After a divorce, the only relevant expectations placed on what your next step in life may be, are your own. While you need to accept the support and comfort of others during this emotionally exhausting time in your life, you need to separate their support from their ability to control your life, preventing your feelings from winning out during one of the most vulnerable times in your life.
You may have just exited a marriage, where your feelings were discounted, so why would you allow that occur again by those who feel that they know what is best for you?
No one knows what the perfect post-divorce recovery looks like, because every divorce is different. Every divorce includes two people who could not make their marriage work, and for whatever reason, need to sort through their own feelings on their own timeline.
You may have to go back to your family law attorney and revisit aspects of your divorce decree, such as child custody, child support, or alimony. Your recovery is not less than another divorce recovery of someone who did not have to pursue modification.
As much as it may be written in the social norms to make comparisons about how you are doing versus how other people are doing, it may be better to avoid the inclination, especially in cases of divorce.
Social comparison theory suggests that we, as human beings, determine our own social and personal worth, based on how we stack up against others we perceive as somehow faring better or worse, according to Psychology Today.
Research from the University of California, Los Angeles suggests that you are more likely to make downward comparisons when your self-esteem is threatened. When you make these types of downward comparisons, your existing relationships are more likely to be threatened, and your self-esteem can become dependent on the continued misfortune of others.
After your divorce, you may have the inclination to check on your ex-spouse through social media and compare how they are doing with how you are doing. If you have not already done so, you should resist the urge to do this, and if you have, you need to stop.
In comparing your new life with your ex-spouse’s, you are only hurting yourself. You are voluntarily inflicting unnecessary pain onto yourself and setting your recovery back further.
In these moments of weakness, you need to turn to those you can offer judgment-free kindness and comfort, and those who look to sway your decision-making do not provide comfort without judgment attached to it.
One of the best resources to utilize in your post-divorce recovery is the aid of a mental health professional. They are trained to help you deal with the pain of your loss and deal with any anxiety or depression that you may be experiencing, as a result of your divorce.
You need to take an active role in any form of therapy that you may engage in with your mental health professional. They are there to help, so it is important to stay humble and stay open to the experience. Even if it is your first time asking for help in this capacity, it is important to embrace this unknown, in order to heal.
You may have a lot of events that you wish to navigate and a lot of change that you need help processing, so you need to form a list, either written or mental, of the various topics and areas that you wish to cover during your therapy sessions.
There are plenty of other actions you can take to help you post-divorce recovery. Focusing on yourself does not only mean your mental health, but your physical health as well. During the divorce experience, as well as your post-divorce recovery, it is vital that you get the necessary nutrition and improve your health and wellness.
Meal preparation and exercising are two effective and easy ways of improving your overall health and wellness. Doing these things also will help you rebuild any lost confidence and create the best version of you possible.
In addition, many also utilize education and go back to college, in order to open up career opportunities and pursue an entirely new life for themselves. Even if that is not for you, there are plenty of other options to explore, and while you are aiming for the best post-divorce life possible, perfection is not and has never been the goal, which is OK.
Avoid the pursuit
Attempting perfection can bring about the same mental health concerns caused by your divorce, and according to a study from the Harvard Medical School, prioritization is a healthier, more effective way of pursuing goals without eliciting the anxiety that trying to be perfect all the time does.
After divorce, you may not have the energy to pursue perfection, and that is OK. What is not OK is the idea that your life is over because you got divorced. Your life is not over. You have a second chance at forging a life for yourself, and you should allow yourself the opportunity to recover, so that you can move on as a healthier and more whole individual.