By Sara Davison
The harsh reality is that the UK has the highest rate of divorce in Europe with 42% of first marriages ending in divorce. This fact is not to be taken lightly as it is reported to be the 2nd most traumatic life experience after death of a loved one. Marital break ups are part of our everyday life with celebrity divorces frequently making the headlines. In the last few weeks alone we have seen Gwyneth and Chris, Jeremy Clarkson, Max Clifford and Katie Price all announce the end of their marriages. It shows that divorce is more of a viable option now than it ever was; however despite this there is still a stigma surrounding divorce which makes it hard to get the support needed if it strikes your life.
Break ups can be emotionally overwhelming and extremely painful even if you were the one to end the relationship. There are a lot of adjustments and changes happening and this can be very frightening when you are unsure of what the future holds. It is completely normal to feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster and experience wide ranging emotions including sadness, loneliness, anger, fear, panic and confusion.
Many people do not have time for all this emotional upset in their busy lives and have to pull themselves together to go to work or to look after their children. They may have positions of responsibility where people look to them for leadership or to care for them. They may have important meetings to attend, difficult decisions to make and long hours to work.
Divorce will rock the strongest of people and the upset can manifest in many different ways. Some will completely fall apart and not be able to move forward, others will suppress their negative emotions and throw themselves into work or the gym. There are also destructive crutches that people turn to such as drink, excessive partying and drugs.
How then do we cope with heartbreak and separation, in some cases the betrayal and the lies and for nearly all involved the end of life the way we know it?
Having been a life and business coach for 17 years and also experiencing my own personal marital breakdown I created my Divorce Journey programme to support others. In this article I share some of my tried and tested techniques and strategies designed to help you to operate as best you can in the face of the emotion turmoil you are facing. It is important to bear in mind that this difficult early phase will pass and the pain will fade even if it doesn’t seem possible right now. Time is a good healer but there are also things you can do to take control of your situation and make it easier for you to cope. Keep an open mind and try out some of my techniques and strategies below.
1. Take one day at a time. Some people feel they are standing at the bottom of a huge mountain and have to climb it in one step. There may be lots of changes and adjustments happening but it’s important to take each day as it comes. Take small steps and don’t put pressure on yourself to solve all the issues today. Focus on getting through today as best you can and see tomorrow as a fresh start.
2. Create a top notch Divorce Support Team around you. This should consist of people that can provide all the support and advice you need throughout your divorce. It will include good legal and financial advisors, friends and family members, a divorce coach and possibly a therapist, an exercise buddy or personal trainer and even alternative practitioners if you are open to them. Even if you don’t need to use them every day the fact that they are there if you need them will reduce the pressure and stress you are under. Think carefully about the friends and family you confide in and make sure they have your best interests at heart.
3. Regular exercise will help you keep strong, even if it’s just a daily brisk walk in the park. You need to keep your body healthy as this will help you to be mentally tough and will make the journey ahead easier to navigate.
4. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself. Avoid negative people as much as possible as they will zap your energy which is precious to you at this time.
5. Plan your day so you are kept busy. If you are worried about being on your own in the evenings arrange to see friends or join a local club or gym.
6. Don’t be afraid to cry. It is part of your healing process. I have a 5 step plan that takes you through facing your emotions so that you can be strong and ready for work or to look after your kids when you need to. It only takes 20 minutes a day and allows you to acknowledge and release a lot of your negative emotion so that you can start to move forward and heal.
7. Don’t try to answer all the questions in your head at one time. Some you will never be able to answer. Avoid spending time on questions such as “What’s wrong with me?” or “What did I do wrong?” Instead ask yourself more positively focused questions such as “What can I do right now to help me through this?”
8. It is always helpful to have a system to fall back on and use when the going gets tough. I created the “SSS System”. Step up, Suck it up and Sort it out. The way to use this is to imagine that you have no other option or choice but to cope with your current dilemma. See yourself being strong and step into that persona, breathe in deeply and imagine you are gaining strength from your breathe. Then ask the new stronger you what is one small thing you can do right now to make it better. In this positive state you will find better answers that will help you to move forward.
9. Managing conflict with your ex can be difficult and situations can quickly spiral out of control. Firing back an email that vents your anger rarely works out well. The trick is not to respond in the moment. By all means write your response and get your emotions down, however do not send it. Sleep on it or at least take some time to allow yourself to calm down and see things with a level head. This is where a good support team will come in handy. If the conflict arises face to face with your ex then have a phrase ready to use such as “I will come back to you on this” and walk away. Do not feel pressured to respond immediately.
10. I created a technique called “Flip It”. It’s simple and with practice it gets easier to do. All it involves is taking the situation you are finding hard to deal with and finding something good about it. It changes what you are focusing on and starts to scramble the negative patterns you are unconsciously running. Over time it becomes automatic and empowers you to find ways of coping better on your own. Divorce is a chance to redesign your life just the way you want it to be and it can be a very liberating experience.
Unfortunately there is no magic wand to take all the pain away. However if you practice these techniques and use these tips you will be able to cope better and make your divorce journey smoother. Remember however lonely you feel, you are not alone and there are a lot of other people going through similar experiences. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and there are plenty of us to prove it.
For more information about Sara Davison Divorce and Heartbreak Coaching see www.saradavison.com or follow on Twitter @SDDivorceCoach or FB Sara Davison Divorce Coach