Many people feel the need for time to heal and grieve after a divorce. Even if the process was fairly amicable or initiated by them it’s often important to recover from the distress and upheaval and take time to reflect on what went wrong. Gradually, valuable lessons are often learned. Counselling can provide an effective way to focus on the issues that often surface at this time.
Post-divorce we may say, we’re fine, we’ve got good friends, are perhaps seeing someone new, have an excellent circle of people ready to support us, are busy with children or work, but treating the aftermath of divorce as a time for healing can help us grow from the experience and avoid repeating negative patterns in the future. Friends may be biased, not as neutral in their opinions as we would like and anyway, it can become repetitive and unhelpful to spend hours with friends going over old ground, dissecting old scenarios.
How can counselling be helpful post-divorce;
– Destructive patterns can become a habit. If we’ve been let down badly we may find we’ve become suspicious as a consequence of how we’ve been treated, fearful of things not working out, wary of people’s motives, untrusting. We may be uneasy if a new partner has to work late, appears to be secretive when using their mobile phone or sometimes rearranges our dates. It may be reasonable to question if there’s some validity to these feelings or are we in danger of over-reacting.
– Have we lost our confidence, self-respect, are we struggling with low self-esteem? Is this because our divorce ended unexpectedly or became a battleground, with insults and hurt regularly being traded. Counselling could help us address our early years and the way we saw relationships being modelled when we were young. If we witnessed negative relationships in our childhood, where power struggles, bullying, poor communications were the order of the day it may be that we need to start appreciating that all relationships don’t have to be that way. Counselling could help us move on from that unfortunate way of viewing relationships.
– Being good at communicating and becoming appropriately assertive are also areas that can be helped by counselling. Being confident at speaking up, keeping a regular dialogue going, being open and honest about how we feel are all important aspects of a healthy adult relationship. But all too often we may have learned to keep quiet, not upset people, be keen for people to like us and not risk being rejected; we may have learned to become a people-pleaser.
– Appreciate the role of good manners, empathy, sensitivity and appropriate boundaries. Acknowledge too that, much as we may value these traits, mutual respect works two-ways. Counselling can remind us of our worth, of our value as a viable human being. We’re entitled to respect and consideration, as are others.
– There may be reasons why we still need to keep in contact with our ex after the divorce. If children, business or financial issues still remain a consideration it may be necessary to find ways to transition the old relationship into a workable part of our new life. It’s great if we’re indifferent to what’s going on in our ex’s life, but if that’s not possible, counselling can help you stop being triggered by immediate stressors and feel more positive about what you need to do. Self-protection, a good mindset and the belief that you’re on the path to a better life all help.
– Practical things can help if you have to meet. Agree to do so in a friendly, public or neutral place. Ensure you have supporters with you or instruct someone to act on your behalf. Work on your confidence and remind yourself each day of your strength, your accomplishments. For now, survive one day at a time.
– Practical tips for moving on may include saying ‘yes’ to invitations, registering on events guides and initiating outings, joining groups even if you sit quietly at first, asking people round to yours for a bite of supper, a coffee, a pamper evening, game of cards or to watch the football. All inexpensive ways to build your confidence, keep involved and circulate. Read newspapers, watch some popular TV so that you’re able to contribute to conversations, rather than stand to one side.
– Determine to move on and be proactive, step by step. Counselling can help you be receptive to the opportunities out there. Is it time to update your image, get fitter, make new friends, learn new skills. Looking at the positives may require effort at first, but counselling can help you deal with your demons and sustain your focus and motivation, maybe through small changes initially. Give yourself credit as you become interested in the outside world, ready to be excited and involved in the new future that lies ahead of you.