Divorce is by far one of the most stressful and unsettling events that occurs in a person’s life. Speak to anyone and you will quickly learn that either through their own personal experience or knowing someone who has experienced it, most people have been touched by divorce. Divorce shakes the once solid foundation of not only the marriage, but the family. It disrupts lives, changes routines, and often makes people feel like they are in an emotional ‘spin cycle.’
Thus, a key first step in managing your emotions and get yourself out of the ’emotional spin cycle’ is not only being aware they exist (in varying forms and degrees) but also acknowledging their presence. While some emotions are predictable, others are unpredictable, catch us off guard, and blindside us. However, learning how to manage your emotions while going through a divorce can not only help create a strong and lasting foundation with your present relationship with your spouse, but well after your divorce is final. It will also empower you in ways you didn’t believe possible and ultimately bring you the peace you seek.
Although no two divorces are the same, many of the feelings people experience are universal. Thus, there are effective ways that help people manage their emotions while going through a divorce.
Compartmentalize. Being able to compartmentalize your life is an invaluable skill that can be learned. Often, when going through a divorce, a person spends an enormous time thinking about all the different aspects of the divorce. The time spent is limitless. Yet, doing this is not only detrimental to the recovery process, it rarely provides the mental break and space needed that creates clarity so rational not emotional decisions can be made. However, being able to place limits on the amount of time thinking about the divorce through compartmentalizing, does. This can be accomplished by ‘chunking’ out small portions of your time. If at work, set limits on how much time during the work day you spend thinking about your divorce. You can postpone your thoughts by saying you will think about the issue after lunch or after work. You can set and achieve small goals throughout the week to accomplish goals related to the divorce and when the thought comes up, remind yourself you already have that task scheduled.
Check Yourself. Learn how to identify your thoughts and emotions. Ask yourself, what are the feelings and thoughts that I am currently experiencing? Where am I in this process? Are my feelings relevant? What purpose do they serve? What is the true meaning behind what I am experiencing? Often times, what we feel is something deeper than what it appears to be. By taking the time to check ourselves – where we are, where we want to be – helps keep us centered and present.
Mindfulness. This is an eastern philosophy that has great benefits. By simply being and accepting how we feel – and not asking ourselves why we are feeling a certain way, trying to make sense of our feelings, or thinking too deeply about them – is extremely beneficial. Mindfulness means not only accepting how we feel, but not judging ourselves for feeling a certain way. There is robust research on the benefits of mindfulness – a primary one being that by practicing this we can actually move past and through negative feelings quicker.
Plan for the unexpected. If you go in thinking that your divorce should be a ‘certain way’ or that you are wrong for feeling the way you do, this thinking will most likely result in more negative feelings – guilt for not ‘being over the divorce’, faulty thinking about yourself (I should be moving on, I shouldn’t being feeling this way), self-doubt and a lack of confidence. What to do? Expect that there will be days that will simply blindside you. Two steps forward, three back. Tell yourself that its ok, this is just part of the process. Giving yourself that ‘space’ to accept, grow, and evolve will ultimately get you through the process faster.
Focus on the big picture. In the moment, it might feel good be immersed in our emotions. There is benefit to being in the moment and experiencing our thoughts and emotions for what they are. However, part of the journey through divorce is to have the ability to not only have short term goals but long term goals – with a primary focus on the big picture. Visualization helps you do this. What do you want your future to look like? If your future was what you wanted it to be, what would this look like? How will you know when you have arrived? What are both the short and long term goals to get you to the future you envision for yourself?
Ultimately, the ups and downs do, in many ways, come to an end and a more centered and optimistic view about your future, post divorce, emerges.
This blog was originally published at Think Financially, Not Emotionally