How do you get rid of feelings of failure on divorce?

Tamsin Caine talks to Susan Leigh about the feelings of failure when relationship breaks down. How we can deal with these feelings and move on.

You can contact Tamsin by email at or arrange a free 15 minutes at

You can contact Susan at or visit her website for more information at


(The transcript has been created by an AI, apologies for any mistakes)

Tamsin Caine 0:06
Hello, and welcome to the Smart Divorce podcast. I’m Tamsin Caine and I will be your host. In series three, we will be speaking to a number of experts and professionals in the divorce arena, and answering the questions that we get asked most often. If you’ve got a question and you don’t think we’ve answered it yet, please do get in touch, you can email me at Tamsin at smart Now over to our guests. Hi, and today, I’m absolutely delighted to be joined by the wonderful Susan Lee. Susan is a counsellor hypnotherapist and does some fabulous, amazing work with both with couples and with individuals who have splashtop. Susan, how are you doing?

Susan Leigh 0:59
I’m doing good. Thank you.

Tamsin Caine 1:01
Excellent, lovely to see you. So we’re going to talk today about the fear of failure and that that snowball effects that hits you when you end relationship, and you just feel like you ought to have been able to do better. So do you want to give us some initial thoughts on that?

Susan Leigh 1:23
Well, I think I think it depends on how the relationship has come to an end. Because sometimes people get hit between the eyes with that partner, telling them the relationship is over, and then maybe had no idea of it at all. So that in itself can be very failure inducing we feel my goodness me, why did I not spot it? What have I not noticed what’s going on here. And also, there’s also the impact it has on one social setup, you know, the friends that people that were mixed with the parents, of the kids that are friends, or with, you know, the whole setup of what people’s expectations were what people were thinking, what we think we should be as a success, we may look at all our friends, and think how the heck have they managed, their relationship look dodgy, and yet they’re still together. So there can be a lot of narrative going on in different areas of our lives. And that impacts on us, or confidence or self esteem, or feelings of worth all those things combined together to make us feel pretty ropey really at a time when we’re needing to be quite strong to deal with things that are going on in our lives.

Tamsin Caine 2:34
Yeah, absolutely. I remember feeling it ought to be really straightforward to be able to do this. It doesn’t feel like it’s that complicated. And yeah, and it wasn’t something that was put upon me. But I felt really felt like a particularly when I got that piece of paper through the post. Or I’ve really rarely failed at this. And it really ought to have been much more straightforward.

Susan Leigh 2:58
Yeah. And I think when people just get a piece of paper through the post, whenever it is, and they just see this thing that might be a blooming duplicated blanket sheet, you know, and you’re looking at it and thinking God is this all 510 15 years the worth. But it’s the it’s perspective, I think when we’re looking at things like that, we have to say, Okay, I could have hung on in there, perhaps I could have persevered more, maybe. But at the end of the day, it is what it is I have to move on with this. And treat this as a phase of my life. Because seriously, as we get in our mid late 20s, or 30s, or whatever it might be, we have experienced failure lots of times. And failure is about resilience. It’s about coming through the other side you’ve not passed every exam you took you fell off your bike, lots of times when you were learning to ride or, or whatever it might be, there’s many, many a time when people who said you’re not good enough in this job, or this exam, or this application for whatever it might be doesn’t always work out. And so we have to learn to become a bit more resilient, become a bit more pragmatic and say Yes, okay. Life is often about a series of stepping stones. And even if you use the example of redundancy, the number of people I know who lost a job left a job and three, four months or even years later say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me, because it pushed me into a new phase of our of my life. And sometimes we have to look at the ending of a relationship in the same way. Even if there are children who needs supporting even if there are complicated business or financial arrangements need dealing with it’s it’s a stepping stone and we have to try and get our head around that no matter how battered and bruised we might be feeling at the time.

Tamsin Caine 4:45
Yeah, no, I think I think you’re absolutely right on that. I think that’s that’s really good advice for for somebody who’s just kind of feeling it that they really can’t see the wood for the trees with it that they have, you know rarely down what what would you suggest? Do you have any, any tips or or suggestion, get

Susan Leigh 5:06
small steps. I think everything at a time like this is about small steps, being gentle with yourself. So know that there’s going to be days when you feel grim, you may not even want to get out of bed, there’s going to be days when you don’t feel like doing anything at all. There may well be days where you just cry and curl up. But try perhaps to think about having maybe a list of things that you take one off a day, or you say I’m going to at least make a phone call to get that particular part of my arrangements in process. I’m going to start sharing with my friends, I’m going to disclose a little bit of how I feel. Because in truth, once you do that, it’s amazing how many other people will empathise share, may have good ideas that they can give you support that they can give, or maybe just simply listen and say nothing and eventually put their arm around your shoulder. And you may have good friends who say Shut up, sometimes. And that can be good to hear too. Because we don’t want every time we meet our friends. We go Oh gosh, you know, and today’s misery is this. Sometimes it’s good to have friends who love you, who you trust, who look at you and say, Stop it. Let’s have another conversation. Let’s talk about something else. And that can be Yeah, okay, you’re absolutely right, I need to, I need to breathe and move on a little bit. And that in itself can be good. So stepping stones are about taking a step at a time, or it may be even just standing up so that you’re ready to take that step. And that can be a useful discipline with yourself that at least as you start to achieve little things, you can start to say, you know what, I’m actually moving. I’m actually moving in the right direction. This is good. This feels good. Allow me to appreciate what are our image streaming? In the midst of all of this? Yeah, I

Tamsin Caine 6:53
think you’re absolutely right. I think sometimes it is just it, you know, some days It can even be while I had a shower today, tech, I managed to get dressed today. Tech, you know, even though small steps, some days, it can be a big deal and beat yourself up flights and and give yourself a pat on the back more maybe? No, no. Yeah. And the introduction I mentioned that you work with, with lots of people who are in this sort of, in this sort of stage in their lives. How How do you help with people who were in this position?

Susan Leigh 7:29
Well, I start with, where are you? What’s going on? How are you feeling? So it may be that they were the catalyst for a breakup, they may have said I’ve gone on long enough, I haven’t felt respected or valued or validated, it’s not been working for me. Or they may be absolutely traumatised at somebody walking away from them. So I look at the situation that they personally are in. And then we can deal with all sorts of things stress, the impact it’s perhaps having on their mental health, their physical health, they may not be eating, they may be eating too much, they may not be sleeping properly, they may be sleeping too much. There can be all sorts of different things where they also having to face a lot of change in their lives, they possibly lost their home, most people do when they break up, they may have had to move out and move on. And we talk about what their options are. So when I’m working with people, there are practical elements to the work that we do, even though it’s therapy in itself, that therapy can sometimes be providing an arena where somebody can talk through their options. In a neutral environment, I have no axe to grind, whether somebody leaves the area moves away, their friends might not want them to the family might not want them to. So sometimes having somebody who has no vested interest in the outcome can be a really positive step to take. Also, often as a relationship ends, people have taken quite a battering. So over time, it may be that they have gradually lost their confidence their partner, and there might be niggling and rallying and undercurrents and criticism that’s been going on for a long time that gradually seeps into our confidence and our self esteem. And so I can work with that with people and often do and say, okay, getting a new job, or sorting out your money or sorting out your home and where you’re going to live. Let’s talk about what you can give yourself permission to do. It might be just a small part time job initially getting somebody used to going out to work again. And the challenge of walking through a new door and learning new skills can be quite a major thing. If you’ve not done it for a while moving home and starting afresh initially. It might be a better idea to rent and share with friends or family just for a while till you show what you really, really want to do. And that again can take a bit of confidence becoming assertive enough to think it through what you want to do, but also what verbalise it and say to people this is what I really feel I need to do right now and standing up for yourself. That can be quite a challenge, too. So there are little parts of this that we might not even be thinking about. But all these combined together to help somebody become more confident, start again believe in themselves and feel positive enough to to be clear about what they actually want to give themselves enough time to decide what the right next step for them is.

Tamsin Caine 10:20
Yeah, I think it’s really interesting that it, it seems a fairly obvious thing that we’re talking about, and just one small area, but actually, it can impact every area of your life, can’t it and can make a huge difference to to the rest of it, how you deal with this, but

Susan Leigh 10:39
yeah, absolutely, for sure. And again, you’re often in relationships, we have designated jobs, you often find even though it might be gender specific, you often find that women that are doing more of the house related stuff is it’s not always the case, but it often is. And the bloke in the partnership, or the other person might well be doing their own set of jobs. And sometimes when we become a single person, again, we have to learn to cover all the ground and know exactly each step. And each port, you know, sometimes people don’t know how to use some cool things like a washing machine, for example, or pay a bill or sort out their car repairs or whatever it might be and, and simple things like that can seem like a mountain in the early stages of starting out again, because we’ve never done it before. And on top of all of that, gosh, I’ve got this to do I can’t even do this. And that again, can compound that feeling of being a failure being useless. Oh, my goodness me, how can I get through this? At a time when we’re vulnerable? We’re having to master all these new skills that are trivial. Everybody else can do them, why can’t I? And so again, it’s being gentle with yourself asking for a little bit of help where you need it, allowing people to help you a little bit and sharing how you’re feeling and linking in with others and moving forward that way, again, a step at a time.

Tamsin Caine 12:02
And that’s brilliant advice. Thank you so much for joining me today. Susan. That was fantastic. My pleasure. I hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. If you did, please do think about writing us a review or giving us a lovely five star rating on iTunes, if that’s where you’re listening. hope you’ll join us again next time.