Updated: Aug 29, 2021
Divorce is often a swirl of negative emotions involving financial stress, custody disagreements, heartache and uncertainty. So how do you find a positive light in all of this darkness? It takes some focus, but it can be done and there are strategies that can get you through those dark times and help you envision a positive and bright future.
#1 Change Your Story. I once had a therapist explain to me that during stress and anxiety filled times, we often play a negative movie in our head. Not only do we constantly play this negative story on a loop over and over, but many people start adding more negative “scenes” to the movie as they go. Pressing the STOP button on this movie and putting a new one on is paramount to being able to move toward a healthy future. Develop a new script that recognizes what is going on in your life, but then lets the negative thoughts pass and tells the story of what you want in your future. When you find that bad movie playing, make an effort to stop yourself and start telling the new story. Having a new positive forward-focused movie written and ready to go will make it easier for you to switch gears and visualize where you want to be when your divorce is over.
#2 Allow Yourself to Feel. Give yourself permission to feel the pain of divorce. Acknowledge it, and let it pass. Be kind to yourself about all of the various feelings you are having. Divorce encompasses all of the feelings of grief. It is a loss of a life that will no longer be, whether that is what you wanted or not, it is still a loss.
#3 Get a Support System in Place. If you are not good at asking for help, you need to start practicing. It is ok to ask for help. It is mandatory that you ask for help. It could be a friend that is an accountant, or real estate agent that you have a question for, or finally making that phone call to a therapist. People want to help. You will have many questions during divorce and you will most likely need input from people you trust. If you are feeling down and someone offers to drop dinner off, let them. If you need to get out of the house and a friend asks if you want to go for a walk, do it. You will start to feel more empowered when you do. You can always pay it forward. I’m betting there will be a friend in your future that will need something during a difficult time and you can be there to help.
#4 Define Your Relationship with Your Former Spouse. This is not a one size fits all situation. Varying levels of difficulty when communicating with your former spouse can make this relationship different in each situation. A common thread for this new relationship however is boundaries. If you have children, the number one goal is to keep things as calm as possible where they are concerned. You have a right to privacy however, and so do they. Mastering the art of being cordial, while keeping to the topic and not adding any unnecessary commentary can go a long way. This is good practice whether your ex is a high-conflict personality or not. Begin to see your lives as separate. Think about new rituals that you are excited about. This is a time to create your own world just as you want it.
#5 This Is An Opportunity To Be the New YOU!! I understand the fear of the unknown can be a big one, and divorce brings uncertainty. Whether or not you can see it in this moment; This is a great opportunity to be who YOU want to be. Marriage is comprise. Now that you are on your own, you get to consider what YOU want. What are the most important things to you? How do you want your future to be in one year, five years, ten years? This can be a great time for researching and reflecting. Engaging professionals such as coaches or counselors can help also.