Stuck in a divorce breakdown? Take control of your emotions and behavior patterns to shift the experience to a more positive one
Divorce is commonly considered the unhappiest ‘ever after’ — but that’s not how I decided to go about it. I believed my son’s happiness depended on my own, so I set out to make divorce the best thing that ever happened to me — and all of us.
At my personal ground zero of heartbreak and loss, I decided to convert obstacles into opportunities. Here’s how it worked for me, and how it can work for you.
Practicing 6 key principles moved my life and my family from breakdown to breakthrough:
1. Make your kids’ well-being your North Star
If you have kids, you and your co-parent likely share some key values about their well-being. Keeping your attention there is the best way to find a positive and peaceful way through divorce. If your behavior is working for your kids, it’s working. If you see them suffering, it’s time to find a new way of relating.
2. Move from complaint to desire
Everything you don’t want holds the key to what you do want. Whatever you are complaining about, reverse it and you’ll find a request. This moves, “I hate that you are always late!” to “I’d love it if you could be prompt when handing off the kids.” Speaking this way invites collaboration instead of shutting it down.
3. Say “Thank you” (and mean it)
Gratitude is the path to resilience. It keeps us focused on and nourished by all that’s going right. This makes more room for more things to go right. Even in the depths of despair, there’s always something to be grateful for. Let’s say you make a request that your co-parent does not grant. You can thank them for considering your request. Keeping your focus on anything and everything you can truly appreciate will rewire your nervous system and your co-parenting dynamic.
4. Choose happiness
Blame keeps you stuck. Self-responsibility sets you free. No one can make or take your happiness but you. If you give your attention to what fills you up, the root system of your unhappy past will stop stealing nutrients from your present. You can be happy right this minute, if that’s what you decide. Start there.
5. Use what hurts you to heal you
When you focus on evolving, what hurt you can also help heal you. That makes everything you go through ‘worth it’. So, when you find yourself overwhelmed with rage or blame and you’re pointing the finger at your ex, I suggest that instead you get curious about what has you so triggered then focus on identifying what part of you needs your attention to grow, heal, and thrive.
6. Tell the stories that move you forward
We don’t live in our lives. We live in the stories we tell about our lives. You can spend the next decade recounting your divorce with a focus on all that was unfair and unkind. And that will keep you fixed right there, in your unhappy mess. Or you can describe how you persevered, what you learned, and how you intend to proceed from here so that what happened in your marriage becomes a launch pad to an even better life on the other side of divorce. I invite you to tell the stories that take you there.
I used these strategies to reboot my dynamic with my co-parent, find my footing as a single mom, and eventually co-create a close and caring blended family that revolves around our thriving young son. I may not have gotten the Happily Ever After I had in mind when I got married, but surprisingly, I co-created Happily Ever 2.0 — a richer, sturdier, and more textured weave of family than I ever could have imagined. You can, too.
You may also enjoy reading Rescripting Divorce | A Conscious Path to Separation, by Julie Gannon