Making the decision to divorce during the holidays can be particularly challenging. (If you want support surviving the holidays after divorce, Join me November 13, 2013.) It’s not uncommon to put off the decision for a better time, like at the end of a year or when the kids go off to college. Unfortunately for many, the better time turns into years of indecision, deeper despair, and increased unhappiness. It's a given that your family will be challenged regardless of when you decide to breakup; however, there are things you can do to ease the burden and move forward with confidence that you’re going to be okay.
My marriage ended just before Thanksgiving nine years ago, and it was a very sad and confusing time for everyone. Through my own experience and working with hundreds of people leaving a marriage, I've learned some of tips to help you. These tips will not only survive the holidays, but believe that you will at some point be able to thrive in your new life. Statistics have shown that it takes on average 4 to 8 years to completely move on from a divorce. Anything you can do to shorten your healing process will benefit you, and everyone affected by your breakup. Whether this approaching holiday season will be your first experience post divorce, you're in the middle of a breakup, or if you're several years post divorce and still haven’t been able to get through the holidays, these 3 tips will help!
Surviving The Holidays Tip #1 – Connect
The most important thing you can do to survive the holidays is to create connections. Most people tell me that they feel out of place and that they feel they don't belong anywhere. This is a normal experience that you absolutely must not give into. Connect, no matter what. Isolating yourself will breed feelings of victimization, loneliness, and sadness. You may still have these feelings, but at least you won’t be alone. It’s much harder to dig yourself into despair when you are with people.
Who you spend time with during the holidays may change, and this can be sad but don’t let it stop you. If you always attend your in-laws holiday gatherings and this year you are not participating, find somewhere else to share the day with. You might want to attend a singles (or single parent) meetup for the holidays. There are a lot of them, but if there isn’t one in your area, then consider going out of town for the day. Call a friend and invite yourself to dinner. Some people tell me, "Inviting myself to someone’s holiday gathering means I’m pathetic. I won’t do it!" To this I say, "Do it! Pathetic is only an interpretation you’ve made." Which brings me to Tip #2…
Surviving The Holidays: Tip #2 – Choose Your Interpretations
If you're like me, and most of the clients I've worked with, you have special needs during the holidays: needs for compassion and care; needs for inclusion and kindness; needs for non-judgment and most of all, a need to feel hopeful about your future. Making negative interpretations is common, so don't feel bad if you're looking at everything that is wrong about your situation. Just don’t stop there. Make a list of what you're making your divorce, or the experiences you're having, mean about you.
Your kids may be angry at you. You might feel guilty that you've caused your loved ones to feel pain. You might feel you don't deserve to be happy or you're unworthy of love. Look at your interpretations and determine which ones make you feel bad and which ones make you feel good. Statistically, your interpretations will probably be negative. Knowing this will give you the awareness to consciously choose how you’re going to view your circumstances. Once you have your list of interpretations, see if you can create positive interpretations about your experience. For example, you get to create a new life for yourself, you deserve to be happy, the universe is conspiring on your behalf to give you everything your heart desires. If this feels too simplistic, schedule a session with me and we can come up with some powerful interpretations that you can hang your hat on!
Surviving The Holidays: Tip #3 – Create Something New
Divorce = a lot of letting go. Use tip #2 to create an empowering interpretation about what you’re letting go of. Choose to see this as an opportunity to breathe something new into your life. Let yourself get creative and do something out of the ordinary, or something you've always wanted to do but couldn't because of the relationship you were in. Try something new and don't be scared! What new tradition will you start this year?
You might be overcome with grief, sadness, and guilt this year, but don't let that stop you from moving forward. If you want some support in surviving the holidays and creating something new, then join me for a special call on Wednesday, November 13th 2013 at 6pm pacific (9pm eastern) and we’ll share more tips for surviving the holidays. We'll brainstorm new ideas and you'll have an opportunity to join a small online group to help you survive the holidays and celebrate your successes togethe in in community with people who care. We'll help you so that you don't feel alone as you move through the next couple months.
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