Are cultural assumptions sending you in the wrong direction?

We have a lot of assumptions and norms embedded in our culture (as do all cultures) that warrant examination when they are having a direct impact on our lives. It can sometimes be difficult to recognize that we are making assumptions but it can be really valuable to take a step back and try to look at challenges with fresh eyes.

In Zen Buddhism, there is a concept called "shoshin", meaning "beginner's mind" which refers to the idea of approaching a subject with an open mind and without preconceptions. Stripping away assumptions about requirements, limitations, and necessary consequences can open up some truly surprising solutions.

In the realm of divorce, we have built up these stereotypes of the dreaded ex and the divorce battle which are now strongly embedded in North American popular culture. When people are experiencing the trauma of the breakdown of their primary relationship, their energy is often being sapped by various extremely strong emotions, including fear, anger, grief, and anxiety. In this vulnerable state, people seem particularly prone to embrace these harmful stories that we have developed about what divorce looks like. Basically, in a weakened state, it is really difficult to 1) recognize assumptions, and 2) counteract them.

We need to change the divorce story. A huge percentage of people experience a separation/divorce at least once in their lifetime, and many experience two or three. People deserve to have access to healthy problem-solving that will allow them to transition through family challenges in a way that doesn't destroy family relationships, crush children, and clean out the savings. People should assume that this is possible!

In an effort to apply a fresh lens to the topic of divorce, I have recently released a book titled Pathways to Amicable Divorce: Directions for the Beginning of Separation. It is available for free download as an effort to increase access to justice:

The beginner's mind is so helpful for looking at challenges of all sorts. Don't like your commute? Feeling limited by your job? Feel your relationship could be better? Consider what the ideal situation would look like, without applying judgment as to why it wouldn't work or couldn't happen. Once you know in a deep way the kind of experience you'd like to have, you'll be in a position to start brainstorming about how to get there. Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki writes in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind that "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's there are few."