Throughout our divorce as well as post-divorce, we spend an awful amount of time thinking about, fixating on and diagnosing our ex and his behavior. Why is he the way he is? He’s a narcissist! Why did he do this or that? He’s selfish! How come he never told me the truth? He’s a pathological liar! Who is he with now? Ewww Her! How could he say/do/think that? He’s crazy! What is he up to now? He’s such a manipulator! The internal dialogue could go on forever. Remember, you can’t fix or change or control him. Accept that fact and move on. He is no longer your problem and endlessly analyzing him and his actions will just add to your pain and frustration. Here are some tips for breaking out of the ex zone and setting the stage for a happy relationship in the future.
1) Make a List of Men you Like and Admire.
Even if you are fed up and disgusted with your X and his antics, resist the urge to become a man-hater. Are there men in your life who have had a positive influence on you? Your dad? Grandfather? Uncle? Brother? Co-worker? Friend? You can also think of fictional characters from books and movies as well as historical figures. Make a list of these men. What attributes do these men share? Which character traits do you admire and why? What do you think it takes to be a good man? Integrity? Honesty? Sense of humor? Intelligence? Work ethic? Celebrate the good men in your life and have faith that there are more out there. And if and when you feel ready to date again, raise the bar.
2) Realize Your Own Power.
What do you have the strength to accomplish on your own? Post divorce, many women realize that they are capable of doing just about everything that they thought they needed their husbands for—from household chores to earning a living! What are you capable of? Put yourself to the test and never underestimate your abilities and capabilities. Mow the law. Throw the football with your son. Climb that ladder. Polish up your resume. You have what it takes to be an independent woman. Shine!
3) Embrace Other Relationships.
Take the time to nourish and/or create other important relationships in your life. Embrace your family and friends on a deeper level. Take time to be fully present and more involved with your family members. Attend you niece’s ballet recital. Visit your great uncle in his retirement community. Find joy in familial bonds. Likewise, rekindle those strong ties with childhood friends. There’s nothing more comforting than an old friend who has known the real you since way back when. At the same time, making new friends through divorce support groups can help you connect with other women who can totally relate to and understand your current struggles. Have an open heart to engage in numerous relationships that will provide you with a joyous sense of unity and fulfillment.
4) Focus Forward.
If you find yourself dwelling on your ex and the past, turn it into a productive exercise. Make a list of everything productive and good that came out of your relationship. Make a list of everything you learned from that relationship. Make a list of how you have grown because of those experiences. What did you discover about yourself? What is better about your life now? Now look at these lists and reflect upon what you have to be grateful for. When you focus on your past, don’t get stuck there. Instead, think about how you can use these experiences and insights to move powerfully forward.
5) Have a Good-Bye Party.
Throw yourself a symbolic party or hold some kind of private ceremony to say good bye to your past life with your ex. Performing a ritual can help free you from the grip of your past. Come up with a meaningful activity followed by a declaration of freedom. For example, pour yourself a glass of champagne, then write a good-bye letter to your ex. Read it out load, then tear it into a million pieces and make a toast to yourself for a better tomorrow. Other ideas may include burying a wedding picture and having a funeral for your marriage. Or try cleansing yourself from the past in a relaxing, candle-lit bubble bath while repeating an empowering mantra for moving on. Find an activity and write an accompanying declaration that would be particularly meaningful for you. While this may seem trivial or even silly, participating in such a ritual can provide a real sense of closure. Remember this date as the day you set yourself free.
Jenine Marie Powell, CDC®
My name is Jenine Marie Powell. As a certified divorce coach, I specialize in providing help and hope to women whose lives have been turned upside down as a result of their divorce. I help them regain their sanity and redefine their identity so they can feel in control, confident and capable of managing their lives and moving forward.
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