Worrying about what others will think is completely normal, but this is your divorce this is how you write your own positive narrative.
Worrying about what others think is completely normal. We are social, tribal creatures; being liked and accepted is hardwired into our DNA. Any situation that puts this at risk is bound to cause anxiety.
When it comes to Divorce, society and the media would have us believe that it is a failure, that you will be judged and lose friends and social standing as a result. The truth is your friends, family and wider groups will judge you. Often this comes from their own perception and insecurities. It is not a reflection of you, and people always judge others - even the classic statement of ‘don’t be so judgemental’ is a judgement in itself. But there are ways to handle this, that allow you to be resilient and move on with pride:
Often the ending of a marriage casts a shadow over what has gone before, especially for friends and family. They can remember your wedding and will have created happy memories, seeing you grow as people and potentially create amazing human beings that you would not be without. Your marriage is not something to regret but rather something to look back upon in a positive way., Whatever happened, you will have learnt so much. Being proud of your choices and what you achieved (including this divorce) will help you to move on with your life.
Despite what society would have us believe divorce is not a failure, nor does it have to be a blame game – especially if you have children. You are still a family just a different shape. This is your divorce, your life, you can write the narrative and what it means. If you allow yourself to believe this you can create the life you want, be it with a respectful co-parent and happy children who thrive as a result or as a single man/woman. A divorce done well is much healthier than an unhappy marriage for all involved.
Not everyone will see your divorce as a positive thing and you may lose friends or disagree with family along the way (especially those who are married or are friends with you both). Divorce makes others reflect on their own relationships. This is not a reflection on you, don’t take it personally. There are some people who will be in your life forever, there are others that are transient. That’s okay. As much as you will lose some people, you will also gain others. Accept it and move on.
Divorce comes with a level of uncertainty that is uncomfortable and can leave us feeling out of control. Therefore, focusing on what you can control as opposed to what you can’t, will stand you in good stead. Your thoughts, perception, behaviour and outcomes are the things which are within your gift.
Take time to work on your own self-image by investing in yourself. Divorce is a big transformation that affects every area of your life. It is also an opportunity to redefine who you are and what you want. When you have a confident self-image other people’s opinions have less impact.
There are some people who can have a detrimental effect on our well-being but who we can’t avoid, especially family. For these individuals it is a good idea to set boundaries, decide how much time to spend with them, the rules of engagement and what you are willing to accept. Always have a way to get out should you need to.
Having the right support network around you is key. No matter how amicable your divorce, it is still an emotional rollercoaster. Friends and family who are supportive are important, but also having professional help from someone with an objective view who can give you the right tools to look after yourself can make a difference.
A successful divorce can be the best thing for some families when done well, fairly and with the right support. You, your family and friends will realise it is an evolution not an ending, and one where you will end up stronger, happier, and more resilient as a result. There are real success stories out there, such as Lenny Henry and Dawn French, Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes and you can be one of them. My hope is that in time this will become the norm and an acrimonious divorce will be the anomaly.
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Support someone you love at this time in the best way possible.
To change the impact of divorce on families today ad for future generations, we need to change the stigma.
We're constantly being told that divorce is traumatic, stressful, expensive, and painful. But what if there is another way?