Expert Advice on Moving Forward After Divorce
Divorce is difficult – mentally, financially and emotionally. By the time your divorce judgment has been finalized, you will have likely found your way through some very turbulent times. And after you've come out on the other side, it's time to look inward to focus on you and your next chapter.
I've compiled some expert advice to help you do just that. But before we go there, I want to share a few words I love about what not to do as you begin this process.
Don't give yourself a list of "shoulds" during divorce
Dr. Jill Murray and Adam Dodge, co-authors of The Empowered Women's Guide to Divorce, shared this pearl of wisdom:
"Don't give yourself a list of "shoulds": I should be feeling better by now, I should be happy that the stress is gone, I should feel grateful that I get the opportunity to start my life over, etc.
Try not to listen too closely to what your friends tell you that you "should" be doing or "should" be feeling based on their experience of divorce. Your divorce is your own experience and not a replica of anyone else's feelings." Wise words, indeed. Now that we've got that in mind, let's hit that reset button. Slow down. Stop and survey where you are, this minute.
Work steadily on self-care
Nicole Karslake, a certified professional coach and founder of Conscious Chaos Consulting advises:
"The first steps of a self-care program after divorce may not have sustaining results if it is done in radical spurts. The idea is to cleanse and not damage the fabric. Steady, habitual acts that can be incorporated in to your daily schedule are key in the beginning.
She recommends pausing to reflect on two questions to help you think back to a time when you felt "alive".
- When in your life did you feel the most rewarded, fulfilled, and strong? What were you doing? How much time did you spend doing this particular activity?
- When in your life did you feel the most harmony? When your life feels organic and unscripted, what are you doing?
Find your tribe
You don't have to adjust to life post-divorce on your own. But you don't have to tap your current network, either. Current friends and family may actually not be the best shoulders to lean on, because they may not truly "get‚" what it feels like to be in your shoes. But, there are lots of communities of people you can connect with who do understand exactly where you're coming from and how you're feeling, because they've been there, too.
Author and speaker Mary Kaarto recommends Googling "divorce support groups" in your community, and chances are, you'll find one. Or search Meetup.com with divorce-related keywords, and chances are, you'll find a group of active people near you who can share their own experiences and advice for hitting that reset button and moving forward into your next chapter.
Focus on your strengths
Sometimes it feels good to get a little validation. And it can feel even better when you can take that validation and turn it into self-awareness about how you communicate and interact with others, in your personal and professional life.
William F. Neal, of Neal Ashmore Family Law Group advises:
"Divorce can be demoralizing and it can do a lot of damage to your self-esteem. You need to rebuild your sense of self – or maybe find it for the first time. One tool I highly recommend is the CliftonStrengths Assessment created by the Gallup Organization. Many years of research conducted by The Gallup Organization suggest that you are most effective and productive when you understand your own strengths and behaviors. By unlocking these strengths, you are best able to develop strategies to meet and exceed the demands of your daily life, including career, family and your next romantic relationship. "
The key to success after a divorce is to move forward knowing how to build your new life around your own unique, core strengths.
Each of us has a unique combination of talents, knowledge, and skills that make us who we are, and when you can uncover those strengths, you're ready to master the challenges of life.