If you are contemplating divorce, or are trying to cope with the aftermath, then you are most likely experiencing some strong emotions: fear, anxiety, confusion, guilt, grief, and regret. In addition, you may also feel relief and liberation.
Getting divorced is one of the hardest experiences to go through. Here are some suggestions on how to heal from this difficult and painful decision:
- Talk to someone. The best thing you can do for yourself is find a safe person to go on this journey with. A coach, a therapist, and/or a close friend. Having a person (or persons) beside you is priceless when facing divorce.
- Grieve. Let your emotions out. The best way out is through. When you get divorced you experience the loss of your dreams and your family (at least the way you knew it.) Going in to your emotions will help you heal more quickly and thoroughly.
- Look forward. Visualize your future. Don’t hold on to the past, but create a new life for yourself. As you navigate a divorce you will experience many changes in your life, including how holidays are celebrated, how your children are raised, often your housing situation is altered; everything changes. But, for you to make the most of it, it is helpful to dream of the next chapter in your life and hold on to that vision. Think about what you want for the rest of your life. Don’t look back to what you had; rather, look forward to what you are building next.
- Listen to Music. Music is a great therapeutic tool. I always recommend “music therapy” to people who are healing from any loss. There are many suggestions out there, depending on your needs at the time. I recommend you build a music library for yourself. Develop both a music library including songs for feeling the loss as well as those for feeling hope.
- Journal. A journal is a great tool for processing your thoughts and feelings as you go through a divorce. You will experience so many different emotions, that it’s helpful to write them down as a way to work through the divorce process. Writing in a journal will help you sort out your thoughts and experience difficult emotions. It will help you do something with the emotional energy you will experience as you heal.
- Protect yourself legally. Divorce is not only relational, it is also contractual. You can lose a lot psychologically, physically, and financially. Having good legal resources to help protect your interests is vital, especially if you have minor children and assets. Finding a good attorney can be difficult. I would recommend you ask others who have already gone through the process for their advice. Divorce can be very expensive. Do some research on your own and remind yourself that the attorneys work for you and it is their job to do what you are asking of them (as opposed to the other way around.)
- Make changes. Positive changes. Redecorate your house. Change your look. Get a new hair style. Create your new life with positive changes that will bring you joy and a sense of liberation. This will help you feel empowered and hopeful. Divorce takes a toll, but positive changes bring balance to the loss.
- Learn to value your alone time. It is often a hard adjustment to be alone after a divorce. Or, in reality, it might have always been hard for you to be alone. It depends on your personality. Many people will stay in bad relationships just to avoid being alone. This may or may not be your case. Either way, being alone well is an art and can be cultivated. Learning to be alone will be a skill that will be necessary as you traverse this new stage of life. As you learn to be alone you will prevent a lot of mistakes. Many people who are going through divorce often look to a rebound relationship for solace. This can be a huge mistake. It is better to learn alone-ness than to put yourself in any position where your feelings of well-being are put in the hands of someone else.
- Be good to yourself. Yes, it’s important to self-reflect and see your contributions to the problems, but it’s equally important to do so with grace. Be kind and compassionate towards yourself. If there are changes you need to make, do so, but don’t make them with self-criticism, rather use self-encouragement. In essence, don’t kick yourself when you’re down.
- Nurture your other relationships. Realize you are not just a spouse, but a friend, sibling, child, parent, etc. Focus on the other meaningful relationships in your life and invest in them. Call your loved ones. Take them out to lunch or invite to a movie. Spending time with the people you care for in your life will help you move forward and will enrich your life.
- Live one day at a time. With divorce comes a lot of problems, many of them unforeseen. You may become overwhelmed. The best way to manage this reality is to live one day at a time; one problem at a time. Don’t worry about solving everything today. Do what you can. Take action each day. But, don’t fret or worry about anything. Worry has no value-added to your life and will bring no resolve to any problem.
This list is surely not exhaustive. But it is a beginning to help you on the road of your new life. No matter what you go through or how you feel, always try to enjoy the journey.
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