Going through a divorce can feel like an endless stay in purgatory. We often feel like we’re circling the drain of uncertainties; the division of assets, visitation agreements, who will move out of the house and when will the divorce be final?
I felt like I couldn’t move forward until the papers were signed and stamped by the court. I felt lost in limbo, kind of helpless, like I couldn’t make any decisions on my own until I knew what was happening with our settlement. But you can take a few action steps before the ink is dry that will have a positive effect on your state of mind.
The court doesn’t decide when you get to move forward. You do.
If we don’t change the way we think or how we act, nothing in our lives will change. And we don’t want to be in limbo forever, right? As a life coach, I work with clients to help them change patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior so they can have a different experience than the one they’ve been having.
These suggestions are appropriate to delve into after the intense grieving stage has passed.
1) Come to understand that while the circumstances may not change, you can change how you respond to them.
Whenever you start to drift back into the past with the longing for the way things were, here are a few things to help you refocus on the future, not the past.
– Don’t beat yourself up for feeling sad and thinking about the past.
– Give yourself designated times for a good cry or a pity party, when you decide, not when your emotional being decides.
– Have 3 or 4 go-to happy memories that don’t involve your ex. Memorize them like a movie you’ve seen ten times and play one of them in your minds-eye when reflections of the past invade your thoughts.
– Have a few personal mantras to repeat to yourself when your thoughts are slipping away from you. One that got me through so many challenges was, this too, shall pass.
2) Prepare and plan for growth.
When I moved into my current home there was a completely bare plot of dirt where I envisioned a garden. Gardens don’t happen overnight. You have to prepare the soil, select plants that do well in the climate, sow seeds, provide nutrients and have patience!
These same principles apply when we are recreating ourselves and our lives after the death of a marriage.
– Decide on an emotional goal such as, I want to feel confident.
– Write down what things you would have to feel, think and do to become confident.
– Do them!
– If that means working with a therapist on your feelings of self-worth or joining a public speaking club like Toastmasters, do it.
– Maintain your mental garden; be sure to keep out pesky weeds and insects that weaken your growing root system. This includes your own thoughts, negative and critical people and environments that aren’t nutrient rich.
3) Face the challenges head-on.
There may have been months that have gone by where you stuck your head in the sand and didn’t want to deal with the logistics of divorce, or maybe neither of you has actually filed yet. We all know the excruciating paperwork that comes with divorce and for many of us like myself; we had to move out of the home we shared with our spouse.
Dealing with these issues, as uncomfortable as they may be, will contribute to your overall sense of taking charge of your life; that you are not at the whim of your ex’s choices.
– Make ‘I’ statements. I shifted from saying, I have to move because my husband left me and I can’t afford the house, to, I’ve decided to move to a new city after determining it’s not a good financial decision for me to keep the house.
My first statement comes from the victim mindset, this was done to me. The second statement reclaims my power over my life.
– Make the list of the things you’ve been putting off. Prioritize them. Put thirty minutes on your calendar, preferably in the morning, and get to work. Set a timer for thirty minutes. You don’t have to continue after times up but you may just get a little momentum going and keep at it.
– Reward yourself for getting this stuff done! Make sure to put at least a few enjoyable activities on your calendar to look forward to. Seeing them in print will bring you some relief that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not a train!
In order to rediscover ourselves and create a new life, we have to face fear and uncertainty and be willing to remain curious enough to explore the new terrain of being unpartnered.
Patty Blue Hayes is the award-winning author of Wine, Sex and Suicide – My Near Death Divorce and the creator of You Can Heal Your Heartbreak, an audio program based on her book, My Heart is Broken. Now What? Her life coaching helps people rediscover themselves after divorce. Connect with her at www.pattybluehayes.com.