The aftermath of divorce can be a sense of self-discovery or internment in a self-made prison of depression and resentment. It's all about our acceptance of what is and determination to use the divorce as a pathway to a new and better life. The good news: It's all up to us. We can create an attitude of positive expectation or we can subjugate ourselves to months and years of self-pity and despair down the road. The bad news: It's not always easy to change our attitude or perspective on life. But if you do, you'll be rewarded with a happier future for yourself as well as your children.
Here are some vital steps to embracing your divorce as a catalyst to a brighter future.
Boost your self-esteem.
One of the most damaging effects of divorce can be a toll on your self-esteem, especially if you were not the partner who initiated the breakup. Feeling rejected, abused or like a victim is understandable during and after divorce. However, that mindset can hold you back from using the divorce as a stepping stone to a healthier new reality. It's up to us to decide we're going to create a better life for ourselves and our children by adopting a positive attitude about the possibilities ahead. That means being pro-active and not re-active in your decisions, looking for new friends and activities that are fulfilling, exploring new sides of our self that may have been dormant during the marriage and developing a higher level of self-confidence. Your children will benefit from watching you re-discover who you are and learn from your approach to tackling life challenges as a positive role model.
Use divorce as a lesson in self-awareness.
Ask yourself some crucial questions: What went wrong -- and why? What part did I play in the break-up of my marriage? If I had responded earlier to red flags might I have changed the course of our marriage, reduced the hurt and pain, put us back on track or better protected myself and the children? These are hard questions to reflect upon. Find a therapist, coach or support group to guide you in finding answers and insights. Usually, if we knew better we'd have done better. So don't focus on regrets. Find the lessons you can learn now -- and move ahead with more confidence in creating a happier future.
Forgive yourself as well as your ex.
Forgiveness is the gift you give to yourself. It's not for or about the other person. It releases you from the pain of staying bound up in the past. Blaming yourself or your former spouse serves no purpose in reinventing your life. It holds you back from enjoying today -- as well as tomorrow. This is a huge step forward, but you may need professional assistance in letting go, moving on and understanding the value of forgiveness as a positive tool for self-empowerment. Forgiveness doesn't mean condoning the hurtful experiences in the past. It means you're freeing yourself from letting it hurt you any more!
Re-explore your expectations about healthy relationships.
Were you looking for the right partner when you married? Or can you now see that you accepted or settled for less than you deserved? Were you the one who had erroneous expectations about what a committed relationship was about? Do you have a better idea of the kind of person who would complement your interests, values and long-term goals? Successful relationships take skill in communicating, handling conflict, compromising and sharing space. It's even more challenging when children are involved. Before moving back into the singles-dating arena, take time to learn about who you really are, what you can give and what you need in return to have a fulfilling intimate relationship. Take your time. Get the professional help you may need. Do it right this time. Your future is depending on it. And your children will thank you as well!