Knowing what to stop doing is just as important as knowing what to do to get through your divorce.
Devastating. For everyone whose spouse has decided to divorce them, that's the best description of the experience.
It's not a place you ever thought you'd be. But here you are. Your marriage has failed. You feel like a failure, unlovable and totally depressed.
These feelings are real and you must acknowledge them. But don't wallow in them. Letting these emotions rule your world will only keep you miserable.
The trouble is that the miserable feelings of divorce are insidious. They show up in sneaky, unexpected ways. And before you know it, you've succumbed to undermining thoughts and behaviors.
However, you don't have to stay stuck in the misery. In fact, by becoming more aware of your automatic behaviors and thoughts you can deal with your divorce in a much better way.
Here are 13 things you must stop doing to make it through and get over the divorce:
- Feeling sorry for yourself. Say it with me, "No more pity parties!" I get that things aren't exactly going as you had planned, but wallowing in the hardship and unfairness of it all will not help you cope with your divorce. Instead, be thankful for what is still good in your life (yes, there is still good) and begin thinking about your future and how good your life will be a year from now.
- Giving away your power. This is a sneaky one because it involves the way we naturally speak. Anytime you say something like "You drive me crazy!" or "You make me so angry." you're giving your power away. How? By not taking 100% responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. You'll be amazed at how altering your speech can make such a big difference in your life!
- Avoiding change. No matter how you look at it, divorce is all about change. By avoiding change you're choosing to stay stuck and miserable. The much better option is choosing how you will manage the changes you're facing. (And eventually you may even embrace the changes because you know how to make your life better and better.)
- Focusing on things you can't control. This one takes some effort to stop doing. No matter how much you are hurt by what your ex is (or isn't) doing, the more time you spend worrying, complaining or hoping for them to change the more miserable you're going to feel. You need to put that energy into making your life and situation better because the only person you can control is you.
- Worrying about pleasing everyone else. People get hurt in divorce. Unfulfilled dreams and expectations cause anguish. There's no way you can please everyone with how things turn out. The best you can do is take care of adhering to your values and making the best choices you can. You're the one that has to live with the consequences of your decisions not anyone else, so do what's right for you (and your kids).
- Being afraid of taking risks. The end of your marriage propels you into unfamiliar territory. The only way you're going to find your way back to feeling normal and happy again is to take a few risks. You don't have to take wild and crazy risks, calculated ones are just fine.
- Dwelling on the past. Now this is a biggie because it's confusing. Grieving what was is a necessary part of healing from divorce. But focusing only on the losses and not allowing yourself to see the beauty of the present and the potential of the future doesn't work. It's by having hope in the future that you'll most quickly find your way through the pain of your divorce.
- Repeating your mistakes. If there's one thing that's most helpful in dealing with your divorce, it's learning what you need to and making the necessary changes to not find yourself in the same situation again. So spend some time fixing your picker and learning what makes a relationship work before you get into your next one.
- Resenting your ex. Don't make the mistake of spending your time, talents and energy being resentful of your ex's ability to move on without you. Take all that effort and put it to use making your life better and your life will be better!
- Giving up. You'll probably have a strong need to hide as you work through your divorce. It's OK for a bit, but not for a lifestyle. You still have lots of life to live. (Yes, you do - no matter what your age is.)
- Fearing "alone time". Being alone after divorce is gut-wrenching. You may have been alone at times during your marriage, but this is different. Being OK alone with your thoughts is one of the hallmarks of successfully dealing with your divorce.
- Feeling your ex owes your something. No matter how much you're suffering or how much you really want to understand why your ex chose to divorce you. They don't owe you anything besides what your divorce settlement details. Yes, it's a bitter pill to swallow, but it's true. The sooner you come to terms with this the faster you'll be able to move on from the end of your marriage.
- Expecting immediate results. Unfortunately, dealing with divorce is a process. There's no magic wand or fairy godmother who will magically make things all better for you. You will make it past your divorce, so be patient with your progress as you keep working through everything along the way to feeling normal and happy again.
It's so easy to fall prey to these 13 thoughts and behaviors before you even realize you've done it because they're just how we naturally are. But the key to dealing with divorce is to recognize when you've stumbled and get yourself moving forward again as soon as you can.
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. Getting over your divorce is one of the toughest things you'll ever do and I'm here to help you. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.