An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Allow yourself to go through the emotional stages of divorce but take care not to get stuck in any one of them. Sometimes you may have to force yourself to move to the next stage. One client was stuck in the grief stage. She had to force herself to move to the sex stage or healing stage in order to thrive. During this process be kind to yourself. Do things that make you happy, that make you feel confident, that make you feel special. Learn to be comfortable in your own skin and enjoy your own company.
As part of our series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce Or Breakup” I had the pleasure of interviewing Bronwyn Smith.
Bronwyn is an Author, Coach and Clinical Hypnotherapist. Before starting her new career she was a Litigation Lawyer for nearly 30 years and Family Lawyer for about 20 years, working primarily with women helping them obtain a favourable property settlement. Bronwyn now coaches women who are going through a divorce helping them not just survive but thrive.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I grew up in Sydney Australia. I grew up in the 1970’s when women were fighting for equality, the rights we now enjoy. My mother was one of the women fighting for women’s rights, so it was instilled in us that we have a career and that we have choices. And we can have a career and a family we don’t have to choose.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I had loved being a Lawyer and then law no longer made my heart sing. I looked for a new career and found Marisa Peer’s Rapid Transformational Therapy, a type of Hypnotherapy, it made my heart sing and I new this was my new career. Coaching was a natural fit with RTT and it was the perfect match for me.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I know they want an interesting client story but I don’t have one. The most interesting thing that happened is the number of law colleagues who rang me and asked me if I was okay or if I was having a midlife crisis because I was leaving a lucrative legal career for a career in Coaching and Hypnotherapy. My happiness and loving what I do is the most important thing to me.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In my first year as a hypnotherapist a woman rang me and asked me to treat her husband. She told me it was urgent and asked if I could fit him in the next 48 hours as they were going overseas. I was absolutely full and didn’t have a vacancy but she insisted. So I created an appointment for him. When he arrived he told me that he didn’t want any treatment. He didn’t believe in hypnotherapy and left. I learnt to never book an appointment from anyone other than the person being treated.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
If you can Dream It You Can Achieve It by Zig Ziglar because it reminds me that my future is always in my hands.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am thinking about writing another book. This one will be for women about what to expect when going through a separation and divorce and how to thrive.
Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell us a bit about your experience going through a divorce, or helping someone who was going through a divorce? What did you learn about yourself during and after the experience? Do you feel comfortable sharing a story?
I have never gone through a divorce although I have had long term relationships end. I was a Family Lawyer for about 20 years and now I am a Coach and Hypnotherapist helping people navigate divorce so that they can thrive. Between the 2 professions I’ve probably helped at least a hundred people maybe more, predominantly women, navigate their divorce. I’ve learnt that you need to be detached as well as empathetic and caring to best support and assist the person. I learnt that it was important to heal from my childhood traumas which led to me being happy in my own skin and that led to much better relationships and a happier life generally.
In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes people make after they go through a divorce? What can be done to avoid that?
There are 8 main emotional stages people go through after divorce. One of the main mistakes people make is getting “stuck” in one of those stages. Usually where they get stuck is in anger, bitterness and grief or a combination of the three. People need to understand that these emotional stages are normal and they shouldn’t be afraid to move through them. The second mistake people make is defining themselves by the Divorce or that they are Divorced. People should be aware that Divorce is just one chapter of their life and doesn’t define them. We all have many chapters in our lives, good and bad, and divorce should be seen as just another chapter. The third mistake women primarily make is not being able to say “No” to their ex. They are so used to compromising with their ex and they forget they don’t have to compromise with them anymore, they can make decisions solely based on what suits them. I teach these women that saying “No” to their ex is ok. The fourth mistake people make is being negative about their ex-partner in front of the kids. Both parents should always respect that the other parent is the child’s mother or father. When kids hear negative comments about a parent they feel bad about themselves.
People generally label “divorce” as being “negative”. And yes, while there are downsides, there can also be a lot of positive that comes out of it as well. What would you say that they are? Can you share an example or share a story?
One positive is women can finally put themselves first. It is an opportunity for people to heal from not only the relationship but from any past traumas they may have. It is also an opportunity for them to reinvent themselves whether that be in their career or in their personal life — as I said earlier healing is one of the main areas that I see people shy away from. But they can also do simpler things like lose weight, create a new circle of friends, take up new hobbies, or spend more time on the hobbies that they love and haven’t done because life became too hectic.
They can financially reinvent themselves — climb the corporate ladder, open a business, learn about money and investments, buy their own home. So that they are financially independent. They can also choose whether or not to be in another relationship in the future. If they decide to be in a relationship in the future, what will that relationship look like. Do they want to re marry, or just live with someone. Or do they just want to date and not commit any more than that. It is a time that they can really make decisions on their future that suits them. And they should take this opportunity to sit down and really make decisions about their future. When I work with clients I help them go through the emotional stages of divorce and not get stuck. And then work with them to decide on the future they really want and how to put that into action.
A funny story I had a client that went through her divorce and property settlement. One thing her ex husband wanted was equal time with the kids which she agreed to. On the first week that he was to have the children he texted her and said he couldn’t have the kids and could she have them. She rang me in a panic not sure what to do. I said to her not to worry that I would dictate her reply. She was so relieved. I said bring up his text and hit reply, which she did. I said now type the letter “N” and now the letter “O” and hit send. She spiralled a little bit but ultimately hit the send button. He was so shocked that she had said No that the kids went to his place as planned. I reminded her that it was ok to say No to him, She didn’t have to compromise with him and accommodate him any longer. She could and should make choices that were for her benefit.
Some people are scared to ‘get back out there’ and date again after being with their former spouse for many years and hearing dating horror stories. What would you say to motivate someone to get back out there and start a new beginning?
Decide on the traits that you want in a partner and sometimes it is also appropriate to decide on the traits that you don’t want in a partner. Make sure that you are choosing the right partner for you rather than choosing any partner because you don’t want to be alone. Trust yourself and everything that you have learnt from any previous relationship mistakes. Enjoy the process of dating and don’t put any pressure on yourself. Have fun whilst dating. I know that sounds easier said than done but don’t take it too seriously. Get to know many people and take your time. Walk away when it doesn’t feel right because your gut instinct is usually right. Don’t lead with your business self, connect with your emotional self and lead with that — and that means you will be vulnerable and that’s ok.
What is the one thing people going through a divorce should be open to changing?
Themselves. I think we should always be growing and learning. It makes us more interesting people. The other thing is they way they parent as they will now be co-parenting the children. Women should be open to giving their ex more time with the kids, rather than the standard every second weekend which is typical in Australia for the father. I think children should spend a significant amount of time with both parents as it benefits the kids to have a relationship with both parents. It also benefits the parents to have time to build their new life, to get to know themselves, to heal themselves and to have a life of their own that is not defined by their kids.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. If you had a close friend come to you for advice after a divorce, what are 5 things you would advise in order to survive and thrive after the divorce? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Allow yourself to go through the emotional stages of divorce but take care not to get stuck in any one of them. Sometimes you may have to force yourself to move to the next stage. One client was stuck in the grief stage. She had to force herself to move to the sex stage or healing stage in order to thrive. During this process be kind to yourself. Do things that make you happy, that make you feel confident, that make you feel special. Learn to be comfortable in your own skin and enjoy your own company.
- Heal from the relationship and any past trauma that you may have. People after divorce often feel that they are either Not Good Enough or Not Loveable and that is why the marriage failed. That is not true, they are good enough and they are loveable. Also if you don’t heal properly from that relationship, it is more likely than not that you will attract the same or similar partner in the future. Seek help if you need to, to deal with those feelings. During the healing stage you will change and grow, and learn a lot about yourself and that is a really good thing. That attracts change into your life and new beginnings.
Have you had a friend who introduced you to their new flame or partner and you commented “that they have a type.” That is generally not a good thing because they are attracting the same sort of partner and generally the same sort of problems or issues that they had in their marriage. And the result will also be the same. It is much better if the new partner is completely different, in a good way, than their last partner.
3. Plan your future. What exactly do you want your future to look like. What career do you want? What friendship circle do you want? What do you want in a future relationship — married, dating etc? What do you want to do in your spare time? What do you want your financial future to look like? What do you want your co-parenting to be? Sit down and make decisions in all areas of your life. Then look at how to achieve that.
It may seem daunting at the start but it is worth it. Also don’t afraid to change a plan, that’s ok too. I had one client who was working towards starting her own business. Then she got offered a plum job with a great salary and so she took the job and put the business on the backburner. That’s ok she can go back to the business in the future if she ever wants to.
4. If you can use the money from the property settlement to buy yourself (and your kids) a house. Knowing you have a roof over your head gives you security and stability. After a divorce most people say they feel like they are in a fog and have trouble making decisions. I’ve found that this is an easy decision to make and really helps clients move forward. I’ve had clients ring me up months later and thank me for steering them towards buying a property. They said having that stability had really helped them move forward.
5. Be open to your ex spending more time with the children. It is much healthier for everyone and it really is putting the kids first. One couple had an amicable divorce and the kids spent 50% of the time with each parent. The ex husband bought a house around the corner from his ex wife so the kids could easily go between the two houses. The kids didn’t have the same stress that other kids often have because they knew it was ok to have a relationship with both parents.
The stress of a divorce can take a toll on both one’s mental and emotional health. In your opinion or experience, what are a few things people going through a divorce can do to alleviate this pain and anguish?
Definitely see it as a chapter in their life rather than being defined by their divorce. If someone sees their divorce as who they are it will take a much bigger toll on their emotional and mental health, because they see themselves as a failure. That they failed in what they see as their most important relationship. The truth is that this is just one significant relationship in their life. There will be other significant relationships in their life, even if its not a life partner eg parent, child, friend and sibling. They are more likely to get stuck in the bitterness or grief stage if they are defined by their divorce. Reframe this and remember it is one chapter in your life. Your divorce does not define you as a person, it is a chapter in your life, albeit a painful chapter, that you can recover from and you can move forward to bigger and better things. And a better you.
Put yourself first including your emotional self. Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to grieve from the wounds of the marriage. So often I see people being hard on themselves and being overly critical of themselves. This is the time to learn to give yourself a break, be kind to yourself and put your needs first. Spend time doing the things you love and being with the people you love and laugh. Laughing always makes you feel better.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?
For anyone who has suffered from narcissistic abuse I would recommend Caroline Strawson’s podcast. Free Facebook Group called Divorce Society which I run with a girlfriend. It is a support group for women. A safe place where women can ask questions and find out if how they are feeling or what they are experiencing is “normal” and how other women in the group have faced and overcome challenges. My book Dream a Big Life. My Podcast “It Starts With A Dream”.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The Dream Movement. Teaching people that dreaming isn’t for children, its for everyone. When you let your imagination Dream, you become inspired as well as motivated. When you live your Dream Life you have purpose, happiness and a wonderful sense of self. You also inspire others to Dream too.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
That’s easy, Oprah Winfrey because she has had such an amazing life where she has learnt and grown. She has embraced every opportunity that has come her way. She is so inspirational and yet seems really down to earth. I would love to ask her what her Dream was and how it changed over the years. How her mindset has changed. And how she has embraced every opportunity yet still remains so down to earth.
Thank you for these great insights and for the time you spent with this interview. We wish you only continued success!
Thank you that’s very kind.
Bronwyn Smith: 5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.