The ending of any relationship can be difficult, but the end of a marriage – a contract in which the word “forever” was used – is just heartbreaking.
Put simply, it hurts. What can you do to ease the intense pain? There’s no easy way through, but here are a few strategies that can help you endure this challenging time. If possible, try more than one.
- Recall a time in your life when you were knocked down, but eventually recovered. How did you do it? To whom did you reach out? What support was available and most useful to you? Allow yourself to remember your initial sense of dread, then feel the strength of having this episode behind you. Create a list of your emotions at the time of the event and then another one that captures your current perspective.
- List five attributes describing you when you are your best self. Now list five conditions that must be met in order for your best self to show up. (Examples: eight hours of sleep, a chat with a close friend, daily time for exercise.) How can you get those needs met? If you focus on fueling your body and mind so you can be your best self, it can be a productive distraction from the problems that are dragging you down.
- Start working on a plan to protect yourself legally, financially, and emotionally. Having support in these areas will go a long way toward easing your uncertainties. I know it’s hard to get the ball rolling – it means you must confront the realities of your situation. But you’ll be better off in the long run if you resist the urge to put your head in the sand.
- Set obtainable short- and long-term goals. Start by writing down a goal for today – something you’ll accomplish by the end of the day. Expand to setting goals for next week, next month, three months from now. What opportunities are available to you to help you reach these goals? What obstacles might you encounter? For extra motivation, create a reward for reaching each of your goals.
- Build a team of friends and family. Look for and accept support from loved ones to help you work on the above strategies. Those close to you will be relieved to see you taking steps toward the future. Be specific about how you need their help; people often want to support you, but don’t know how. List two or three people who can be your “moving forward” team. This can be an opportunity to find out who your true friends are.
- Repeat the following to yourself:
- I cannot control the actions of others
- It is what it is. Now, what I am going to do about it?
- I’ve been down before; I can get up again.
- Now is my chance to figure out what I really want to do with my life – and do it
Remember, taking small steps can lead to a whole new outlook. The key is: you have to start taking the steps. Your actions will create momentum, and before you know it, the steps will get bigger, more enjoyable, and more rewarding.