Divorce is challenging to overcome. It doesn’t just involve a loss of your partner but requires changes in lifestyle and perception, which make it even harder to keep a positive view of the self. Is there anything you can do to preserve your self-esteem while divorcing? The following psychological tricks can help.
Talk to Competent People
Find a shoulder (or several) to cry on: behavioral therapists, private groups on Facebook, and friends ready and willing to encourage you. Divorcees often feel lost and alone, and it’s normal to feel pained during this period. Try not to be afraid of losing friends because of frequent melancholy.
Instead, ask them to help organize a kind of “moaning party.” Agree on 30 minutes of discussing everybody’s exes, and then change a topic. Don’t hide your doubts. It’s acceptable to say, “You know, you are my dearest person, and I want you to listen to me, but I am afraid of annoying you with my problems.” Ask your friends to let you know when they are emotionally tired and would like to stop talking about your divorce.
Avoid the “Idle Curious”
Divorce is an emotionally charged topic. Once friends and family know you are going through such a situation, they may want to discuss the details and ask questions. They may even speak clumsily or discouragingly. This is where it is helpful to distinguish those genuinely concerned for your well-being from those who are simply being nosy.
It is wise to protect yourself from those who are curious about your emotional experience without any intent to help you through the process. How? Ask yourself if you shared any personal worries with this person in the past. If not, they may be stepping over a relationship boundary. But even if this person is a close friend or relative, you have no obligation to answer questions. Don’t want to discuss your divorce with this person? Say so — and drop the subject.
Protect Your Boundaries
If a friend or family member behaves with a lack of grace or tact (by depreciating your feelings, judging, or asking questions you deem inappropriate or overly personal), you may need to defend yourself. Divorce is traumatic enough itself to spend energy on those indifferent to you. Do they keep on asking for details regardless of your clear “no”? Do they give uninvited advice? Keep your distance from such people. If someone’s words and comments make you feel worse, tell them. If they don’t get it, steer clear of them.
Separate Work and Life
It’s important to share your worries while you’re divorcing. But it’s no less critical to separate private and professional spheres. So refrain from talking about your feelings to everyone.
Remember, you are under stress now, and you may easily confuse and trespass boundaries yourself. If colleagues or mentees are only recently seeing you in a different emotional state, they may feel the need to step away from tense or difficult conversations. This could cause a person to feel even more lonely.
Instead, focus your attention on several areas where your sense of self won’t be dependent on your marital status. It can be your work, training, seminars, hobbies, etc. Choose to be in places and situations where you’ll be a specialist, a smart student, or a dear friend rather than “that divorced or divorcing person.”
Care For Yourself
You may have heard stories about so-called-typical post-divorce behavior: changing one’s hairstyle, looking for a new job, working out incessantly… but what all divorcees have in common is that they begin an often-overlooked process of self-reflection and improvement.
Divorce is a period when a person may feel less valuable and influential. So it’s okay to think proactively about ways to care for yourself, develop a useful habit, and save it for future, better you. Why not get a massage or a new haircut? Or try reading new books or essay writing, working on your creativity, or spending evenings with a favorite TV series. It’s helpful to choose activities that will renew your self-confidence and peace of mind.
No Need to Be Positive All the Time
And remember: it’s okay to feel sad while divorcing. Positive thinking is certainly helpful, but is incredibly difficult during a tumultuous life transition. The advice to “keep on moving” may sound appealing, but forward progression may also seem impossible right now, especially if you’ve spent years with one person, and you don’t understand what’s waiting for you without them. If friends try to remind you of the “you are strong, you’ll handle it” mantra, let them know if it isn’t helpful. And don’t think that your sad face will bring somebody down: you aren’t responsible for others’ feelings right now. You have the right to feel sorrow as long as you need.
Use a Metaphor
Some divorcees say they feel like survivors in a combat zone. Others describe divorce as a step into unknown territories with no sense of direction. It may feel like a parachute jump from a burning plane. Find a metaphor for your divorce. One phrase can help you articulate your situation, positively influence your view of self, and complete the picture of what’s happening during the divorce process.
Sometimes your visual may be dark: a bird with broken wings, or a fire victim standing in flames. Don’t try to fix your situation with a “brighter” metaphor right now but instead ask yourself once a month, “Do I still feel like a bird with broken wings? Has anything changed? Are my feelings stabilizing or improving?”
Last but not least , don’t be ashamed of your divorce. Give yourself time to sing the blues — but do your best to understand whom to trust and ask for support. Divorce is the first step toward your better self, toward becoming more confident and taking on the future.
About the Author: Lesley Vos is an experienced content creator with 5+ years spent building a career in web writing for big and small projects, including Bid4Papers essay writing. Now she switched to coaching, helping peers build skills for stellar text crafting. See more works of Lesley on Twitter.