For most people, divorce is a loss that is followed by months of grief and, in some cases, even emotional trauma. Dealing with the pain of separating from someone you once deeply cared for can never be easy. Whether it was you or your ex-spouse who decided to end the relationship, the decision can turn your life upside down and give rise to tremendous agony and stress.
Divorce, however, is a reality. According to the American Psychological Association, “about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce.”
Being divorced is painful because it signifies the end of all shared hopes, dreams, and commitments. When romantic relationships begin, they bring with themselves a lot of excitement and expectations for the future. When these relationships fail, however, only a sense of disappointment and dissatisfaction is left behind.
Further, your life feels disturbed with everything going haywire. What were once normal routines and relationships suddenly seem distant and strange, making you feel uncertain about everything you thought you knew.
While picking up the pieces and moving on with your life may seem difficult during such a phase, you can take several steps to make things easier for yourself.
5 Steps to Moving on After Divorce
1. Accept the New Development
Accepting the reality of your situation is half of the battle. Acknowledging that your marriage is over (with no hope or wish for it to persist) is one way to free yourself from the bonds of the past.
Once you can do that, you will realize that you’re finally living in the present, and will feel good about your future. Accepting your newly single status can take time, and you may need to make certain changes in your lifestyle to feel more in control. This can also mean setting certain boundaries for communicating with your ex-spouse. These steps can protect you from further emotional upheavals.
2. Create a Supportive Environment
When getting out of an old relationship, you’re going to need all the emotional support you can get. For this, you may have to build new partnerships that empower and lift you. Think of it as a project or a goal to accomplish, and create an environment that will motivate and allow you to achieve it. Identify the factors and/or temptations that can stop you from getting there, and remove them.
If you feel a sense of emptiness within, you may want to work toward filling that hole. Create a support system for yourself, which includes your closest friends and family members, to help you stay on track in case you find yourself veering off of it. Spend more time with people who appreciate and energize you, instead of criticize and judge you. Surround yourself with positive people who truly listen to what you say, especially when you’re being honest about what you’re going through.
Additionally, you could also see a counselor or join a support group to beat feelings of distress and loneliness. The idea is to have at least one place where you feel comfortable speaking your mind.
Sometimes, a divorce can mean either losing your friends or the inability to relate to them. In such cases, you may want to start going out and meeting new people. You can join a class, a gym, a networking group, a special interest club, or volunteer at places of worship or community organizations.
Your focus should be on creating an environment that will help you move on and remove temptations to reconnect with your ex-spouse.
3. Love Yourself
A lot of people tend to undermine themselves, but you need to be there for yourself the most when you’re going through a rough patch. Every human being is born with certain unique qualities that make them outstanding in their own way. Focus on what makes you different from everyone else.
Make a list of all of your amazing qualities, and read it to yourself every day. Keep reading it until you believe it and start seeing yourself in all your magnificent glory. By doing so, you’re allowing yourself to love who you are unconditionally.
4. Let It Go and Just Be
Dealing with divorce laws and processes and the courtroom drama can often leave one wondering about what could have been in other circumstances. This can give rise to regrets and bitterness, and keep you from moving on after divorce. However, feeling this way is normal, and it is important to learn from your past experiences and let go of them.
Doing so will also help you gear up for the next chapter of your life – the one that awaits you. But first, you must let go of the past!
5. Try to Smile and Have Fun
Life post-divorce often entails added responsibilities, particularly if you have children. Single parents may find it difficult to double up as both parents. Raising children alone can be stressful. Despite this, you have to take it upon yourself to learn to laugh more, especially at yourself. Take everything life throws at you with a pinch of salt and have fun with it.
Stop dwelling on the past and live in the present. After all, that’s where life is happening. If your thoughts are stressing you, shake them off immediately and start to look around you. Observe everything that’s going on and focus. Use all your senses as you do this. Engage in the situation, if you feel like.
See beauty in everything around you, and appreciate your friends and family for being a part of your life. Take it easy and tackle one day at a time. Learn to smile more often. Soon, you will feel de-stressed and more at peace with yourself.
Divorce can be tricky and trying, but you need to know that you will get through this phase of your life. Only then will you be able to take steps towards achieving this. It’s not an automatic process, and you will need help and support along the way. Make things happen for yourself instead of waiting for life to change its course for you. Having a robust recovery plan in place and sticking to it will help you learn from the experience and transform into a stronger and wiser person.
James Allen is marketing manager at Kimmey & Murphy, P.C., a law firm based in Atlanta, Georgia.