After the upheaval of your divorce, you have the opportunity for a fresh start and to explore your answer to the question “Now what?”. The challenge is avoiding things that can interfere with your plans for the future.
Here are three common pitfalls of recently divorced people and how to avoid them.
Allowing the advice of others to influence the choices you make
It is natural to look for support from family and friends when you are going through a divorce. With so many decisions to be made it’s helpful to have the advice of an expert or to ask for a second opinion, especially when the decision has long-term consequences. But as you make plans for your future, you may find yourself receiving unsolicited advice.
With the best of intentions, friends and family are often eager to give you advice on what they believe is best for you. Remember, their advice is based on their perspective on life and their experience. It may not take into account your vision for your life or include any new ideas and plans that may be percolating in your mind. If the advice doesn’t feel right or you are leaning towards taking the advice because you feel you should, stop and think again. Those feelings and any “shoulds” are red flags that you may be compromising what is important to you.
You can avoid being influenced by the advice of others by creating a clear vision of what would be most fulfilling for you. Begin by acknowledging what is working well now and identifying what you wish to keep as you move forward and rebuild your life.
Next, consider what you are willing to let go of. Perhaps a habit that no longer serves you or a role that no longer fits who you are or who you see yourself becoming. Finally, take time to reflect on activities or new habits that you wish to start. Remember, when faced with conflicting advice, you know best what’s right for you.
Rushing into a new relationship without nurturing your most important relationship – the one with yourself.
I often see people rushing into a new relationship after a divorce to avoid being lonely. As you adjust to being single again, resist getting caught up in the belief that a new relationship will solve everything. Instead, take the time to become re-acquainted with yourself. Recognize that you have changed and grown as a result of the divorce and it’s not unusual for priorities to shift as well. What was important to you when you were younger, may not be as important now.
To become re-acquainted with yourself, give yourself breathing space. Create time in your day just for you and spend it in quiet reflection. This can be done with “alone time” over a cup of tea or coffee in the early morning; daily meditation or journaling; or a peaceful walk in nature. By doing so, you create the space to listen to your inner-wisdom and distinguish what is most important to you now and for your future.
Taking it personally if friends stop calling.
Recognize that friendships shift after divorce – some will continue and some will not. You may have experienced this already. Friends often feel a divided loyalty when a couple separates. They may not initially intend to choose one spouse over the other but it happens. They may choose the spouse they knew first before the marriage or the one they feel closest to. Sometimes they feel awkward about the separation and avoid calling because they don’t know what to say. If this happens to you, accept it. Reach out to those whose friendship you value and you wish to continue. Then move on.
Re-connect with old friends and be open to new friendships. An easy way to expand your social circle is to pursue your favourite activities and explore new ones. Participate in activities you enjoy doing but didn’t have time for when you were married. Making new friends is easier when you have a common interest.
With greater awareness, you can avoid the common pitfalls after your divorce and make this new chapter in your life, the best.