Relationship expert, Barry Selby, tasks us with looking at ourselves. To really move on from a divorce, you have to understand your role in the relationship. If you don’t take the time, you may repeat your mistakes, so take the time so you and your family can heal properly and happily!
- Tips for understanding your relationship with yourself!
- Healing and learning take time and patience.
- Kids need guidance from their parents and constant communication
OUR GUEST – BARRY SELBY
Welcome to another episode of the exEXPERTS Podcast where we give you all kinds of information and tips on everything divorce. Why? We’ve lived it, so we get it! We’re Jessica and T.H.
TH: Welcome everybody to today’s podcast. I’m thrilled to have Barry Selby here. He is a relationship attraction expert, speaker, and coach. He’s known as the Love Doctor, which is how I found him on Clubhouse. And in addition to his fantastic accent, he actually really does know what he’s talking about. Trust me, we’ve had lengthy conversations. But in addition to everything else that he does, the most important relationship that any one person has is with themselves, and that’s really where we wanted to dig a little deeper with him today. So welcome to our show.
Barry: Thank you for having me. I love the introduction. Thank you.
Jessica: Thanks for taking the time.
TH: At any time in anybody’s life, you want to kind of check in with yourself, but when you’re going through a divorce, you’re probably trying to figure out your identity. Well, I’m not his wife, this family doesn’t look the same anymore, so who am I? How do you even help someone start to navigate that process of identifying themselves when they’ve been identified in a certain way for a period of time?
Barry: Well, the biggest challenge is going through that transition or that challenge, I used the word challenge as a non-word, that very disruptive experience is that for many people, they lose who they are, basically, because they’re so caught up in the against-ness, and the rules and the loss that’s happening on so many levels emotionally, mentally, physically, financially. So for many people going through divorce, it’s almost like being a cork on an ocean. They’re floating along without any sense of anchoring to control where they are. It may be the most important time to come back to themselves, because for one thing, ultimately, that’s the only thing you can really control is your relationship with yourself. But secondly, especially if you have kids, you want to demonstrate to them how to navigate challenges. Many children navigate their own lives based on what their parents teach them.
Jessica: Sure, most children probably.
Barry: Well, actually I would say every one of us who was a child learned from our parents. Let me back it up slightly. I was going wandering, so let me back up. Thank you for that, Jessica. Bruce Lipton talks about this in his book, The Biology of Belief that when we are born, we come in with a clean slate. We don’t have a pre-approved or pre-assigned or pre-written knowledge about who we are or how we live or what the world is about, so we take in what’s around us like a sponge. We’re a clean slate and an absorbent mind that takes in everything around us as the way life is., and so parents demonstrate to us. Basically, if your kids are under five when you get divorced, this is important for you. If you’re a kid when your parents divorced, this is important to you. It’s that basically what you’re doing is you’re taking the world around as the way life is, the rules of life. If your parents, well, not if, the way your parents acted to each other, or to you, becomes the rules that you take on. If your parents were parents that yelled at each other when you were a kid, you may associate that as a way love is expressed. If your parents got divorced when you were a child, you may feel that love doesn’t last. I mean, I’m just throwing out random things, but that’s the understanding.
Jessica: No, it’s resonating with me so deeply, though, for so many different reasons already. We’re like in it two minutes, but the thing is, because I was 23 when I got married first time, and we were together for almost 20 years, but because we had been together for five years, even before we got engaged, it was a little bit of when we were getting divorced, like, yes, I had my own career, and I had that going for me, and people knew me professionally in that way, but it was like, it’s been Jessica and Darren for almost 20 years. Who am I even now? And so I totally identify with that part of it. I also really identify with what you’re saying in terms of, we all know kids follow their parents as the examples. I will tell you there was a lot–I mean, obviously there was a lot less information and support for divorce when TH and I went through it the first time, but I remember thinking consciously the bigger deal I make out of it, the bigger deal it’s going to be for my kids, and kind of just what you’re saying like the life around them, it just is what it is. Everyone talks about the mom guilt and the parent guilt and like, “Oh, I can’t do this,” and “Oh, I got divorced,” and “I tore my family apart.” I was kind of like, listen, this is how it is now. My kids were two and four, we’re happy, and we’re moving along like things are as is. Now, I feel when people ask about what it was like for my kids, I’m like, that’s all they knew. We made it very matter of fact. This was just their life. They don’t know any difference. And so I always joke I’ll never really know how screwed up they are until they’re in therapy in their thirties. But right now they’re really well adjusted and I really do feel like it’s because I made a conscious effort to be like, it’s not a big deal. This is just what our lives are, and you’re okay, and you’re surrounded by love anyway, and you have the same opportunities as anyone else out there.
Barry: Which is wonderful. And when comes to the relationship component, because the other thing is that a divorce models to the child, that relationships may not work, for example. One of the challenges that when parents go through separation, divorce, whatever that is, first of all, for a lot of children, and as I know from close client experiences, sometimes the child takes on the experience of believing they forced it to happen, they made it happen, they created the divorce, so they carry the sense of guilt themselves. The second part, though, is they look at relationships being modeled over the fact that relationships only last a certain period of time, and it’ll end up in divorce court, or whatever that is. Now, I know your kids definitely would say, we’re in the minority, where they were raised in such a loving environment, independent of the divorce.
Jessica: That’s what we tried to do.
TH: It’s hard.
TH: It’s hard and it also depends on the age of the kids. Jessica’s kids were really young. My youngest was four, but my oldest was eight, and so they all took it in very differently. It depends on your relationship with your soon-to-be-ex and so many factors. I would just say, don’t feel badly if you can’t keep it together all the time, but do the best you can, take a deep breath, model the best behavior you can, and if you make a mistake, say, “You know what, kids, I shouldn’t have done that.”
Barry: And one thing I’ say–
TH: “I totally should not have done that.” Take responsibility, let them know, but you’re human. I mean, there’s only so much you can do. I remember my brain was like mush. Then they’re going to come and be up all night, really? I’ve got to go to sleep! So just remember that you’re human. Just do the best you can and apologize for behavior that you wouldn’t repeat. That’s all I want to chime in on.
Barry: And I want to add on that also remember to talk to your kids like they understand you. The biggest challenge when people are going through divorce is sometimes there’s so much overwhelming emotion because of the breakup and the pain and the suffering, that they forget about how to take care of the children, or they do it from a very surface level. Be willing to know how your children feel, and to really get clear with them, because 99% of the time, it isn’t their fault, that it isn’t about them. Love them through it, let them know that in a way they may benefit to have two families now instead of one, maybe. That may be too early to push that one in, but understanding that the fact is they’re going to be loved no matter what.
Jessica: Right. Someone comes out of their relationship in a standard, I know it’s never standard, and they’re feeling that kind of ‘Who am I now?’ that lost feeling. What would you say your top three tips that people really need to focus on to make sure that they can transition through that roughest part?
Barry: Right. So let’s take this off the legal side, but it’s the emotional side. That’s what I specialize in, because I’m not an attorney.
Barry: The truth is, in my work more and more in the last, I’ve been doing this coaching for 15 years, the last seven or eight years it’s becoming really clear that every time I work with the client, I’m helping them find a relationship, but it always starts with helping themselves. That’s why I always want to call myself a self-relationship coach. It’s just really what I’m doing. So I would say at least, let’s start with the first one I talked about first, which is remember to take care of yourself. For many of us, we get so caught up in what we’re doing and who we’re trying to be that we forget who we are. So taking care of ourselves as a top priority, whether it is getting more sleep, because we’re not remembering to sleep because the kids or whatever it is, or it’s choosing to just nurture ourselves when we’re feeling drained. Do things that help you. It doesn’t necessarily mean the quart of Häagen-Dazs in front of the TV every night, that’s not necessarily good self-nurturing.
Barry: Once in a while, yes. [Maybe once a month] It’s like having a cheat day so to speak. However, I do mean that you do things that are self-supportive. So if you’re feeling, well, this is part two, which is to be gentle with yourself, forgive yourself, because you may be carrying the weight of all the judgments you’ve placed yourself because the relationship failed and maybe you take responsibility for that. Overly take responsibility for that. Well, maybe you did have, you obviously have some part to do with it, but be gentle with that. Have what it is to learn how to forgive yourself, to be able to let yourself off the hook, and to–let’s call it the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which are blame, shame, guilt and resentment. Because those four things we carry around in life period, and especially in divorce, they show up everywhere. Being able to reduce them, and ideally remove those from your life is a key part of this journey. Now, that means basically taking responsibility for your own actions, but also, to forgive yourself when you made a mistake. Because like you were saying before, we do make mistakes, and yes, even in front of the kids, mistakes happen. So be willing to be responsible, but also be gentle with yourself because again, you’re demonstrating to them how to be and if you realize when you make a mistake it’s okay to forgive yourself, and to change the behavior, they learn that works. That’s two, and the third one. The third one is be willing to shift your position around the other person. Meaning that in divorce, oftentimes, your ex partner is the devil incarnate, who was never like that before you got married, but you carry that weight on them that you’ll never be able to make peace with them. So be willing to be open, even if you crack the door just slightly open to see that it’s possible you can restore a level of at least respect, maybe even friendship. Now, if they’ve done horrendous things that make it hard to do, I understand, but having an ability, what you’re doing is taking the weight off your own heart, because that judgment that’s blaming the person.
TH: You’re doing it for yourself.
TH: You’re doing it for yourself, not for them.
Barry: Exactly. That’s the point I’m trying to make.
Jessica: Right. I mean, carrying around all of that anger and resentment, I think you’re right. Like, a lot of times people don’t realize how insidious it is inside yourself.
Barry: Not only insidious, toxic.
TH: It is toxic.
Jessica: Right, it is toxic. And so it really is like you’ve got to pick your battles like is that person so bad that you’re going to walk around feeling all of that heaviness and all of that anger and having it weigh you down all the time versus like just let it go?
Barry: Well, exactly. I mean, the thing is, the old quote I’m hearing forever, which is, resentment is like taking poison expecting the other person to die. Well, the thing is, how does that help you? That doesn’t affect them, it doesn’t control them, it doesn’t make you feel better than them, and it makes you feel worse than that, so being resentful doesn’t benefit anybody. The thing about resentment is they haven’t got a clue you’re resenting them.
Jessica: Right. Well, your ex might, but other people in life–
TH: But you have to voice it. You have to voice it, and it’s also like a power thing. Do you want someone else controlling the way that you feel? But it’s really hard to balance the rational. I get it all when I read a book, [right, when you’re in the middle of it] and I’m still pissed off when I go to sleep. I feel like it’s definitely a process, right? It’s not something that’s going to happen right away. You’re not all of a sudden going to feel like phew, I feel so much better now, I just forgave him yesterday. It’s just one process with yourself, right? [Absolutely] In order to be able to do that, because that’s something maybe you never did before.
Barry: Like Jessica was saying, you said in 20 years, that’s not easily forgivable in one session, it takes a little time. So I agree with you, yes. And that’s the thing, first of all, be willing to understand that it won’t be an instant fix, and if you think it’s an instant fix, you’d be very disappointed. But be willing to say I’m willing to take steps incrementally inch by inch, to have a healthier life for myself, and to let go of my attachment, resentment to the other person that’s holding you back from living my freedom, because the other part is, if you’re still carrying that resentment, your next relationship’s going to be very challenging.
Jessica: Right. So someone’s going through the process, they are listening to these tips, and they’re working the program, so to speak. Do you feel like there’s a point at which someone can recognize within themselves, you know what, I feel like I’m there? I wonder sometimes, there’s so much talk out there in general about being good to yourself and your relationship with yourself and taking care of yourself. We hear it all the time, but I wonder sometimes, how do you know when you’ve done that work? Is there something that that you can be like, alright, I’ve made it to the other side?
Barry: Well, you don’t get a sticker so there’s no sort of visible proof for it. Let’s be clear about that.
TH: I don’t get a trophy for participation? A plaque maybe? A ribbon? Nothing?
Barry: Don’t get me started on participation trophies. No, what I was going to say was, in the sense, going through divorce is a lot like the grief process, because you are grieving. You’re grieving the loss of the relationship. And the way that I phrased grief before is, and there are two things on grief, one of which is that I just wrote about yesterday with a friend of mine going through the journey, grief is like waves on the ocean without guardrails. It’s a sense of being totally out of control with no framework, no structure because that’s life. There is no structure going in: steps 1, 2, 3, 4 you’ll be fine. It’s going to be what it does.
Jessica: And it ebbs and flows.
Barry: Exactly. And the other thing on grief that I’ll read for a second is actually a quote and I’ll tell you the quote, and I’ll tell you where I got it from after I say the quote is, ‘What is grief except love persevering?’ ‘What is grief except love persevering?’ And what I mean by that is that you cannot have grief unless you had love in the first place. [That’s right] Which one of the biggest things people forget when they’re going through divorce is they’re going through the five stages of hate, so to speak. It’s like the reality is grief is that recognition that there’s an attachment to the love that was there before, and there’s also the missing of that, the absence of that feeling of, “Oh, I wish it was like that anymore.” Well, there can’t be. There’s a certain level of grief because you have to adjust to a new paradigm. And with grief, I remember, I mean, this personal experience just when I lost my dog, probably 25 years ago. It was my first dog. But every so often, a memory pops in, and a little melancholy shows up. And that’s okay. It’s not like it’s a bad thing. It’s like no, because the love is still there. By the way, that quote comes from a Marvel show called WandaVision. I heard that quote, and I stopped the show, I’m going to write that one down. It’s like you’ve come out the blue, it’s so perfect.
Jessica: That’s really good.
TH: So Shutterfly is definitely on to you, because when I get my memories from 5-10 years ago, sometimes I get nervous. I’m like, who was I dating? Do I want to see this picture? And what was I doing? I want to make sure I want to see the picture before I click on it and go further. I’m like, oh, phew, okay, we’re good. But it does, they know how to tap into your emotions. You’re like, aww, remember that picture from when we did whatever. Yeah, that’s, you know, that makes you vulnerable for a minute.
Jessica: I just think there are a lot of times that people feel like I don’t have time to focus on myself right now, because I’m dealing with all of the things. They may have kids, they may not have kids, they may work, they may not work, but you just you have so much going on. I think it’s really hard to kind of like–
Barry: So that’s the thing is put yourself on your calendar, as silly as it sounds. Because we put everything else on the calendar, going grocery store, or having meetings, or taking care of calls, or doing Zoom conferences, but we don’t put, let me take an hour now for self-care, let me take five minutes to just do some forgiveness in the mirror, whatever the things are. So put yourself in your own calendar, be willing to block time out, and if it’s even five minutes a day, that’s enough to start with. Ideally it goes up much more than that, but take the time to intentionally turn off all your devices and be with yourself for a period of time where you can look in the mirror, or you can hug yourself, or you can do something that is self-supportive. Maybe it’s a bubble bath, maybe it’s journaling, whatever it is that you can use as a methodology to get back to being yourself. That’s the first step.
TH: Yeah, and honestly, for me, the hardest relationship I’ve been in is with myself. I would do everything and anything for anyone before I have to deal with my own shit.
Jessica: You’re not the only one. We all do that.
TH: No, I know. Really facing your challenges, your weaknesses, and your trigger points is the magic word now, whatever it is. Honestly, until you face those things, for me anyway, until I faced them, I wasn’t going to be who I am today and in the relationships that I’m in today and feeling like, I feel clean. I feel clean. No one has power over me. I’m freewill and making good choices. I’m leading with my heart, but using my mind.
Jessica: TH has done the work.
TH: I have, and the work still goes on. Even my therapist, she’s like, “I think you’re done with me.” I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to let you go.” I go, “How about every three weeks?” And then what happens is stuff ends up happening, and I’m like, “Holy crap, I don’t have an appointment. Can you get on the phone? Can you get on the phone? Are you free? Are you free? Are you free?” So for me, it’s better to have every three weeks, and if we have nothing to talk about, then we just shoot the shit, but it helps keep me in progressing in the right direction instead of it all coming up and being in a complete panic mode, which did happen the other day. And she did call me, but those are not normal expectations, you know, someone to do that, other than someone like Jessica who’s going to drop everything.
Barry: Well, the thing I was going to say was, first of all, it’s good to have maintenance support, so even once you get past the initial traumatic experience and you get to the healing, having maintenance with your coach, your therapist, whatever that is, is a good thing to have anyway, especially when you have that resource to go to anytime you need it. The second part is, and you mentioned this earlier, about you were so externally referenced. I have a passion about eliminating codependency from the planet, which is going to be a big project, I know. This can take a lot of time, but the more controlled people the better, because when we get into codependent states, we lose control of ourselves. And what Jess you were saying about how to take care of yourself, the understanding is, and it’s something I learned in a seminar, jeez, back in the 80s I took, and the first ground rule they taught us was to take care of yourself first to take care of others. I didn’t know up to that point, I’d been doing it backwards. Most people do. They take care of other people, especially when you have kids, to take care of others before we take care of yourself. And the thing is, it’s actually a finite resource. We are a finite resource when we don’t take care of ourselves first. I learned the lesson, many, many, many times over the last 30-35 years, that taking care of yourself doesn’t necessarily mean, I’m just going to be fine, never take care of other people. It’s like all the nuances of that have been teaching me forever. And recognizing that when we’re in relationships with other people that they don’t have control over our emotions is one of the biggest lessons people learn. Because up until the moment I just said that, some people are going, no, but when they get upset, I have to fix that, or when or when they’re doing this thing, I get upset, whatever those triggers are, we’re not being–as they call it, puppet strings, is that we lose control of our own internal equanimity and sense of self support when we let other people control our emotions. When we say, “You upset me,” well, no, they didn’t. They did something, you got upset. [That’s right] First we take ownership, and secondly, you learn how to disengage it when they do something you look at that and go, “Hmm, that’s not what I want them to do.” So it’s not a reaction–
Jessica: I think that’s a really good conversation to have in and of itself, how to be able to not monitor but sort of control your reactions to things so that you’re not letting outside circumstances get the better of you. I think that’s kind of where you’re going with it, and I think that’s a really important conversation to have, so we should have that for next time.
Barry: We’ll book one for that one.
Jessica: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So anyone listening who has questions or wants to reach out to Barry directly, we have all of his information on our site on www.exexperts.com. There’s a whole experts section where you can go in and read more about him, and everything that he does, and all of his contact information. Barry, thank you so much for taking the time. I really appreciate you sharing all this with our community.
Barry: My pleasure, and hopefully more to come because there’s definitely stuff to talk about.
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