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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

7 Steps to Rediscovering Who You Are After Divorce

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Separation and divorce is a very challenging time, one thing I see people struggle with, is "finding themselves" again. Many find after years of putting others needs before their own that they don't know who they are anymore...
This is exactly how Ines felt when her marriage ended after 20 years. She described leaving the marriage, like leaving home again at 18. It was strange, and all new to her. She didn't know how to build a new life, because she had no clue what she wanted or who she was. She had focused solely on the family, raising their two boys and supporting her husband in his demanding career. She never even thought "what would I like to do for me this weekend" her weekends were full ferrying her children to sports clubs, parties, taking them shopping, sorting out different meals, the house and her husbands laundry for his next business trip. When I asked her "what would your ideal week and weekend look like?" She had no idea and was finding it hard adjusting, especially when her husband had the children. "I don't know what to do with myself Nicola, there must be something wrong with me." She said, in our last session, in which I replied: "There is absolutely nothing wrong with you, it is both normal and natural to feel like this when you have been putting your own wants and needs on hold for so long. But rediscovering and redefining who you are can be an exciting process and chance to create a happier and more fulfilling life for yourself. Let's begin... " Then we started my 7 step process outlined below.
The truth is you don't have to have children or be together a long-time to feel like you have lost yourself in relationship. The concept that we are only "whole" when we get married and "half" on our own, doesn't help. Many confess to me that they know it's a good idea to wait before dating again, but are so tempted because they don't know how to be on their own.
If any of this resonating with you, then now is the time to take a deep breath and start rediscovering who you are and say...
"Will the Real Me Please Stand Up!"
Below are the steps I use when working with individuals, we go through these and set a plan to around them. It is great fun! I encourage you to find a buddy and go through them together.
1, Rest, Recover and Relax
In order to rediscover and redefine who you are you need to have energy and peace in your life. Grief is a natural and normal reaction to loss of any kind. When a marriage ends you go through several losses at once. You may be missing the company, familiarity of being with the same person or the security and support (emotional, financial, intellectual, psychological) the marriage gave you. Grief takes a tremendous amount of energy. But I find many instead of giving their body what it needs, rest, relation, good food, they end up doing everything to keep busy as a way of trying to cope and avoid thinking about it. This could be working overtime, obsessive cleaning or exercising, but this is not a good strategy for your health and well-being. As it leads to exhaustion, and we all know when we are tired life seems harder and our tolerance levels go down.
So take measures to rest and relax, whether you have the money to pamper yourself or not. Yes you DO Deserve it. This could be something simple like going for a leisurely walk, to a mall, reading a book, booking a massage. Ask a colleague if you can leave work early, or a friend to look after you children or simply insist on taking your full lunch hour and doing something for you. The more rested and relaxed you are the better you will be able to deal with stress and fulfil other duties.
2, Reconnect With Your "Former Self"
What were your favorite activities and subjects at school?
What were and are you really good at?
Examples people have shared are art, technology, sports, singing, organizing, writing
What did you really like to do before you got together?
Louis gave up going out with his friends and triathlons when he got together with his wife Emile. She used to get jealous of his nights out and expected him to stay in when their son was born. Family was important to her, so she also insisted they spent a lot of time with her family.
What did you give up when you got together?
We always give up some things when we are in a relationship, this is natural when we change from living independent lives. This can be something small for example my Dad hates all fish, he cannot stand the site or smell of it, so when my parents divorced (after 23 years of marriage) my Mother started reconnecting with her love for fish.
Mehdi gave up his motor cycle, when he married his wife Neha. Neha couldn't stand the thought of him being out on it. She was so fearful of him dying from a crash she begged him to stop. Not wanting his wife worrying every time he went out, and to keep the peace he sold his both his bikes. Gaurav went out and got a new dog. He always had dogs around as a child and missed them but his wife was allergic to pets. Getting a dog brought him comfort and since then he has met new friends through walking his dog, so it has good for him.
Of the above questions is there anything you'd like to try again now? Message or leave a comment and let me know!
3, Explore New Activities
Try the one or all of the below to generate some new activity ideas:
• Buy some magazines you love, flick through them reading the stories, activities and listings for inspiration.
• Search the list of activities you can do in your area by looking at wellness centers and fitness centers or groups
• Get a copy of timeout or visit timeout online - search under various categories: Community, Family, Sports, Food, Nightlife, - even if you don't have a timeout in your area, look online at the closest one as the list may generate ideas for you then to find them in your local area.
• Look at discount offer websites like "Groupon" and "Nail the Deal" is my new favorite. They always have interesting things you can try on the cheap
4, Engage with Friends More
Often in separation and divorce we lose touch with our friends. This may be because they no longer invite us out, or that we don't feel comfortable in the "couple scene" anymore. Some friends also may have withdrawn because they don't know what to say or don't want to take sides. Being around friends (old and new) can help you find your true self and rediscover who you truly are.
The challenge I give to people I work with is to find some activities from the step 3 and then invite 2-3 friends per week to 1 or 2 activities. The more you invite friends to do things, the more they will invite you events and new things, which can all benefit the rediscovery process. If you want to meet new friends, do a local course, exercise classes in your area or search "meet up in Google" for events to meet people.
5, Learn Something New
This is my favorite! Learning new skills and about new topics can be so rewarding and fun. You can learn for pleasure, for extra revenue, your retirement plan, new business venture or career advancement.
It could be a qualification like CFA, MBA, or another vocational course. Fun learning activities may include photography, languages, scuba diving, skiing, cake decorating, creative writing.
No Money?
Online courses can also be a great way to find and develop ourselves and they don't have to be expensive. Their are so many, I recently used one myself, as I am coaching 2 people off an Alcohol habit at the moment and I was able to compliment the coaching with a certification on "the addicted brain". You can literally learn anything that interests you.
6, Live According to Your Values
Our values are the essence of who we are and what we care about. They are powerful because they determine what motivates us and how we feel and evaluate people, events and circumstances in our lives. I encourage you to discover yours, list them and start aligning yourself to them. This a key part of the coaching I do, because in order to feel happy and fulfilled, we must align our lives with what we care about most. A great way to start with this, is to ask yourself "what is important to me in life?" or "what matters most to me?" Write a list, put them in order and start living by them. I did this many years ago, it was an eye opener for me because I realized that I was not living according to what I cared about most, it was no wonder then that I was feeling frustrated and unfulfilled.
7, Be True to Yourself
Finally with all of this in mind, the real key is to be true to yourself. Tap into your feelings and do what feels right. It can be so hard to make decisions after divorce, there are so many things to decide, it can literally be so overwhelming. Whilst I recommend you discuss and process your options out loud with a friend or coach, also key is to listen to your intuition. Do what feels right and good to you. Sometimes that may even be to wait, waiting can be good, as we give time for more information to unfold, making us better equipped to know what to do.
Finally, I just want to share the question that helped me rediscover who I was when my relationship collapsed, in fact the question changed my life because I acted on it. I asked myself: "What have you always wanted to do but haven't done because of either money, relationships or time" I repeated this over and over and then after 5-10 minutes I began jotting my thoughts: I came up with NLP, Hypnosis, Volunteer in an Orphanage, Safari and Keratin hair straightening treatment. Weird what your mind can come up with, this was my list and over a few years I did them all. The Kenya orphanage and safari was an amazing experience, the NLP and Hypnosis fascinating and well, my hair, not life changing I have to say, but a nice treat and I have learned to treat myself more since.
Has this email generated any ideas useful to you? If yes, how can you start to get more of these enjoyable things in your life today?
From my heart to yours, Nicola
Want more free resources? Visit for books on creating a new life after divorce and parenting & Divorce. Prefer Free Audio? Mark in your calendar to visit iTunes from 17th April and search Nicola Beer under podcasts.
Nicola Beer - International Relationship & Divorce Coach

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