Holistic Divorce Counseling

Holistic Divorce Counseling Nicole S. Urdang, M.S., NCC, DHM, LMHC. Free support, resources, and comfort for all life's issues and transitions.

No mistakes, only lessons. March 27, 2012

Panoramic awareness is based on a certain amount of trust, or optimism. Basically nothing is regarded as a failure or as dangerous. Rather, whatever arises is experienced as part of a creative and loving relationship toward oneself.

Chögyam Trungpa


There are no mistakes. All of life is a blessing given to us to learn from.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross


The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

John Powell


From a very young age we are trained to seek out and notice everything that is wrong. Beginning with our earliest days in school, we are told how to correctly spell, add, subtract and multiply. This vigilance for mistakes can be extremely helpful; however, there are times when it is inhibiting, like when the art teacher corrects our drawing, or the music teacher tells us the song we wrote is too weird. Of course, not all teachers take that approach, but if they do, it cramps our creativity. Picasso’s lopsided faces or Loudon Wainwright’s lyrics never would have gotten “A”s.


If we choose a profession like medicine, law, accounting or plumbing, we are again trained to seek out and eliminate what is wrong. Of course, you want your dentist or electrician to notice what’s amiss and fix it, but perfectionism in all areas of life is stifling. If you think you have to do everything perfectly from your first attempt, you won’t try many new things, and your days will be less rich.


On a more global level, we watch or read the news and learn of wars, floods, financial collapses, famines, and, once again, focus on everything that is broken or hurting.
It’s no wonder we see ourselves as lacking and needing repair.


What if you took the radical approach that you are perfect just the way you are, right now? Yes, you, with all your thoughts, feelings, talents, yearnings. You are whole, complete, and fine just as you are. You don’t need to lose weight, make more money, have more friends, or meet your dream partner to feel good and peaceful in yourself right this minute. You can choose to go against all that training of looking for defects and focus on the positives. In a way, this is similar to a gratitude practice, though in an evolved gratitude practice you can be just as thankful for the things you don’t enjoy as for those you love, since you assume everything is happening for your highest good.


By thinking you are complete as you are and you don’t need anything or anyone to make you better, you open your heart to your own sweet self, just as you are right this minute. You may not like everything about yourself or your life but you can work on accepting things and people as they are, including you.
Instead of doing a daily or hourly inventory of what’s wrong, look for what is right. By seeing everything as part of your journey, even when you you don’t like it, you can practice radical acceptance.


Here’s a different twist, try noticing what is upsetting as a way of reevaluating your judgment about your perception. It is a lot easier to accept things we deem difficult or unpleasant when we stop telling ourselves they should be different. Clearly, we don’t control the universe; but, we can learn to think differently about everyone, including ourself. By focusing on what is going well, and you can choose to view life positively if you change your attitude, you will feel more bouyant, open, and joyful. In the meantime, by embracing what you have previously shunned you welcome all life’s experiences, not just the puppies and rainbows.


Why not assume you are here for the full catastrophe, as Zorba the Greek said. Practice a bit of Buddhist mindfulness, or yogic witnessing, and observe without judging or evaluating. This doesn’t mean you will welcome a divorce, bad diagnosis, empty nest, bankruptcy, or other big challenges, but you will approach them as opportunities to learn, grow, and experience life in this moment, in this body, on this planet.


We yogis like to say everyone is our teacher. Everyone and everything. Some lessons are very hard and others easy; with practice, you can embrace them all.


Copyright Nicole S. Urdang


You Are Just a Visitor March 19, 2012

If you are a yogi, Buddhist, or have simply read some chapters on this site, you are probably familiar with the concepts of mindfulness and witness consciousness. While both support an open awareness of what is, any techniques that help root you in the present will bolster your equanimity and strengthen your resilience.

By thinking of your time on earth as a visit you can re-frame your experiences to more easily stay in the now. From there, you can practice some healthy detachment from outcome, the Buddhist idea of letting go of what we think we want in favor of being open to life’s vicissitudes. This offers another approach to leave the evil twins of suffering, also known as craving and aversion, behind.

Whether the time between birth and death is long, medium, or short you can choose to view it as a visit. After all, you are merely a tourist in your body, on earth, right now. This moment is all you have. The past is over and will never come again, the future is simply a concept only having value when it becomes the present; otherwise, it’s just fodder for anxiety.

By thinking of yourself as a visitor, you can open up to seemingly similar situations with fresh eyes. As they say, you can never step into the same river twice. Re-framing your experiences helps build awareness that the river, and life, constantly shift.

A healthy measure of detachment from outcome fosters witness consciousness, the ability to see things more objectively. Of course, humans are designed to view life subjectively; but, it is possible to cultivate some perspective, delaying a knee-jerk emotional response. This nanosecond’s pause often provides enough time to free yourself from a habituated response, allowing you to try on a different approach.

Another helpful technique on the path to greater emotional freedom is to imagine what someone else is thinking and feeling. Unlike empathy, where you feel with another person because you have had a similar experience, this creates an expanded consciousness enabling you to see things from someone else’s perspective. Not an easy task, but one worth practicing.

Experimenting with these new modalities is the only way to know if they will enhance your life and sense of control. You can’t orchestrate everything that happens, but you can choose your attitude about it.

Copyright Nicole S. Urdang


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