There is no question that going through a divorce is rough. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, up is down, right is left, and you don’t know how long the drop is, let alone how you will survive the landing. But you do. The people who “succeed” most at divorce are those that are resilient in the face of change and embrace the opportunity to transform their lives. Personal growth can only be achieved through challenge – and divorce is one of the biggest challenges you will ever encounter.
Initially, success feels like a far-fetched goal for most people going through a divorce. Sheer survival seems more realistic. Faced with the loss of your most important relationship, you are vulnerable and alone in analyzing what went wrong and grieving for the loss of what you thought you had. You question everything. How did I get here? What will happen to me? What will my life look like moving forward? To make things worse, you have to struggle with the endless, uncontrollable legal process that provides little, if any, emotional support. And the enormous scale of change that comes with divorce is overwhelming and opens the doors to your worst fears and insecurities.
Those voices are your inner critics who create fear, uncertainty, rage, resentment, jealousy, and panic. They fuel the fire of your most negative emotions to keep you in a place of reaction and doubt. They rob you of your strength and self-esteem. They keep you stuck in a story about your past. They distract you from focusing on yourself by keeping you absorbed in the anger, fear and pain from your ex. They create such a fearful vision of the future that some people choose not to move forward at all, rather than face their fear of the unknown. These inner critics will not serve you. Ultimately, they will sabotage you at every turn in the divorce process, if you let them.
So, how do you succeed at divorce?
1. Silence Your Saboteurs
Acknowledge them. Notice what they say most often. Notice how they make you feel. You know these are saboteur voices when they only instill fear and doubt. You know these are saboteur voices when the only future they paint for you is terrifying and bleak. What do they know? You might actually win the lottery someday. They don’t know you and what you’ve accomplished in your life. So, why are you listening? Once you know your saboteurs, you don’t have to react mindlessly to everything they say. You have a choice. Once you recognize your saboteurs, you can see how silly and ridiculous they really are.
2. Identify What You Want
You can’t get what you want until you know what it is. And in a divorce, not knowing what you want leaves you in a completely disempowered position. While the legal process is pretty much out of your control, you can maximize the probability of getting what you want if you have clarity and purpose. A clear vision of what is most important to you, now and in the future, will guide you in your decision-making. It will help you negotiate for a better result. It will put your best interests front and center, while you leave your disempowering past behind. It will make your saboteurs weak. It will help you move forward to transform your life into what you want it to be.
3. Honor Your Values
Separation and divorce can leave you untethered and rudderless as you adjust to being alone. Your individual identity was so subsumed by who you were as a married couple that it takes some self-exploration to identify who you are now and who you want to be in the future. It is important, early in this process, to identify your core values – such as integrity, family, achievement, and contribution – since it is these values that drive how you think and act. It is also important to recognize that your core values are unique to you. Often we make big assumptions that others share our values, when in fact they don’t. They are living life by a whole different rule book. Knowing your core values is essential since it gives you insight into yourself and what is most important to you. And it is important to know that when your core values aren’t being honored, by you or someone else, you will feel miserable. You can’t control your ex’s actions. You can’t control the legal process. You can’t control the repercussions of divorce on your life. But you can control yourself. By honoring your core values every day, and throughout this process, you will have assurance that you are making the decisions that are right for you. You will have confidence knowing that you are always true to yourself in your behavior and actions. You will know that you did your best. You will have conviction that your situation doesn’t define you. And you will have faith and hope that your life will be better than it ever was before.
Divorce challenges you to have the courage to step forward, to face your fears and move forward anyway. You have one life on this earth and it is your responsibility to live it as best you can. No excuses. And this is your opportunity to take the reins and create a new life for yourself – one that is far more empowering and fulfilling than the one you are leaving behind.