Transcending Divorce: A Guide for Personal Growth and Transformation

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Barbara Ashley Phillips does not lack courage. And in her important new book, The Mediation Field Guide Jossey-Bass, , she often says the difficult things and tackles the controversial subjects in our field, apparently without regard to what people may think. Perhaps, like me, you may even find yourself rethinking your basic theory of practice, or at least parts of it.

It is enormously difficult to write a guide to mediation which addresses as many audiences-- client, party, lawyer, law student and mediator-- which Phillips hopes to reach with her new book. Some sections will seem elementary to experienced practitioners, particularly those chapters devoted to mediation of particular areas of disputes employment, construction, contract negotiations and public policy.

While each of those substantive areas has received more thorough treatment elsewhere, Phillips nevertheless provides useful analysis in each. It blocks flow. The best conflict resolution work is not about that. That is all.

Read More From Alan D. Wolfelt

That is a far cry from expertise in the subject matter of the conflict. Facilitative mediation is a lot more fun and offers a lot more room for growth. The parties are treated more gently and more respectfully than in evaluative processes, and this is empowering to them. She also has helpful comments on questions to ask when impasse occurs.


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I have learned that the pain that surrounds the closed heart is the pain of living against yourself. You run the risk of withdrawing and experiencing greater isolation and aloneness. A closed heart renders you unable to love and be loved by those who are available and willing to surround you in unconditional love. So, I invite you to choose courage and face any denial surrounding your divorce. For behind your denial hides a beautiful, radiant spirit, a new, whole, conscious self just waiting to face the truth, to finally be born.

As we just get started on this journey together, I want to begin by welcoming you to what can and will become a new, hope-filled world. This is the kind of world that awaits you. To heal literally means to become whole again.

transcending divorce a guide for personal growth and transformation Manual

Healing is the process of integrating your grief into your self and learning ways to live your changed life with fullness and meaning. Experiencing a new and changed "wholeness" requires that you engage in the work of mourning. It doesn't just happen to you; you must stay open to that which has broken you for healing to begin. Healing is a holistic concept that embraces the physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual realms.

Note that healing is not the same as curing, which is a medical term that means "remedying" or "correcting. You cannot correct your grief, but you can heal it. You have a choice. Yes, you can choose to allow yourself to remain open to the pain. As an ancient Hebrew sage observed, "If you want life, you must expect suffering. By being willing to engage your feelings and honor the truth in them, you are being true to your authentic self.

In part, this book will encourage you to be present to your multitude of thoughts and feelings, to "be with" them, for they contain the truth you are searching for, the energy you may be lacking, and the eventual unfolding of your healing and transcendence. Oh, and keep in mind, you will need all of your thoughts and feelings to lead you there, not just the feelings you judge as acceptable. For it is in being honest with yourself that you find your way through the wilderness of your divorce and identify the places in you that need to be healed.

Stolen Child

Yes, grief and mourning are critical ingredients in the life and unfolding of your soul. While this first Touchstone seeks to help you understand the role of pain in your healing and eventual transcendence, I want to make sure you also understand that you cannot embrace the pain of your divorce grief all at once. If you were to feel it all at once, you might feel overwhelmed and unsure that you could survive. Instead, you must allow yourself to "dose" the pain — feel it in small waves then allow it to retreat until you are ready for the next wave.

As you stay present to your pain that comes with the experience of divorce, you will be participating in "soul work," which will eventually lead to "spirit work. Soul Work : A downward movement in the psyche; a willingness to connect with what is dark, deep and not necessarily pleasant.


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  5. In part, healing and transcendence are about your willingness to descend into your soul work on the path to your spirit work. My personal and professional experience suggests that when we encounter divorce loss, we must descend before we can transcend. You are on a journey that is naturally frightening, painful and often lonely. No words, written or spoken, can take away the pain you feel now.

    I hope, however, that this book will bring comfort and encouragement as you make a commitment to embracing that very pain. It takes a true commitment to heal your divorce grief. Yes, you are wounded, but with commitment and intention you can and will become whole again.

    Commitment goes hand in hand with the concept of "setting your intention. A close cousin of "affirmation," it is using the power of positive thought to produce a desired result. So, how can you use this concept of setting your intention to influence your journey through the grief that comes with lost love? When you set your intention to heal and eventually transcend this life-changing experience, you make a true commitment to positively influence the course of your journey.

    You choose between being what I call a "passive witness" or an "active participant" in your divorce experience. Yet, time alone has nothing to do with healing the wounds of grief that come with divorce.


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    Healing and integrating this loss into your life demands that you engage actively in the grief journey. It can't be fixed or resolved; it can only be soothed and integrated through actively experiencing the multitude of thoughts and feelings involved. The concept of intention-setting presupposes that your outer reality is a direct reflection of your inner thoughts and beliefs.

    The Psychology of Self-Transformation

    If you can change or mold some of your thoughts and beliefs, then you can influence your reality. In journaling and speaking and praying! You might tell yourself, "I can and will reach out for support during this difficult time in my life.

    I will become filled with hope that I can and will survive this divorce. An important concept to keep in mind as you journey through the grief of your divorce experience is that of integration. You cannot "get over" or "resolve" your grief from divorce loss, but you can learn to integrate it. That is, you can learn to incorporate it into your consciousness and proceed with meaning and purpose in your life.

    Diane Dreher

    See Touchstone Nine for more on the concept of integration. Setting your intention to heal is not only a way of surviving your divorce although it is indeed that! Of course, you will still have to honor and embrace your pain during this time.

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    By honoring the presence of your pain, by understanding the appropriateness of your pain, you are committing to facing the pain. You are committing yourself to pay attention to your experience in ways that allow you to eventually begin to breathe life into your soul again. What better reason to give attention to your intention!

    The alternative would be to shut down in an effort to avoid and deny your pain see my book Living in the Shadow of the Ghosts of Grief , which is to die inside while you are still alive. In reality, denying your grief, running from it, or minimizing it only seems to make it more confusing and overwhelming. Paradoxically, to eventually soften your hurt, you must embrace it. As strange as it may seem, you must make it your friend. In this book, I will attempt to teach you to gently and lovingly befriend your divorce grief.

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