Your ex isn't the only relationship you need to re-examine during a divorce
Sometimes, those closest to you hold you back the most.
There's absolutely nothing easy about turning your life upside down and inside out.
Of course you'll ask for help, guidance, or just a strong shoulder to lean on when the going gets tough. But, believe it or not, the very people you're likely to rely on may end up making your divorce even harder than necessary (or, at least, more annoying). So, what's a great tip for getting through divorce well?
Spend less of your precious time and energy listening to people you're better off ignoring.
You need to focus on making a new "normal" for yourself and your kids, healing from your divorce, and moving on with your life. All things you just can't do if the people in your life bring you down.
Who are these people you'd do better to ignore? Surprisingly, they're the exact people you usually turn to first:
1. Your ex
Most likely the things your ex is saying sounds like nagging or them trying to control you ("Haven't you talked with your attorney yet?" or "If you don't put the house on the market next week, I won't let you have the extra day with the kids you asked for.") They might even sound whiny or critical and judgmental.
Look, I know you've spent your entire marriage caring about what this person thinks, feeling obligated to please them, but that's not your job anymore. It's time to start setting new boundaries around what you will and will not accept from them and then do your part to make sure your new boundaries stick.
It's also time for you to start changing your expectations for your ex. They aren't the same person you married. They're trying to create their own new normal, heal from their divorce, and move on with their life, too. (Or, maybe that's too optimistic and they're just trying to function on a day-to-day basis). The bottom-line is, though it's painful, your ex is more focused on their own life than on you. You just can't expect much from them. And, changing your expectations is probably the single most important thing you can do to prevent them from remaining an annoying splinter in your life.
2. Your friends and family
I know! It's hard to believe I would suggest ignoring the people you thought you could count on for sure. But I am, if they're second guessing your decisions, complaining about how your divorce is affecting them, feeding negativity, or making things even more difficult with your ex. None of that is helping you right now.
It's time to start tuning these people out as sources of comfort or guidance. Realizing that people you've relied on for most of your life are more interested in how your divorce and decisions are impacting them, instead of being there for you, often feels like another betrayal. However, the truth is that everyone cares about themselves and how things affect them. Some people just can't put the needs of others first. Unfortunately, this is just another of the hurtful realizations of divorce. Your relationships with friends and family may change during this time of transition. Hold on to the folks who lift you up and help you grow, but create better boundaries with anyone who tears you down or makes your struggle more difficult.
Yep, you might need to start ignoring some of the stuff you're saying, thinking, and doing too.
If you're feeling victimized by your divorce, you can't let that feeing consume you. Parts of divorce feel really hard and super scary, while others just piss you off ... but focusing on the fear, anger, and "injustice of it all" without taking positive action to change your situation is just really annoying!
Or, perhaps you're beating yourself up with a bunch of shoulda, coulda, wouldas. If you're being hard on yourself, I hope you feel irritated with that part of you! Beating yourself up when you're already down is NEVER going to make things better. Realize that you're doing the best you can in every situation. Being gentle with yourself moves you much further along toward creating a new, healthy normal in your life.
I know, setting new boundaries isn't easy during times of change and strife. But this is what divorce requires. To really heal from your divorce and move on (without dragging unresolved baggage along with you), you must start tuning out toxic voices that hinder your clarity ... even if those toxic voices come from loved ones, or your own self.
So the next time you start feeling annoyed with others during your divorce, take a deep breath. Changing your relationships with these folks won't happen overnight. But, it is totally worth doing because you're the only person who can live your new life and you're the only one that has to live with the consequences of your decisions.
Dr. Karen Finn is a Divorce Coach and Founder of The Functional Divorce. You can learn more about Karen and her work at www.functionaldivorce.com.
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