comfort zone, even though that comfort zone is actually somewhat uncomfortable?


Song:Katy Perry:Roar. Two years after being ‘divorced’ by text message.

My ‘turning sixty’ resolution … to live by my core values.

As a younger person I always had a plan for the future as to what I wanted to do with my life. Each year my birthday resolutions would be a great list.of things to do and projects to embark on. So many of the things on those lists never got done. Likewise my life on a daily or weekly basis had always been one of never-ending ‘to-do’ lists all neatly categorized into work, family, self, and community; then sub-categorized further into urgent, non-urgent and pending.

When I turned fifty, I resolved that I did not want to focus anymore on what I wanted to do, but rather on what I wanted to be. This was an enlightening moment for me and included such things as being optimistic, assertive, determined, dependable, kind, and moral. Ten weeks after my husband left me I revisited those commitments, resolving to hold onto my core values and to develop a framework of principles and beliefs to live by. I did that over a twelve month period. I have set up a page with links to the posts on those reflections.

During that reflective period, when I came to ‘higher’ principles such as peace, freedom and democracy, I became stuck. Even though I knew I believed in those things and had openly stood up for those beliefs in the past, it seemed they would require from me such strength of moral conviction and character that at the time seemed quite beyond me. I even felt I may have lost those values. I know now that is not the case.

What I believe now is there are four levels of living by your own core values and these are:

  1. thinking (holding a belief or value)
  2. stating (resolving that belief is true by writing it down or saying it)
  3. committing (having a plan to act on it)
  4. acting on them.

Even the very best of us would struggle to act on more than one or two core values at a time; although several other values can be held one or two steps down at the resolution level. When I was back in the pain of grief it was taking all my energy to act on one value only and that was the value of courage. Two steps behind, I freely stated other values and beliefs such as kindness, responsibility and dependability; intending to act on them whenever i could. However, for the values very high up, it hurt to just think about them and, at the time, I could not think of any way I could act on them. They were held at level 1.

I have moved on.

At my sixtieth birthday celebrations with my family I spoke freely of all my values (level 2). When I came home I went one step further and committed to act on five of them: courage, kindness, fairness, responsibility and appreciation. I wrote down several ways of how I could act on those values and I drew up lists of those committed actions, what I resolved to do. I will be exploring those commitments over my next series of posts.

In some ways this may seem like going back to where I started from. Back to to-do lists, rather than to-be lists. However, it is different because the to-do lists are now underpinned by those to-be wishes. In my commitments I have added that little word …. ‘why’…. the purpose behind the actions.

As for those higher values?

1. Over the past six months I have seen myself browsing the internet and reading about world-wide issues that need resolving such as famine and poverty; I have engaged in discussions on issues of national and community importance with others; and I have commented on posts and articles. I have moved those values from thinking to stating.

2. Whilst holding every respect for those who commit to and act on global, national and community issues, I no longer consider those values are any ‘higher’ than other values. There is much honour in acting with grace and dignity throughout a personal crisis; or indeed acting with integrity throughout normal everyday life. I do not feel I have to solve world peace to live authentically as me.


Image courtesy[africa]/

Ten days a week

“You must sleep some time between lunch and dinner….. Don’t think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one – well, at least one and a half, I’m sure. When the war started, I had to sleep during the day because that was the only way I could cope with my responsibilities.” Winston Churchill 


On those days when I have become overwhelmed by too much to do, I have often felt that I would be able to cope better if only there were ten days a week. I could then more easily divide my time up into work, family, friends, self, marital mud, future planning, domestics and maybe even a day for doing nothing (what a luxury that last day would be).

To fit everything in I tried for a while working my schedule over a fortnight. That was only fooling myself because it did not really give me any extra time.

Then I tried for a while squeezing in an extra half day here or there. For example I started devoting four hours one day a week to domestic chores, then started my real day at mid-day and worked through until 8 pm. That worked well but was exhausting.

Then by chance I stumbled on an article about Winston Churchill. Apparently during World War 2 he squeezed two days into his hectic daily schedule (from about 8 am start through to about 3 am finish) by having a late afternoon sleep of about two hours every day. Therefore he scored two work days in every twenty-four hours. Brilliant!

Little afternoon naps have been a long-time friend of mine and yet the voice of conventional wisdom cries out they will destroy my ‘proper’ night-time sleep, or worse still they are the sign of an horrendous disease (sleep apnoea). So I had often fought against them.

Then a little while ago I decided to stop listening to the voices of wisdom and instead to adopt a sleep pattern that followed my natural rhythm (ie: sleep when I felt tired). I have found it feels natural to me to have a sleep sometime between 11 am and 3 pm. This may be a longish sleep of about an hour, if I am at home, or a shorter ‘power nap’ of about twenty minutes, when at work. If I have this sleep I then feel more energetic through into the late evening. I also require less sleep at night – about five or six hours at night is plenty for me. So there are two benefits of my day sleep. I require less sleep overall and so do actually gain more hours from each day. The second benefit is I am more productive and energetic for more of those hours. There are far less ‘feeling like a useless blob’ hours.

There is a third benefit. With the incentive of gaining an extra ‘day’ here and there, I become motivated to power through domestics or mucky marital settlement stuff in the mornings without the ‘what a waste of a day’ attitude; knowing that I still have a whole ‘day’ ahead of me for more enjoyable pastimes when I wake from my day sleep.

I may not be saving the free-world, but it it is still an excellent tip. Brilliant idea Mr Churchill! Thanks for your endorsement of my strange sleeping habits.


Image courtesy[SalvatoreVuono]/
You may want to read further on biphasic and polyphasic sleep patterns.