8 Ways to Reinvent Yourself After Divorce
It's over. The divorce papers are signed, your spouse is now your ex, and you're trying to move on. Actually, you should do more than just move on. This period is a time to reinvent yourself, to rediscover who you really are, and to rethink who you want to be going forward.
To do so, experts suggest the following tips:
1. Put some thought into just what it is that makes you feel energized, content, and serene. Then act on it. "I tell women, when they come in to see me after a divorce, to list the 10 things that are most important to them," says Lisa Rene Reynolds, Ph. D., author of Still a Family: A Guide to Good Parenting Through Divorce. "Maybe you always wanted to go back to school, or redecorate the house." One of her clients whose husband had walked out, leaving her with the kids and the house, decided to redecorate. She moved into different bedroom, redid the house, and got rid of the ugly, bulky chandelier in the dining room that her husband had refused to part with. Another grew her hair short (her spouse had always wanted her to wear it in a pixie cut.)
2. Put yourself first. It may sound strange, especially if you have children. "Many women do everything they can for their kids when they're getting a divorce," Reynolds says. "But it is important for your kids to have a healthy, happy parent, and that means taking the time you need." Maybe it's an exercise class or a support group you want to attend, or perhaps it's a course to help you learn new skills.
3. Take the time to figure out who you are. Since your marriage, you may have lost part of yourself in the relationship, says Stacy Kaiser, LMFT, author of How to Be a Grownup. You may not even remember what TV shows you used to like before you got married, or whether you enjoy staying in or going out at night. The self-rediscovery period can help you to identify how you want to proceed with your life.
4. Think of something that will uniquely represent your new life—and then act on it, Kaiser says. Maybe it's a new hobby your ex never had time for, or a trip you've always wanted to take. "It does not necessarily have to cost money," she says. "It can just be sitting at the beach and reading."
5. Look at some of the online free dating sites even if you're not ready to start dating, Reynolds advises. "This will help you see that there are a lot of people out there like you, who have families and kids and who are looking for companionship or a future partner," she says. "It helps you to see the possibilities."
6. Seek out a friend who's been through divorce. "You will have something in common with the person, and you can help each other and support each other," Kaiser says.
7. Build your confidence by taking up a brand new activity, says Mary Jo Rapini, M Ed, LPC. "Both yoga and golf can help you focus on the present," she says. "And you will feel good doing something just for you. We build confidence when we take care of ourselves in a positive manner."
8. Try to look at the post-divorce period as an opportunity even though there are days when you don't even want to get out of bed, Kaiser says. "Don't look at it as being lost but more as a time of a new beginning," she advises. "It's a time of possibilities and a chance to have goals that you could not have had before."
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