Zoom-Out on Divorce & Break-ups

Welcome to Divorced from Reality

Finding the most helpful perspectives
in a divorce or separation

This is dedicated to anyone going through a painful divorce or separation. I have been there myself. I am going through one as I write.

This is part autobiographical and part wisdom from a diverse range of people across the globe and spanning millennia. Some dear friends too.

To live is to learn.

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
– Socrates

This is part of a series of Zoom-Out topics all of which exist to help people find the most helpful perspective in different situations.

Zoom-Out is based on a simple observation about the human condition: at times we can become zoomed in on something unhelpful to the detriment of ourselves or those around us, sometimes for days, weeks, months or years. This may be zoomed in on an aspect of ourselves, someone else or the world.

“Child, you have to learn to see things in the right proportions.
Learn to see great things great and small things small.” — Corrie Ten Boom

The Zoom-Out motto is “Zoom-Out to find the most helpful perspective”. And in “Divorced from Reality” we are concerned with doing this within the context a painful divorce or separation.

“Zoom-Out to find the most helpful perspective”
Zoom-Out MOTTO

Going through a divorce or separation can be one of the most painful and challenging of life’s events. It can propel you abruptly from normality into chaos, turning your life upside down. The established ‘laws of reality’ no longer seem to apply. It can make you feel bereft of everything you previously held dear and meaningful. This can apply whether you didn’t initiate the separation or whether you did. To say that there is a dramatic change in the realities of both parties can be an understatement.

At times life can feel like we are in free fall. That’s when we need to Zoom-Out the most and find the most helpful perspective to get our feet firmly back on solid ground. This is not easy but you may find inspiration and some help on these pages.

When we are in free fall that’s when we need to Zoom-Out the most

“Divorced from Reality” is for people going through a divorce or separation. It is not about financial or legal advice, it’s about how to navigate your new reality and understand as much as possible the reality of the other person. It draws upon Zoom-Out principles with the purpose of helping people to:

“Optimise your reality”

There is reality (objective):

  • “I’m going through a divorce”

And the reality we create (subjective):

  • “This is the worst thing…”
  • “This is the best thing…”

We aim to help you lean towards the latter.

We are all divorced from objective reality to some degree and when we are going through a divorce, embracing this fact is as important as ever.

The overall “life situation” covered here is that of going through a divorce or separation. But we should always remember that your life situation is not your life!

The Zoom-Outs

The following Zoom-Outs I’ve found to be helpful in my own experience of separation and divorce. I sincerely hope you can find utility and comfort in them also.

As with all Zoom-Outs, be kind to yourself. Use your wisdom to best judge when to apply them. And do not demand that you can always Zoom-Out. Be especially mindful of where you are currently within the “Grief Cycle” (which we cover first). At times we need to let our thoughts and emotions run their course (see “Emotional Being” below). We need to grieve. We need to heal. Be kind to yourself. Practice self-compassion. And if and when you can, have compassion for your ex.

“Grief Cycle” Zoom-Out

With a significant loss, we should expect and allow ourselves to grieve

Q. How can you acknowledge your need to grieve and what that entails?

Q. Where are you in the grief cycle right now?

When a relationship ends, we can experience intense grief. We are experiencing a loss. There are five well-established stages of grief and they are not linear. People will go through the stages in different orders and will cycle back around to previous stages over and over again. Grieving is a natural process and it’s generally acknowledged as a necessary process and one that should not be suppressed. The stages of the ‘grief cycle’ are:

initial panic; disbelief; paralysis; confusion
“How could this happen to me?”, “It can’t be true”

blame; hostility
“Why me?”, “This isn’t fair”, “I don’t deserve this”

inaction; isolation; tiredness; hopelessness; helplessness; loss of perspective
“I have no future!”, “What’s the point?”, “Everything is a struggle”

guilt; seeking in vain for a way out
“If only I had done X”, “If I had only been Y”

acceptance of the new reality despite not wanting or liking it; a letting go of what’s fair;
acknowledgement of the implications of the loss; seeing a way forward in a new direction
“I will go on”, “I’ve found a way forward”, “I’ve come to terms with what happened”

And consider there is life beyond grief – beyond acceptance. For example:

gratitude for everything else you still have;
gratitude for how you have changed and grown
gratitude for opportunities (old and new)
“I still have A, B, C, D, E, …”, “This has made me stronger”,
“I can help others going through similar experiences” , ” I have grown”


“Time is Change” Zoom-Out

“Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change” Thomas Hardy

Q. In what way can you embrace change rather than resist it?

Separating from a partner is usually a pretty dramatic change in one’s life situation. Whether that change is wanted or unwanted, a surprise or expected, it can still be a significant shake-up. Our default position is often to resist the change, especially if that change was not chosen by ourselves. However, resisting change will ultimately lead to more pain and suffering. One approach is to see change as part of nature and inevitable. Also to see that as humans, we are incredibly adaptable.

Read more…

“Emotional Being” Zoom-Out

Q. …

Being with your emotions and witnessing them non-judgementally.

Read more…

“Hello Goodbye” Zoom-Out

“The story of life is quicker
Than the wink of an eye
The story of love is hello and goodbye
Until we meet again.”
– Jimi Hendrix, 1970

Q. How can you be grateful for what you had and accept it was always destinated to result in a goodbye?

All relationships are destined to end one way or another. From Anthony and Cleopatra to your great, great, great grandparents. Any relationship is thus destinated to be a story of “Hello and goodbye”. It’s just that sometimes that goodbye comes sooner than we expect.

Read more…

“Likely Outcome” Zoom-Out

Consider the odds

Q. What were the chances that this would happen?

If we reflect and be truly honest with ourselves, we may see that there was never any guarantee that this relationship would go the full course. We may see that there was always a fairly high chance that this relationship would come to an untimely end. For marriages, one should only consider the divorce rates in your country to help you view things more objectively in the “Odds DIMENSION“.

Read more…

“Peak End Rule” Zoom-Out

We tend to remember an experience by its most intense point and its end rather than its entirety

Q. What do you see and feel if you focus on the entire experience, not just its most intense point and its end?

We will tend to judge a relationship in hindsight based on how we felt at its peak (i.e., its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the relationship. It is so easy to overlook countless intimate and positively shared moments. Many relationships end badly and this will tend to skew our view of the whole relationship. Likewise, the most intense point in the relationship will be taken out of proportion – which may be a blissful experience now painfully missed or a painful experience at the time that now also dominates our memory.

Read more…

“Sunk Cost” Zoom-Out

Ignore ‘sunk costs’

Q. What are the best options when you disregard prior investment?

When a relationship ends, we may find ourselves demanding that it should not have ended based on how much our time and our life has been ‘invested’ in the relationship. Deep down we know we cannot turn back the clock or change what has come to pass. At this point, perhaps we just need to let go and maximise the potential of our future, independently from what has gone before.

Read more…

“The Pledge” Zoom-Out

Q. …

Read more…

“Next Positive Action” Zoom-Out

When ‘Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs)’ arise, focus on what you can control

Q. What ‘Automatic Negative Thoughts’ are arising and what’s the ‘Next Positive Action’?

Separations and divorces can be extremely stressful. This Zoom-Out can help relieve negative stress by shifting our focus from reactivity and even a ‘victim mentality’ towards proactive action.


“Infinitely Worse” Zoom-Out

There are an infinite number of ways in which things could be worse.

Q. What are you grateful hasn’t happened and what are you grateful for having?

Read more…

“Present Moment” Zoom-Out

“The present moment is all there ever is” – Eckhart Tolle

Q. How can you zoom-out from your thoughts and zoom-in on the present moment?

Mindfulness – everything is OK right here, right now…

Read more…

“Love Equation” Zoom-Out

I love my ex
Do what makes my ex happy
My ex wants me to let them go
I should let them go

Q. .?

This is clearly for the situation where your ex has instigated the separation against your desires and you still very much love your ex. This can be quite a challenging Zoom-Out but I recommend you try it from time to time. Be mindful of your stage of grief as with many of these Zoom-Outs. Be kind to yourself.

Read more…

“Gains v Loss” Zoom-Out

For every loss there are one or more gains

Q. How can you see beyond the losses to the gains?

EXERCISE: Write down all the things that you have lost as a result of the separation. For each loss, write at least one potential gain. share with a friend and see if they can see even ore potential gains.

Read more…

More Zoom-Outs:

  • Their Shoes (conflict)
  • Win-Win (conflict)
  • Support Team
  • Three Good Things
  • Timeline
  • Highlights (or as exercise in Peak End Rule) (tend to remember negatives more?)
  • See ZO-CARDS…