You can experience the grief and healing that come along with divorce and begin your new life right now. What is the key to turning a time of adversity into a time of growth and healing? You must be able to view your situation from a positive perspective. If we look for kindness instead of focus on the negative we set out on the path to healing and growth and don’t get stuck in the negative.
1. Let Go of a Need to be Perfect:
It is easy to fall into the trap of over thinking what we did during the marriage that was less than perfect. We not only expect perfection from ourselves but from our ex-spouse. When a marriage ends it isn’t due to the lack of perfection on either spouse’s part.
Do not distract yourself from the joy of life by focusing on your shortcomings or those of your ex-spouse. Push any thoughts you have of who did what wrong out of your head and replace them with positive thoughts.
Doing so will teach you tolerance, for yourself and your ex-spouse. You will be dealing with not only the legal aspects of divorce but changes to your daily lifestyle and the need to adjust to the changes in your relationship with your ex-spouse.
Tolerance and the ability to let go of a need for you or him/her to be perfect means not only respecting your beliefs and values but his/her beliefs and values also. You may not fully understand or agree with their beliefs and values but as long as they are not abusive they have earned your tolerance.
If feelings of frustration with yourself or your ex-spouse creep into your day, take a deep breath, exhale slowly and say to yourself, “no one is perfect” and let it go.
2. Be Nice:
You may find this easier said than done! Especially when your ex-spouse starts pushing your buttons and behaving in what you feel is an unacceptable manner. There will be times during the divorce process and after that you will be tempted to be mean-spirited. If your ex-spouse lashes out at you, it is only natural to want to respond with anger. Doing so only prolongs any conflict which in turn prolongs any stress you feel during the conflict.
You will have people tell you to “take the high road” and they are right. I could get metaphysical and go on and on about the benefits of choosing civility over anger to your soul and body but I won’t. I will keep it short and tell you that I’ve learned from experience that if you respond to a situation with a smile you will feel that smile in your heart.
3. Love the Sinner:
I have a secret to tell you…as much as you dislike your ex-spouse they probably dislike you even more. He/she is going to behave badly toward you at times and make no mistake; he/she is the author of his/her “sins.” But that doesn’t mean he/she is not worthy of civility.
The same goes for you! I’m not advocating that you view yourself or your ex-spouse as a victim and not responsible for bad behavior. What I am suggesting is that you consider the situation and understand that adversity such as divorce can bring out the worst in any of us.
In this situation you are safe “loving the sinner and hating the sin.” It can be hard, darn near impossible but you need to view your ex-spouse’s bad behavior as something separate from the individual. Don’t get caught up in disliking him/her and responding to his/her bad behavior in an uncivil manner. Doing so only brings you down to his/her level and prolongs your misery.
4. Accept the Things You Can’t Change:
Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect; it just means you have decided to look beyond the imperfections. Divorce, especially an unwanted divorce brings up negative feelings. During this time you will feel fear, discouragement, anxiety, insecurity, anger, confusion, disappointment, depression and dread. And maybe a few other negative emotions that are unique to you.
Divorce is life altering and when we experience change that brings about such negative emotions it is natural to want to fight against the change instead of accepting it and embracing it. My divorce was unwanted. I struggled for years during the marriage to come up with a solution to our marital problems and focused a lot of energy after he left on what I could do to change our circumstance and put the marriage back together.
By doing this I was holding myself back because instead of looking forward I was constantly looking backwards. No one moves ahead when their head is firmly planted in the past! I was lying in bed one afternoon four months after he left when I had an “Aha” moment. I realized, out of the blue that this was my opportunity to be anyone I wanted to be, to do anything I wanted to do, to determine the course my life would take. And, that realization brought with it a sense of excitement.
That is when I accepted my situation and stopped trying to change it. In order to be successful in life, you must accept the fact that everything around us changes and you have to be able to adapt to the change. What is the secret to accepting change? Letting go of our need to control a situation and focusing on things you have control over.
In a divorce situation you have total control over what path your life will lead. I encourage you to focus on defining the kind of life you want going forward, setting goals that will help you attain the kind of life you wish to live and accepting the change you are now experiencing as a positive that will lead to bigger and better for you and your life.