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. And if you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.
Looking for more tips on getting through the pain of your divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Dealing With Grief.
You need these 6 tips to help you learn how to deal with loneliness after divorce.
Losing your marriage to divorce is one of the most difficult losses you’ll ever experience. What you’ve lost is so much more than just a marriage. Among so many losses, you’ve also lost a way of life, your dreams for the future, and your sense of belonging.
Despite the family and friends who are reaching out to help and support you as you struggle to make sense of your new reality, the truth is you’ve never felt so isolated and alone. You just don’t quite feel like you fit into the world now like you did when you were married.
Learning how to deal with loneliness is a normal (but really miserable) part of divorce.
But where do you start? Obviously, you don’t want to start with any philosophical statements about how dealing with loneliness is good for you. Where you need to start learning how to deal with loneliness is with things that you can do to immediately start feeling better.
Here are 6 tips to help you on your path to discovering how you can deal with the loneliness you’re experiencing:
- Set a timer for 20 minutes and check out social media. OK, this is a tricky one and that’s why you need to set a timer. Social media can help you feel more connected with people and that’s what we’re going for here. BUT social media can also make you feel lonelier if you’re using it to do things like compare your life to someone else’s or stalking your ex. So long as you’re using it purely to have a sense of positive connection, social media is a great way to assuage your isolation.
- Pick up your phone and text or call someone. Reaching out to a loved one when you’re feeling lonely is one of the easiest and quickest ways to deal with loneliness. There’s an immediate connection that can pull you back from the unwelcome solitude you’ve been struggling with. (Of course, this may not work so well in the middle of the night.)
- Turn on the TV or radio. Regardless of what time of day it is, there are always TV and radio stations broadcasting. When I was learning how to deal with loneliness after my divorce, I almost always had either the TV or radio on when I was home –just for the noise. The sound made my home feel less empty which helped me to feel less alone.
- Know that the profound loneliness you’re feeling is a normal part of divorce. Although very few of the emotions you’ll experience as you heal from your divorce will feel normal, the loneliness that you’re struggling with right now is completely normal and expected. Knowing that it’s OK and even expected that you’ll feel lonely as you work through the end of your marriage could increase your acceptance of it. And by accepting the loneliness as just a part of the divorce process, the stress and misery of it will decrease just a bit.
- Shift your focus away from what was and what you could have, should have or would have done. When you’re dealing with the loneliness of divorce, it’s really easy to slip from feeling lonely to beating yourself up for what might have been if only you had done something different. And the more the beat yourself up, the lonelier you feel. So go ahead and distract yourself from these thoughts of could have, should have and would have and you’ll notice that your loneliness lightens.
- Do something that feels especially nurturing. When you’re feeling sad and all alone, one of the best ways to pull yourself out of it is to baby yourself. Do something that feels incredibly loving and indulgent. When you do, you just might find yourself shifting a bit from feeling lonely to enjoying a little bit of alone time.
Hopefully, these 6 tips are exactly what you need to help you know just how to deal with your loneliness. And then again, maybe they aren’t.
If they weren’t that’s OK, because they’ve provided you with some inspiration for the creating your plan for what to do when your loneliness hits.
Either way, knowing how you’ll deal with one of the most miserable parts of one of the most difficult things you’ll ever experience will go a long way to helping you to find your way through all the losses of divorce.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach and advisor helping people just like you who are looking for advice and support in healing after 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.
Looking for more help getting over your divorce? You’ll find what you’re looking for in Dealing With Grief.
Your divorce will probably be one of the most intense emotional experiences you’ll ever face. It sure was for me. I had all these powerful emotions hit me one after another, often in a confusing and frightening way.
The world of divorce can feel like a tornado has come through your life and wiped away all that was familiar and safe. I thought of it as being tied up, blind-folded and stuffed into the front seat of a runaway roller coaster. I never knew when I was going to be slammed to the left or right by a sharp turn and I dreaded any slow upward movement because I knew that at some point I would drop down into depths I couldn’t imagine or be thrown into a loop-de-loop or even be caught up in a corkscrew.
I’ll be honest with you. There were times back then when I thought I might be going insane.
What I’ve found out since my divorce in 2002 is that the emotions of divorce are intense and change rapidly for most people. These emotions often include denial, fear, hope, anger, loss, guilt, confusion, rejection and loneliness.
I think the loneliness was the hardest for me and that’s why I’ve developed some very specific strategies for how to deal with loneliness of divorce. Below are the top two strategies that work best with my clients and I’m hoping you’ll find them helpful too.
My 3 Strategies For How To Deal With Loneliness During The Divorce Process
First, I know this is going to sound simple, but sometimes the best solutions are really simple. It’s easy to think that your grief and loneliness are so profound that they must need a complex answer to help soothe them. But the truth is, simple is often best because you can apply these solutions again and again and again.
And believe me, it can be a saving grace to know that progress is being made, even if it feels like the loneliness is still there. If you can remember to apply these techniques every time you struggle, it will be much easier to not feel disappointed that you’re not fully over your ex. Because getting over the past takes time. That’s just the reality of grief and loss. So let’s begin…
Solution #1: Hugs
One of the easiest things to do to help yourself when you’re feeling sad and lonely is to give yourself a hug. And yes, I do mean wrapping your arms around your chest, placing your hands just below your shoulder joints and squeezing. Hold this hug for a bit and after a while you’ll notice that you’re taking deeper breaths. Continue until you sigh and you can start to feel the tension, loneliness and pain leaving your body and being replaced by a sense of feeling supported and loved.
There’s something especially comforting about hugs. I used to think that the only good kinds of hugs were from others, either human or animal, but I’ve found that hugging body pillows and especially hugging myself can have fabulously calming and comforting results too.
Solution #2: Talking it out to find perspective
One of the most powerful techniques for how to heal from a divorce or breakup is to talk about what’s going on inside of you. And I don’t mean that you have to hire a therapist or coach (although they do serve their place), here I’m speaking about the power of talking to a trusted friend or loved one who is open to hearing you share. By talking about your feelings, you can release their hold on you. Memories are incredibly powerful and by keeping your thoughts locked away, you don’t get a chance to have a cathartic release which is meaningful in gaining perspective.
Let’s face it, sometimes, the feelings inside are not 100% real. Sure you feel lonely. Sure you miss your ex. And yes, you will mourn the future you’ll never have together. But if those memories or thoughts are locked inside, the only dose of reality on them is colored by your feelings. This can cause memories to be skewed or altered to fill some longing you have about your ex or the time you spent together.
When you share your feelings with someone you trust, you have the opportunity to hear back another person’s perspective on the event. Over time, you may find, as I did, that my memories were not always accurate. Often in moments of deep loneliness, I would forget mean things he said or ways he negated my feelings or ignored my needs. My loneliness told me to be sad that he was gone, but when I shared with my friend and she recalled her experience of my ex I could start to see a more realistic accounting of my him and our story. In fact, he wasn’t the dreamboat I recalled.
My feelings of loneliness, of being abandoned, my fear that I would never find love again or that I was doomed to die alone, husbandless and lonely, had a direct effect on the stories I recalled in my mind when I was sad.
Talking with someone you trust (especially someone who was in your life when you were married) can be an exceptionally good way to hold a realistic mirror up and look back on the truth. Not the filtered truth, the WHOLE truth. And that can help you in moments when you’re feeling the most lost and lonely to keep it in perspective. Because you’re not really missing him, you’re missing the fairy tale version of him and that’s important to remember.
Solution #3: Acceptance
The only way to get through the loneliness is to accept that it’s a natural part of the healing process of divorce. Your life is changing in a pretty dramatic way and it’s OK to feel lonely when the spouse you shared your life with isn’t a daily part of it any more.
Acceptance means believing in your heart, mind and soul that the end is here. You can’t go back, you can only move forward. Part of that journey ahead means addressing your feelings, they are on this path with you. You can’t ignore your emotions, they have a funny way of making themselves known even if you don’t want to acknowledge them.
So here, in the world of accepting the truth about what happened means letting your emotions come up and greeting them when they arrive. If you’re sad, feel it. If you’re mad, let that in too. If you’re jealous or worried those too have a place in the healing process. And if you want to learn how to get past feeling lonely, you have to first feel your loneliness and then you can begin to interpret what it really means.
Acceptance is one of those things that can usually be helped by solution #2. In addition to talking with people who love you (like your friends and adult family members) it can also be quite wise to talk with people who are also dealing with divorce like those in a divorce support group, people who have successfully healed from divorce themselves and as you need it, a professional like a divorce therapist, a clergy member or a divorce coach. Each person on this list can help you gain both perspective and wisdom about what your future healing process holds
Here I’m being very specific about the people who are typically great at helping because I have seen firsthand the mistakes people make when they try to rely on people for counsel who are not vested in your healing.
Strategies That Are NOT Effective For Dealing With Loneliness
Unfortunately, many people think that the way to deal with their loneliness is to seek another relationship. This can have tragic results. When you enter into another relationship before allowing yourself to heal completely and become a whole person again, you run the risk of getting into a relationship with someone who is just like your ex or someone who is the exact opposite. Usually, this doesn’t work out so well and I can tell you from personal experience that breaking up with a new boyfriend before you’ve healed from your divorce can feel especially devastating. (I felt like a double loser when it happened to me.)
Even worse, people sometimes deal with the loneliness of their divorce by talking with their kids about it. They’ll tell the kids their fears under the guise of being honest, but the truth is they just need someone to talk to and the kids are an easy audience. Kids aren’t cut out to be an adult friend to either one of their parents during divorce and the long-term effects on both the kids and the parent-child relationship are just too costly. Believe me, it’s worth finding someone else to talk with.
Loneliness is a normal part of divorce recovery. If you’re ready to stop fighting this and embrace it as part of the natural progression everyone must go through, I have your assignment to help get through your loneliness quickly.
Your Assignment For How To Deal With Loneliness:
Give yourself a hug right now. I’m serious. Go ahead and try it right now. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good it feels. Be sure and continue hugging yourself until you sigh – that’s how you’ll know you’re allowing yourself to relax and be comforted. (It’s OK if you start to cry on your way to sighing.)
Are you relying on the right person or people to talk to? Think about who you have been relying on to support you through your loneliness as well as the other emotional upheavals you’re experiencing? Are these people serving your needs? Are they helping? Hurting? Asking the right questions? Making you feel overall better or worse after you talk to them? Based on the suggestions above, can you say that you’re relying on the appropriate people to support you? Do you need to look for another way to get the support you need?
And I want you to know you don’t have to continue going through this alone. I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce coach and advisor, and I know what you’re going through because I’ve been through it too. I specialize in helping people heal from divorce and breakups and get on with their lives. If you’re interested in taking the first step toward working with me, you can schedule an introductory private coaching session.