A key to being joyful after divorce is to embrace your individuality. It will give you instant joy!
There was a time, I thought I would never experience joy again. Maybe you’re tougher than I was, but when I was going through a divorce, I was stuck in the horrible cycle of negative thoughts. I thought my future was going to be terrible. I thought God was purposefully ignoring me in order for me to learn some lesson or make me stronger. I felt abandoned by my husband, my friends and family. I felt judged by my community. I dreaded the gossip being spread by my neighbors.
I want to read this letter written by a man who had gone through a tough divorce: it’s from the book “Rebuilding after Divorce: Making Your House a Home Again”1
“I know when I first started going through divorce that I initially felt that my life was over. I felt like all the years I spent building my career, helping my wife through two difficult pregnancies, and building what I thought was a wonderful family life for my kids was suddenly being thrown down the drain. The emotional burden from all of this left me feeling physically exhausted. I’m a hiker, and I didn’t have energy to take hikes or even think about having fun. Sometimes it felt like it was all I could do just to keep breathing. There were literally some moments when I felt like I could have a heart attack.”
Do you feel like this? Don’t worry, it’s normal. It’s just your emotions running their course. Over time, the storm will pass.
Humans are emotional creatures. We all know that. Those emotions rule our minds in times of crisis. During divorce, our distraught emotions are telling our brain distorted truths, because of the crisis we are experiencing.
Look at this emotion vs logic statements:
It feels like the end of the world, but I know that it is is not.
It feels like God is nowhere to be found, but I know He’s right here.
It feels like I’ll never be happy again, but I know that’s not true.1
I was 30 years old when I got divorced. I was in relatively good shape. While I’m no model, I’m not hard on the eyes either. Given all this, it is ridiculous that I was convinced at the time of my divorce that I would grow old alone and be lonely and miserable for the rest of my life. My emotions told me that I would never find another partner who I could love and that would love me. My distraught feelings distorted that truth that I would most likely find love again. I felt like I would be forever scarred and alone, but I knew that I would heal and recover.
That is the great challenge of surviving the crisis of divorce without letting it steal your joy. Recognizing your temporary feelings for what they are (products of our emotional creature) and balancing them with what you know to be true.
If you are telling yourself that it is true that you will be alone forever and never love again, it’s time to open your eyes. It will only be as bad as you limit your thinking to. Believe that you bounce back. Believe that you have a fresh start. Believe that you can have a new outlook on life. The truth is that you can have a wonderful, bright, happy future. Don’t speak restrictions on your life. Don’t say, for example, “I’m stuck at this job I hate because I can’t afford to make a move.” That’s NOT the truth, that is simply how you feel! Don’t let your emotional creature within rule your life.
Another key to being joyful after divorce is to embrace your individuality. It will give you instant joy! What makes you unique? What makes you happy? Identify those things are start to magnify that and gradually drown out the rest.
After my divorce, the way I gained my joy back was to start doing the things that made me happy, and weed out the stuff that didn’t. I LOVE being an entrepreneur, so I quit my day job and started doing this gig full time. I LOVE adventure, so I started doing Spartan Races, and now that has kind of become my identity. I LOVE doing stuff with my kids, so I started Tae Kwon Do classes with them. I LOVE my fat, fluffy cat, so I defiantly brag about him, even to cat hater/dog lovers.
I am not embarrassed about what makes me unique. I embrace it.
And then I weeded out the things that stole my joy. I didn’t enjoy spending time with negative, gossipy people, so I stopped hanging out with them. I didn’t directly say anything to them, I just let things fizzle out. I didn’t enjoy working for a company that I didn’t believe in, so I quit as soon as I was able to. I only get to spend half the time with my kids, so I say no to a lot of evening events that I would otherwise like to attend because it isn’t worth missing out on time with my kiddos.
Here are the secrets I have found to being joyful after divorce:
- Learn to identify your emotions for what they are: emotions (vs the truth).
- Identify what the truth is, and don’t limit your potential by speaking restrictions over your life.
- Embrace your individuality.
- Stop doing the things that drain you.
- Start doing the things you love.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” 2
- Sweet, Rose. Rebuilding after Divorce: Making Your House a Home Again. Charlotte NC: Saint Benedict Press, 2012. Print.
- Proverbs 17:22