As you navigate your divorce, a pervasive struggle is learning to get your ex out of your mind. Whether it is because of anger, heartache, jealously, or sadness, the emotions surrounding the person we were married to have a way of making it hard to move forward.
Those emotions can creep up on you when you least expect it, especially when the split wasn’t exactly amicable.
So, the next time you start thinking about your ex—wondering why they changed, why they are acting so differently, how they could have moved on so quickly with someone else, how they can be so happy in spite of all of the bad stuff they did to you and all the hurt they have caused—remember the following.
Your emotional energy is finite. Don’t waste it dwelling on your ex.
Think about it—you have a lot of work ahead of you. You are learning how to let things go. You are embracing what it means to be independent and on your own. You are discovering what it means to make decisions that are best for you. You are finding out what living life on your own terms means and how to put yourself first for a change.
That’s a pretty awesome to-do list because it focuses on your recovery and taking your life back. So, where do the following thought patterns fit in with your recovery?
I get so angry thinking about how my ex screwed me over with savings and retirement and now he says he can’t pay spousal support. What a pile of crap!
I’ll admit it…I’m envious that my ex is getting married again and they want our children in the wedding party. Are you f*cking kidding me?!
I’m so worried about my ex—he’s been so depressed since I told him I couldn’t be married to him anymore. He calls me every day to say how sad he is. I feel so guilty!
Hmmmmm. I’m having a hard time figuring out where those thought patterns fit.
And do you know why it’s hard figuring out where they fit into your recovery?
Trick question! None of those thought patterns fit into your recovery, because dwelling on your ex does not help you.
Investing your energy worrying about what your ex is doing or harboring resentment of the crap they pulled on you means that you’re only hurting yourself. You’re only slowing down your own recovery. And you’re taking away the gift that this divorce has given you—the gift of a second chance.
You deserve better than that.
Need some help? Take a look at the exercise below!
Exercise: Ex out, your awesomeness in.
The next time you catch yourself thinking about your ex, do this simple exercise. Or, you can even be proactive about it. Even when you’re not thinking about your ex, this is still an amazing shift in your thinking that will help with your divorce recovery. To get you started, take a look at my examples below!
Step 1: Ask Yourself: How does this thought pattern help in my recovery?
This step is the first in decreasing the emotional energy you spend thinking about your ex. And the more mindful you become of asking yourself this question whenever thoughts of the ex start to drag you down, the more in-tuned you can become to letting that negativity go. So let’s take a practice run.
My son mentioned my ex’s new fiancée and it really angered me.
I heard that he’s driving a new sports car but he says he can’t pay alimony. What the heck?
Wait—how does feeling angry help ME?
Hmmmm. Thinking about the ex doesn’t help me. I am going to acknowledge that I heard the information but then just stop there and not spend my energy thinking about it.
Step 2: Write Down: What can I try instead?
When you become aware of the negative emotions when thinking about your ex, direct that emotion elsewhere—specifically to something positive and healing for you.
I recognize this anger I feel when hearing about my ex. Instead of letting that anger get to me, I am going to flip the switch and channel those emotions into something that serves me.
The next time I realize I’m thinking about my ex, I instead will look forward to all the great stuff going on in my life. I am going to look forward to my yoga class this evening instead of think about my ex. I am going to spend the 15 minutes I’d spend stewing about my ex and spend that time playing with my dog and his silly squeaky toys. I am going to watch that hilarious YouTube video. I am going to write in my gratitude journal instead…
See what I mean? There’s literally dozens of other awesome things you can spend your emotional energy on that will help your healing, so rock the hell out of those.
Granted, switching this frame of mind may not happen overnight, and it certainly comes with practice. But the more mindful you are and the kindness you show to yourself in the form of channeling those bad feelings into something that’s actually good for you, the less stressed you feel.
Martha Bodyfelt is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach® whose website Surviving Your Split helps readers gain clarity and get their confidence back so they can move on with their lives. For your free Divorce Goddess Recovery guide, stop by http://survivingyoursplit.com/ or say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.