These 11 tips will help you escape from the isolation of loneliness after divorce.
Divorce catapults you into a stormy sea of emotions. Anger, disbelief and loneliness are just a few of the overpowering emotions you experience as you deal with the end of your marriage. Learning to deal with each of them is critical to your ability to move on, but learning how to deal with loneliness is one of the most difficult.
Dealing with loneliness is especially challenging because it’s a self-perpetuating emotion. It’s not energizing like anger so you can just work it out of your system by constructively expressing it. And it’s not like disbelief that you can conquer by consistently being presented with facts to the contrary.
Loneliness feeds upon itself. The more you experience it, the greater it becomes and the more difficultly you’ll have conquering it.
Loneliness grows deeper and more profound the more you experience it.
But feeling lonely as you deal with divorce is normal. You’re not really destined to be alone and lonely for the rest of your life – no matter how you feel right now.
“Feel” is a key word here because loneliness is a feeling. It isn’t a fact. And since it’s a feeling, you can change your feeling by working through it instead of being trapped by it.
Here are 11 tips for how to deal with loneliness so you can move on from your divorce:
- Connect with others who know what you’re going through. Despite how unique your circumstances or how different you feel, there are plenty of people who can easily empathize with your situation - everyone who is going through divorce gets what you’re dealing with. And the quickest ways to find these people are in online divorce communities and in divorce support groups.
- Get clear about what’s missing. You probably spent time alone when you were married and didn’t feel the same sense of overwhelming loneliness you feel right now. That’s because you’re feeling like there are things missing from your life now that weren’t before. By coming face-to-face with exactly what’s missing, you’ll be able to start grieving the losses instead of staying stuck in them. And once you start the grieving process, you’ll be gain clarity about how you want to either replace or eliminate what’s missing.
- Be compassionate with yourself. Getting through divorce is tough. Have patience as you find your way through yours. Do little things to pamper yourself every day and be sure to reward yourself for achieving the goals you set.
- Create a new routine for yourself. Mourning the loss of a shared routine (like talking about the day’s events with your spouse over dinner) can trigger loneliness. So instead of focusing on the old routine, create a new one for yourself.
- Disconnect a bit from social media. You don’t have to go ghost on your friends, but it wouldn’t hurt you to stop using their lives (or your ex’s life) as reasons to feel lonely.
- Let go of your toxic relationship. Letting go of your marriage (and what it represented to you) is a process. But the truth is that if it ended, it wasn’t a good relationship for you. And the longer you hold on to it, the more toxic is becomes to you.
- Practice gratitude. It is incredibly hard to feel grateful when divorce has ripped (or is ripping) your entire life away from you. But the thing is that as you start to appreciate what you still have and look at the obstacles ahead of you as challenges to overcome, you’ll have conquered one of the keys for learning how to deal with loneliness.
- Focus on your kids and what they need to deal with the divorce. Taking care of them will automatically force you to stop ruminating about how lonely you feel because taking care of your kids is a whole lot of work. And as you work to help them, you’ll naturally experience other emotions than loneliness.
- Choose to learn something (just like you're doing for how to deal with loneliness). Learning is a great way to shift your emotions from loneliness to curiosity. You might choose to go back to school to improve your earning potential, or to use your divorce as a reason to pursue personal growth, or even to learn new skills to make your new life easier. (You’ll be surprised at the joy you can feel when you learn how to do things on your own!)
- Avoid inactivity. Being inactive or feeling bored is like putting out the welcome mat for loneliness. Instead, make a list of things you can do for fun or to just finally get done. So, the next time inactivity contributes to your loneliness pick an activity and get busy.
- Talk with someone about your feelings. Sharing your emotions with a friend or caring professional is great because they’ll often have insight into how to deal with loneliness that you don’t.
These 11 tips are just the beginning of things you can do as you learn how to deal with loneliness when you divorce. So, experiment with them. One may work better for you today than tomorrow. And try new ideas for breaking through feeling lonely as you discover them.
The more often you can acknowledge your loneliness as an emotion and then choose to do something to shift that emotion, the quicker you’ll conquer it and move on from your divorce.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are struggling with the loss of their marriage. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with me directly in my Time Trade calendar.