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Three Steps to Thriving After Divorce

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A divorce is a course correction in life, not a mistake that you need to justify to anyone.  All divorces are unique, with different circumstances, emotions, and stories, so don’t compare yours to others. 

Just know that was your experience and however you experienced it simply is and it’s not wrong. And, honestly, we are whole and complete as we are today, and going through the process below, spend time answering the questions, and becoming conscious of our thoughts and feelings simply gives us an opportunity to change if we so choose.  

Step 1 – Reconnect with yourself!

reconnect with self

After divorce, taking time to reconnect with yourself, your desires, your values, and being ok with being single is so important!  Sometimes we think the next relationship is the answer, but we need to take a step back and reconnect to ourselves. Many people in relationships give so much to the other person, kids, family, work, friends, etc., that they lose themselves in the busyness of life. 

When we reconnect to ourselves, we gain so much clarity and start to see our own value; we don’t need someone to define that for us. A good test to see where you’re starting from is to look into a mirror and say to yourself “I love you.”

If that brings tears or wells up emotion, your very first step is to learn to love yourself.  Louise Hay has an amazing book called “Mirror Work: 21 Days to Heal Your Life” that can help.  

Also, whether you wanted the divorce or not, there is still sadness, pain, and loss.  It’s important to allow those feelings, but not wallow in those feelings. Honor yourself and what has transpired – it’s a huge thing! 

People go through this process at a different pace, the key is to KEEP MOVING FORWARD. Women tend to grieve longer than men, but depression can be experienced by both.  Although family and friends mean well, sometimes seeking a professional to help you through this time may be right for you.  

Finally, create a routine that includes self-care.  Like they say on the airplane, put your oxygen mask on first, and then help others.  We have to take care of, love, and nourish ourselves. Taking time out for self-care isn’t only for you, it’s also so you can be your best self for those you love. 

Once you’ve reconnected with yourself, your desires, your values, you’ll be more confident and aligned when making decisions from that space.  You will be confident to do things alone if you aren’t already and you will be able to say no, picking those things that you truly enjoy and invigorate you.

Questions to reflect on:

What are my greatest desires?  If I could create or have anything, what would it be?  

What do I value most?  Family, community, spirituality, money, close relationships, career status, etc.?

How do I want others to see me?  Does this align with my desires and values?

Do I feel worthy of your desires or that I am enough?  If yes, congrats! If no, list them and then see the last page section called Limiting Belief Clearing for more information.

When I feel stuck in sadness/regret/anger after the divorce, ask if feeling this way benefitting me in any way?  

What’s one thing I can do today that will help you move forward?

What self-care routines am I willing to incorporate into my life?  Commit!

When I was younger, what did I enjoy doing?  Can I incorporate that into my life today?

Step 2 – Learn your lessons and patterns

Learn your lessons and patterns after divorce

We are constantly learning what we want and don’t want. Take those lessons from your relationship as well.  Reflect on all the things that you appreciated and enjoyed as well as all the things you don’t ever want to have or that you aren’t willing to tolerate again. 

You also need to own your behavior; this can be hard but our behavior also influences a relationship so be honest with yourself. We all make mistakes as well but we have the opportunity to learn and grow from them.  

The other piece is there may be a pattern that keeps recurring.  For example, think about any relationships you had before you were married as well, are you always attracting the same type? 

Is there something that ALWAYS happens? By walking through the questions below, you can help identify some of the lessons and patterns that need to be made conscious.  By doing so, you then have the opportunity to change and breakthrough that pattern if you so choose.  

Questions to reflect on:

Do I always attract the same kind of person?  

How does the relationship begin and what led to the end?  

Are there always “X” problems, such as communication, reliability, money, etc?

Do I speak up when I appreciate something, am hurt, am angry?  Or do I hold a grudge?

What behavior was accepted at the beginning that caused an issue down the road?  

What behavior was amazing in the beginning but then stopped?  

What arguments are repetitive?  

Are my partner’s people that never follow through on their promises or take advantage of you?  

Do you try to buy someone’s affections?  

Do you do everything for them and never get or accept anything in return?  

What bad behaviors happened?  Did excuse it rather than addressing it?  

Were you controlling or being controlled?

Is there any kind of pattern you can see in both your and your partner’s behavior?  From the list, be clear so you know what you want and what you don’t want; who you want to be, and who you don’t want to be.  If there is a pattern and you don’t want to repeat it again, then you need to consciously change it and seek something different.  

Step 3 – Clarity and new relationships

new relationship after divorce

Now that you have identified your values, your desires, and your patterns, you can be clear on the type of person you want to be and who you want to attract into your life.  As said above, we are whole and complete as we are today, and having this additional information conscious simply gives us an opportunity to change if we so choose.  

In this isolated/disconnected time, it is difficult to meet people, but that does not mean we have to settle! 

Sometimes we want so desperately to be with someone, we ignore the signs right in front of us – the one that says “RUN”.  We don’t listen to our intuition or that voice in our heads that says that’s not right. No one is perfect but they may be perfect for you; however, don’t settle for someone just so you don’t have to be alone.

In this final step, the clearer you can be, the better.  It gives you a guideline of what type of relationship you want to create. 

Really get specific on the answers to the questions below. Next, write why you want that.  For example, I want someone who challenges me in a healthy way because I would get bored with a “yes” man. I want someone who enjoys making me laugh and laughs with me because I have a quick wit and laughter is important to me. 

I want someone who honors my love language and I theirs, so we both feel acknowledged in our own meaningful way.

From the work you did above, you know what you want to recreate and what you don’t.  That will get you started when describing your next relationship and your ideal partner.  With the “don’t want” category, change the statements into what you want. For example, “I want a man/woman who is faithful to me” rather than “I want a man/woman that doesn’t cheat”.

If you get stuck, consider some of the below questions:

When you disagree, consider how that would be resolved.  Is your partner one who always has to be in the right or are you?

When arguments happen, and they will, do you want someone who can listen and respond or someone who storms off and sweeps things under the rug?

What kind of communications do you want to have?

Do you want someone driven to succeed in their career or happy to earn an honest living without worried about moving up?

Do you want someone who loves to learn new things and is open-minded?  

Do you want adventurous or a homebody?  

Does the relationship with their family or friends matter to you?

Finally, you need to identify what beliefs you have around relationships and men/women and even yourself in a relationship.  Do you think there are no good ones out there? Then you’ll attract that. Do you believe all relationships fail? Then yours will.  Do you believe they just take advantage of you and leave? Then that will happen. Do you feel you have to be controlling? Well, you know how that will end. 

It’s really important to identify your beliefs around relationships because that is what you are going to attract. You have to be very conscious of changing those beliefs when creating something new.  

Limiting Belief Clearing

When you are experiencing an emotion or feeling, spend some uninterrupted, quiet time and sit quietly with that feeling and see what comes up.  Being aware of them is the first step to clearing and changing them. When you sit with the feeling, notice if there is a sensation that comes up somewhere in your body.  If there are multiple sensations, drop your awareness into the strongest sensation and ask yourself what you need to know about it; just listen, don’t “think” your way through it.   An old belief may come up, an event may pop into your head you had forgotten about or you may just get a word or two. You can always ask what any of those mean – again just listen, don’t “think” your way through. 

Once you’ve got something, start journaling about what came up, what belief you have, what feelings you have.  

Many of us deep down don’t think we’re worthy, smart, good, creative, rich, etc. enough to have our greatest desires.  These can come from our experience as a child, beliefs our parents passed down, schools instilled, from our community or our relationships.  In reviewing your journal, what belief do you have? Does that belief still serve you? What new belief do you want to replace it with? Now, get quiet again.  Bring awareness to the belief that no longer serves you. Honor the belief by acknowledging it and then replacing it. For example, “Thank you for serving me in the past.  I have a new way that aligns with who I’m becoming that will serve me now.” Visualize that belief leaving and replace it with the new belief. Feel that new belief integrating in and thank it.  

Now, we have multiple layers and multiple life experiences, so don’t be surprised if a similar belief rears its head.  Simply go through this same process. Be gentle with yourself, we are all a work in progress.

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Shannon Swenson

Letting go of the past and knowing that she could create the future she deserved drove Shannon to the life she has today. She is now the CEO and Life Coach at Encompass Coaching LLC, and has been successfully coaching clients through major life changes since 2008.

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