The happy family you spent years trying to build may now be falling apart in spite of all your best efforts to save your marriage. The divorce is final and your marriage has ended, but life goes on and your new life is just beginning.
With divorce comes a feeling of grief, despair, betrayal, abandonment and fear about your future. If you have children, you feel an incredible sense of loss for them too. It is a very painful time, even if it was you who wanted out of the relationship. It wasn’t how you wanted it be.
Unfortunately the ending is more palpable than the new beginning, because your identity, or sense of who you are, has been tied up with being part of a couple. You are now single again, but very different to when you last were single before. You may not be able to see who you may become yet, but you can start to pick up the pieces, recover, and emerge stronger than ever. Here are 10 steps to help rebuild your life after divorce and become optimistic again.
1. Have faith in the process of life
If you have any sense of a God, the Divine or a Higher Power, this is the time to tap into it, whatever it is for you. When I was recovering from the ending of my first 18 year marriage, I felt so dis-spirited. My common sense told me that I had to feed my spirit just like I needed to feed my body, even though I had no appetite. It was part of my survival plan and it empowered me to move on to a life happier than anything I could have imagined.
Even if you find it hard to believe in something greater than yourself, assume there is a benevolent Presence available that will strengthen and guide you, perhaps your own inner wisdom, that you have never tapped into. Spend a bit of time each day going within and asking for courage, strength and guidance. You will get a pleasant surprise.
2. There is Life After Divorce: Start an activity
When in the throes of recovering from divorce, it is tempting to isolate yourself , but, resist this temptation. Instead, find a friend or acquaintance with whom you can take up some activity, like going to the gym, or running, preferably something to get you moving. It is good for you because it stimulates your physiology to produce endorphins; your bodies natural feel good chemicals. The knock on effect from this is that, not only will you feel a bit better, you will look better.
If for any reason you are unable to engage in any strenuous activity, consider Yoga or Tai Chi, both of which nurture your Spirit as well as your Body. See this as another part of your rebuilding strategy.
3. Take a holiday
Getting divorced invariably leaves both parties in reduced circumstances, but if you can possibly afford it, have a break away from work and home and everything that keeps the pain ever present. If possible, go to a place of beauty where you can be out in nature, as this naturally lifts your spirits. If you cannot afford to do this because of finances or child care commitments, at least set aside some time to go for mini holidays locally so you can relax.
4. Accentuate the positive
For some, it can seem like there are no positives. I can remember a time when I was faced with homelessness, with no money, no family around, and a stack of liabilities and three children to take care of. Almost in spite of myself, I instinctively knew I had to focus on solutions and not problems. I began to understand that we create our own reality. Dare to dream of a happier tomorrow.
5. Write down the kind of life you want to have
“Without a progressive Vision the people perish”. Even if you cannot see any way at the moment of having it, write down, where and how you want to live, the kind of people in your life, what kind of lifestyle you want to have, the kind of leisure activities you would enjoy and the work and income you want to have. Don’t hold back.
By writing this all down, you open yourself up to the infinite possibilities that life holds for all of us. You begin forming a clear vision of what you want, and learn that it is OK to want. We get hard wired with the idea that it is not OK; that may be part of the reason you have finished up so unhappy. It’s time to change that.
6. Focus on identifying and building on your strengths
After my divorce I realised that I had remained too dependent on my husband financially, and I did not want to ever put myself in that position again, it would have been too uncertain for me. Neither did I want to live in poverty, so I went back into education and gained a Degree in Social Science and Social Work Qualification. It was not easy but it helped me to mature as a person, I made a lot of friends, built up my confidence and sense of self worth and created the sound professional foundation on which I have built ever since.
7. Have some compassion for yourself
It takes time to heal from the grief and pain of divorce. Time is indeed a healer, but you need to keep in mind that you are in a state of recovery just as much as if you had been involved in an accident. Remember also that divorce is like a bereavement and grieving is a process with stages to move through, rather than a one off event. Some people may have suffered many losses in life and so divorce will tend to affect them more than someone who has few.
8. Consider joining a recovery group
If you find your recovery continues to be very painful it is worth seeing a Therapist. I did, and not only did it help me with the grief I felt, it was one of the best things I have ever done and I went on to make a career from helping others in similar circumstances. Therapy also helped me to get to know myself better and in my view, not make the same mistakes again. A Coach can help you clarify a vision for the future and forge a whole new chapter in your life. A Mastermind Group can very quickly move you through the process in a matter of months.
Put yourself in the way of light hearted people who laugh routinely, because laughter is indeed medicine for the soul. If you don’t know any funny people or cannot get to see them, then find some funny videos on You Tube that will give you some out loud belly laughs for free. Better still if you can have an opportunity to attend a Laughter Workshop it will help to install life enhancing laughter habits which will make you a joy to be around!
10. Be Bold
Whatever the circumstances of your divorce, it can leave you feeling very vulnerable, but remember it is a new beginning full of opportunity, even if you can’t yet see it. I encourage you to be Bold. Here is a quote by Goethe which I had typed out and pinned on my notice board. I found it very inspiring and true, because Providence really does step in.
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
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