Life After Divorce: Your Darkest Times Create Your New Life Handbook

Did you know that you could use this time of emotional healing from divorce to help you recover from every other major challenge for the rest of your life?

Yes, you can, and I'm going to walk you through the process.

You will need

  • a notebook that will fit in the bag you carry with you each day (your handbag, backpack, or tote bag)
  • a pen
  • or, if you're afraid that your kids (or someone else) will read your notebook, you can also do this in a private google doc that you access from any device during the day
  • that's it!

Every day you write the book

You're about to create a Book of You in which you log all of the toughest parts of your journey through divorce, and what you did to make it better.

Imagine how comforting it will be to you, next time you go through a challenging time of life, to have your own notes and "cures" -- so that it's not so frightening to you to experience how you tend to handle feelings of stress, fear, abandonment, or other negative states.  And, you'll have your own loving notes to yourself about how you soothed yourself, what habits or activities made you feel better, which persons in your life were the best to reach out to.

It might even make you feel better, now, to know that you're using this awful time in order to learn how to make caring for yourself easier next time.

How well do you know you?

When you think about it, how well do you really know yourself?  

I bet you knew how to make your ex feel better when he was going through a tough time.  You knew when and how to be there for him.  You knew when to leave him alone.  You knew when you needed to let him go off and do something that you might not ordinarily have been thrilled about.  You knew so much about him.

But, do you know which times of day are hardest for you now, when you're trying to cope with the fears and deep feelings you have surrounding divorce and your new life going forward?  Do you know how to comfort yourself?  Do you know how to gently coax your mind away from tormenting repetitive thoughts about what you should have done differently, or who was to blame?

Divorce is the template for every other rough patch you'll ever go through

The ways you suffer through and try to cope with this life upheaval will likely be the ways you tend to deal with other crises in life.

By creating your own personal owner's manual now, you start to give this experience a positive value in your life.  It becomes something that can help you later on.

You'll be able to say, "Oh, yeah -- I recognize this.  This is what happens when I'm under extreme stress.  How did I help myself last time?  What steps did I take?" and you'll have it all down in a notebook or document.

It can give you such a sense of control.

I often work with clients on creating their personal owners' manuals.  I call this project the Book of You (fill in your own first name!).  But, this is something you can do on your own, if you want to.

Here's how to get started:

Write down all of the negative states that bother you.  Write down the times of day that are worst for you.  Write down the people and things that tend to trigger episodes of grief, fear, self-doubt, rage, and other painful states.

Then, as you find things that work to bring you back to a calmer state, write those down.  I like to do two- or three-column pages with the painful states in the left column, times of day or triggering persons or things in the middle column, and the things that help in the column on the right.

So much of this is trial and error, and that's the whole point.  When you find those things that do truly help you move from a terrible emotion to a neutral or even a positive emotion, you want to be able to remember what made a difference.

What helps you get back to sleep at night?  What makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning?  How are you able to take your mind away from an impending meeting with your ex?

You'll be finding ways that help you, and those are strategies that will be healing for you any time you experience those same negative emotions (even if the cause is completely different).

Everyone needs her own personal owner's manual because we want to live and learn, not just live and repeat the same level of suffering over and over again.  

Are you willing to give it a try?  If so, I'd love to hear your comments.  And, if you need some help, you know where to find me!