Almost every family I know has someone who is divorced. The divorce rate in the United States is at 50 percent at this point, yet we never think it would happen to us. When I realized that my marriage would end all I kept thinking about was the shame and humiliation I would feel. I was ashamed and felt like I had failed at the most important thing I set out to do in my life. In time I realized that most people only spoke about my failed marriage for a few days, then the next gossip would get their attention and they would move on to something else. Meanwhile I was left with my feelings, and questions. Why did this happen to me? What could I have done differently? Will I ever find true love?
After about a month of self-pity I decided it was enough and committed to focusing on forgiving myself, so I can start focusing on rebuilding a better and happier future for myself.
Here are some things that really worked well for me and I suggest you try:
Forgiveness: Forgiveness is one of the most beautiful things. It is a gift that we often offer others, yet rarely give ourselves. Somehow we think of our actions as reprehensible and are very hard on ourselves. I am generally very critical of myself on simple things (something I work on daily to change), imagine how unforgiving I was towards myself after the divorce. But holding on to guilt and not allowing to give yourself the gift of forgiveness will only hold you back and work against you. The next time you find yourself feeling guilty and are unsure on how to forgive yourself, ask yourself this one question: “ how is this guilty serving me, and how will it help me for the future?” We all make mistakes, yet the mistakes don’t define us. It is what we learn and do thereafter that does. Accept that you are human, that you have made mistakes, while appreciating what you have learned from it.
Let go of should haves: Perhaps there were things that you wish you could take back or change. You find yourself focusing and thinking “If only I could turn back time and….”, “if only I would have …”. Know that these feelings of could and should haves only cause anguish and won’t help you in the future. If you find yourself thinking this way, say thank you to the thought, acknowledge it, then say: “ you no longer serve me”, and let it go. We can’t turn back time, we can only focus on better tomorrows.
Accept your imperfections: Thomas Edison had over 10000 attempts at trying to invent the light bulb. He didn’t see or think of himself as a failure, instead he said: “I haven’t failed, I have just found 10000 ways that won’t work”. We all have imperfections, and yet we can chose to focus on how imperfectly beautiful and amazing we are. Rather than focusing on your flaws, shift your mindset to all the amazing things you have to offer and all the beautiful qualities you possess. Something I find really helpful is making a list of things we love about ourselves, as well as things we accomplished that we are proud of and often read and focus on the items listed on this list. It is a great reminder of how truly incredible we are and it will help you stay away from focusing on your imperfections. Remember you are perfectly imperfect.
Letting go of pain: Maybe there are things you really need to tell your ex before you are able to forgive yourself. You have been meaning to do it for a while but can’t bring yourself to do it somehow. You may not be able to directly speak or send him a letter, but you can write the letter anyway, for YOURSELF, so you can express your feelings, hurts or regrets and give yourself the permission to set it free. Some of my clients do this and then go to the ocean, read the letter, tear it up and throw it in, letting go of what they were holding onto. They find this practice very healing and empowering.
Take care of yourself: One of the most powerful ways to forgive yourself is to give yourself permission to take care of yourself. When we are down on ourselves we don’t give ourselves permission to nurture our needs, bodies, minds and souls. Make a commitment to do daily self-care things for yourself starting TODAY. Change your eating habits and acknowledge the changes as self-loving acts, meditate, journal, take time to exercise even if it’s just a few minutes a day. Prioritizing your mind and body is key in practicing self-compassion and forgiveness.
My wish for you is that you heal and give yourself the gift of forgiveness. You will see, that once you do a whole new world will open up for you.
If you are struggling and feel stuck and alone, feel free to reach out for your complimentary “Unleash your power” complementary session. Click here to schedule your appointment.