I've been coaching separated, divorcing, and divorced women for years now, and thought it would be helpful to share some of the things that most women tend to do before they meet me -- things that seem to be smart choices to get back on track with life, but -- often tend to hurt rather than help.
See if any of these resonate with you. (I've listed them in the order of the frequency that most of my divorcees mention them.)
Here's a quick video of the eight mistakes, and for the "what to do instead," keep reading the text version that follows the video in this post:
#1 Asking for, and getting, too much conflicting advice
You're overwhelmed by all of the advice you've been receiving from all of the people in your life about how to move on. You're trying to implement all the suggestions, and none of them stick. It's just information overload.
What to do instead: Find an emotional healing method that's specific to divorce, and that resonates with you. Then, follow it, step by step.
#2 Burning out your sounding boards
You need to talk to someone -- and your family and friends are your only sounding board. You know they're getting tired of hearing it, but you keep talking to them about your divorce or your ex, anyway.
What to do instead: Get someone in your corner who is an expert at diffusing the sadness, anger, pain, and agony of divorce -- and can actually help lift you out of it. Make it one person, whose actual job is to work with you to reach a clearly stated outcome in a clearly stated period of time. Even at their best, friends and family may tend to fan the flames, and make you second-guess your choices (for example, you should have done x, y, and z to save your marriage). You'll tend to feel worse by rehashing your relationship over and over, and trying to implement all the conflicting advice.
#3 Retail therapy
You've been using retail therapy to put a band-aid on the pain, and you have nothing to show for it but the credit card bills.
What to do instead: Take back those expensive impulse buys: Return whatever you can. And next time the urge to spend strikes, channel the shopping impulse into investing in something that can truly change your life for the better: an experience that educates you instead of binging on just more stuff, or cocktails, or spa services, or hair highlights. Think about whether the things you're about to buy have the ability to truly transform your life in the long run, and spend accordingly. You'll feel so much stronger and more in control when you do this.
#4 Obsession with the ex
You're obsessed with what your ex is doing, who he's doing it with, and what he's spending money on -- as if being angry and continuing to vent on him will somehow change things.
What to do instead: Every time you start turning your ex over and over in your mind, use those thoughts as a cue that you're hurting yourself, not him. He's not thinking about you; he's getting on with his life. He may be disrespecting you, but right now, by wasting your thoughts on him, you're disrespecting yourself, too. And that's not okay. Be your own biggest fan, and only allow yourself to think thoughts that benefit and strengthen you, The Queen of your own life. As they say, "Slay, Queen, slay" those evil thoughts that make you feel less than.
#5 Running on empty
You've come up with a manageable, short to-do list of ways to get back on track with your life, but -- even though the list is doable -- you lack the motivation to keep going past the first few days. This is just killing you, and now you're judging yourself for the inability to stick with it. You're starting to think that all those things your ex has been saying about you are really true.
What to do instead: Just keep getting back on track. Know that you are amazing for getting this far, and for making a doable plan. Maybe you want to simplify it even further, or get it down to just one item. Yes, one item on your divorce recovery to-do list is okay. In fact, it's great. If you feel like you've hit a wall, maybe you need a little accountability from a coach who works only with divorcees.
#6 Hoping that time will heal all wounds
You realize that the sadness, depression, anger, or anxiety isn't getting better with time, but keep putting off doing anything about it. You're busy with work, the new logistics of your life, and handling your children's needs first. Besides, you truly don't know what to do. Everyone tells you that the grieving and healing process can take years. The problem is: The downward spiral slowly sucks you in, and it becomes harder and harder to pull yourself out.
What to do instead: If this is a manifestation of chronic depression or anxiety that you've been experiencing long-term during other challenging times in your life, it's now time to get in touch with a professional, and this is usually covered by your health insurance. Don't keep putting it off. It's commendable that you've been trying to handle this on your own, but it's time to find a therapist with whom you feel comfortable. If you're pretty sure that the feelings you're having are a one-time situation related only to your divorce, maybe a coach is all you need. Here's a checklist, if you're wondering what a divorce healing coach does.
#7 Therapy goes on and on, and is just an expensive chance to vent
You've been in therapy for over a year now, and the listening ear is nice, but you're wondering why your therapist isn't giving you more input and step-by-step guidance. In fact, you've even asked her about this, without answers that convince you that you're on the right track. You're beginning to wonder whether you're being helped by this open-ended therapy arrangement, and you hate it that you have the sinking feeling that it's in your therapist's interest to keep you as a client forever.
What to do instead: If you're frustrated with lack of progress, and are starving for a more structured approach, I would love you to check out my 7-step system, which leads you through a unique proven, logical, step-by-step method. It's a method that is also infused with ways to get hold of your power as a woman and use it as a dynamic force to craft your life into a path that you're thrilled with and proud of. Many women take my 7-step coaching in addition to work with a therapist, if they're attending therapy as management of a chronic experience of depression and/or anxiety.
#8 Your support group is too much of a pity party
Your church- or community-based support group is a nice place to go each week, but it always ends up being more of a kvetch session than giving you techniques for emotional healing. Yes, it's helpful to get together and hear everyone's story, but after a while, you notice that it's just an escape (and an escape that, oddly, keeps reinforcing the negative emotions that you want to work through and heal from).
What to do instead: You may want to stay in your group for the social element, but it sounds like you are ready for change. Why not have a talk with a coach or two who specializes in guiding women through true healing and transformation using divorce as the key. Many coaches, including myself, offer an appointment at a reduced rate that's more than just a getting-to-know-you session: actual coaching is done. I call mine Virtual Coffee Dates where we do more than just chat about where you are and what you need. You get to judge whether the 30 minutes was worth your time (because there's a money-back guarantee), and it gives you a very solid idea of whether there is rapport, and whether you really do feel movement in the right direction -- from the very first call.