By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Divorce affects everyone differently. Its impact also lingers with us for different periods of time. But there’s one thing that never changes: the aftermath of divorce can be a sense of self-discovery. Or it can become an internment in a self-made prison of depression and resentment. What influences us the most is how well we accept what is and our determination to use the divorce as a pathway to a new and better life.
The good news: it’s all up to us. We can create an attitude of positive expectation. Or we can subjugate ourselves to months and years of self-pity and despair down the road. The bad news: it’s not always easy to change our attitude or perspective on life. But if you do, you’ll be rewarded with a happier future for yourself as well as your children!
Here are four vital steps to embracing your divorce as a catalyst to a brighter future.
1) Boost your self-esteem.
One of the most damaging effects of divorce can be a toll on your self-esteem. This is especially hurtful if you were not the partner who initiated the breakup. Feeling rejected, abused or like a victim is understandable during and after divorce.
However, that mindset can hold you back from using the divorce as a stepping-stone to a healthier new reality. It’s up to us to decide we’re going to create a better life for ourselves and our children. Yes, that can feel overwhelming. But you can take it step by step. A good start is focusing on adopting a positive attitude about the possibilities ahead.
That means being pro-active and not re-active in your decisions. At the same time, be looking for new friends and activities that are fulfilling. Equally important is exploring new sides of yourself that may have been dormant during the marriage. All these activities and actions will help you to develop a higher level of self-confidence. Your children will benefit from watching you re-discover who you are. They’ll also learn from your approach to tackling life challenges as a positive role model.
2) Use divorce as a lesson in self-awareness.
Ask yourself some crucial questions: What went wrong – and why? What part did I play in the break-up of my marriage? If I had responded earlier to red flags might I have changed the course of our marriage, reduced the hurt and pain, put us back on track or better protected myself and the children?
These are hard questions to reflect upon, especially alone. This may be a good time to seek out a therapist, coach or support group to guide you in finding answers and insights. Usually, if we knew better we’d have done better. So don’t focus on regrets. Discover the wisdom and lessons you can learn now – and move ahead with more confidence in creating a happier future.
3) Forgive yourself as well as your Ex.
Sounds crazy? Forgiveness is the gift you give to yourself. It’s not for or about the other person. It releases you from the pain of staying bound up in the past. Blaming yourself or your former spouse serves no purpose in reinventing your life. It holds you back from enjoying today – as well as tomorrow. This is a huge step forward, but you may need professional assistance in letting go, moving on and understanding the value of forgiveness as a positive tool for self-empowerment.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning or forgetting the hurtful experiences in the past. It means you’re freeing yourself from letting it hurt you any more! And that’s an empowered step forward only you can take.
4. Re-explore your expectations about healthy relationships.
Were you looking for the right partner when you married? Or can you now see that you accepted or settled for less than you deserved? Were you the one who had erroneous or immature expectations about what a committed relationship was about? Do you now have a better idea of the kind of person who would complement your interests, values and long-term goals? Don’t move ahead into a new partnership without that insight.
Successful relationships take skill in communicating, handling conflict, compromising and sharing space. It’s even more challenging when children are involved. Before moving back into the singles-dating arena, take time to learn about who you really are, what you can give and what you need in return to have a fulfilling intimate relationship. Take your time. Get the professional help you may need. Do it right this time. Your future is depending on it. And your children will thank you as well!
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — With Love! For Rosalind’s co-parenting courses, Coaching services and free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right, plus and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting, visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com. For guidance in dating after divorce and choosing healthy relationships visit www.womendatingrescue.com or www.mensdatingformula.com.
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