By Lisa Kaplin
One of my clients told me the other day that she’d rather cut off her hands with a dull rusty knife than go through a divorce again. Although that may seem a bit extreme, I’m not sure others wouldn’t agree with her. Divorce isn’t for the faint of heart, yet maybe it’s possible to get through it with your sanity intact and some semblance of compatibility with your ex. Impossible you say? Nope, it’s been done and you can do it too.
Most of the people that I work with come in to me ready to talk about their feelings.
Your feelings are crucial but they aren’t THE most important factor in how you get through a divorce.
I know that sounds a little anti-therapy but underlying your feelings are the thoughts that led you to those strong feelings.
So what are you actually thinking?
Here are some common divorce thoughts that people share with me, “I wasn’t enough for him.”… “She nags me so much which means she thinks I’m an idiot.” … “We will never get along with each other.” … “He has never loved me, he doesn’t listen, and he never cared about me.” … “He cheated on me which means he found me disgusting and no one will ever love me again.” It’s not too surprising that if this is how you are thinking, you will be feeling like crap.
Time to change those thoughts that lead to different feelings and ultimately behaviors that are healthier and will aid you in surviving that divorce. So first ask yourself, is this thought accurate? Do you know absolutely that you weren’t enough for him? Or is it possible that there are other explanations?
Trust me, divorce is like a big onion with too many layers to simplify with one blanket thought that just happens to be negative about yourself.
If you change the thought from, “I wasn’t enough for him” to “We were no longer good for each other” — then you are looking at a completely different paradigm — which doesn’t place blame, doesn’t belittle or criticize, but rather addresses the complexity of the situation.
Another crucial divorce survival skill is to get to know YOU.
Most women who I talk to admit to having given up a big chunk of themselves in relationships in order to please the other person. They do and say things to make their partner happy at the expense of their own growth. This, my lovely friends, is doomed to failure! Inevitably, if you aren’t happy, your relationship won’t be either. You will become resentful, lonely, unhappy, and without your own purpose.
If you plan to get into another relationship, don’t do it until you are whole.
What do YOU love to do? What motivates you to fly out of bed in the morning? If you don’t have any ideas, it’s time to start trying some new things. Go for a walk, jump out of a plane (with a parachute), learn a new skill, join some type of social group, take some risks and learn about YOU.
If you learn to master your thoughts and harness them into realistic and optimistic venues as well as getting to know and like yourself, the chances of a civil divorce become much higher.
You don’t have to defend yourself against every criticism your ex sends your way. In fact, I strongly recommend that you don’t. You are not going to change his/her opinion and you will only aggravate yourself when you try to do so. Walk away when possible and work on taking care of yourself.
Find your voice, your strength, your values, and your gifts. These will be the skills you need to develop a true sense of confidence and calm. When you are ready, you can enter into a new relationship with an awareness of who you are and what you want. Your newfound confidence and skills will dramatically increase the likelihood that you will never get divorced again.
Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: Lisa Kaplin is a psychologist and life coach at www.smartwomeninspiredlives.com. She runs a divorce class for women called the “I’m never getting divorced again class.” (LOVE IT!) She is starting an evening class in April and a teleclass version in May. To sign up for the class or to get more information, email: Lisa@smartwomeninspiredlives.com