Dealing With Grief

Your misery is the result of 4 different emotions. Deal with them separately to get yourself unstuck.

Divorce is an upheaval of all that was - all that made your life make sense. The misery that comes with all the change is profound, but there is hope.

Staying stuck is optional. You can make it through your divorce. You can experience happiness again and maybe even find love again too.

How? First, you need to understand what misery is. Then, you do something about it.

Misery is "a SOS" from your soul. It's a result of feeling alone, stifled, overwhelmed and scared. Taken on their own, each of these emotions is challenging. When you experience them all at once, the result is often soul-crushing despair.

However, your situation isn't as hopeless as it might seem to you right now. The secret to getting out of being stuck in the muck of misery is to recognize that you can deal with each of these four emotions separately. By doing so, you loosen the bonds of your despair and move forward toward being genuinely happy again.

The following simple tips will help you deal with each of the four emotions of misery so you can get unstuck and feel better:

  1. Alone - You may have been alone during your marriage when one or the other of you had a business trip, took a quick trip to visit family, or even relaxed on a solo vacation with friends. But being alone is entirely different when you're divorced. Before there was the knowledge that you would be together again. Now it's a fact that you won't. There won't be a homecoming or an end to you being on your own without your ex this time.

    However uncomfortable alone might feel to you right now, it is just the result of you coming to terms with the new order of things in your life. Alone means more than being without your ex. Alone also means freedom - freedom to do things your way, to make your own decisions, even to parent as you see fit.

    By focusing on your independence and how it supports you in creating your new life, you'll discover that you can shift from feeling alone and lonely to self-confident. You'll likely even begin to enjoy being by yourself so you can do things that nourish your mind, body and soul.

  2. Stifled - You're probably going through a huge change in how you live your life. Now you've got less money available, rules about when you parent, and maybe even a change of residence. Even without the divorce, these are big changes you're facing.

    On the surface you might consider your life as less than it was. But it's this superficial view that is making you feel stifled and trapped.

    Look deeper at your situation and you can see you've still got some choices - even if they're decisions between alternatives you don't especially like. When you have the freedom of choice, you can never be truly trapped. (Don't believe me? Check out Viktor Frankl's classic Man's Search For Meaning.)

  3. Overwhelmed - During your marriage, chances are you and your ex chose the divide and conquer tactic for getting chores done, taking care of your family, and earning enough income. Now you get to do it all. And that's a lot to have suddenly dropped squarely on your shoulders.

    Then, on top of that is doing what you must to complete the legal process of divorce. This is probably unfamiliar territory for you and figuring out how to meet the demands of the legal process on top of trying to keep your life together is understandably overwhelming.

    However, it just takes a bit of self-care, organization and a willingness to ask for and receive help to feel more in control.

    Take at least 5 minutes (20 minutes two times a day would be ideal) every day to do something that re-energizes you and helps you to feel more connected to life. You might try yoga, meditation, running, or even walking outside to hug a tree. By grounding yourself daily during your me-time, you'll discover you have more energy and brain power to more easily tackle all that you face.

    Do what MUST be done first and be willing to let your definition of MUST change. During your marriage, there were two of you to get everything done and so the things on the must-do list could be a bit broader. But now that you're on your own, you must become ruthless about what must-do means now if you're going to stop feeling overwhelmed.

    However, sometimes there truly are more must-do's than you can ever hope to accomplish on your own and this is when you ask for help - very specific help. The reason your requests must be specific is that it allows you to remain in control of your situation. If you simply ask for help in general, you run the risk of setting yourself up as a victim and undermining your ability to step powerfully into your new life.

  4. Scared - Change is scary. You might be feeling anxious because of all the losses you've suffered. You might be fearful because of what you're having to do to get your life back on track. You might be scared because you don't know what the future holds for you. And you might simply be terrified by all of it!

    The thing is that at the root of all these fears is negative thinking that changes your situation into a terrifying horror story.

    When you're scared, the best thing for you to do is take 10 deep breaths and ask yourself some positive "what if" questions. These questions will redirect your thoughts to the positive possibilities and aim you toward taking the necessary actions to make your life better and get you unstuck.

By putting these tips into daily practice, you'll soon find yourself moving toward what you want in your life instead of feeling miserable about what isn't there anymore. You'll gradually recognize that although you still feel some pain and grief about your divorce, you aren't consumed by it.

And, don't worry if you do feel miserable from time to time after you start feeling better. It's normal to feel like you're going backwards every now and again.

You've developed a bit of a habit of feeling alone, stifled, overwhelmed and scared. So it will be a bit unfamiliar at first to shift your thinking and actions to one of responding positively to "a SOS" from your soul. But the more you practice taking care of yourself, looking for solutions and changing your thoughts to positive "what if's" the less miserable you'll feel.

I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor helping people just like you who are dealing with the stress and pain of divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.

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