Just Separated? A Step You Must Take
If you're newly single, you may be feeling a whole range of emotions, both negative and positive. On the negative side, you may be lonely. On a positive note, you may be relieved that the constant fighting between you and your partner has stopped. You also may be experiencing such emotional overload that you're resistant to the idea of stopping and taking stock of where you are--and where you're going.
But it's important to assess yourself honestly when you are freshly separated, experts say. "Self awareness can help you in future relationships," says Peter Kanaris, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist. "It can help you avoid selecting the wrong type of person to get into a relationship with in the future."
When you're newly separated, you suddenly find yourself making all the decisions for yourself, says Carole Lieberman, MD, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist. "It can seem scary at first, but then you realize that it's liberating and exciting," she says. One of your first decisions, she says, should be a self-assessment.
"Now is good time to step back and realize that you are your own boss, and that you can change your life dramatically," Lieberman says.
7 Steps to Honest Assessment
Once you recognize the importance of a frank self-assessment, you can help yourself by:
1. Activating old friendships and cultivating new ones, Lieberman recommends. Friends can help you transition from feeling lonely to realizing that you're in charge of your own life now.
2. Taking stock of yourself physically. "Look in the mirror and make an honest appraisal," Lieberman says. "You may need to enlist the help of a hair dresser or wardrobe expert, but it's important to assess where you are physically since it's easy to let things slip."
3. Giving yourself time to grieve. "Don't rush yourself," Kanaris advises. "Time heals, and you need to recognize that it will take time."
4. Developing self-awareness. "Look at the breakup as an opportunity to gain insights into yourself," Kanaris says.
5. Being honest about your role in the newly ended relationship. "Ask yourself how you contributed to the problems in the relationship." Kanaris says. "Think about how you reacted when you were under stress." You may be motivated to learn to deal with stress in new and different ways. And, Kanaris says, "Recognize that you may need to be more accepting of the other person."
6. Facing your own negative feelings. "Examine these feelings as a starting point for change," Kanaris says.
7. Taking the time to listen to your heart. With the extra time you now have, you will be able to tune into your own feelings and get to know yourself better. Knowing and accepting yourself can make it easier to be accepting of a new partner, and can pave the way to a healthy relationship.
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