Why You Shouldn't Compare Your Healing Timeline to Others

If you’re tempted to measure your divorce recovery against someone else's yardstick, stop. The notion that healing unfolds uniformly is as accurate as a misplaced legal citation: It simply doesn't hold up in the court of personal experience.

Your healing timeline may mirror the emotional cadence of grief: the stages overlap, regress, or skip entirely. Each person takes a unique path through these stages. Time is not the marker; personal growth and understanding are.

Why humans compare themselves to each other

We're social creatures who have long relied on group dynamics to survive. Comparison gives us a sense of belonging or differentiation. We look at our peers to understand where we stand. This has allowed the human race to evolve, and it has encouraged nations to learn from each other and compete with each other.

In the wake of divorce, you may look at others and wonder why their recovery seems quicker, smoother, or less fraught than yours. As a human, it’s natural to do so.

But comparisons like these have a dark side. It’s all too easy to feed into a narrative of inadequacy, and right now, you need nurturing, not belittling. 

Besides, when you look at others, you’re not getting the full story. No one wears their true state on their sleeve, especially post-divorce. 

Why you should stop comparing timelines

Why measure your emotional recovery against someone else's? Timelines are different because people are inherently different. Also, comparison can act like a thief, stealing your focus from where it should be: on your journey toward recalibration.

These comparisons aren't just unhelpful, they are actively destructive. Dwelling on another's seemingly swifter journey through divorce grief can foster feelings of failure. It can skew your view of reality, presenting an illusion that others are faring better than you.

In truth, healing is not a linear act. It’s more of a personal evolution.

Tips for avoiding the comparison game

1. Realign with personal goals

Divorce can disrupt your sense of direction. Reestablish it. Set personal goals that reflect your values, interests, and aspirations. Write them down on paper, or enter them in a digital diary. 

When you're mindful of your objectives, the need to compare yourself to others starts to lose its allure. With goals in place, you can progress on your own terms. Aim for progress, not perfection.

How it helps: Setting goals shifts your perspective from what others are doing to what you want to achieve. They foster a sense of purpose and direction unique to you.

2. Cultivate mindfulness

Mindfulness means living in the moment and accepting your feelings without judgment. You might start with meditation, breathing exercises, or simply by being present in whatever you do. This practice helps pull you out of the comparison loop.

How it helps: Being present reduces anxiety about the future. It quiets regrets of the past and quashes the impulse to measure today against someone else's yesterday.

3. Invest in connections

Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, or a divorce support group. Relationships that reinforce your worth and encourage your independence are invaluable. Conversations should be uplifting and focused on your journey. They should not be shadowed by comparisons.

How it helps: Solid connections remind you that you're valued for who you are.

4. Rediscover joy

What brought you joy before your marriage? Revisit old hobbies, explore new interests, and revive neglected passions. These activities are your reminders that joy doesn't stem from comparing yourself to others. 

How it helps: Engaging in joyful activities promotes positive self-regard. It reinforces the fact that your happiness doesn't hinge on someone else's journey.

5. Document your journey

Keep a journal. Document your thoughts, feelings, setbacks, and victories. Over time, this personal record will become a testament to your resilience.

How it helps: Journaling provides perspective, showing you just how far you've come. It's difficult to dismiss your progress when it's inked on paper.

6. Celebrate milestones

Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Did you complete an exercise goal? End your day with a smile? Speak to yourself lovingly, with kindness and gentleness, about all the good things you do.

How it helps: Celebration fosters a sense of accomplishment. It congratulates you on your efforts, not on how you did compared to someone else.

Final thoughts

We understand that divorce recovery can be tough. At Hello Divorce, we’ve seen many different divorce stories unfold, all with different circumstances and timelines. Take it from us: You should not compare your healing journey to that of anyone else (including your ex!).

Give yourself the months and years you need to get over this. Take good care of yourself in the meantime. Savor every day, and relish this opportunity to start a new chapter. 

Suggested: Podcasts to Listen to before, during, and after Divorce

Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.