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Behavior and Attitudes

"…It is that we are likely not only to think ourselves into a way of acting but also to act ourselves into a way of thinking." (137) Divorce is a major change in a persons life, also an exciting time to move toward new goals and make new commitments. The process of a divorce, I believe is a great example of the attitudes-follow-behavior and behavior-follow-attitude principles.

Going through a divorce stirs up mixed feelings of emotion. Some people feel upset, scared, happy, excited, relieved and confused by their situation, regardless if they were the one who initiate the divorce. Due to these conflicting feelings, people try to avoid appearing inconsistent with those around them. They may hide those emotions and use impression-management to appear consistent. In freeing oneself from a marriage, a person also creates a new attitude (self-identity) and goes through the movements of that new role. Though he/she may not feel comfortable going through a new routine, it will eventually feel familiar. By role-playing, we start to behave differently allowing a person to settle into his/her new life and commitments.

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For example when Ifirst began my divorce, I wasn't sure if it was the right decision due to the fact that we have children, I would be breaking up a family. And financially the children and I would be going into beggar status. However, I did feel excited about being free of all the ugliness that was projected onto my being and being free from physical abuse. I had to get some very destructive thoughts like "if only I could love more he would stop being physically abusive" or "It takes two to fight," out of my mind. I had to readjust my frame of thought and learn that I had rights. And more importantly, my children should be treated better than luggage by their father. If my children and I were going to survive and break this cycle, there had to be some major changes. All I knew to do was …

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