When you are in the throes of divorce, it may feel as if you will never feel joy again. Your mind may tend to drift toward negative thoughts -- that you will never find love again, that your actions are inflicting pain on loved ones, that your private life is now the subject of public scrutiny.
First, realize that all of your emotions are perfectly normal. Over 50 years ago, psychiatrists Richard Rahe and Thomas Holmes developed the Social Readjustment Rating Scale for identifying major stressful life events. Divorce was #2, outranked only by the death of a spouse.
The harm comes when you let your emotions totally take over, allowing them to tell your brain distorted truths because of the emotional crisis you are experiencing and stealing your joy. To reclaim your happiness, you need to:
Identify your emotions for what they are.
Your emotions have no IQ. What you feel is just that: a feeling, not necessarily the truth. If you can learn to separate your feelings from reality -- letting your head rule instead of your heart -- you will be able to release the hold your negative thoughts have over you.
Find your truth.
When we don’t know our own truth, we limit our potential by putting restrictions on our lives. Believing that you can have a fresh start, find love again, and accomplish what you dream of is the first step.
Embrace who you are.
Identifying the things that make you truly unique and learning to love them will bring you joy. Divorce can make us all feel unlovable if we view it as a failure instead of what it really is: a new opportunity to live our best life.
Stop doing things that steal your joy.
Divorce can reveal any number of hidden truths, including those we have hidden from ourselves. When you rid yourself of the burden of an unhappy marriage, you can find yourself ready to clear out other sources of unhappiness from your life as well. In fact, your divorce may provide the impetus you need to quit a job you don’t like or distance yourself from people you don’t enjoy.
Start doing the things you love.
To feel joy, you must do the things that feed your soul. Find ways to incorporate some of the things you love into your daily life. Love spending time with your kids? Sign everyone up for a class -- painting, cooking, karate, whatever. Love dogs? Become a foster for a local rescue group. Love travel? Subscribe to a travel magazine, then dream and plan.
Joy can be found in anything and everything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to reach for it. The only person you are fighting is yourself and your obstinacy to engage in a new way of living in the world. Give yourself permission to feel your joy by embracing new horizons.