How "Acting As If" Helps You Move Forward After Divorce

Has your ex left you feeling like you’re nothing? Does it feel as if he’s snatched away everything you worked so hard for, everything you sacrificed so much of yourself for? Now, he’s living it up with some other chick — and he’s giving her all the luxuries that you were doing without . . . and all the love that you’d grown accustomed to living without?

Do you find that the more you try to figure it all out and try to make sense of everything that’s happened . . . the sadder and emptier you feel?

If you’ve had about enough of feeling like leftovers that can’t be reheated, good!

Let’s try something different (that I hope will make you smile, too).

How I discovered the acting as if technique

To tell you the truth, I’m not sure where I first read about this technique.

But, I started using it right about the time that my divorce became final. Before that, I had been in the first flush of, “Wow, my husband is no longer around to make me feel like garbage every single day . . . .” I was doing some dating, everyone said that I looked ten years younger overnight, and I was feeling pretty cocky. Nothing wrong with that.

But, then . . . . In one month, all of the following things happened: my divorce became final, the building that housed me and my business burned down, I had to hustle to find a place with a roof and electricity, I was diagnosed with pre-cervical cancer, my mother’s terminal illness took a final turn . . . and, suddenly, I wasn’t the hopeful divorcee anymore.

That’s how The Dynamic Divorcee came to be. She was my “act as if.” She was my “fake it ‘til you make it.” Except that I wasn’t going to fake it. I was going to be it. I was going to be that woman that I had always felt I was destined to be.

What happens to your emotions after divorce is final: Things can change, not always for the better

I know that many women don’t like to refer to themselves as “divorced” and prefer to revert to calling themselves “single,” but I wanted to claim my badge of honor as someone who had blown a kiss buh-bye to my lying, cheating ex and was able to set my world on fire with class and sass. Or something like that.

I sure wasn’t feeliing it in 2007 when my world crashed. But, I picked myself back up. Then, in June 2008, my divorce was final. Just in time for the Great Recession, and all that other stuff I mentioned above. Happy happy.

So my Dynamic Divorcee alter ego was me saying, “I can be my own super hero.” But, I can’t be her unless I believe I can.

How to believe

Inside you, there’s a woman who has all the answers (or most of them), and knows how to get the answers she doesn’t have at the moment. She’s the strong, powerful, intensely beautiful, Dynamic Divorcee version of you. And she exists at this very moment. You can call her into being at this very moment.

She’s not a fairy-tale. She’s real.

If you want her, she’ll show up. And you might feel a little bit shocked at how much she knows about you, and how much she can help you get what you want in your new post-divorce life.

One way we can find her is by using the “acting as if” technique.

What is “acting as if”?

Can you conjure up a picture of who you want to be? How do you want to handle tough situations with your ex, with your family, with your kids, with your boss, with your co-workers? How do you want to be treated by a man? What is (and always has been) totally unacceptable?

Pick a muse . . . pick an inspiration

Do you have someone in your life who never seems to be unduly stressed out, and who seems to be able to step out of the way of any catastrophe — but she still handles it?

If you can imagine yourself as having all of the qualities you want (but don’t feel you’re embodying right now), OR, if you have a someone in your life that you can use as a role model (even if she doesn’t know that you’re drawing on her example), you are ready to try acting as if.

How to create her (which is really you, except you don’t know it yet):

Start with who you are right now (not 50 pounds lighter, 20 years younger . . .)

Come up with the most fabulous image you can of a powerful, charismatic, super-magnetic woman who’s your age, your size, your personality (introvert or extravert — let her be you). Make her someone who’s so sure of herself that she can’t be bothered with the goings on of some guy who didn’t treat her right. She knows when to stand up for herself, as well as when to let it go because it’s not worth the agony.

What does she wear? What does she do when she wakes up in the morning? What does she like to eat that makes her feel energetic, healthy, and amazing? What kinds of boundaries does she set for the people in her life? How does she fight for herself when necessary? What’s her style of communicating?

All of the above are the qualities that the “as if” you possesses. Let’s now look at some of the things you may currently be thinking and be doing that your “as if” does not do.

She does not:

  • Catastrophize. She does not worry about what she’ll do when this or that horrible thing happens (none of which has happened yet, or is likely to happen).

  • Build a merely angry an annoying ex into a monster. She doesn’t imagine the average, garden-variety lying and cheating guy into a raving narcissist (by giving him too much room in her mind and emotions) — because things just get tougher on her if she does.

  • Believe that a man who wants a divorce or who has cheated on her = that she is unlovable and without value for the rest of her life. (She knows that his actions are nothing more than his actions, and painful as they are, they do not reflect negatively on her. In fact, his actions do not reflect on her at all — no matter what he says. Remember, men are trained from childhood to blame others for their shortcomings so that they can continue to feel like “a man.”)

In short, she does not give away her power and her self-belief to anyone else.

How to move forward after divorce by acting as if

Instead of wrestling with agonizing emotions about your ex and his happy new life (to give just one very common example), you can put your “as if” alter ego to work.

As soon as sad, self-defeating thoughts present themselves (which — let’s be real — could be many times per hour), you immediately turn to your “as if” personality. Talk to her. Say, “Okay, how would you handle this?” Would the fabulous version of you be giving this even five minutes of your precious time? Act as she would.

Some of you might be wondering: Aren’t there times when I should be venting my real emotions, feeling crappy about myself, comparing myself against the other woman, and meditating on my ex’s criticisms of me . . .?

Read the above paragraph one more time. Would you advise a dear friend to beat herself up this way?

I don’t think you have to worry about not letting your true emotions out. They will be coming out. You will be feeling them. Probably many times a day on most days.

You are dealing with your feelings. I’m simply suggesting a technique so that you won’t hurt yourself with your own feelings. So that you won’t allow yourself to develop a harmful view of yourself based on the feedback you’re getting from your ex (and oftentimes, a view you’ve internalized about yourself over many years of a dysfunctional marriage).

Just try it. This will surprise you.

What do you have to lose by trying a technique that many women in my 1-to-1 coaching have loved? If nothing else, you’ll have fun creating your super hero personality. You can talk to her and ask her advice, and take as much of her advice as you choose. It will be fun. You can even journal by writing a question to her, sitting still for a moment to hear her answer come to your mind, and writing that down, too.

If you’re like most of the women I work with, the same mental tapes play in your head day after day, so having the internal guidance coming from your stronger, “as if” self can be something to return to whenever you need it. Go back to your journal and you’ll see her previous answers to the same things you may still be worrying about. You’ll have her answers and advice on how to handle the issues you’re going through — today and tomorrow.

Want some help with this?

I’ve only scratched the surface of the ways you can use the as if technique to create the version of yourself that you’ve always wanted to live. I have lots more to share about how to use this technique just for you.

Working 1-to-1 online together, we’ll come up with a very three-dimensional feeling of who your inner Dynamic Divorcee is. What does she look like? What does she wear? How does she speak? How can you get advice from her on the parts of your life that are causing you the most distress right now? By doing this, you quickly learn that you can trust your own judgment, and that you are the woman you always wanted to be. It just takes a little bit of digging beneath the surface to find her. And, it can help to have a guide.

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