Nov 7, 2019
7 Truths about My Divorce – Part One
Truth #1: I am a good person who is in a bad situation
Lie #1: I am a bad person with a very bad life.
Welcome to the first installment in a 7-part series about the ‘truths’ vs. what we tell ourselves. I want to examine the untrue, self-defeating thoughts we believe so you can move forward toward a better future.
The Self-Esteem Nose Dive
Divorce is like an earthquake that shakes our foundation to the core. A quality of life that that once brought us some comfort, now brings us far too much anxiety. Our most important relationship, our home, children, family and friendships are all shaken in the tremors of the divorce earthquake. Our head aches and our heart breaks.
During this time, we can tend to think and talk to ourselves in a very negative way that directly impacts our mental, emotional and physical health. As our self-esteem takes a real nose dive, we become our own worst enemy. We say hurtful things to ourselves like I am a failure, loser, unlovable and a bad person. We make the very common mistake of believing our thoughts are true, so they cut us like a knife.
These cutting words become a part of a repetitive stream of negative thoughts that continually loop through our brains, consume our energy and deplete our minds, hearts and bodies.
Outside Influences Reinforce Negative Messages
To make matters worse, some people in our lives are inclined to heap their piles of negativity on to us too. We hear things like you are a bad wife or bad husband, bad parent; you’re the reason your marriage “failed”.
With this pressure from inside and outside, we can easily drown ourselves in the kind of “stinkin-thinkin” that leaves us feeling very bleak about of our self, our life and our future. If we continue down this path, we can easily find ourselves spiraling in a downward direction.
Breaking the Pattern
So here is the good news: When you stop believing your negative thoughts and stop listening to others, you can free yourself to focus on all that is good about you, your life and start reaching for the many good possibilities that lie ahead.
Here are three important steps you can take to move you toward those making those good possibilities a reality for yourself:
- Remember that most marriages do end in divorce, so you are part of a social dynamic that is far bigger than you. There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone in this struggle. It can be helpful to join one of the many groups available on-line and in person that will allow you to connect with others who are facing the same challenges (see myDivorceRx)
- Limit your exposure to negativity; stay away from people who say and do things that are hurtful toward you. Sometimes this negativity can be very subtle but still be insidious and harmful. Of course, this can be a challenge if you are dealing with an angry or vengeful ex with whom you need to interact in parenting or legal matters. Do your best to limit those situations and, when you can’t avoid them, put up a mental “brick wall” to protect you from their negativity. Rather than fall back into the habit of responding and feeding the negativity, ignore it. Keep your focus on the business at hand as quickly and efficiently as possible so you can withdraw from the negativity asap.
- Do a “You-Turn” and begin focusing on your own patterns of negative thoughts and how they put a tight grip your mind. Notice how they consume your mind leaving no room for positive thoughts or productive thinking. There are two great tools to help with this challenge. The first is to work with a therapist who can help you identify what is holding you back and assist you with shifting into a more positive mindset. The second is to learn to practice mindfulness meditation using many of the online resources and apps such as “Head Space”. The combination of a therapist who works with mindfulness meditation is the best alternative.
Finally, it is very helpful and healthy to remind yourself every day that this divorce is a phase or stage of life and “This too shall pass”. The people who learn to conquer self-defeating thoughts, shield themselves from outside negative and put all energy into building a good quality future are the real winners. Those people often end up with lives far more satisfying than they ever imagined possible.
Keila M. Gilbert, Esq.
©2019 Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation