You Can Be Happy After Divorce — Just Don't Do These 13 Things

Photo: Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock
happy woman looking out window

Devastating. For everyone whose spouse has decided to divorce them, that's the best description of the experience. 

It's not a place you ever thought you'd be. But here you are — your marriage has failed. You feel like a failure, unlovable, and depressed. These feelings are real and you must acknowledge them, but try not to wallow in them. If you let these emotions rule your world, it will only make you miserable. 

RELATED: A Divorce Lawyer Reveals The Craziest Divorce Case She Ever Experienced

The trouble is that these miserable feelings are insidious. They show up in sneaky, unexpected ways. And before you know it, you succumb to undermining thoughts and behaviors. However, you don't have to stay stuck in this misery. 

To be happy post-divorce, stop doing these 13 things: 

1. Feeling sorry for yourself

Say it with me, "no more pity parties!" I get that things aren't exactly going as you had planned, but to wallow in the hardship and unfairness of it all will not help you cope with your divorce. Instead, be thankful for the good things in your life (yes, there is still good) and begin thinking about your future. Think about how good your life will be a year from now.

2. Giving away your power

This is a sneaky one because it involves the way we naturally speak. Anytime you say something like, "you drive me crazy" or "you make me so angry," you're giving your power away. You aren't taking 100% responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You'll be amazed at what a difference it can make in your life when you alter your speech!

3. Avoiding change

No matter how you look at it, divorce is all about change. You choose to stay stuck and miserable if you avoid change. The better option is to choose how you will manage the changes you face. Eventually, you may even embrace the changes, because you know how to make your life better.

RELATED: 8 Revealing Questions To Ask Yourself If You Think You Want A Divorce (& What To Do Next)

4. Focusing on things you can't control

This one takes some effort. No matter how much you are hurt by what your ex is or isn't doing, the more time you spend worrying, complaining, or hoping for them to change, the more miserable you're going to feel. You need to put that energy into making your life and situation better because the only person you can control is you.

5. Worrying about pleasing everyone else.

People get hurt in divorce. Unfulfilled dreams and expectations cause anguish. There's no way you can please everyone with how things turn out. The best you can do is keep adhering to your values and make the best choices you can. You're the one that has to live with the consequences of your decisions, so do what's right for you (and your kids).

6. Being afraid of risks

The end of your marriage propels you into unfamiliar territory. The only way you're going to find your way back to feeling normal and happy again is to take a few risks. You don't have to take wild and crazy risks. Calculated ones are just fine. 

7. Dwelling on the past

Now, this is a biggie because it's confusing — to grieve over what was is a necessary part to heal from divorce but to focus only on the losses and not allow yourself to see the beauty of the present and the potential of the future doesn't work. Try to have hope that in the future, you'll most quickly find your way through the pain of your divorce.

8. Repeating your mistakes

If there's one thing that's very helpful in dealing with your divorce, it's to learn what you need to and make the necessary changes so you won't find yourself in the same situation again. Spend some time fixing your picker and learning what makes a relationship work before you get into your next one.

RELATED: 50 Divorce Quotes To Help You Move Onward & Upward

9. Resenting your ex

Don't make the mistake of spending your time, talents, and energy being resentful of your ex's ability to move on without you. Take all that effort and put it to use by making your life better and you will see a change!

10. Giving up

You'll probably have a strong need to hide as you work through your divorce. It's ok for a little while, but not forever. You still have a lot of life to live (no matter your age).

11. Fearing "alone time"

Being alone after a divorce is gut-wrenching. You may have been alone at times during your marriage, but this is different. Being ok with being alone with your thoughts is one of the hallmarks of successfully dealing with your divorce.

12. Feeling like your ex owes you something

No matter how much you're suffering or how much you really want to understand why your ex chose to divorce you, they don't owe you anything other than your divorce settlement details. Yes, it's a bitter pill to swallow, but it's true. The sooner you come to terms with this, the faster you'll be able to move on from the end of your marriage.

13. Expecting immediate results

Unfortunately, dealing with divorce is a process. There's no magic wand or fairy godmother who will magically make things better for you. You will make it past your divorce. Be patient with your progress as you work through everything along the way to feeling normal and happy again.

It's easy to fall prey to these 13 thoughts and behaviors before you even realize you've done it because it's how we naturally react. But the key to dealing with divorce is to recognize when you stumble and catch yourself before it can happen again.

Karen Finn is a divorce coach helping clients learn how to cope with divorce and navigate the chaos it brings.

This article was originally published at Dr. Karen Finn's blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.