Breakup, separation and divorce lead to an identity crisis
“I’m not sure who or what I am anymore!” Have you felt unsure of yourself, confused and shaky about yourself as you consider the big step of divorce?
You are not alone. An article by Slotter et al in the February 2010 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports that after a breakup people have more muddled views of themselves. They had difficulty switching from “we” to “I” when talking about themselves.
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The more committed a partner was in their relationship the greater they expected to change when the relationship ended.
Changing your appearance, activities and other external things may allow you to feel ’separated’ in the short term, but makes you even more stressed in the long run when it doesn’t work.
Nothing compares to the inner turbulence you experience when you sever ties with a spouse.
Recalibrating your personal identity is the ‘psychic’ stage of divorce, the hardest one of all to deal with among the five other stages of divorce. Women appear to have more difficulty than men in redefining their views about themselves and can suffer more long term stress as a result.
How to divorce by managing the stress of your identity crisis
1. Tell other people about your divorce in a planned and uniform way.
- Each time you do it you will be rehearsing a new but consistent and stabilizing story about yourself.
- The experience will create new memories, edging out the old ones that hurt you and make you feel helpless.
2. Inform others from a place of conviction that you are taking positive action for yourself.
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- When you hear yourself talk confidently about your plans you will create new neural pathways in the brain that take you away from overwhelming fear and doubt.
- Instead of being paralyzed by negative emotions you will be liberated by a sense of balance and stability by taking care of yourself.
3. Discuss the pros and cons as you see them when you talk of your divorce.