Why is change so difficult and overwhelming during separation and divorce?
- The extent of the change is usually massive and it may impact all areas of your life.
- The speed of making the changes is often very fast and there is little time for adjusting, preparation or proper planning.
- The emotional upheaval during separation and divorce may make decision-making and implementing the necessary changes more contentious and adversarial.
I have 6 ideas about change that may make it slightly easier for you to deal with. There is no magic wand to make change simple or easy but here are a few of my ideas that I do hope will help ease the change slightly.
1. Change is the only guarantee we have in life.
No matter what stage of life we are in, change is constant. There is no such thing as true stability. Think of change as the waves lapping at a beautiful sandy beach. The waves are constantly changing the coastline. Sometimes the change is difficult to see on the beach and sometimes after a storm the change is obvious and much of the sand has been washed away.
Separation and divorce are like a storm washing over the beach and it will cause big changes and test your resilience. Remember that this is just one stage in your life and it too shall pass – change will just continue on shaping your life’s landscape and change things constantly.
“There is nothing permanent except change.”
2. Change usually triggers fear.
We are genetically hard-wired to fear change. Both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ change may trigger fear. Our ancestors evolved and passed on our genes by being safe and not doing dangerous life-threatening things. The ‘fear of the unknown’ is a well-known concept.
Ask yourself if your thinking is based on fact or fear when fear starts creeping in. Stick to the facts as best you can. Expect fear and treat it as excitement!
“The only difference between fear and excitement is your attitude about it”
Remember that most times in life we do overcome the initial fear we feel, and find amazing things come from the changes we create. We worry far too much about things that never happen.
Remember that when we look back at that ‘horrible’ event that altered our life like a job loss, or a big failure, we often learn valuable lessons and end up on a different path. In hindsight we often realize that the ‘horrible’ event was the best thing that ever happened to us!
“You don’t fear change. You fear the unknown. If you knew the future would be great, you’d welcome the change to get there.
Well, the future IS Great.”
– Joe Vitale
3. Accept that some change is out of your control.
The Serenity Prayer says it all:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”
– R. Niebuhr
In a marriage breakdown, spouses often try to control each other with guilt and blame. This never works in the long run.
We are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions. We can only control what we think and do – not what others think and do.
Accept this fact and let go of the struggle. Focus on what you can control and steer that change in the direction you want. Conserve all your energy for what will help your situation. Accept what is.
“Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.”
– Sonia Ricotti
4. Know how you react will impact and add to the changes.
There will be plenty of decisions to make and things you will have control over. You do control how you choose to think about the changes ( your mindset), how you react and how you act. How you think, react and act will all influence the change itself, the outcomes and further changes.
Use your responses to shape the change in the direction you want your life to go in. For example: you may have to move to a new home, but you get to choose where you will move, how you will behave during the move, how you set up your new home, how you will feel in your new home, the example you set for your children in how you think about the move, and your new home…
Weigh your options, do the research and work out all the long-term consequences as best you can, then make the best possible decisions and carry through with positive action. If your mindset is not helping you cope well – consider changing your mindset! You get to choose if you are a victim or a victor.
“Our reaction to a situation literally has the power to change the situation itself.”
5. Keep emotion from driving the change.
I know – easy to say but very difficult to do. Slow down and give yourself time to absorb the changes and feel the emotions.
The emotional journey is normal, healthy and necessary. Your emotions will themselves change over time as you go through your separation and divorce. Don’t make decisions that will last your whole life based on the emotions you feel in the heat of the moment. If you are too emotional – postpone big decisions.
“Never make permanent decisions on temporary feelings.”
“Slow down. Calm down. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry.
Trust the process.”
– Alexandra Stoddard
6. Break all the change down into small steps.
The best way to manage massive change is one small step at a time. If you keep thinking about the whole thing it is overwhelming. Break it all down into small changes until it is manageable.
“Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”
The changes during separation and divorce are difficult, but I do hope you found encouragement and some ideas that will help you get through it all. You will be amazed looking back at what you did manage!
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
– Joseph Campbell
Please tell me what worked and did not work for you – add your ideas to the comments below!
The Divorce Coach in Dundas