Moving forward through divorce can feel like an emotional roller coaster. We enter into, move through and even revisit the dips, turns, and upward swings making us feel stressed and emotionally drained. This can cause us to shut down and interferes with our ability to function in our daily lives. Regardless of the stage of divorce you are currently in, understanding and managing your emotions can be a daunting task. However, by caring for yourself and allowing yourself the time you need to fully feel all of your emotions, no matter whether they are good or bad, you will function better and set yourself on the path to healing.
So what can you do if you are trapped on this tumultuous emotional roller coaster? The grieving process is going to happen whether you like it or not. However, there are ways to take care of yourself, effectively manage your emotions and begin to move towards your new future.
Give yourself permission to deeply feel your emotions.
Emotions are normal and plentiful during a divorce, whether negative or positive. What we do with those emotions can greatly impact the quality of our lives. Go through all of the feelings that go along with divorce – shock, denial, pain, guilt, anger, depression – but avoid letting them define you. Often the stress that comes with the conflict of divorce can make us do things that would otherwise be out of character. Don't allow your feelings to cause you to seek revenge, play the victim or become abusive to yourself or others when you are hurt or angry. Get support from a trained therapist or divorce coach or search for a support group to vent to, get your feelings out, and process them.
Keep your emotional needs in focus.
Don’t lose sight of your own emotional needs. Managing conflict, particularly during divorce, is not always perfect. We all will and deserve to lose it in response to the situation at times. But it is important to learn to recognize when you are feeling vulnerable and near your breaking point so that you can take action to step away from the situation. Take time for yourself to be alone or with trusted friends to vent or simply do things that make you feel better. Set ground rules for yourself to stay healthy and keep your emotions in control. Stay active – regular exercise can help to relieve stress, tension, anger and anxiety. Set aside Me time – read a book, walk your dog, listen to your favorite music or take a hot bath. Make a concerted effort to do things that make you happy.
Delaying a decision is ok.
As helpful as it is at times to face problems head on, when moving forward through the highly stressful situation that is divorce, often the best strategy is to table the discussion. Take a step back and take time to figure out what is best for you and then come back to it. When your emotions are in check and not free falling on that roller coaster you will be more capable of making a well thought out, rational decision. Then you can communicate your needs without threatening, frightening, or punishing others.
Let some things go.
Knowing when to let something go is just as important. This touches on two key points – Focus on the Now and Pick your Battles. Look forward and focus on the present rather than looking into the past and assigning blame for things that cannot be changed. Focus on what can be done to make things better right here and right now. Determine whether the particular issue at hand is worthy of your time and energy. Don’t waste your emotional energy on things that you cannot change. Let them go, agree to disagree and keeping moving forward. For many people, a therapist or divorce coach can greatly help with this process and show you how to sharpen and maintain your focus as you take action toward reaching your goals.
Release your expectations and being right.
Be aware and respectful of differences. We cannot control the feelings and actions of another person no matter who is to blame or how much we wish that we could control others. Understand that although your partner or ex feels differently, they are going through this process as well. While they may be at a different stage in the grieving process, they need the same space to navigate through their feelings that you do. Don’t try to control or anticipate what they may feel or what actions they will take. Let go of what you think the outcome should be and learn to come to terms with whatever might happen. Learning how to stay unattached to the outcome can benefit both your mental and physical well-being. Showing respect for their viewpoint and not focusing on winning a given argument will enable you to make resolving the conflict the priority.
Becoming more emotionally aware is the key to understanding yourself as well as others. If you do not take the time to process and fully understand how you feel or why you are feeling that way, you will be unable to communicate effectively and resolve the disagreements. Managing your emotions during times of conflict and upheaval is a very essential part of moving forward through divorce. Understanding and keeping your emotions in control allows you to:
- Stay more calm and accurately assess all sides of the situation
- Become more aware of the other person’s feelings and needs
- Become more fully aware of your feelings and needs
- Communicate your needs clearly and effectively
- Stay motivated and focused to resolve the conflict
Divorce is often a difficult and challenging experience. It can emotionally overwhelm and drain your emotional reserve tank. Realizing the importance of and actually managing your emotions during this difficult time will help you to move forward constructively toward healing and recovery.
This article was written by Nancy Kay. To get more great advice from Women's Toolbox Media Diva Nancy Kay, visit her website at: http://movingforwardthroughdivorce.com