Friday, 21 September 2018

5 Common Causes of Divorce Anxiety and How to Cope With Them

Some changes are exciting and invigorating while others are viewed as overwhelmingly negative – and divorce is one of them. Here are simple tips on how to find calm when experiencing divorce anxiety.

Divorce Anxiety: Common Triggers and Coping Mechanisms

“No one likes change” may be a popular saying but it’s also reductive. We all know that certain changes – a new job, a new home etc. – can be incredibly exciting and invigorating. Some changes, though, are viewed as overwhelmingly negative – and divorce is one of them.

Because of this, it’s understandable that, whilst a marriage is in the process of being dissolved, those affected find themselves feeling anxious from time to time. Here, in my experience, are the five most common causes of divorce anxiety along with some simple tips on how to calm your nerves in the face of these triggers.

1. New Living Arrangements

We’re social creatures by nature so the thought of living alone, leaving the family home, finding a new home, being “home alone” with your kids, etc. regularly creates divorce anxiety.

In my experience, though, it is not really living with their spouse that people will miss but the idealized, imagined version of living with a partner that so many of us have that never really matches up to the reality.

Should such thoughts enter your mind, remember the times that living with your spouse was infuriating. It also helps to think of the friends and family living nearby and remembering that, when you fee
l lonely, there are always people you can rely on who are just a phone call away.

2. Making New Friends

Human beings are naturally sociable and crave the company of others. With our friendship circle often defined by our marriages, though, it’s fair to assume that some of these relationships will crumble and that we’ll need to go through the lengthy and frustrating process of creating a new friendship circle as a result.

Firstly, you’re probably going to find that some of your existing friends don’t want to take sides and want to maintain a relationship with both you and your spouse. Secondly, remember that you’ve been making new friends throughout the course of your entire life. 
Consider trying a new hobby or leisure activity or restarting an old one; as long as these get you out of the house, you’ll significantly increase the likelihood of meeting new people who share at least one common interest with you.

3. Increased Costs

When you can split the cost of living with someone, it’s cheaper to live. It’s straightforward and flawless logic and, yes, you’re going to be stretched financially, but think for a moment – is this going to be the first time you have ever struggled with money?

We’ve all had times where we’ve needed to tighten our belts or take on extra work to find the cash to pay our bills. Remember this when divorce anxiety over cash flow has its claws in you; remind yourself that you got through these tough times and you’ll get through this one, too.

If you’re feeling particularly anxious, sit down, review your monthly expenses, and work out where you can make savings relatively easily. Once you’ve done this, you’ll feel far more prepared and significantly less worried.

4. Co-Parenting

Sharing parental responsibility with your former spouse requires patience, compromise, and pragmatism. The need to consistently maintain a civil relationship with someone you may no longer like or, in the worse-case scenario, even actively dislike would make anyone concerned and, yes, it’ll require effort – but I’m certain you already possess all the motivation you need.

No sacrifices are easier to make than those we make for our children. Remaining respectful when you disagree on how to approach a particular problem or you’re trying to rearrange who’ll be having the kids and when is going to be testing but, as you’ll be doing it for your children, you’ll find a way to make it work.

If your ex is very high-conflict or has a personality disorder (such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder), you may need professional help to make co-parenting work and to protect yourself against parental alienation.

5. Dating after Divorce

You may think that starting a new relationship would be the last thing on someone’s mind when they’re in the midst of a divorce. Surprisingly, though – and perhaps due to the inherent desire for affection that we all possess – the thought of trying to meet someone new is a palpable cause for concern amongst those whose marriages are coming to an end.

In this instance, our advice is cliched but with good reason: romantic relationships cannot be forced and, tempting though it may be to try to force the issue, they must be left to occur organically. For this reason, all we can preach in this instance is patience. If the anxiety brought about by the need for companionship becomes too much, seek solace amongst your friends and loved ones.


Thursday, 20 September 2018

Reduce the Stress of a Divorce

No matter how frustrated you may have become with your partner, the decision to divorce never is an easy one. Strong emotions often arise on both sides. But there are healthy ways to cope.

Making the Decision

The decision legally to end a relationship sets off a long and difficult process. Even without complicated legal and financial issues, the upheaval is often enormous, affecting children, grandparents, friends and the extended family. The chances are that some of the family members involved will experience a drop in their standard of living. All will face an emotional challenge.

So before deciding to divorce, make sure you have done all you can to improve your relationship. Are you certain that there is no alternative, such as separation? Think about talking it over with a marriage and family therapist or getting other expert advice and help. A consultation with a lawyer can provide an idea of the likely legal and financial outcomes. Often lawyers will provide free initial consultations. Look in the Yellow Pages under “attorneys” for those who specifically handle divorces, as lawyers often specialise.

Coping with the Stress of Divorce

Separation and divorce are two of the most painful life events there are. They can lead you to question everything in your life, including your own identity and your ability to cope by yourself. Divorce highlights your fears and sensitivities, so old wounds from the past might resurface. You will need to recover your self-esteem, which will take time.

Below are some coping techniques to help you take care of yourself and others.

  • Consider joining a support group, and going through mediation. It can lead to better communication and fewer confrontations with your ex-partner.
  • Rather than withdrawing socially, surround yourself with friends. Remember how important they are in providing support, perspective and practical help.
  • Learn how to balance giving and receiving. You don’t have to be perfect.
  • Don’t beat yourself up over what you should have done. Stop the negative self-talk and guilt. You can’t change the past, so try to learn the lessons the present offers, then focus on a positive future.
  • Set aside time just for yourself to help you find balance.
  • Don’t worry about what other people might think.
  • Declutter your environment. If something is too painful to look at or is useless to you now that you’re alone, throw it out.
  • Determine what most needs doing and in what order. Then break up the tasks into smaller steps that can be done in several shorter periods of time. That way larger tasks seem more manageable and you are more likely to get them done.
  • If you have been a stay-at-home mom and out of the workforce for some time, you probably will need to go back to school for training in a marketable skill. Bringing home your own money is satisfying and creates independence. It also sets a positive example for your children.
  • Work toward forgiveness and moving on. Don’t deny your anger, but don’t let it drain your energy by getting stuck in resentment.
  • Don’t be scared of going out on your own and opening up to new people.

Divorce and Money Issues

In addition to the difficulties of ending a relationship, you also will have to deal with finances. This can be particularly tricky if there is an atmosphere of mistrust because of the break-up. Many divorces actually are caused my money issues.

If your partner used to deal with all the financial matters, make it a priority to learn how to budget and manage your finances. Get advice on the financial decisions you need to make, especially if you are selling your house. Ask for help from your lawyer or an organization which supports those going through a divorce.

Most couples agree on a financial settlement without going to court, but even so, a typical divorce settlement can take over a year to finalize. Deciding on child maintenance payments can be especially difficult. Make a list of all your assets and debts, close joint accounts as soon as possible, and get advice on how your pension, savings and investments will be affected.

Divorce’s Effect on Children

While most adapt well, some children will suffer significant adjustment problems. They will at the very least be anxious about their relationships within the family and about the disruption in their own lives. A lot depends on how you handle it — you can make an enormous difference in how well they cope.

Below are some ways to reduce divorce’s emotional impact on children.

  • Give them as much reassurance as possible. Keep telling them that they are not responsible for the break-up.
  • Talk over what is happening in an age-appropriate way.
  • Be open to their questions and encourage them to talk about their feelings, but don’t force them to talk.
  • Encourage them to maintain their relationship with the other parent. Don’t criticize the other parent, demand exclusive loyalty, or use them to hurt your ex-partner.
  • Avoid looking to your children for support or guidance. Ask friends or a therapist instead.
  • Maintain normal household routines as far as possible.
  • Look for signs of distress: increasingly clingy behavior, tantrums, fear of separation, anxiety at bedtime, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, headaches or stomachaches, increased aggression or perfectionism.
  • If you observe these symptoms, let the child know that you understand they are upset and it’s OK to talk about it to you or another trusted adult. Help them express themselves as best they can and seek professional help if signs of distress continue.
  • To reduce conflict around holidays, keep expectations realistic, including expectations of yourself. Don’t make younger children decide which parent to spend the holiday with; this will cause enormous distress. Parents should not try to outdo each other, or make up for problems, with presents or other indulgences.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

How to Handle Anxiety and Fear During Divorce

There are two very difficult emotions that almost everyone going through a divorce experiences for a long time: Anxiety and fear. If you think about it, it makes sense. The unknown can be scary and stressful, especially when it comes to children, finances, living alone, the divorce process itself, maintaining a relationship with your ex, and dating.

There are many ways to soothe anxiety and fear. Some people go on medication. While I am not personally a fan, I think in some cases, seeking medical help and taking a pill is necessary, very beneficial and nothing to be ashamed of. People also cope with anxiety and fear by exercising, making lifestyle changes, going to therapy, implementing faith in their lives, and something I’m going to address below—training the mind to re-think.

Here are 9 things you might be thinking during your divorce which could be causing anxiety and fear, and 9 ways to train your mind to re-think them:

1. Life feels like it’s two steps forward, four steps back. Hard work, dedication and consistency will ultimately move me ahead, making the steps backward not even noticeable at some point.

2. I’m scared. Fear is created in my own mind. I have the power to recognize that and to use it to drive me, motivate me, and energize me to achieve great things.

3. My financial picture seems bleak. I have a roof over my head, food on my table, heat, medical care, even a bed to sleep in. That’s not bleak.

4. I hope my divorce doesn’t affect my children in a negative way. I have the power to raise my children as I see fit. I’m a great mom (or dad), I show them love, I have open communication with them and I am doing everything in my power to help them during this difficult time. The rest is uncontrollable and therefore is a waste of negative energy to think about.

5. When it comes to dating after divorce, relationships can be complicated with kids and ex’s, and loving again takes vulnerability and courage, which I don’t know if I have. Romantic love at any age is beautiful and fun and sexy and breathtaking. Vulnerability is healthy and makes the relationship better. Whether he loves me or not is out of my control. All I can do is be me and be proud of who I am.

6. Dealing with my ex can be so difficult. Enough whining. My relationship with my ex is something I will have to maintain in a healthy way for a long, long time. I must learn to live with it and take the emotion out of it. In other words, nothing good comes from bringing up the past. And, I will never stop taking the high road. It will never be the wrong decision, no matter how he (or she) acts towards me.

7. It’s hard to be a single mom (or dad). I feel alone sometimes. Would I rather be in my former bad marriage? Also, I am not alone if I have children, a good family and/or friends, and people who love me. Plus, 50% of the population is divorced making 50 percent of them single parents, just like me.

8. Why is my ex in a relationship and I’m still single? This isn’t a competition. Let him or her live their life. I need to focus on mine. Do I want to be in a relationship? If so, how can I make that happen? Am I happy? If not, what’s it going to take to make me happy? Better figure it out soon.

9. Getting older isn’t easy. Really? You’re playing that card? Am I healthy? I need to do what it takes to get to my healthiest potential. Health should be my number one priority. What’s it going to take?

I have one last suggestion for dealing with fear and anxiety during divorce. Go to the gym. There is something about that place, as if it has some kind of a vacuum that sucks in everything that is bugging you.

I’m not saying that working out solves your problems, but rather that engaging in physical activity, lifting weights and challenging your body takes your mind to the core of what you are doing at that moment—working hard, and it makes everything in life seem so much more manageable and solvable.

I find that if I walk in there all doom and gloom, I always walk out refreshed, my mind open to all these creative avenues that are going to help solve my problems, along with a feeling of accomplishment and self-worth. It happens to me time and time again. I’ll go so far as to say going to the gym is like taking a happy pill.

Remember that you aren’t alone in experiencing fear and anxiety during divorce, and even after. It’s part of life. The key in managing it is focusing that energy on the things you have, the positives, and the aspects that are going to shape your bright future. And when you start thinking that way, good things begin to happen!


Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Avoiding Post-Divorce Depression

  • Men are at a greater risk of suffering from depression after divorce
  • There are many ways you can fight depression, including building a support system
  • Seek medical advice if you feel you are suffering from depression

From financial uncertainties to the very real chance of being limited to a weekend dad, the upheaval in a man’s life when he is facing divorce is enough to drive nearly anyone to the breaking point.

It is no secret that the tumultuous process creates an incredible amount of stress, but the problems really begin to escalate when this leads to conditions that are more serious.
Depression is a fairly common and potentially debilitating mental health condition that impacts every aspect of your life, and the chances of falling into a depression increase greatly following a divorce.

However, there are steps you can take to mitigate your chances of suffering from depression after the end of your marriage, and it begins with identifying your risk level.

Men face increased risk of post-divorce depression

Studies have found a greatly increased risk of depression for those going through divorce, which is even more of a problem for men who are nearly twice as likely to suffer from post-divorce depression as women.

While every person deals with significant and sudden life changes differently, you can be sure almost everyone going through divorce will feel some form of loss and confusion. There are many factors that likely contribute to the fact that men have a significantly higher rate of depression after a divorce than women, which include:

The wife is more likely to initiate a divorce — The person who files has likely spent time contemplating their future before coming to the decision that it is time to divorce, often leaving their spouse caught completely off guard and left in shock (which more often than not is the husband).

Men are more likely to lose custody of their children — Although strides are being made to give fathers the custody they deserve, the mother is still more likely to obtain primary-parent status.

This can (understandably) be a hard pill to swallow for many fathers who have loved and supported their children their entire lives.

Men are less likely to have a system of support — Likely one of the biggest reasons men have a more difficult time coping with divorce is that they tend to keep their problems to themselves, whereas women are much more likely to share their pains with friends, family or professionals.

Divorce is not something you should go through alone.

Men often have greater financial obligations post-divorce — With child support almost always being awarded to the parent with more overnights, this can be the icing on the cake for fathers who feel they were slighted with the custody decision.

Additionally, the vast majority of alimony obligations are held by men despite the growing number of breadwinner wives.

Many other situation factors — Every couple will have different circumstances that led to the end of their marriage, which leaves plenty of room for factors such as infidelity, health problems, substance abuse, etc., to play a role in post-divorce depression.

Additionally, you are at an even greater risk of developing depression if you have suffered episodes of depression in your past. If you are a man who has dealt with depression before and are going through a divorce, you need to be acutely aware that you are in a very risky spot and should not hesitate to seek help if you need it.

Mitigating chances of post-divorce depression

Just like there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all divorce, there is no single method that will work for everyone in coping with the aftermath.

It will be up to each individual to find a personalized technique for managing the stress of their own unique situation, and there are plenty of suggestions put forward by experts and guys who have been through divorce to help give you some ideas.

Build a support network — Everyone needs an outlet to help them work through all the negative aspects of a divorce, and there are plenty of support groups and options out there for men that are just a quick Google search away.

Whether it’s simply a friend who allows you to vent, a group or a professional therapist, it is important not to hold everything inside when you are going through a divorce.
Try not to dwell on what you can’t control —You got the short end of the stick when it comes to custody, a child support and alimony obligation and your ex got the house. Unfortunately, unless there was a mistake or the law was applied incorrectly, there is likely little you can do about it.

However, you can control focusing on moving forward and making the best of what you do have. Make the best of your time with your kids, and avoid letting anger and frustrations spill into other areas of your life (easier said than done of course).

Immerse yourself in something constructive — Anything from a new hobby to losing yourself in an engaging book or compelling TV series can help take your mind off the things that are out of your control.

Use the divorce as an opportunity to try something new or pick up an old passion and channel your negative energy into something positive. Perhaps you used to like tinkering on cars but you didn’t have the time while you were married, or maybe you’ve always wanted to try your hand at woodworking — this is your chance to do something new.

Avoid the rebound — Too many guys run into the problem of jumping into new, unhealthy relationships before they have fully healed from the divorce. Whether you are trying to replace your partner or you think it will help you move on more quickly, pump the brakes before getting too serious.

More often than not, rebounds end poorly.

Stay healthy — Eating a balanced diet and regular exercise are a great way to naturally fight depression by increasing the amount of healthy chemicals, such as serotonin, in your brain. Additionally, it will help you sleep better, feel better and boost self-esteem – all of which are great natural ways to stave off depression.

It’s easy to fall into a routine of self-medicating with booze and junk food, but this pattern of behavior will only serve to worsen the symptoms of depression long-term.

Depression is a serious condition and it is no mystery why such a traumatic, life-changing event like divorce dramatically increases your risk of developing depression.

However, there are plenty of ways to fight off the causes of depression, and a good support group will help you get through the worst parts of the divorce without it having a major impact on your life moving forward.

If you do find yourself feeling depressed, do not feel like you are alone and please seek medical advice immediately.


Monday, 17 September 2018

What to Do About Deep Loneliness Post-Divorce

Three tools to push through the pain and get on the other side.

Melissa has been incredibly lonely since her husband moved out last December.

She called me after reading my newsletter talking about a retreat I was hosting. She told me she was thrilled to see an opportunity to meet other women in transition. Melissa was now in the middle of her divorce and realized that she was still feeling very lonely.

After her split, it seemed like her friends mysteriously fell away and she found it hard to meet new people. This is something I hear a lot from the divorced population. Even today, well into the 21st Century. As far as our culture has come with accepting divorce as a reality, the social stigma is still alive and well. Couples or married individuals don't necessarily want to hang out with single or divorced folks.

For Melissa, this was definitely unexpected fallout from her breakup and it added an extra layer of pain and loss to an already painful situation.

Being a take-charge kind of person, Melissa attempted to remedy the social situation. She joined a gym, a book club and she even got a part-time job but none of these activities produced any lasting friendships.Everyone was either married (and didn't want to hang out with a single woman), much younger than she, or too busy. Another issue for Melissa is that she was longing for deep, meaningful relationships where she could talk about the pain of her marriage ending as well as the challenge of starting life over at the age of 48. Her friends and family were very supportive to her for a couple of months but since March, they've all but stopped returning her calls.

It is this sense of isolation and marginalization that propelled me to start running groups back in 2000 and to hold more regular retreats. I have found these outlets to be not only magical ways to help participants find a way out of the marginalization, but it can be a powerful springboard into the next chapter of their lives.

There are three important tools I've learned over the years that can help anyone get through divorce better and come out of that isolation.

1. Grieve until your grief is over — Grief sucks. That's why most people want to be done with the emotional roller coaster far before the process is over. But the more you fight it, the more you actually prolong it. (And, by the way, getting into a new relationship will, at best, postpone your grief. You really can't escape it).

Be with your grief and it will actually pass quicker.

2. Don't stay stuck in the past longer than your grief needs you to— Although you must feel the sadness and perhaps even anger as part of your grief, there's a point at which you will want to look at the road ahead rather than continuing to look in the rear view mirror. You have a right to all of your feelings but if you see everything through a divorce lens for years afterward, you won't go on to enjoy life.

There is life—even fabulous life—beyond divorce.

Keep moving.

3. Ask for help — This is one of the more important things you can 
do to get past your pain and heartache.

Those who reach out for help always land on their feet whereas those who try to go it alone, end up suffering much more and don't do nearly as well. Over the years, I've watched many great people connect with other great people in my groups or workshops and go on to form close friendships. Some even find movie partners or travel companions.

Connecting with others in a similar place has brought these divorcees

out of their isolation and into mainstream life again. Spending a weekend with other women who were wanting to stay positive and take control of their destiny is the perfect remedy for people like Melissa.

Find a new community.

This last tool is particularly important.

When any of us goes through a difficult transition, we feel like this will be our reality forever. Yet, people get divorced every day and many, if not most, come out okay on the other side.

How well you do depends in part on your circumstances. There are definitely some scenarios that are tougher than others to reconcile, such as being left by your spouse for someone else (or worse, being left by your spouse for your best friend) versus splitting by mutual agreement.

But it also depends on how you handle yourself and the situation. Using these three tools will help you get on the other side of the pain faster and better.
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In her TED talk, Brene Brown says, "In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen." This connection requires vulnerability at a time when you may be feeling most rejected, raw and most in need of protection. Push through your fears (if you can) and reach out.

There are more groups today than ever before but, unfortunately, not all of them provide deep connection among members. Drop-in groups or informational divorce classes just don't offer the same intimacy as the closed groups (those where members commit and return each session) where people can share more vulnerably and honestly.

It is through this deep and vulnerable sharing that healing can occur. Staying at home and trying to ignore the sadness or grief will only postpone it. The pain will lay in wait until your defenses are down (often when you are tired or sick or stressed) and then, any and all unexpressed emotion will take over.

The good news is that, by dealing head on with your emotions, this is preventable. Follow the tools of: 1. Allowing the grief to be there; 2. Moving on when the grief has been expressed, and; 3. Finding a new community.

Those who, like Melissa, reach out from their pain in order to get through this tough time, look back and see how doing the opposite of what they were inclined to do (stay safe at home in front of the TV) brought the desired healing. It is available to anyone who wants it.

Wishing you the strength to push through the pain as well as healing through the fear, sadness and loneliness.


Saturday, 15 September 2018

Depression and Divorce: Helping Your Children Cope With Both

Divorce has many effects on children. No two children will react in exactly the same way. That’s why parents need to be diligent about watching for signs and indications that your child may be having problems coping with their new reality.

Depression is one of the more common reactions we see in children of divorce. Unfortunately, many parents entirely miss or misinterpret the signs of depression. It can take many forms, including behavior that is distancing, lethargic and withdrawn. This is often accompanied by a drop in school grades. But depression can also manifest in other ways, such as agitation, frustration and aggression.

When depression takes that form, parents are likely to think of it in terms of discipline problems and respond with punishment. It takes maturity and a broader perspective to stand back and realize that your child’s misbehavior may actually be a way of communicating how they are feeling. Their confusion, anger, resentment and powerlessness to control their life circumstances get expressed physically because they don’t know how to verbalize those complex emotions.

Understanding and compassion goes a long way toward opening that door to communication. Instead of punishment, try talking about your new family situation and acknowledging areas that can be improved. Ask for suggestions. Try to get feedback, to create a dialogue rather than lecturing.

The key for parents is in finding more time for emotional support and reassurance to help your child feel less alone or isolated — especially by the new circumstances in his or her life. If extended family — grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are not close by, this becomes even more essential. Children need the support of emotional anchors — close family and friends — and the consequences of divorce too often isolates them from the very people who can best help them through the transition. For this reason, you as a parent must continuously keep your eyes open for signs of emotional distress — and then quickly respond with love, attention, compassion and both physical and emotional support.

Studies show that the rate of serious depression is increasing in children — up from 2% a generation ago to 23% for children up to age 20. Not all of it is divorce related, of course, but it still should be a wake-up call to parents. Don’t beat yourself up with guilt. That doesn’t serve any one in the family. But do be alert so you can address issues that come up early on, before they lead to far greater problems. Also seek out the assistance of professional counselors or divorce groups for additional support.


Thursday, 13 September 2018

Want To Get Over Your Divorce? Start Name Calling

Mom was wrong: name calling isn't always bad. Sometimes, it's exactly what you need.

Do you remember the first time you called someone "stupid?" I remember the first time I did. I also remember the conversation mom had with me for doing so. She explained that it wasn't nice to call someone names because it makes them feel bad. Part of me felt ashamed for having done something to make someone else (in this case, it was my younger brother) feel bad. And then there was another part of me that filed the information away to be used in future battles.

Yes, I did use name calling in arguments I had with other kids too — kids at school and kids in the neighborhood. I even resorted to name calling when I got angry at my parents. I'd call them "meanies!"

Then puberty hit and I got a lot more creative in my name calling. The extra creativity resulted from hanging around other kids, my voracious appetite for reading and all the "bad names" I made up from my French class lessons.

I have to admit that I didn't limit my name calling to arguments I had with other people. I also developed a habit of calling myself names when I didn't do something as well as I expected myself to do it. Sometimes I'd say it out loud, but mostly I called myself names internally; you know, that conversation in your head. I justified this by saying that I was just motivating myself to do better. Granted, I was also putting myself down and chipping away at my self-esteem, but I just ignored that part.

The habit of calling myself names on purpose continued through high school and college. I'd regularly call myself, "fat, ugly and stupid."

Then I got married and after a few years the number of names I called myself had increased to include, "lonely, scared, not good enough, different," as well as many others.
When I got divorced, the number of names increased again to include the likes of, "depressed, stressed, terrified and unlovable."

It was during the time I was recovering from my divorce that I started to pay real attention to the names I was calling myself. When I did, I was horrified that I was right! I was all those things and more. I was miserable.

And it was my misery that started to provide a path out of the hell I had created for myself in my own mind. I was determined to not be miserable anymore. I tried everything I could think of, everything my therapist could think of, everything my trainer could think of and everything my friends and family co
uld think of to feel better about myself. Slowly, and with lots of effort, I found my way out of the hell I had created. I started to counter-balance the names I was calling myself. I allowed myself to like me — even just a little bit. And that little bit of liking grew over time. I stopped looking for as much external validation of myself and started realizing that I was great just because I was me.

The funny thing is that as I started to like myself more and more, I was still calling myself names. Only now there were nicer names thrown in the mix: "beautiful, smart, fun, capable."
Today, more than 10 years after my divorce was final, I still call myself names, only now they're powerful, energizing names that motivate and inspire me. What I've come to realize is that my mom was both absolutely right and absolutely wrong when she told me that calling people names made them feel bad. She was absolutely right that when I call someone (including myself) a bad name that can make them feel bad. And she was absolutely wrong because she didn't mention that when I call someone (including myself) a good name, that can make them feel wonderful.

Your Functional Divorce Assignment:

1. What names do you regularly call yourself? We all have so much chatter going on in our heads that it can be difficult to pick out the names we call ourselves at first. If it's hard for you to answer this question, just be patient and pay attention to your internal conversation. Sooner or later, you'll start picking up on the names you're calling yourself.

2. What names did you call yourself when you were "happily" married? This is an especially interesting question because it can give you insight into how you might like to see yourself again or it might even give you insight into how some of your name calling intensified—like it did for me.

3. What positive, inspiring, wonderful names would you like to call yourself? Once you have these names identified, start using them! After all, we all call ourselves names and if you're going to call yourself names, you might as well make sure they're good ones.

4. Having trouble coming up with some good names to call yourself? Don't worry, I was there too. There are times during divorce when it's just really hard to recognize anything good about yourself. It's time for you to get some outside input to come up with the good names. You might want to ask your close friends, family, clergy, therapist, or even a divorce coach to help you out.