Resilience is something you have to work on, and not stop putting the work in to! It doesn’t come easy and it won’t happen as fast as you would like it too either. Yet, with time and perseverance you CAN rebuild/ build your resilience.
What is resilience? Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, divorce, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.
Separation and divorce are a time where you are going to need all the resilience you can muster. You can’t lean on others for this. Its all part of the process and if you don’t accept the process you will delay the after effects, both good and bad. Often when consumed in a relationship that wasn’t necessarily good for us, we can unknowingly have the resilience knocked out of us. A partner that perhaps wasn’t supportive or was untrust worthy, a narcissistic partner, one whom put you down instead of building you up perhaps? Years of being a victim of such behaviours can destroy your confidence and your ability to see what was happening to you slowly over time, slowly shredding your resilience piece by piece. But let’s not dwell on what it was, lets celebrate in that you recognised it wasn’t a healthy relationship and that you are now ready to move towards being a stronger more determined person. In the face of adversity, you can stand up for yourself once again and know what its important to you and your own needs going forward.
Working on your resilience will not only help you cope with your separation and the highs and lows that come with this both emotionally, physically and psychologically. It will set you up for your future, alone or with a new partner, in the work force and with your children.
So, it’s time to get real and stop looking to others for strength and start looking within! Time and determination are needed. Remember it won’t happened overnight but day by day you will feel more resilient and see the positive results of your hard work. Trust me!
Here are some tips on how to become more resilient:
1 Keep a positive mindset
Now I hear you saying; with all of what I am dealing with? It’s easy to fall into this mindset but there’s a positive in everything, the beautiful children you have from the relationship, the new relationships to come, living life how YOU want to now, knowing who you truly are now and what you want out of life going forward. I know you can find some positivity in your life! Every day, journal what you are grateful for and what brought you a little joy in the day. The coffee with an old friend, perhaps a new friend, the smell of spring flowers, or the great things happening at work. It’s the little things we need to find in our day to be grateful for, the positives. Your anxieties will diminish as you practice the art of gratitude and learn to trust your instincts and your own abilities.
2. Work out your core values
I have a wonderful exercise we can do in your next coaching session if you need help with this. We all know our values but tend not to fully recognise our core values. Recognition and understand of core values helps you to set boundaries, which in turn will help with developing resilience. Once you set boundaries that are aligned to your core values, you know what you will and won’t tolerate! Right? Setting boundaries and adhering to them, can be challenging for some. Think of it as protecting your inner self and your self-worth. When you can do that you let others see you are strong and resilient. It’s the new independent and confident You!
3. Get support
Don’t do it all on your own? Use your divorce coach as much as you need, emotionally and for the practical aspects of your separation. Join support groups or social groups and make new connections. Rebuild your life and with new friendships and old. Family and friends do like to offer their support but don’t lean on them too much rehashing your separation repeatedly. Use them for the fun aspects of support, being social, helping out around the house or with the kids. Support comes in many ways, shapes and forms, just don’t over burden friends and family with your woes. Otherwise you can scare them away after a while. They want to be there for you but not if it’s taking an emotional toll on them too. So, use your coach or your therapist for the emotional stuff and find other ways your loved ones can support you. Don’t be afraid to ask for support. Don’t try and be superman or superwoman and think you can do it all on your own. Perhaps you can, but at the expense of your health and wellbeing. Asking for support is a big part of self-care.
Contrary to popular belief self-care is not selfish! Self-care means you can be a better person in the process of your separation or divorce proceedings and a better parent also. You can show up and be more effective in all aspects of life when you take a little care of yourself. Self-care looks different for everyone. It can be simple things like asking for help, or going to the gym, exercise really helps clear your head and gets you back in the “game of life”. Relaxation, walking, yoga, a long hot bath, body massage or a facial, (men can have facials too you know), drinks with mates, golf with your buddies, a day without your kids laying on the couch watching Netflix and sleeping. Don’t feel like you have to keep busy every minute of every day, as you will burn out. Ask your family or friends to take the kids so you can give yourself a little TLC once a month at least.
I touched on this earlier. Use your journal for daily gratitude as well as your values list and your non negotiables list. Use it for having a rant. Those letters you want to send to your ex, don’t send them, don’t type them in an email you might mistakenly send and regret. Use your journal to write them. Get it out of your system, YES. Sending it NO! Any daily frustrations you have, pop it all in your journal. Get it out of your head so you can let it go and move on. Nothing is more satisfying than having a good rant but it has to be a personal private rant, so things don’t get inflammatory in the process of the separation. As time heals you might want to use your journal to write up your ‘ideal new partner’ list. This is not something to rush but it’s something to start thinking about. What do you want in your future partner? What have you learnt about yourself from coming out of past relationships before you enter new ones? There are many things you can journal. Make it a daily habit, at night before bed. Kids love to journal too. Make sure your journals are private and in a safe place.
Set small realistic goals, nothing too momentous. Small goals each day or each week that help you to keep moving forward and focusing more on the future and less on the past. I.e. today I am going to clean out my wardrobe, next week I am going to call a friend and arrange a coffee, tomorrow I am going to plan with the kids what we will do in the next school break. It doesn’t have to be a 5-year plan. Each week put something on your goals list that will help you feel like you are accomplishing great things and moving forward on your own in your own way.
7. Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems
You can’t change the fact that highly stressful events happen. Separating is highly stressful no matter how prepared for it you think you might be. You can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try not to catastrophise everything. Take a step back and breathe deep. Then try looking beyond the present situation to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations. There will be many more difficult situations to come and how you deal with them from the get go will change the face of your divorce. Don’t react, take time out to reflect on the why’s and how’s to gain some understanding of the situation and ask for support from your network, coach and lawyer before you respond. Catastrophising things before you gain understanding will just have you in permanent fight flight mode and you will never feel calm, in control or have the clarity of mind to make the right decisions.
FINALLY, how you deal with stress is going to impact your divorce process. Putting in place all of the above not only will help build your resilience but manage your stress levels. If you find during any communications you are feeling stressed, which manifests as many things such as, overwhelm or anger, physical pain even, or insomnia; during difficult discussions ask for a 20min interval, where you can both leave the space and take 20mins for your cortisol levels to calm down. If your cortisol levels are too high you go into fight or flight mode and either arguments get out of control and you are not thinking with your logical mind, or one of you shuts down and communications go array. Either way its not ideal and there’s no point continuing until you have both had 20mins to calm down and re-enter the discussion with clarity of mind and a calmer demeanour for a more constructive exchange. If this isn’t possible in the moment, reschedule the matter for another day or save it for the mediation process of your separation. Sometimes leaving it to the professionals is the most realistic option.
If you are struggling to put these suggestions into place book a session with your divorce coach, firstname.lastname@example.org where we can create a plan that will work for you and your overall well-being. My job is to keep you mentally and physically fit to deal with the process that is divorce and separation.
Certified CDC Divorce Coach, Relationship Coach.