January is statistically the busiest month for people filing for divorce. This either is due to the couples who decide to have one last Christmas together for the sake of any children, or because of festive infidelities that see people being reactive and commencing divorce proceedings straight away. Regardless of the reason, many people start the new year knowing that their lives are about to change.
So, whether you are the initiator of the divorce, it has been a collaborative decision or you have been dealt the blow by your partner, divorce does not have to destroy you. On the contrary it can be a very cathartic experience (not necessarily pain free), if you are willing to engage in the process. And by this, I mean having some acceptance that you are going through divorce and are open to using the process as an incredible learning opportunity.
To get the most out of the divorce process for yourself, try the following techniques:
1. Journaling -This is being really focussed on the thoughts and feelings that are entering your head. The reason for this is that by writing things down, you are constructing sentences which simultaneously organises your thoughts and feelings. Without doing this the thoughts and feelings remain in your head as a pile of mush. You don't need to spend hours each day, set yourself a limit of 10 minutes. You could even use a timer on your phone if that helps. Having an easy time target makes the task achievable.
2. Make a purge list - Think about all the behaviours of others and behaviours of yourself that you wish to purge from your life. It is important that you do this about yourself also. One of the hardest parts of moving on from the ending of a relationship is accepting yourself in it. This may feel difficult if your partner has cheated on you or abused you but I am not saying that you take responsibility for their actions i.e. they hit me because I didn't clean enough. What I am talking about is, you may have been a confident happy person before the marriage but became a cold and withdrawn person in the marriage. Yes this may have been as a result of their behaviour but this exercise is about you saying that you want to purge being cold and withdrawn so that you can be happy and confident again. Sometimes we are not even aware of how our personalities and behaviours have changed through the course of the relationship so it is important to reflect on any thoughts, feelings and behaviours that no longer serve you well.
3. Acknowledge what you are grateful for - Yes there will be times when you are going through divorce where everything will seem dark, you will be feeling hurt, anger, sadness etc. It is important to ensure that the brain is balanced with positivity so spend some time each day reminding yourself what you are grateful for; friends, family, pets, your job, your health etc. Try to do this at the start of each day because starting the day on a positive will help frame the day for you. When you are thinking of your gratitude list, spend time thinking specifically what you are grateful for i.e. not just saying friends, you need to expand on what is it that your friends do that enhances your life, how do they make you feel as a person.
4. Revisit your dreams - When you were a child you would have had dreams. Dreams make your feel excited and hopeful. The problem is that when we become teenagers and then adults, society inadvertently squashes all those dreams in favour of paying mortgages and bills. So, we stop dreaming and stop really living. Start making a list of all the things that you wished you had done in your life. Don't filter the list or leave anything off the list if you think that it is an impossible dream, write everything down. The idea is to get you to start thinking about what really excites and inspires you. Keep the list safe and continue to add to it as you go along. You will be surprised where this leads.
One thing I ask you to hold in mind is that your divorce does not define who you are as a person. It is an element of your life that if embraced as an opportunity to shape a future for you and any children, can serve to be very therapeutic.
If you are struggling to self-manage the emotional process of the divorce, why not try our divorce retreat option. An all-inclusive weekend retreat taking you through all the process and techniques that will help you maintain your best self in divorce and emerge a stronger, more confident you. For more information visit www.northhousecoaching.com/divorce-retreat.