Take control of your thoughts — This, my friend, is a mindset game. You have control over how you think and behave during this time. Well it feels like it right now we’re not, everything you need to face and navigate your divorce with grit and grace is within you.
The world seems to be reeling from one crisis to another. We’ve experienced a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, political and social turmoil. Then there are personal traumas that people are dealing with, such as the loss of a loved one, health issues, unemployment, divorce or the loss of a job.
Coping with change can be traumatic as it often affects every part of our lives.
How do you deal with loss or change in your life? What coping strategies can you use? Do you ignore them and just push through, or do you use specific techniques?
In this series called “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change” we are interviewing successful people who were able to heal after a difficult life change such as the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or other personal hardships. We are also talking to Wellness experts, Therapists, and Mental Health Professionals who can share lessons from their experience and research.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alicia Robertson.
Alicia Robertson is a ‘divorce guru’ and Certified Life Coach who is the founder of Lemonade Life and creator of Unwife, a flagship program that teaches women to thrive through Divorce and Transform in Life. Professionally trained in mindfulness, positive psychology and neuroscience Alicia helps women to navigate divorce with grit and grace, become a confident and informed decision-maker, and create their best life.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I am a Canadian gal born and raised just outside of Toronto where I experienced a well rounded upbringing in a typical family with both parents and one brother. As the daughter of a teacher and feminist you can well imagine I was destined to change the world or at least make an impact one person at a time! Like many girls wanting to be just like mom I pursued a University degree in primary education. This seemed like a natural and obvious fit, but in truth a complete fail. I remember doing a placement in a primary classroom for the first time having an out of body experience — for the life of me I had no desire to instruct children and had zero connection to the experience while my peers easily floated through the room fully engaged. Though I would not follow in my mothers footsteps I followed my passion for business, communication and making an impact and have spent a lifetime committed to coaching, leadership, high performance culture and service above self.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Rise and Shine Baby! My upbringing was a beautiful blend of tough love, pull up your boot straps sally and don’t cry over spilt milk mixed with a whole lotta don’t sweat the small stuff, you can do anything and all that matters is your happiness that set the tone for my grit and grace approach in life that got me through my own unexpected divorce and has inspired my coaching business Lemonade Life. You can handle tough stuff — it’s how you choose to show up that matters!
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- Ownership and Accountability. I am responsible for what I can control — myself. My perceptions, choices, actions. Though I may not have wanted a divorce and it was the darkest time in my life I had a role to play in the uncoupling of our marriage and no amount of blame, shame or victim mindset was going to serve my ability to face my reality and rise above. If I am responsible for myself then I am responsible for my opportunity to honour my family — our legacy and our future.
- Growth Mindset. Strength is in the struggle. Divorce was my catalyst for personal transformation. Nothing that ever matters comes easy or from within our comfort zone. The beautiful process that is life unfolds through our ability to face our struggle and find strength in the vulnerable because we do not fail — we learn and evolve.
- Positivity. I am not always happy but I can choose to be positive. When I elevate my vibe I elevate my ability to be intentional, creative and collaborative. I do not see any value in resentment and contempt. I believe to my core in forgiveness and compassion. Don’t get me wrong — I have my moments in the negative, but in my experience what I put out is what I get back and the only way to achieve all that I aspire to be requires a higher frequency.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Healing after Loss’. Do you feel comfortable sharing with our readers about your dramatic loss or life change?
Very comfortable — I have made it my mission to crush the negative stigma of divorce and help women to thrive through divorce and transform in life. The first step is to come out of the shadows of guilt, shame and isolation in order to be real, open and connected. We are all in this together whether we are contemplating the end of a relationship, calling it or are blindsided with the news that it is over.
I remember the day I knew my marriage was over as if it were happening right now. I knew something was very off, but with a very busy life wrapped up in work, new babies, extended family, friends, social, community and all the titles and all the labels I asked the only question I knew to shed light on the truth. “Is our marriage in trouble”? I knew in an instant it was over. His words said “I don’t know” but his eyes were blank and his energy loveless. This was like a sucker punch to my gut and an unbearable cramp in my heart — in this moment I would have rather died than face the reality of my failure as a wife and mother and the loss of my husband, the light of my life. And, in many ways this was a death. The grief sunk in and I was forced to work through all the unavoidable steps from denial, bargaining, sadness, anger, acceptance and ultimately forgiveness.
What was the scariest part of that event? What did you think was the worst thing that could happen to you?
The scariest part was to feel rejected, abandoned, not good enough. To hold the weight of guilt for ruining my children’s family. To lose my life partner and our shared dreams. To feel despair that had me so low, dark, depressed and anxious — I felt ruined and at my rock bottom with fantasies of running away or ending my life. To not know how I would survive emotionally, financially or materially. Would I have a house, where would I live, would my parents take us. The scariest part was the painful sadness and what seemed like millions of unknowns — I no longer felt safe in my own home and I did not know how to exist on my own let alone re-imagine my future.
How did you react in the short term? In the short term I was lost, in a fog, struggling to survive. I was not sleeping, eating or functioning in my life. I was struggling with postpartum after just bringing home baby number two. I focused all my energy on my children and my marriage. I was in denial and bargaining for a miracle. I was holding on by a thread and trapped in what seemed like an altered reality, an unrecognizable life and unimaginable limbo that was killing us.
After the dust settled, what coping mechanisms did you use? Faith, Mindfulness, Self-Care. Through these practices I learned how to reduce my anxiety, create space for healing and most importantly in prioritizing myself regained my self-worth, confidence and energy. Extreme focus on myself and all that I could control. I took my power back one intentional and deliberate day at a time until I felt strong enough to accept that my marriage was over and that we needed to move forward with formal separation.
Can you share with us how you were eventually able to heal and “let go” of the negative aspects of that event?
This is too big to go alone. I implemented a consistent, accessible and powerful self-care practice that fostered my self worth. As I prioritized myself and established healthy boundaries according to who I am and what I want and I began to feel confident and capable. My energy elevated and so did my world around me, first for myself and then in my home and in my community at large. I created a team to support my healing professional therapy, natural healers and all the content I could consume to lay the foundation for the journey that I wanted to experience through this massive change and struggle. Finally, forgiveness and compassion — first for myself and my responsibility for my circumstance and then for my former partner and his journey.
Aside from letting go, what did you do to create an internal, emotional shift to feel better?
Becoming clear on my values, boundaries and ability to communicate for my needs according to who I am and what I want. Finding my authentic self and becoming aligned with living according to my desires kept me forward facing and future minded. This required personal housekeeping and curious observation in every aspect of my life from how I eat, sleep and play to really understanding my talents vs. my weaknesses to what drives my fears in order to challenge my limiting beliefs systems. This personal audit was real, raw and liberating. This is about being very intentional and accepting of all that I am, need and desire no matter the fallout. As a people please this was a tall task but my greatest emotional shift was falling in love with who I am.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to cope and heal? Can you share a story about that? Our (yes, both sides) family for showing up with unconditional support, not only for us, but our children — honouring our family dynamic no matter what it looked like. My friends who allowed me to vent, gave me straight talk and kept me laughing through my tears. My therapist who without a doubt was my life line in a very literal sense and who I still rely on for coaching for myself and my family.
Were you able to eventually reframe the consequences and turn it into a positive situation? Can you explain how you did that?
My ability to embrace my divorce as my catalyst for personal transformation — an opportunity for an epic do-over has been my greatest gift to myself, my family and my community. To approach this experience with git and grace and with a vision for a new family focused on peaceful co-parenting and our children. Change is the only constant in life — divorce just happens to be vulnerable, unfamiliar and emotional. Seeing the positive and showing up with resilience and a plan offers an abundance of opportunity.
What did you learn about yourself from this very difficult experience? Can you please explain with a story or example? I learned that this is tough and I am tougher. I learned that though painful temporary. I learned that I AM enough and I AM worthy of love, joy and living my best life. I learned that my children can thrive in a happy healthy co-parenting family. I learned that divorce does not hurt children, conflict does. I learned that it is possible to divorce well. I learned that friendship with my former partner is possible. I learned that there is sex, fun and companionship after divorce. I learned over and over again and continue to learn.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experiences and knowledge, what advice would you give others to help them get through a difficult life challenge? What are your “5 Things You Need To Heal After a Dramatic Loss Or Life Change? Please share a story or example for each.
The top 5 Mindset Skills you need to master to thrive through Divorce and transform in life.
1. Take control of your thoughts
This, my friend, is a mindset game. You have control over how you think and behave during this time. Well it feels like it right now we’re not, everything you need to face and navigate your divorce with grit and grace is within you. Chances are your world has been rocked and you might feel abandoned. You feel like you have failed yourself and everyone else and that your children will be broken — but that my friend is just a story versed from the limiting beliefs systems that we come from.
What to do right now:
- Decide today to drop the shame and guilt and take your power back by owning your mindset. Your perception drives your reality. Challenge those limiting beliefs for what is your personal truth.
- Don’t take anything personally. Remember what others say and do is about them. So don’t let it set you back and, if it does, ask for clarification rather than jumping to conclusions.
- Stick to facts. When the mind races, stop and get clear on the facts. This is temporary. This is tough and I am tougher.
- Get it out. The fastest way to stop a ruminating brain is to write it out and let it go. Find ways to gently move in order to help release the feelings within. Don’t be afraid of your feelings, lean in and let go.
- Don’t be critical of yourself. This is a time for forgiveness and compassion. When uneasy thoughts appear try to be a gentle observer and say to yourself isn’t that interesting and let it pass through you.
2. Put yourself first
It is so hard for us as women to put ourselves first, but our survival depends on it! Self-care is the absolute foundation to becoming strategic about being able to divorce with confidence. Self-care is about more than a buzz word and healing. It is the very way to shift your energy and become the leader of your life. Finding very accessible ways to surround yourself,with things, that matter to who you are and what you want is all about creating healthy boundaries. Prioritizing yourself. As you prioritize yourself, you become more confident and, as you become more confident your energy elevates. As your energy elevates you can approach Your challenging situation and massive change with a fresh, hopeful and helpful perspective.
What to do right now:
- Give yourself permission to be Irresponsible and unhelpful!
- Say yes to offers of help and outsource were possible. Let someone else bake the damn cookies!
- Take four deep breaths — this is the fastest way to calm your nervous system and to support anxiety and stress management. You can use this technique anywhere for a quick reset shifting from fight or flight to rest and relax.
- Do what makes you happy — whether it’s listening to music, soaking in the tub, surrounding yourself with natural light, decluttering your space or watching movies. Keep it simple, consistent and achievable. Small wins build momentum.
3. Let that shi*t go!
You cannot control anyone else, the past or the future. So decide today that you’ll stop trying or wishing for things that should’ve would’ve could’ve or may or may not. Instead, focus on what you can control including, your thoughts, your words and actions — your happiness, your beliefs, your effort your kindness, who you hang out with and how you show up.
What to do right now:
- Commit to taking responsibility for what you can control and releasing control of the rest.
- Own your part so that you can begin to let go of the anger, sadness and pain so that you can focus on healing, learning and forgiveness.
- Engage with people who model what you are trying to learn and to fill your cup.
4. Drop the emotional tug of war
Tug-of-war is exhausting — so drop your end of the rope. In order to come out on the other side of this it’s essential that you establish and nurture a good relationship with your former partner. Let’s face it, if you have kids together this relationship is not going anywhere — it’s just changing its form. I know firsthand that this requires open mindedness, self-control and patience and I also know that it’s 100% worth it.
What to do right now:
- Commit to meeting your former partner halfway throughout this process. Uncoupling similar to marriage involves collaboration and compromise.
- Be impeccable with your word and think before you speak — both to your former partner and about them. They are, after all, the father or mother of your children. Putting low vibes into the world will backfire and one ill received sentence can undermine all your efforts to divorce well and remain focused on co-parenting.
- Do not engage emotionally — ever! A calm mind can produce a positive result where a negative or overly emotional one cannot.
- Remember that friendly does not equal friendship and practicing kindness goes a long way. I don’t have to like you in order to be kind to you.
5. Get prepared
Understanding who you are, what you need and the process for the change itself is critical if you want to come out ahead. You’ve likely heard worst case scenario stories of financial ruin at the hands of greedy divorce lawyers — but it does not have to be that way. A divorce is a project like any other and yet so many people show up at the lawyers office unprepared, and the belief that we don’t have any decision making power. With a little preparation and awareness you can avoid all that and truly Divorce well.
What to do right now:
- During change we have an opportunity to do proper lifestyle housekeeping and inventory in order to determine what is serving us and what is not. Make room for greatness and say no to everything else.
- Understand the practical steps and required process to navigate this change. With divorce it is about money basics, legal matters and family planning.
- Build the skills to be qualified. Project Management, Negotiation, Collaboration and Team Building are skills you possess and in fact make you overqualified to navigate this process.
- As you explore both the emotional and practical aspects of yourself and your lifestyle you can begin to add color to what is essentially a blank canvas.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
To eliminate the negative and toxic narrative surrounding divorce. To see women take a drivers seat in becoming worthy, financially capable and independent leading ladies. To inspire happy, healthy co-parenting so that children thrive in a positive, conflict free family dynamic that affords them access, opportunity and community in order to become well supported future leaders of our globe.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
Gabby Berstein, her book The Universe Has Your Back (and all the others — lol) and her Miracle Membership were my rock through my healing and personal transformation. She has become a mentor for how I would like to make a difference in the world — with courage, conviction, consistency and connection. Her belief in humanity and our ability to act with forgiveness, compassion and without judgement was the only faith that kept me going sometimes. When you can’t see through the darkness let your faith give you hope so that you can be the co-creator in your destiny. I went on to become an even greater Super Attractor in my life and completed her Best Sellers Masterclass for my soon to be released book and debut as a published author.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!