The help you need for understanding your post-divorce negative thoughts and how to stop them.
After all, before your divorce was final it was perfectly normal to struggle with coming to terms with the end of your marriage, your (and your kids’) tumultuous emotions, all the legal stuff, your drastically altered financial situation, and figuring out how to live your life now that you’re single.
You’d think that after the ink dried on your decree that you’d feel better. But you don’t – at least not completely. Sure, some things are easier. Yet you’re still plagued by horribly negative thoughts.
- I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life.
- I’m a failure.
- How could s/he give up on us so easily?
- Why has s/he moved on already?
- It’s so unfair that my life has to change like this.
- I know this divorce has destroyed my kids’ chances of ever being happy.
And these critical, fearful, worrisome, angry and despairing thoughts worry you. You believe that you should be over it all by now. And with that belief, your fears and worries intensify because you’re clearly not over it.
What you need to know is that negative thoughts are common – especially after divorce.
That’s right. Negative thoughts are common – period. They’re common not just after divorce, but in general.
Why are negative thoughts common? Because we evolved from people who needed to constantly scan their environments looking for problems to fix so they (and their families) could stay safe. And that’s why we do the same today. In fact, it’s estimated that 80% of everyone’s thoughts contain at least some negative content.
What makes negative thoughts more prevalent after divorce? Since divorce is so stressful, it’s natural to feel more anxiety while you’re dealing with divorce than at other times. And simply because the decree is a done deal doesn’t mean that your stress will disappear. What’s problematic about continuing to feel anxious and stressed out is that stress and anxiety intensify negative views.
What can you do about your pessimistic perceptions? The best way to stop your negative notions is a two-step process.
First, accept that it’s natural to have them. As you become more accepting of them, you’ll begin to feel less anxious about having negative thoughts. And as you feel less anxious, you’ll stop having as many of the unwanted thoughts.
Second, identify and change the harmful beliefs that are underlying the pessimistic thoughts. (Like that belief that you should be over it all by now when obviously, you’re not.) The longer you hold on to beliefs that perpetuate the possible validity of your negative thoughts, the longer they will plague you.
However, if you do the work necessary to change your beliefs, you’ll find that your negative thoughts are no longer as compelling as they once were. And you’ll be able to let them go as easily as they show up.
Completely getting through divorce is tough. You’ve struggled with and made it through all the obvious changes to your life, but getting through the mental changes that need to occur can be frightening and hard.
But, hopefully, by knowing that negative thoughts are completely normal – especially after divorce – and that you can take some specific steps to start calming your persistent pessimistic views you’ll soon discover that you’re able to put those negative thoughts (along with your marriage) behind you.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and personal life coach helping people just like you who are looking for support advice healing after divorce. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you're ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.