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Seven Spiritual Laws

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Editor’s Note: While Debbie Ford writes about the changes that occur within us when we face divorce, one of the most traumatic and emotionally charged events that can happen in our lives, I believe most of what she says applies just as well when we face an equally emotional event like infidelity, or other major emotionally traumatic events which in many cases, are the catalyst for our seeking spiritual growth. In this light, her advice and teachings are valuable and very useful to us in growing through many of life's events.

Perhaps Ms. Ford's own words, from the Interview that follows, explain it best:

Would the spiritual approach you describe be helpful to couples who are still married but struggling?
Absolutely. This book is about why it goes wrong, this is all that can happen in a relationship. It gives you the underbelly. As many people as this will help who are going through divorce have a better life, it will also help people who are separating actually get back together. After all, you don't have to get divorced to have your partner drive you crazy.

Spiritual Divorce
Seven Spiritual Laws to help you see divorce as a gain rather than a loss.

By Debbie Ford

A spiritual divorce is one in which we use our divorce to improve our lives and our experience becomes one of gain rather than loss. A spiritual divorce brings us back into the presence of our highest self and heals the split between our ego and our soul. When we use our divorces to heal our wounds, learn, grow, and develop ourselves into more loving, conscious human beings, we have truly had a spiritual experience and a liberation of our souls. Rather than staying stuck in the pain of our broken hearts, a spiritual divorce calls us to reconnect to the highest aspects of our being. It is here in the presence of our highest self that we can reclaim our power, our joy, and the limitless freedom to create the life of our dreams.

If you're going through a divorce right now, this may sound like a tall order, an impossible task. You may be having the worst experience of your life and can't even consider the possibility that your divorce could turn into something positive. Or you may be relieved to call it quits. Pain and change are the keys that open the door to a deeper understanding of our human experience. The pain of divorce breaks down our defenses, leaving us in a place of complete vulnerability. And it is only in this place of complete vulnerability that we become quiet enough to experience the greater realities of peace and contentment.

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Divorce
It is important to know that the breakdown of your relationship is for a greater purpose. Understanding some of the basic spiritual laws of the Universe will help you to discover that there is a reason you're going through this pain. These laws will guide you through the process of healing and bring you back to a place deep inside that is filled with wisdom, knowledge, and compassion for the human experience.

1) The Law of Acceptance: The first and possibly the most important spiritual law is that everything is as it should be. Nothing occurs by accident, and there are no coincidences. We are always evolving, whether we are aware of it or not. And our lives are divinely designed for each one of us to get exactly what we need to support our own unique evolutionary process.

2) The Law of Surrender: When we stop resisting and surrender to the situation exactly as it is, things begin to change. Resistance is the number one culprit in denying us our right to heal. We resist out of fear that if we let go, if we surrender, our lives will go out of control or we will be faced with circumstances that we can't handle. When we are willing to look at our situation and admit that we don't know how to fix it, we are ready to get the help we need.

3) The Law of Divine Guidance: God will do for you what you cannot do for yourself. When you get out of your own way and let go of your defenses, you become humble. Humility is the doorway through which the Divine can walk into your life. Without humility, we believe we can do it ourselves. Without humility, our false sense of pride, or ego, prohibits us from seeing the entire situation with clear eyes. Our egos remain in charge until we step outside our righteous belief that we are independent and separate beings. As long as this myth is intact, we keep the door closed to our higher wisdom.

4) The Law of Responsibility: With divine guidance, we can look at exactly how we participated in and co-created our divorce drama. We can begin to take responsibility for our entire situation and make peace with our past. We can see how we have chosen the perfect partner to teach us the perfect lessons. Once we have asked God to come into our lives and guide us, we begin to heal.

5) The Law of Choice: Having taken responsibility, we can choose new interpretations that empower us. We become responsible for and the designer of our own new reality. We can separate from our partner and cut the karmic cords by taking back the aspects of ourselves that we've projected onto our mate. We can distinguish what our self-defeating behaviors have been and learn how to act instead of react in difficult situations.

6) The Law of Forgiveness: After we have cut the karmic cord, we will be able to ask God to forgive us. Asking for forgiveness allows us to let go of our judgments and beliefs about what is right and what is wrong and find compassion for our entire self. Compassion unfolds when we are in the presence of the perfection of the Universe, when we can experience ourselves in another. It comes with the great understanding of the difficulties and ambiguity of being a human being. Compassion is God's grace for those who ask. Once we have received compassion for ourselves, we will be able to find compassion and forgiveness for our mate.

7) The Law of Creation: Experiencing the freedom of forgiveness opens up the gates to new realities. Forgiveness breaks all the cords that keep us tied to the past. It allows us to experience an innocent heart filled with love and excitement for life. This is the time to create a new future, one grounded in your divine truth.

Free will enables us to choose the direction in which we will take our lives. To choose a spiritual divorce is to choose to use your divorce to heal yourself. You can choose to work hard and heal yourself on the deepest level, or you can choose to be a victim of life and other people's problems. In other words, you can choose to use your divorce, or you can let your divorce use you. Until you seek to find and embrace the gift of any situation or problem, it continues to use you. It holds you prisoner, and you carry it around as an open wound wherever you go.

Reprinted from “Spiritual Divorce: Divorce as a Catalyst for an Extraordinary Life” (Harper San Francisco, 2001)



Looking Inward
'Spiritual Divorce' author Debbie Ford speaks about appreciating the gifts of marriage and letting go of the past.

Interview by Holly J. Lebowitz

Is it hard for some people to see a spiritual side to a process that involves lawyers, paperwork, and adversarial positions?
Our society hasn't given anybody a paradigm to look for a spiritual side to divorce. We haven't been trained that divorce can be a time of opportunity rather than despair and hopelessness.

How did you come to take a spiritual approach to your divorce?
I was devastated at the time of my divorce. I had waited so long to get married--I was 38--and it was a dream I'd had for twenty-something years. I had not wanted to get married because I was afraid I'd get divorced. So for me, divorce wasn't only a broken heart but also a broken dream.

Then there came a point after a couple of months of anger and resentment and sadness that my sister came to see me. A lot of my worries were because I had a young son and I'd stopped working because I'd wanted to be a stay-at-home mother. My sister said to me, "You've got to figure out what you can do to have an extraordinary life," and when I closed my eyes and thought about it, I thought that the first thing I wanted to do was write a book about the personal work that I was doing.

My divorce allowed that dream to come true. There was that moment when I saw I could give all my power to my past or I could go to a higher ground. At that time, I started asking myself every time a problem or an issue came up where my first reaction was anger or fear, "If I was an angel, what would I do?" That gave me the opportunity to act instead of react.

Say more about an instance where you took an angel's view and it helped you act.
One particular time was when my ex-husband wanted to change the schedule with Beau, our son. At the time, having a rigid schedule was very good for me because it was the only thing I had to hold on to. So when he wanted to change weekends with me, it put me over the edge. My initial reaction was to say no because obviously he had something he wanted to do that weekend. But when I asked myself what would I do if I were an angel, I decided I would graciously allow him to change anything he wanted me to--as long as it didn't inconvenience my life, which it didn't in this particular instance.

Within months, he started treating me like an angel. He didn't know that I was using this spiritual strategy. But when you take the higher road, the universe mirrors that back to you. As you heal your inner world, the outer world shifts.

Would the spiritual approach you describe be helpful to couples who are still married but struggling?
Absolutely. This book is about why it goes wrong, this is all that can happen in a relationship. It gives you the underbelly. As many people as this will help who are going through divorce have a better life, it will also help people who are separating actually get back together. After all, you don't have to get divorced to have your partner drive you crazy.

Can every divorce be a "spiritual divorce"?
Yes. In order to heal yourself and evolve spiritually, it's important that we all use our divorces as a spiritual wake-up call. Pain has us look inside, it has us do self-examination, it has us go beyond the hurts of our thinking. Many look at pain as, "What do I do to get rid of it, to suppress it," but I look at pain as an opportunity. If I'm whole and decide to separate from my partner, it's not going to be a traumatic event. It's going to be a sad event, but not trauma.

Each one of us has different wounds. Our partners are there to show us these wounds. Everything I've gone through has led to the fact that now, my life has become a complete miracle. So I honor my ex-husband, even though we're very different, because he gave me the greatest gift of my life, which is me. So once we stand in a place where we love who we are, we can love our past.

I was a child of divorce, and I went off on 14 years of drug addiction after my parents divorced. I couldn’t see the big picture back then. But I needed every painful event, every loss, every disappointment, to bring me to the wisdom that I can share today.

Do you, or divorcees you've talked to, ever regret having gotten married in the first place?
I think a spiritual divorce is a journey. It's the process of really embracing the gifts of our marriage. It's when we're at a moment of choice when we really see these are the lessons I learned from our time together. If I honor these lessons I automatically value myself in whatever way. If I feel blame and regret toward my past, I'm tied to my past. So to be in the presence of the gifts of your marriage is to undertake a spiritual divorce.

What are some of the gifts of your marriage?
I have a child--if that was the only thing I ever got, that would be a dance to celebrate every day. I also received self-awareness. I can actually look at things from another person's perspective now. Co-parenting is a great platform for learning how to dance in a rhythm with another person who's very different from you. So I've learned how to give, I've learned how to take time, and I've learned to look at what's in the best interest of the three of us rather than what's in my best interest. What a gift that is.

One thing that I'm sure of is if we take the road of anger and resentment and guilt and negative feelings, we give them all the power. If you want to give your life up to your ex-husband, then hold on to those feelings.

How does a person begin to let go of those feelings and approach their divorce from a spiritual perspective?
Take the finger that's pointing out at the other person and turn it on yourself. What happens in marriages and why they fall apart so easily is that we're so outwardly focused. If we realize that it's our pain, our buttons being pushed, then we can heal those buttons.

Holly J. Lebowitz produces Beliefnet's Marriage page

More From Debbie Ford: Spiritual Divorce

Link to the book: Spiritual Divorce

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