There are two very difficult emotions that almost everyone going through a divorce experiences for a long time: Anxiety and fear. If you think about it, it makes sense. The unknown can be scary and stressful, especially when it comes to children, finances, living alone, the divorce process itself, maintaining a relationship with your ex, and dating.
There are many ways to soothe anxiety and fear. Some people go on medication. While I am not personally a fan, I think in some cases, seeking medical help and taking a pill is necessary, very beneficial and nothing to be ashamed of. People also cope with anxiety and fear by exercising, making lifestyle changes, going to therapy, implementing faith in their lives, and something I'm going to address below--training the mind to re-think.
Here are 9 things you might be thinking during your divorce which could be causing anxiety and fear, and 9 ways to train your mind to re-think them:
1. Life feels like it's two steps forward, four steps back. Hard work, dedication and consistency will ultimately move me ahead, making the steps backward not even noticeable at some point.
2. I'm scared. Fear is created in my own mind. I have the power to recognize that and to use it to drive me, motivate me, and energize me to achieve great things.
3. My financial picture seems bleak. I have a roof over my head, food on my table, heat, medical care, even a bed to sleep in. That's not bleak.
4. I hope my divorce doesn't affect my children in a negative way. I have the power to raise my children as I see fit. I'm a great mom (or dad), I show them love, I have open communication with them and I am doing everything in my power to help them during this difficult time. The rest is uncontrollable and therefore is a waste of negative energy to think about.
5. When it comes to dating after divorce, relationships can be complicated with kids and ex's, and loving again takes vulnerability and courage, which I don't know if I have. Romantic love at any age is beautiful and fun and sexy and breathtaking. Vulnerability is healthy and makes the relationship better. Whether he loves me or not is out of my control. All I can do is be me and be proud of who I am.
6. Dealing with my ex can be so difficult. Enough whining. My relationship with my ex is something I will have to maintain in a healthy way for a long, long time. I must learn to live with it and take the emotion out of it. In other words, nothing good comes from bringing up the past. And, I will never stop taking the high road. It will never be the wrong decision, no matter how he (or she) acts towards me.
7. It's hard to be a single mom (or dad). I feel alone sometimes. Would I rather be in my former bad marriage? Also, I am not alone if I have children, a good family and/or friends, and people who love me. Plus, 50% of the population is divorced making 50 percent of them single parents, just like me.
8. Why is my ex in a relationship and I'm still single? This isn't a competition. Let him or her live their life. I need to focus on mine. Do I want to be in a relationship? If so, how can I make that happen? Am I happy? If not, what's it going to take to make me happy? Better figure it out soon.
9. Getting older isn't easy. Really? You're playing that card? Am I healthy? I need to do what it takes to get to my healthiest potential. Health should be my number one priority. What's it going to take?
I have one last suggestion for dealing with fear and anxiety during divorce. Go to the gym. There is something about that place, as if it has some kind of a vacuum that sucks in everything that is bugging you.
I'm not saying that working out solves your problems, but rather that engaging in physical activity, lifting weights and challenging your body takes your mind to the core of what you are doing at that moment--working hard, and it makes everything in life seem so much more manageable and solvable.
I find that if I walk in there all doom and gloom, I always walk out refreshed, my mind open to all these creative avenues that are going to help solve my problems, along with a feeling of accomplishment and self-worth. It happens to me time and time again. I'll go so far as to say going to the gym is like taking a happy pill.
Remember that you aren't alone in experiencing fear and anxiety during divorce, and even after. It's part of life. The key in managing it is focusing that energy on the things you have, the positives, and the aspects that are going to shape your bright future. And when you start thinking that way, good things begin to happen!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially" for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.