There is no shortage of help and advice when it comes to heartbreak.
A quick online search will reveal hundreds of pages, groups and resources dedicated to supporting you through the pain of divorce. It is encouraging, sympathetic and comforting. People gather in Facebook groups to share their stories of futures shattered and the despair of loneliness.
It is reassuring to know you’re not alone. And yet, despite this divorce support, you still find it so very hard to move on, to stop analysing the break-up, to stop going round in endless emotional in circles.
So, what’s the problem?
In the early days of my divorce when I looked for advice, I found it mainly centred around what to do/not do to feel better:
“block him from social media/don’t engage in dialogue”
“don’t hide away – seek support from friends”
“do what makes you feel good”
While all of these were valid and had their place, they never really got to the core of healing my pain. Sometimes it was hard to go to friends, especially when they wanted me to be happy and all I wanted was my husband back. Indulging in self-care or distracting myself by being sociable lifted my mood temporarily, but only scratched the surface of healing.
I would go to groups or websites looking for a way to feel better, but would find myself drawn into the same negative loop I was hoping to move on from. I discovered that misery truly does love company. Many online forums seemed to be opportunities for people to vent about their exes and look for agreement about how awful things were. I wanted to be hopeful about my future but all I could find was evidence that “you can’t trust men”. Or memes and quotes which intended to be empowering, but which came across as bitter.
Now, don’t get me wrong – in the early days of my divorce I could bitch about my ex-husband with the best of them! He treated me appallingly and having my hurt feelings validated and supported was what I needed for a while. It strengthened me when I was losing my sense of self-worth. It is normal, healthy and natural to feel and express all of the emotions of grief.
However, we get stuck when we continue to only focus on the surface level of pain. And this is the problem with most break-up help; it focuses on what we have lost and not what we have to gain.
What we believe to be true shapes our reality
I found that most break-up support reinforces what you already feel to be true by perpetuating the beliefs that:
- Getting through divorce means accepting a reality that you don’t want to accept
- Hurt takes a long time to heal
- Change is scary
And while you may be reading this thinking “Actually, yes, all of that is true!”, I invite you to accept that there might be another way to look at things.
Trying to accept a deeply unpleasant reality is torturous. We are telling ourselves (understandably) that our divorce is a big terrible event in our lives; it’s failure; the most painful thing we’ve ever experienced; a huge challenge. And then we ask ourselves to accept that – it’s no wonder that it feels impossible!
In order to make the break-up more acceptable we have to see it as something else, a different reality. You will accept your divorce so much easier when you begin to see it as an opportunity to reevaluate your past; a chance to discover your purpose; a lesson in changing the patterns of your future relationships; a chance to make yourself the priority in your own life.
Hurt can take a long time to heal, but if you can reframe that hurt into lessons and opportunity, grief will heal far quicker. Change can be scary but if we accept that change itself is actually neutral, and it’s the thoughts and fears that we project onto change that make it scary, we realise that we have the power to make change feel different: less scary, more hopeful.
The power of mindset
In the beginning, I didn’t realise that to change the way I felt, I had to change the way I thought. It wasn’t until I stopped seeking help from traditional “divorce support” and started looking at self-help which delved deeply into personal growth, mindset and connecting to my purpose, that the real healing began. Shifting your perspective doesn’t mean you avoid the grief emotions, it means that you let yourself express them, but allow yourself to be curious about the pain. You become self-aware and allow the hurt to show you what needs to be healed. This is something only you can do. You won’t find it among those equally hurt women on the angry break-up forum, who share your indignation but know nothing about you and your journey.
No one is saying this is instant or simple. It takes consistent work to shift a mindset. The work requires putting your happiness above your fear of change. It will take self-love; responsibility for your own healing; forgiveness for yourself and others (which can be difficult) and sense of curiosity and purpose about your life. But mostly a genuine willingness to consider that this divorce happened for the best. If you are finding yourself stuck, perhaps it’s time to dig a little deeper and think in a different way. I have faith that it’s possible for any of us.
With love and support,
Are You Ready to Change How You Feel?
“This book helped me see my divorce in a new way”