After the seemingly never-ending drama of a divorce or separation, you may wonder if your life will ever feel normal again.
You want to get back to a comfortable routine with your kids, have fun things to look forward to, and develop a positive outlook on life.
But sometimes the anger and hurt can be all-consuming. If you’re like a lot of newly single people, you may find yourself overwhelmed by these feelings, and it’s all you can think or talk about.
As you can imagine, all this emotional stress isn’t good for you. And when you are in this state of overwhelm, it can be hard on your kids, too.
Of course, that’s the last thing you want: for your kids to suffer. But you just don’t know how to manage the difficult feelings and thoughts that divorce can trigger.
Yet, as difficult as things feel right now, there IS a way to manage your feelings so they don’t consume you, your time, your energy or your emotional resources.
In fact, there’s a simple 6 step process that allows you to break the cycle of anger and hurt and get back to feeling normal again.
It’s possible, it’s do-able and it will make a world of difference to you and your kids.
During one of my seminars, a parent commented on how easy it was to tell which people took care of themselves during their divorce and which ones didn’t. She said, “The ones who don’t, you can spot a mile away because all they can talk about is the divorce, how awful everything is and what is going on with their soon-to-be ex.”
“It’s almost as if they’d been infected. Pretty soon their lives start to sound like a never-ending soap opera. After a while, you see everybody avoiding them like the plague because they just don’t want to hear it anymore. When I went through my divorce, I knew I did not want to be that person.”
My guess is none of us wants to be that person.
However, when you are smack dab in the middle of it, even the most level-headed person may have a tough time not getting sucked into the drama of divorce.
While sharing your feelings and getting support is healthy, draining the life out of everything around you is not. In fact, it’s the #1 tell-tale sign that you’re not handling your split very well.
When you’re mired in self-doubt, anger, resentment or sadness, your kids suffer, too.
A separation or divorce is a time when children will naturally feel uncertain, anxious, and worried about how life is changing. During this time, children look to their parents for cues about how to handle this life-changing transition.
How can they feel confident about their future if you’re falling apart?
While healing will take time, children need you to reassure them that life is going to be okay and that they can and will make it through this experience.
In the meantime, you’ll want to find ways to face your own tumultuous feelings and start to heal from the hurt of your broken relationship.
As a coach for separated and divorced parents, I often encourage my clients to seek out ways to take care of themselves FIRST, because I know that emotionally overwhelmed parents care for their children differently than those who are feeling balanced and rested.
You want to find ways to diffuse any self-created stress whenever possible and try to keep your life drama free.
In my coaching practice, here are a few techniques I offer to parents to help them get life back on track.
In the early stages of separation, when your emotions are running at an all-time high, you may find it incredibly difficult to step away from divorce-related drama. Not to mention most of us don’t have the time to invest in major self-analysis when those feelings hit. Without an outlet, most of us find ourselves either stewing, brewing or ramping up. No matter how you slice it, the end result is more emotional and mental clutter which makes moving forward in a positive way virtually impossible.
So what can you do to shift gears?
Imagine you’re having a really bad day. Everything that could possibly go wrong has gone wrong. AND to top it off, you got another angry call from your ex, reaming you out for not sending Haley’s soccer uniform in her backpack. Instead of fuming for the rest of the day or replaying that conversation in your head, consider taking different approach and take a few quick minutes to acknowledge your frustration and anger so you can move on with your day
How, you ask?
The technique is called “clearing.”— It allows you to get in touch with what’s draining you in the moment so you can focus your energy in a more positive direction.
To get started, follow these steps:
If you don’t have someone who can listen to you, you can also use a timer and write your thoughts down in a notebook or on a piece of paper. When your time is up, put the paper away, tear it up, or throw it out and move on with your day.
Why does it help?
Clearing offers you the chance to acknowledge your feelings in a healthy way while limiting the amount of time you’re dwelling on the negative. When you give yourself the freedom to rant, you also free up energy and create emotional space for more constructive and positive things, like self-care, spending quality time with your children, or planning fun activities for the future.
Many times, when we’re feeling stuck, it’s because we’re not allowing ourselves the opportunity to acknowledge how we feel, to really sit and be present with the discomfort or upset. “Clearing” forces you to dig a little deeper and connect with what’s happening internally instead of just giving in to the frustration, anger or hurt. It helps you move away from being reactive while providing some perspective so you can thoughtfully respond. Venting out loud also allows you to let go, and move on.
Believe it or not… you just might be pleasantly surprised at what a positive difference this 6-step approach can make in your life.
In the early 1970s, anthropologist Paul Bohannon proposed the idea that divorce was not a single moment event but rather a multilevel process that involved a series of stages and transitions for families.
Truth be told, when you have children, separation and divorce become more than an experience you go through and move on from. It is actually a lifelong process. One of the biggest hurdles for many parents is learning how to manage their own emotional needs without compromising the needs and feelings of their children.
Again, this is where emotional clarity—keeping your feelings separate from your children’s feelings—becomes essential.
In my video program, Co-Parenting With Purpose: How to Raise Happy, Secure and Resilient Kids After You’ve Split Up, you’ll gain a better understanding of how a split affects both you and your children, as well as practical strategies (like the one in this article) to help you identify and handle difficult feelings when they crop up.
You’ll learn how to talk to your kids about your split, and how to support their feelings even when they are very different from your own. AND we’ll also cover what to do when they tell you everything is “fine” or aren’t talking at all.
Because children often worry about how their feelings will impact their parents in Co-Parenting With Purpose, I’ll show you effective listening techniques that will take that burden off of their shoulders and help your children to feel heard, understood and supported.
You’ll also get great self-care strategies for busy parents like yourself, so you can de-stress, re-group and be a relaxed, loving presence for your children when they need you most.
If you like most parents, you may be used to putting yourself last on the list. However, good self-care is critical during this time. You’ll find out why and what you can do right away to lessen the overwhelm you may be feeling.
You can check it out right here:Help With the Emotional Side of a Divorce/Separation
As your life moves forward there will be new life events and challenges for you and your children. I hope that the tips I shared in this article can help you find strength and resilience, no matter what comes your way.
Wishing you and your children the very best,
P.S. Self-care is not an option. When you’re able to take better care of yourself, you’re able to give your kids what they need most during this time after a split or divorce: A parent who is present, stable, loving and fair.
That’s why I hope you’ll take my advice to heart and start taking better care of yourself today. I can show you how in just 15 minutes a day:Self-Care for Co-Parents