Decisions OverDivorce Podcast Episode 3 Decisions Trascription

Audio podcast for this transcript is here

Announcer:  [0:03] You’re listening to the overdivorce.com podcast with hosts Tom and Adrian, two guys swapping stories about getting over divorce. If you’re going through a painful divorce and struggling with anger and anxiety, then you’ve found the right podcast. Hang with us for the next 30 minutes or so. We promise, you’ll gain useful insight and effective tips and techniques for getting over your divorce and rebuilding a better life.

Tom:  [0:26] All right, I’m Tom.

Adrian:  [0:27] I’m Adrian.

Tom:  [0:29] We’re here in over divorce podcast. How are you feeling today, Adrian?

Adrian:  [0:35] I’m feeling great! It is sunny and beautiful up here in Vermont.

Tom:  [0:41] It’s sunny and hot here in Atlanta, Georgia. We’re happy to be here. Today’s discussion is about making decisions. I know that it’s really tough when you’re first getting started recognizing the realities of divorce, wanting to do anything. I know I just wanted to stay in bed with the covers over my head.

Adrian:  [1:07] One of the things that I realized going through my divorce was, what are the things I had no control over, and tried to look at some of the things I did have control over. I found that when it came to my relationships, I didn’t have much control over that. I couldn’t control how my ex‑wife felt about me, or what she was doing, or anything to do with her really. [1:35] Just like I can’t control the weather, I can’t control how anybody else is feeling, or doing, or their actions. I did realize the one thing that I could control was my decisions, and my actions. I really felt like I couldn’t even control my emotional state, whether I was up or down. But I could control what I chose to do about that, what kinds of actions I could take to help with that. I wonder if you were in the same state.

Tom:  [2:10] I went through a time where I thought I could just persuade my wife to love me again, or to at least make an effort to repair the marriage. She should have understood what was being sacrificed, from my perspective destroyed, by her leaving. I thought I’ll persuade her. I will show her the evidence. [2:39] I will remind her that there is only four more years that our child will be in our home, and maybe it’s worth spending some time just trying to make it work for the sake of our daughter for the remaining four years that she is going to be with us.” And, all of this, I realized, after a while, you can’t persuade someone to love you through logic, and force of will, or any other of the persuasive arts or rhetoric.

[3:13] Really what you begin to realize is just what you said, you only have control over yourself, and persuasion is pointless. You really helped me figure that out when we were first talking about this in the beginning. That you’re not going to do that, and you’re probably actually better off doing your best to help facilitate what she imagines to be her goals in this situation, even though that’s counter‑intuitive.

[3:44] I think that was just some of the best insight ever, was going, “Stop persuading and start making decisions about yourself. Quit trying to make decisions for other people, quit trying to persuade other people ‑‑ or your wife ‑‑ quit trying to do those things that seem instinctual and move to righting yourself getting what is essentially your new life started. You 2.0. Start on that, get going with that.”

[4:22] In fact today, I’ll share anecdotally, that I’ve had a really hard time, emotionally, letting go of this house. I don’t have the ability right now to continue to maintain it. And, quite honestly, as the air conditioning guy leaves, I don’t know that I really want to.

[4:41] I’m attached to it emotionally, but it was so hard to call the real estate agent and go, “What do I need to do to get the sign up? I’ve made up my mind, I’m ready to go, I’m ready to do this, let’s do this.” And of course I left it in a voicemail, which is frustrating because it took so much gumption to call her up on the phone and do it! But, I finally was able to, and it really did illustrate the point of “Make a decision.”

[5:11] You told this story in the last episode, Adrian, and I hope you’ll tell the story again about what your Dad said about not worrying about making the right decision, but making a decision, and then making it right.

Adrian:  [5:23] My dad sat me down and I was having a hard time making a decision at that point in my life, I think it was work related, and he said just that. The overall message is, if you think about it, where you are in life is a direct correlation to every decision that you’ve ever made. Another piece of the puzzle is at least for me, to be one hundred percent accountable for where I was. [5:54] Where I am today and where I was going through my divorce. Take responsibility for the situation. At the very least, it’s an empowering attitude to have. You’re not becoming a victim. You’re just accepting responsibility for where you are in life. This can be really freeing, allows you to maybe get some clarity and perspective on the situation.

Tom:  [6:25] I want to call out what appears to be an incongruity around making the right decision versus making the decision right. Looking at my marriage I would say that in this model the decision to get married was not the right decision. I was perfectly capable, as my friend Charles likes to say, perfectly capable of marrying the wrong person for me. [6:55] [laughter]

Tom:  [6:56] I made the wrong decision. Following the logic of your dad and making the decision right, I would say that it would follow that I should do everything that I could to persuade my wife to hang in the marriage, work and go to counseling, and try to quote‑unquote make the decision right. That seems to be in conflict with the idea of accept and move on. [7:27] Unless, what you’re saying is a lot of what making the decision right is, is accepting and moving on. I’m trying to put all that together. How do I make the decision right about marrying my wife?

Adrian:  [7:45] I think that that decision was right at the time. Things changed, your circumstances changed. It wasn’t the same situation that it was 20 years ago, or however long. That was the right decision. When things changed for her, and it wasn’t’ right, that is new information for your decision making. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try and just go through that. [8:16] Don’t get stuck, not just only in relationship, but in business issues and other personal issues, of just hemming and hawing and doing research and then not executing on decisions that need to be made. Don’t squander your time doing that. Instead, make the best decision that you can with all the information that you can, and then move on.

Tom:  [8:41] The take away for me is that “move.” There’s a great song by The Boxer Rebellion, and there’s a riff. I listen to it running all the time, he just says, “Move on, move on, move on.” He sings it over and over. I typically don’t get super inspired by music when I’m running, it just helps me get distracted so I’m not thinking about how exhausted I am. [9:11] It is really about deciding to move on. It’s true with this house. I’ve got to accept that it’s time to move on. I’m not really wired that way for some reason.

[9:25] For a guy that professes change, I’m pretty conservative and I don’t really want to move on. Particularly when things are good, it’s like, why? But I think it’s essential. A big lesson for me through all of this is the incredible importance of moving on, and making a decision to go to something else. Even if you figure out pretty quickly that, hey, this wasn’t the right decision.

Adrian:  [9:53] I think you hit the nail on the head there. How do you press forward and accept where things are and then start making plans for down the road. Even if they are simple types of decisions, talking about selling your house, that’s a pretty huge decision and undertaking. [10:16] What’s interesting too, that I’ve found was that we are creatures of habit. Getting a divorce is a major disruption to that habit, your daily grind. I think that’s one of the major hurdles and challenges, is that now you have to kind of establish new, better habits.

[10:44] You’re not having dinner when you used to have dinner. you’re not going to bed and doing the same things. You’ve got a lot of free time, and…

Tom:  [10:52] Boy, that’s for sure! [10:53] [laughter]

Adrian:  [10:56] So, looking at that and trying to make some good decisions based on how you want to end up a year down the road, or six months, or even a week.

Tom:  [11:08] I’m holding a book by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler. I hope I pronounced their names right, but it’s called “The Decision Book: 50 Models for Strategic Thinking.” [11:24] They divide the book up in a pretty interesting fashion. How to improve yourself, how to understand yourself better, how to understand others better and how to improve others.

[11:36] They give, essentially 50 models. Some of them are trivial and well known. Other ones aren’t quite as well known, in terms of previously accepted models for making decisions.

[11:51] I think it’s interesting, because I’ve always loved this book. It’s tiny and it fits in my backpack.

[11:57] It’s often helpful for clients, because I’ll refer to one of these models. Often times they look at me like, “Hey, you’re making that stuff up.” It’s like, “No, this stuff’s kind of old. It’s been around for a while.” That’s usually a pretty good rationalization for why I consider it, but I think what’s important here is this idea that there are probably 50 strategic models for making decisions.

[12:25] There’s maybe twice that, or three times that, that are all worth discussing. Ultimately, what we’re discussing here is that you need to make decisions yourself instead of letting them be made for you. That decision by indecision, or quoting Neil Peart, “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice.”

[12:45] It’s easy to get stuck in that model. Particularly when you’ve liked your life, you’ve liked wife and everything’s fine. You get used to not making a choice.

[12:58] “What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know, what do you want for dinner?” You’re going back and forth on that. Now every night you decide for yourself what you’re going to have for dinner.

[13:07] All of a sudden you decide, “Hey, maybe this isn’t so bad. I find that I like stuff that I’d forgotten I liked. That I hadn’t had in a while, because my wife didn’t care for it.”

[13:20] “I didn’t like it so much that I had to insist on it, or that I couldn’t have it at lunch,” or whatever. It was never that big of a deal.

[13:27] I think for a lot of guys that are in our position, guys forced into divorce, that there’s a lot of decisions that they were just advocating. Because they were just wanting to make their partner happy.

[13:42] In reality, what I’ve learned from some of these people in the Pickup Artist Space is that, that’s really unattractive. That can really bear down on your relationship, even though you’re just trying to be accommodating.

Adrian:  [13:55] That’s exactly right from that perspective. From the PUA, the Pickup Artist kind of perspective it’s having a strong identity is attractive. You know where somebody stands. [14:14] Someone that’s got a strong opinion about something, it essentially gives them an identity. It allows you to trust them, because you can hang your hat on what they say.

[14:26] Someone who has a preference for dogs, rock music and they like sushi, you know a little bit about this person. But compare that to somebody who’s like, “Yeah, dogs and cats are fine.” Or, “I like whatever. Sushi, whatever.” They’re not really defining it, so it’s hard to hang your hat on that and to trust that person.

Tom:  [14:48] It’s hard to know that you’re contributing to their happiness.

Adrian:  [14:51] Yeah, it’s just hard to know who they are. Like, “Who is this person?” If you’ll eat anything, do anything and listen to anything, doesn’t seem like there’s a very developed person there. That you can trust. [15:05] Even if I don’t like the same foods, the same music, or have the same taste in reading, if you have at least a strong opinion about that, I respect that more than somebody that doesn’t have an opinion about it either way.

Tom:  [15:20] I wanted to share the story of the OkCupid data. OkCupid is a huge online dating service. They’ve done an incredible job data‑mining. [15:34] One of the things that they’ve discovered is, they can forecast compatibility with three questions. I found this just fascinating.

[15:45] You can sit down with someone at your next date, and you can figure out if you’re compatible with them or not by asking them three questions. If you agree with them, you’ll be compatible. If you don’t agree with them, then the data scientists at OkCupid would say the probability of you staying together is low.

[16:06] The first question is, “Do you like horror movies?” It’s amazing that horror movies are so polarizing, but apparently they are.

[16:16] The second one is, “Have you ever, or would you be strongly compelled to travel alone in a foreign country?” The third question is, “Have you ever considered, or would you ever strongly consider just moving onto a sailboat and leaving the world behind?” Just living on the sailboat and traveling around.

[16:41] If you answer those three questions the same way as the person you’re hanging with, you have a high probability of actually having a real relationship with that person. If you find that there’s any chemistry, or attraction at all. I just thought that was somewhat reductive, but at the same time, fascinating.

Adrian:  [17:09] Do you have a little cheat sheet you bring with you? A little pre‑qualification thing that these women now have to go through? Just a little online form they can fill out real quick? [17:19] [laughter]

Tom:  [17:21] Yeah, when I [inaudible 17:21] into the bar and I see an attractive woman next to me, I always like to say, “How do you feel about horror movies?”

Adrian:  [laughs] [17:28] You just don’t hand her a little piece of paper and ask her to fill it out with her name and number, then you’ll get back to her after you run the data?

Tom:  [laughs] [17:37] I don’t date much, at all…any. So I would say that I don’t know if that works or not.

Adrian:  [17:49] That could be your new marketing campaign.

Tom:  [17:51] Yeah, that could be my new PUAist strategy. We could maybe start a sideline with the PUA Guys, and see what they think of my pickup strategy. [18:05] That decision to actually make a decision and make decisions is, I think one of the really untold secrets of being successful.

[18:20] If in your job you’re making decisions, for me one of my business, it has been harder to move it forward being in the process of divorce, because the decision process is harder.

[18:36] I’m questioning a lot of my own decisions just generally, looking back and going, hey I apparently married the wrong girl, what other bad decisions have I made. You could start to question your other decisions so that makes questioning decisions going forward more debilitating.

Adrian:  [18:58] I fell into that same kind of trap where, boy, if I had messed up on this one and I was totally caught off guard which than tells me about my ability to make decisions we’re also by making these glaring mistakes. [19:11] Part of that is that whenever you make a decision it’s either going to be the right one or the wrong one and you’ll know pretty soon depending on the size and magnitude of decision and then that the good side of that is that you build up experience from that.

[19:29] There’s a guy named Dr. Paul Dobransky, he’s got, I think the book is called the MindOS, and he talks a lot about making decisions and having good strong boundaries and how even if you make a bad decision well, at least you get some experience. You learn something from that.

[19:50] Next time around you can right that wrong and gain from that. The bottom line is even if it’s a small decisions like, and my lowest point it could have been do I brush my teeth or am I going to go outside? What pants do I want to wear? Like having intent even behind those small decisions. When you’re in the midst of depression those sorts of things add up.

[20:17] Again I’m a big believer of starting small depending, where you are in the process and then building on that, making any kind of a decision. Yes I want to wear the jeans. Yes I’m wearing the shirt.

[20:30] It might seem small and ridiculous but when you’re having problems getting out of bed in the morning to make it all happen, at least building on this little confidence of deciding what you’re going to eat and you’re going to eat something healthy. You’re not going to have the flapjacks with the syrup and all the butter that you’re going to have something good. Good grass fed beef, build on that on your day.

Tom:  [20:53] It gets into that rationalization model, like I’ll decide tomorrow to eat something healthy. I will make that decision. I’ll make that phone call tomorrow. I found what helps me from procrastination and rationalization is they go hand‑in‑hand like brothers, is to make a list.

Adrian:  [21:17] Yeah I’m a total list builder. Maybe you can talk a little bit about your old model of astronauts versus marines because that plays well into the two kinds of psychological models of most people and how that applies to decision‑making.

Tom:  [21:38] Something I came up around about maybe four or five years ago where I was trying to think about ways to assess people up pretty quickly in terms of their decision processes, to figure out who was ready to go to and why people waited and why I got frustrated in what to do about it. [22:02] Putting labels on people is generally a bad idea. Nobody likes to be labeled but we all have stereotypes that we use to survive. It helps us to recognize danger quickly and to avoid risky situations.

[22:18] While labeling people is politically incorrect, everybody does have a certain set of prejudices because we’re all evolutionary biology. That’s just the way we’re wired. So we fight this.

[22:33] One of the ways I try to fight it was with this astronaut/marine model where I said, hey here are heroic archetypes, the astronaut in and marine.

[22:44] The marine knows that any plan that you make is thrown in the trash can as soon as you’re first confronted by the enemy and then you have to adapt and change and continually evolve whatever you’re doing in order to compensate for a highly dynamic environment.

[23:03] An astronaut on the other hand says, now if you put one five dollar O‑ring in my space shuttle that thing is going to blowup and everyone’s going to die and $100 million worth of equipment is going to be blown into oblivion.

[23:21] We really need both kinds of people. We need people who are ready to go and adapt because they like the idea and they know that whatever idea they were working off of now is going to ultimately change.

[23:35] Then there are people who need to understand exactly what the plan is. What’s going to happen, if A happens during the plan? What’s going to happen if B happens during the plan? What’s going to happen if neither of those things happen and work all the way through.

[23:52] The key to that is looking at yourself and going, hey, am I a guy that’s ready to change plans as soon as I hit the beach or am I a guy who needs to know where everything is and know that everything is in its place. That’s really a tendency. It’s never an extreme

[24:11] We’ve all met people who are extremes in one way or the other and they’re maddening. If they’re extremely dynamic and flexible, like if they’re extreme marines it can be annoying, because they’re acting oftentimes in ways that look unilateral and self‑serving and selfish. When really in their minds they’re just moving ship forward.

[24:40] Then conversely you have extreme astronauts who appear to be obstructive, seem to ponder their belly button, think about stuff that doesn’t matter and go on and on, wasting time when they actually could be getting work done.

[24:59] Well the truth of the matter is those people are actually contemplating, very likely scenarios and responses to those scenarios and forecasting aggressively and carefully and making plans to be sure that there are equipped and ready in case inevitable happens, something changes.

[25:22] They both are models for change adaptation but they’re both completely opposite ways of adapting to change. I think the risk of pontificating far too long that if one has a good sense of whether they’re an astronaut or a marine and what they’re looking for in terms of people to work with and be with and be romantic with they’ll do a lot better if they understand themselves and they’ll get into that mode of being able to make decisions.

[25:59] I’d be interested knowing that you’re sort of a self‑professed astronaut that you probably had a real challenge getting into the decision mode.

[26:11] I’m a marine, you and I different in that way and it was hard for me to start making decisions and I’m still having a hard time making decisions and one of the things on my throwing a lot of shit against the wall and I’m having problems following through and I suspect that where marines when they’re in this situation and if you’re examining your own style and you’re looking at how you’re responding to your situation.

[26:37] If you are a marine you’re going throwing a lot of stuff against the wall. You are not really following through. If you are an astronaut, you probably are just sitting there going, I have no idea what’s next. I can’t begin to plan and if I can’t begin to plan I can’t even think about deciding.

Adrian:  [26:57] Yeah. That’s definitely where I was more on the astronaut side. I like to think of myself as a marine who likes to fly. So I’m trying to take the best of both worlds, but I was crippled by not having enough information, not being able to make a decision and having a lot of fear and anxiety built up around that fact. [27:24] For me I definitely think it would have been helpful if I had more of a marine attitude and just decided to make some decisions and move forward as best as I could.

[27:36] I will point out though that in your state of mind when you’re going through this isn’t totally rational and sound. So if you do have some big decisions to make, it’s really important to get some sound advice whether that’s friends or family or professionally, you didn’t have to need to pay for a therapist or you can ask some guidance or a coach.

[28:00] I think that’s something that’s invaluable because you’re not thinking straight. There is so much unusual stress that’s going on in your life that when it comes down to making some big decisions, I think it’s important to get some perspective from the outside. But just don’t overanalyze it to death. Be aware that you’re probably not in your most clear thinking state, when you’re under this kind of stress as a divorce.

Tom:  [28:26] I think understanding what is getting in the way of decision‑making in your personality type can be really helpful to get you moving into decisions. So like you said you started reading a lot, getting a lot of impressions from people, [inaudible 28:44] . [28:45] I’ve talked to a lot of people, called a lot of people and tried to read some as well but also really working my to‑do‑list. Just making the decision to put something on the to‑do‑list to me was actually a way of getting things going and really being dedicated to that to‑do‑list with things like exercise.

[29:11] Just not giving up, when I would miss a day or even miss two days, reminding myself that I’ve committed not to give up, to forget about the fact that I missed a day or two and just make sure that I do it the next day not letting it go three and four days because that’s quitting.

[29:28] I’m trying to take a framework and determine what quitting is and deciding that I’m not going to do that. Again making these decisions, keeps us moving forward, keeps us from getting stuck, pulls us out of our depression and is a really good alternative to the smoking, drinking and fucking that we think is going to get us out of our situation.

Adrian:  [29:54] Although fun.

Tom:  [29:55] Although fun.

Adrian:  [29:57] Might not be the healthiest thing to do long‑term.

Tom:  [30:00] No. That’s right. We’ve got some really cool stuff on the website, some links, some interesting reading including the decision book I mentioned earlier, as well as some other tools that will be helpful for you to get through this challenge of making decisions and then following through with them to get yourself more becoming, as opposed to responding. [30:25] Appreciate your time today. Thanks for joining us. Adrian what are we talking about next time?

Adrian:  [30:30] Next week we’re going to be talking about responsibility and how to take that on and the importance of being accountable and responsible for your actions.

Tom:  [30:40] Yeah. It’s easy to just be, “Yeah, screw it. I don’t care. I’m hurt and don’t want to do anything.” Life goes on, and if you wait too long it will pass you by. So getting a good sense of what you really are responsible for versus things that you can just sort of chuck to the side, I think can be helpful. So, until then, I look forward to catching up later.

Adrian:  [31:05] Bye‑bye, everybody. [31:06] [background music]

Announcer:  [31:07] Thanks for listening to the overdivorce.com podcast with Adrian and Tom. The opinions expressed are theirs alone. They are not professionals. Join us next time anyway, it’ll be good for you. Visit overdivorce.com to get your free divorce recovery guide and get some fantastic resources on making a better life. Contact us via email at [email protected], follow us on Twitter, and like us on our Facebook page. We want to help you, if we can.