There are a lot of feelings and emotions that come with divorce – anger, betrayal, despair, guilt, rejection, uselessness, fear, elation – and they all go with the territory. You may feel confused as you establish your new identity and move on to develop new relationships. It’s normal to desire new intimate partners and to experiment with dating – but be prepared to feel mistrustful and insecure at times.
Here are 7 steps to reclaiming your life after divorce:
- Examine your divorce experience and self-defeating messages derived from it.Develop a mindset that relationships are our teachers. Divorce can be viewed as a catalyst for personal growth. Counseling, blogging, and reading can aid you in this process.
- Develop a healthy response to mistakes and failing.Practice forgiving yourself and your ex for your divorce. If genuine forgiveness isn’t possible, practice acceptance.
- Don’t play the role of victim and begin to make decisions that reflect your strength as a woman.Give yourself permission to “think big” and want more.
- Practice self-compassion as you explore new relationships carefully.You don’t have to pick your next partner on the first date, so take things slowly. Have fun and approach dating as a learning experience.
- Be more assertive in relationships.If you want to form a new relationship based on trust you need to speak up when something bothers you or you have a request. Dating can help you learn what your non-negotiable or deal breakers are.
- Don’t talk about your ex with strangers or with new dates.This is a huge red flag that someone is not ready for a new partner and will turn off new possibilities.
- Shed toxic relationships and develop healthy ones.Surround yourself with people who support your journey and can allow you to build self-worth. Don’t settle for less than you deserve.
Going through a divorce can shake your foundation and make you question your own judgment. You might find yourself second-guessing yourself because the breakup of a marriage can alter your sense of self, belief about safety and security, and understanding about love, family and relationships. The world as you have come to know and experience it is suddenly turned upside down.
Truth be told, that’s exactly what happened to me. During my divorce, it became obvious to me that I had lost the essence of myself in my marriage. Like many women, I was a people pleaser who spent a lot of energy trying to comfort and appease others – neglecting my own needs. As a result, I often put my needs last. In the process, I compromised too much and was left feeling like I had morphed into someone else.
It’s no wonder that I was fearful of falling in love again and getting hurt after my divorce. But I was eager to start over and share my life with someone. However, it has taken me several years to reclaim the joyous aspects of my life and to develop healthy relationships built on love, trust, and intimacy.