Divorce is hard, but it gets better…
Divorce catapults you into a stormy sea of emotions. Anger, disbelief, and feeling lonely are just a few of the overpowering emotions you experience as you deal with the end of your marriage.
Learning to deal with each of them is critical to your ability to move on, but learning how to deal with loneliness is one of the most difficult.
Dealing with loneliness is especially challenging because it’s a self-perpetuating emotion. It’s not energising, like anger, so you can’t just work it out of your system by constructively expressing it. And it’s not like disbelief that you can conquer by consistently being presented with facts to the contrary.
Loneliness feeds upon itself. The more you experience it, the greater it becomes and the more difficulty you’ll have trying to conquer it.
Loneliness grows deeper and more profound the more you experience it.
But feeling lonely as you deal with divorce is normal. You’re not really destined to be alone and lonely for the rest of your life, no matter how you feel right now.
“Feel” is a keyword here because loneliness is a feeling. It isn’t a fact. And since it’s a feeling, you can change your feeling by working through it instead of being trapped by it.
Here are 11 tips on how to deal with loneliness so you can move on from your divorce:
1. Connect with others who have also been through a divorce
Despite how unique your circumstances or how different you feel, there are plenty of people who can easily empathise with your situation – everyone who is going through divorce gets what you’re dealing with. And the quickest ways to find these people are in online divorce communities and in divorce support groups.
2. Get clear about what’s making you feel lonely
You probably spent time alone when you were married and didn’t feel the same sense of overwhelming loneliness you feel right now. That’s because you’re feeling like there are things missing from your life now that weren’t before.
By coming face-to-face with exactly what’s missing, you’ll be able to start grieving the losses instead of staying stuck in them. And once you start the grieving process, you’ll be gain clarity about how you want to either replace or eliminate what’s missing.
Feeling lonely as you deal with divorce is normal
3. Be compassionate with yourself
Getting through a divorce is tough. Have patience as you find your way through yours. Do little things to pamper yourself every day and be sure to reward yourself for achieving the goals you set.
4. Create a new routine for yourself
Mourning the loss of a shared routine (like talking about the day’s events with your spouse over dinner) can trigger loneliness. So instead of focusing on the old routine, create a new one for yourself.
5. Disconnect a bit from social media.
You don’t have to go ghost on your friends, but it wouldn’t hurt you to stop using their lives (or your ex’s life) as reasons to feel lonely.
6. Move on from your toxic relationship
Letting go of your marriage (and what it represented to you) is a process. But the truth is that if it ended, it wasn’t a good relationship for you. And the longer you hold on to it, the more toxic it becomes to you.
7. Practise gratitude
It is incredibly hard to feel grateful when divorce has ripped (or is ripping) your entire life away from you. But the thing is that as you start to appreciate what you still have and look at the obstacles ahead of you as challenges to overcome, you’ll have conquered one of the keys for learning how to deal with loneliness.
8. Focus on your kids and what they need to deal with the divorce
Taking care of them will automatically force you to stop ruminating about how lonely you feel because taking care of your kids is a whole lot of work. And as you work to help them, you’ll naturally experience other emotions than loneliness.
9. Choose to learn something
Learning is a great way to shift your emotions from loneliness to curiosity. You might choose to go back to school to improve your earning potential, or to use your divorce as a reason to pursue personal growth, or even to learn new skills to make your new life easier. (You’ll be surprised at the joy you can feel when you learn how to do things on your own!)
Letting go of your marriage (and what it represented to you) is a process
10. Avoid inactivity
Being inactive or feeling bored is like putting out the welcome mat for loneliness. Instead, make a list of things you can do for fun or to just finally get done. So, the next time inactivity contributes to your loneliness pick an activity and get busy.
11. Talk with someone about your feelings
Sharing your emotions with a friend or caring professional is great because they’ll often have insight into how to deal with the loneliness that you don’t.
These tips are just the beginning of things that you can do as you learn how to deal with loneliness when you divorce. So, experiment with them. One may work better for you today than tomorrow. And try new ideas for breaking through feeling lonely as you discover them.
The more often you can acknowledge your loneliness as emotion and then choose to do something to shift that emotion, the quicker you’ll conquer it and move on from your divorce.
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach who helps people just like you who are struggling with the loss of their marriage. You can join her newsletter group for free advice or schedule a FREE 30-minute conversation with Karen directly in her Time Trade calendar.
This article was first published on YourTango.