I still feel sad and try and hide the fact that my marriage ended in 2017. As a family therapist, I never thought I could end up divorced. These last 5 years, while I’ve struggled to heal and move on, I’ve also learned many valuable lessons. Some life lessons can only be learned through our biggest setbacks.
As I wrote this post, I started to realize that each tip below will not only help you heal from a divorce, but also can make your current relationships stronger TODAY. While I’m writing to help my audience, I’m also writing to remind myself of what I need to practice. I’m often better at helping others then at helping myself.
12 Tips for Healing After a Divorce
Tip #1. Own Your Part
You both probably made mistakes. Taking responsibility for your mistakes will empower you. Empowerment comes from taking personal responsibility and making changes in yourself. Don’t spend time blaming and focusing on things outside of your control.
Tip #2. Figure Out What Broke in The Marriage
Maybe your marriage started off with problems. Acknowledging a difficult foundation can help you move forward. Acceptance can help you to forgive yourself and see the benefit of every life experience. Acceptance helps you view today, and your future, with hope.
Tip #3. Figure Out What’s Broken In You
You brought your own stuff into the marriage. Family dynamics you learned were normal, might have been toxic. Addiction, anxiety, depression – all these can contribute to the demise of a marriage. Figure out how they might have impacted your marriage. Counseing, coaching, reading, brutally honest friends, support groups, and 12-step programs can help.
Tip #4. Let Go of Resentments
I’ve learned the hard way how resentments can destroy you if you don’t learn to let go. Our resentments rewrite, and negatively spin history. Resentments cause fear. No matter what, you must forgive. Wish your former spouse good things and pray for their success. If they’re remarried, do the same for their new spouse, new marriage, and new family. Here’s a good article that can help titled 12 Steps to Live Without Resentment.
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Tip #5. Get to Know Yourself
It’s never too late to know yourself better. What are your passions and interests? Identify your dreams over the next 5 to 10 years. What people, places, and activities energize you? Here’s a worksheet to complete that can help you get you know yourself, maybe for the first time ever.
Tip #6. Engage Friends & Make New Ones
Consistently open up to your friends about what you’re going through, especially when you feel like a burden. Tell the whole truth. Your divorce will reveal a lot about the quality of your relationships. People who judge you and treat you differently due to your divorce are not being good friends. You may need to rekindle old friendships and build new ones. I recorded a podcast on strengthening friendships and building new ones that might be helpful.
Tip #7. Be Good to Yourself
You’re worthy regardless of your successes and failures. You’re worthy regardless of what other’s think. Make yourself a priority. Identify and focus on your intrinsic positive traits. Take really good care of yourself. Follow through on your commitments, especially the ones you make to yourself. Get enough sleep and get up early. Eat healthy, drink in moderation, use caffeine wisely, engage in your hobbies. Remove toxic people from your life.
“When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonged, your worthiness is a birthright, and not something you have to earn, anything is possible.” – Brene Brown
Tip #8. Always Hope
Countless times I’ve heard the encouraging words from my mom these last few years, “Adam, you will get through this”. From the encouragement of friends and family to the strangers who were kind to me just at the right times, there are hopeful reminders every day. The only thing more powerful than fear, is hope!
Tip #9. Go To Gratitude
Regardless of whatever happened, your former spouse has many positive qualities and there were good times. Over our 14 year marriage there were many blessings, including an amazing daughter. We built a close friendship and we started a successful business. Focus on your ex husband or wife’s good qualities. Be grateful for all the good that came from your marriage. Gratitude will change your state of mind.
Tip #10. Be Happy Single
As hard as it is to be alone, good decisions aren’t made out of fear, loneliness, or insecurity. Ignore the voices that tell you differently. Resist friends and family who treat you as if you’re incomplete being single. Learn to enjoy activities by yourself (eating out, movies, travel, etc.) and you’ll meet some great people on your journey. Learning to be happy alone is a good skill for anyone, and actually makes close relationships healthier.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tip #11. Trust People
My divorce hurt my confidence. I don’t want to trust again, but trusting again and risking getting hurt is something I must do to have a full life. The only way to build trust is to risk trusting. Choose to trust people again. Choose to open yourself up!
Tip #12: Move On
History is filled with examples of people choosing to have happy and productive lives regardless of the past. Nobody can do this for you, and nobody can keep you from taking the steps necessary to start over. Wake up each morning and refuse to stay stuck. Take action today!
I hope these tips can help you and others move forward after going through tough life experiences.
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