by Jill H. Breslau
I never imagined that I’d be suggesting that a retreat is like a divorce, but it is, in more than one way. It is a time when ordinary life, life as you know it, is suspended for a while, as you make decisions about how you would like things to be in the future.
The decisions you eventually make are not necessarily the same decisions you would make on Day 1. I began my retreat, for example thinking about what was not working in my life and determined to root out whatever character flaws perpetuated my problems. By the end of the retreat, my focus had shifted from pinning down my failures to owning my strengths—a welcome transformation.
If I had made a decision for my future based on my thoughts at the end of Day 1, I would have felt fearful, self-blaming, and full of disappointment. In giving myself time to engage in the retreat process—not unlike a divorce process—I emerged in a clearer, more confident mood. Yes, there are some decisions you have to make right now. And there are emergency situations in which delay is not appropriate. But generally, it helps if you can maintain the status quo to the greatest extent possible and give yourself time for the big decisions. Then, as the process unfolds, you can move forward into your future, making choices with more clarity and confidence.