Going through your divorce wasn't easy. While you were in it, it seemed like it would never end. You dreamed of finally being done with your divorce for longer than you thought was possible. Now you’re looking at your divorce from the rearview mirror. But what lies ahead? Everything in your life is different now than what you once thought it would be. You’re faced with the prospect of reinventing yourself after divorce ...
... and you don’t even know where to start.
The truth is reinvention is messy. It forces you to try new things. If you try enough new things, you will inevitably fail at some of them. You’ll probably fail at a lot of them.
With luck, a few things will work out.
But as you slog through the muck of reinventing yourself – as long as you struggle and fall and fail, then try again – a funny thing happens.
You start to get better.
You start to figure out what you want, and who you want to be.
Without realizing it’s happening, you get stronger. You get smarter. And – IF you don’t give up – you eventually end up in a whole new place.
You end up being the person you WANT to be … a person you consciously created.
Sure, you’ll probably have more than a few bumps and bruises and scars from the journey. You’ll also understand what being terrified means on a whole new level.
But you will also have achieved something you may not have ever been able to achieve any other way.
You will see how far you’ve come. And you will be happy.
25 Tips for Reinventing Yourself After Divorce
It doesn’t matter whether you wanted to reinvent yourself or not. Divorce changes you.
Even still, your journey of reinvention and growth doesn’t have to be painful.
Sure, it won’t be fun at first. But as you get further down the path of divorce, and especially once your divorce is behind you, you definitely can get to a place where the journey becomes easier.
These 25 tips will help.
1. Believe in yourself.
It sounds so simple to believe in yourself. Yet, everything starts from there. Unless you believe that you can do the things you most want to do you son't be able to do them. So step #1 in reinventing yourself after divorce starts with believing in yourself. Believe you’re worthy of giving and receiving love. Believe you’re worthy. Once you start believing those things, other people will too. (… and the way you see and treat other people will improve too!)
2. Forget about your age.
You’re never too old (or too young!) to reinvent yourself. Growing, changing, and opening yourself up to something new is about mindset. It has nothing to do with how many years you’ve been on the planet.
3. Ditch the Comparisons.
In a world dominated by social media, we all tend to compare ourselves to, well, just about everyone. It doesn’t matter whether those comparisons are real, realistic, or fair. We look at what everyone else is doing, having, and presumably being, and we feel like garbage about ourselves. Stop! Comparing yourself to others will only bring you pain.
4. Don’t avoid being alone.
There’s a HUGE difference between being alone and being lonely. Being alone simply means there’s no other human being around you at the moment. Sometimes, that can be a blessing. You can be alone and still be happy. But it’s hard to be happy when you’re married and still feel alone.
5. Raise your standards.
What have you been tolerating that hasn’t been serving you? Have you been treating yourself poorly? Have you been overindulging in something that’s making you feel unhealthy and depressed? Or have you been allowing other people (your ex, your kids, you name it) treat you without respect. Now is the time to change that. (Yes. You can.)
6. Be yourself.
Being married means compromising. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But when you compromise on too many things for too long a period of time, you tend to forget who YOU really are. Now you can change that too. Stop trying to be who you’re not. Love who you are. It’s a whole lot easier and way more fun.
7. Be kind to yourself.
We are all so hard on ourselves! What would happen if you treated yourself the way you would like other people to treat your kids? It’s okay that you’re not perfect. It’s okay that you’re a work in progress. You can be all those things and STILL be kind to yourself! (You’ll also get a whole lot farther a whole lot faster if you’re actually NICE to yourself for a change!)
When we’re stressed out or upset our breathing gets shallow and constricted. That shallow breathing makes us feel stressed out and anxious. It may sound crazy, but you can change how you feel just by changing how you breathe. Try it. Spend ten minutes every morning and ten minutes every evening breathing deeply into your belly. You’ll immediately feel calmer and more in control of your life.
People misunderstand forgiveness. They think that if you forgive your ex (or anyone else who wronged you and caused you pain) that you’re condoning what they’ve done to you. You’re not. What they did may have been (and probably was!) wrong. But continuing to be angry about it for months, years, or decades, only hurts you. So, forgive them. Forgive yourself. Let go of your anger and move on with your life.
10. Be Present.
Now that your divorce is over it’s time to let go of the past. If you need help doing that, get a good therapist. Work through whatever is holding you back. Deal with whatever you’re afraid will happen in the future. Do your best to live in the moment. Sure, it’s not easy. But the only place you can create a new life from is the present moment. If you can learn to enjoy where you’re at right now you’ll give yourself a chance to create the kind of life that really lights you up.
11. Focus on what you want, NOT on what you don’t want.
You can’t create the life that you want when you don’t know what it is. Yet, when asked “What do you want?” so many of us immediately recite a laundry list of what we DON’T want. (I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be poor etc.) The problem is that what we focus on expands. If you focus on what you want, you start getting more of what you want in your life. Conversely, if you focus on what you DON’T want, you get more of that. So try to decide what you WANT and focus on that.
12. Open your heart.
This one takes time. It may take a lot of time. But the sooner you can at least THINK about opening your heart, the sooner you will be able to feel joy – real joy! That’s because you can’t selectively shut off your emotions. You can’t close your heart to pain, but keep it open to love. Your heart doesn’t work that way. So, no matter how badly you’ve been hurt, think about – work on! – dealing with your pain so that you can get over it, and learn to open your heart to love again.
13. Start small.
So many times, we get stuck because we don’t have the energy to do the BIG things we think it will take to change our lives. What we forget is that small things done consistently will lead to big things. Baby steps count. So rather than doing nothing (… because the task in front of you seems so big that whatever you do won’t matter) start small. Even small progress is progress.
14. Give up the fight.
Your ex may be the biggest pain in the ass on the planet. You may be 99% right while your ex is 99% wrong. But letting yourself get sucked into a never-ending battle will drain your energy and destroy your mood. If you want to reinvent yourself, if you want to create a life that’s HAPPY instead of miserable, you MUST give up the fight! Take a hard look at how YOUR actions and reactions are fueling the fight between you, then stop doing them.
15. Be grateful.
It sounds cliché. But being grateful can change your life. It can shift your focus from everything that’s WRONG with your life to everything that’s right with your life. So do your best to be grateful every day. Keep a gratitude journal. Name at least 5 things you’re grateful for every single day. (Yes, out loud!) Even if all the gratitude does is make you feel better for a moment, it’s worth it.
16. Take charge of your self-talk.
We all have a voice inside our heads. For most of us, that voice is usually more of a critical judge than a supportive parent. Yet, you can’t create an amazing life when you’re constantly telling yourself how much you suck or how many things you’ve messed up! Words have power. Words matter. From now on, resolve to only say positive things about yourself. (It’s harder than you think! But it’s worth it!)
17. Take care of yourself.
If you want to do your best, and be your best, you have to treat yourself like you deserve the best. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a million dollars on yourself. What it means is that you need to put in the time, effort and energy to look and feel your best. Eat right. Exercise. Get enough sleep. Dress nicely. Treat yourself to nice things from time to time. You matter.
18. Cultivate joy.
Do things that make you happy … on purpose … every day. If it’s been so long since you’ve been happy that you can’t remember what makes you happy, think back to when you were a little kid. What made you happy then? Maybe you liked to sing, dance, run, read. It doesn’t matter. Do something that makes you happy every day. You’ll be amazed at how that one small change can change so many things in your life.
19. Connect with others.
Human beings are social animals. We need other people. Now that you’re single again you probably have more time on your hands. Use that time to reconnect with old friends and family. Make new friends. Get out of your house and TALK to someone. (Even the grocery store cashier counts!) Volunteer to help other people. Do anything that puts you in contact with others. It will make you feel better.
20. Release the Debbie and David Downers in your life.
If you're like most people, you already lost a lot of friends in your divorce. That might make you reluctant to let go of anyone else. But if there are people in your life who just want to commiserate with you, and who seem to enjoy being miserable - you don't need them! Do your best to surround yourself with people who are happy, upbeat and positive. While everyone has bad days, hanging around with people who always see the glass as half empty will eventually affect your mood and your view on life. Make this year the year you put some distance between you and anyone who consistently brings you down (whether it’s on purpose or not!)
21. Let go of guilt.
Guilt is one of the most useless emotions ever. Even if you’ve done something wrong, or even if you’ve hurt someone, feeling guilty about it does nothing! It doesn’t change whatever happened. It doesn’t make the person you’ve hurt feel any better (… although they may feel good if they see you feeling bad.) What it does is it holds you back from enjoying your life. Guilt is the gift that keeps giving. You do something once, then feel guilty about it a thousand times more. It’s time to let go.
Giving something to someone else makes YOU feel good. Your gift doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Maybe you give your time to someone. Maybe you help someone in a way that doesn’t cost money. Or maybe you give money to a person or cause you support. Maybe you just engage in random acts of kindness. Whatever you do, when you give from your heart, with no expectation of return, you start to feel better about yourself, and your life.
23. Don’t give up on love.
If you want romantic love, you have to do more than just open your heart to it. You also have to believe that you will find it. The good ones aren’t all gone. No matter who you are, or how old you are, there are still a lot of fish in the sea. But if you don’t believe you’ll ever find love, you’ll close yourself off. You won’t even look. What’s worse, you won’t be open to seeing what (and who!) is really out there for you. It’s never too late to find love. But you’ve got to believe it’s possible before it will happen.
24. Lighten up.
Going through tough times tends to make us all super serious. But if you want to really create a new life – one that you love – you’ve got to lighten up! Find something to laugh about! Resolve to NOT take yourself – or your current situation - quite so seriously. Ask yourself, “What would happen if I laughed more and cried less?” Do your best to let go of your pain so that you can finally find joy.
25. Let yourself dream.
Divorce is an end. But it also can be a beginning – if you let it. Now that your divorce is over, it’s a great time to create the life you really want – WITH purpose and ON purpose. That means that you need to let yourself dream. Instead of saying to yourself, “I could never do that!” try saying, “Hmm. Maybe I COULD do that!” or at least ask, “What if I could do that?” Opening yourself up to possibility is the first step in really reinventing yourself after divorce and creating the life of your dreams.