New Year’s Resolutions for a Good Divorce and a Good Life
If you’re going through a divorce, the holiday season can be dreadful. It’s hard to celebrate when it feels like the world you once knew has tilted or spun out of control. There’s no question that your life is about to change in a big way.
But there is a new year on the horizon! It’s a natural time to turn the page…and take steps to set your world right.
So here are some ideas to inform your New Year’s resolutions for 2018.
These ideas come from what I’ve observed about my most satisfied divorce mediation clients. It’s not that they always have the easiest circumstances or the most financially secure settlements. Of course, every situation is unique. But I’ve noticed that they do have something in common: They are really good at managing the pain and difficulties of the process. They attend to their emotional well-being. They are resilient.
Emotional well-being and resilience seem to be essential to achieving a good divorce. And while it may take quite a bit of resilience to slug through a bad divorce too, that’s not what I’m talking about here.
I’m talking about what it takes to experience turmoil, manage difficulties and reap the rewards of a good divorce. The folks who do this are likely to someday be able to say: “My divorce was a painful upheaval in my life. But I’ve not only survived, I have grown. I’m proud of the way that I handled it. And I am grateful for the hope, joy and peace in my life today.”
Ideas to Cultivate Emotional Well-Being and Resilience
It is often said there are “3 divorces” – legal, financial, and emotional. The legal and financial issues must be resolved – it’s required. But your emotional well-being and resilience are entirely up to you. Attending to the emotional dimension of your divorce will equip you to better handle the legal and financial dimensions, too. And it will serve you well not only in your divorce but for the rest of your life.
Here are some things I’ve seen that people with a good divorce do to attend to their emotional well-being:
- Talk with a Counselor: Talking with a counselor or therapist helps to effectively manage the difficult transitions triggered by divorce. It also helps deal with trauma, conflict, anxiety and depression. Sometimes, just talking with a trusted friend or a clergy leader can also provide perspective and insight.
- Hire a Coach: Most of the world’s top performing CEOs and athletes work with coaches to develop their skills as good thinkers and decision-makers under pressure. But I’ve learned that everyone can use help with this, especially when the stakes are high. There’s been huge growth in the professional coaching field – and now you can choose among life coaches, conflict coaches, wellness coaches, and the list goes on. For more on the benefits of coaching check out: International Coach Federation and International Association of Coaching.
- Practice Meditation: Meditation is like a portal to your natural wisdom and compassion and can provide a path to healing. Whether new to the practice or out of practice, you can choose from among hundreds of online videos and podcasts to find a guided meditation that speaks to you. You can also participate in group meditation trainings, workshops and retreats. A favorite in the Maryland and Washington, DC area is Insight Meditation Community of Washington, which also offers popular virtual programs around the globe.
- Join a Support Group: Support groups offer a safe space to process your divorce experience with others who are going through divorce. The group setting enables you not only to learn from others but also to gain confidence by sharing your own insights and triumphs. One of the longest running support groups in the Washington, DC area (including Maryland and Virginia) is New Beginnings. And you can find a growing list of other area support groups here.
- Get Physical Exercise: Making time every day to take a walk, ride a bike, do yoga or any other form of exercise serves many purposes. Apart from the more obvious health benefits, exercise is known to correlate directly with emotional health and also improve relationships, lead to better sleep and boost overall mood.
- Laugh: When legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano was awarded the Arthur Ashe award, he famously said that to have a good life, there are three things we should do every day – (1) laugh, (2) spend time in thought, and (3) experience emotion that moves us to tears. These days you might be doing plenty of thinking and crying but not a whole lot of laughing. But there’s truth to the saying that “laughter is the best medicine.” Laughter releases endorphins – our bodies’ natural feel-good chemicals and stress reliever. So watch a sitcom, joke around with your kids, and look for the humor in life’s foibles. A little levity can go a long way – and a big belly laugh, even further.
Coming Soon: Ideas for cultivating the Gratitude and Attitude that can help you stay the course to a good divorce and a good life.