Navigating Negative Thoughts and Feelings During a Divorce
Your marriage has ended, and regardless of if it was desired by both parties, amicable or tumultuous, it is common to spend a lot of the time during and afterward — overthinking and ruminating on what transpired. Questions such as “Have I made a mistake?” “Should I have tried harder to make it work?” and “What if I never find love again?” are often thoughts that take up residence in a divorcee’s mind. Despite the social tolerance for divorce, that does not diminish the upheaval it can cause in your life, and that emotional trauma can manifest itself in stressful thoughts and a negative internal dialogue. When you are experiencing divorce, it is important to acknowledge and honor your thoughts and feelings — but it is equally important to not let those thoughts stay with you too long, negatively affecting your life and self-image down the road.
How Do I Stop the Negative Internal Conversations?
- Recognize when you are experiencing Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS)
- Feelings aren’t facts
- Set small, attainable goals each week
Automatic negative thoughts can cause emotions such as depression, anxiety, and feelings of unworthiness. Automatic negative thoughts are tricky things — we often don’t recognize we are having them until we are in the throes of them. Examples of ANTs sound like: “I am not good enough,” “Everyone hates me,” and “I am unlovable.” When we spend a lot of time living in (or believing) our ANTs they start to become core values — the things we believe to be true about ourselves. When you notice an ANT creeping into your mind, immediately recognize it for what it is, asking yourself what is causing you to think like this and “rewiring” yourself to acknowledge that this is not true and verbally saying, or writing down the ways in which it isn’t true is a great place to start to putting ANTs to an end.
Connected to ANTs, we often need to remind ourselves that feelings aren’t facts. This is not to say your feelings aren’t valid — they completely are — but sometimes our feelings deceive us. Have you ever sent a text message, didn’t receive a response in a timely manner and thought to yourself “this person must be mad at me,” or “I am not a priority to them.” As a result, we may feel unwanted, unloved, or unvalued. This is a good time to remind ourselves that our feelings aren’t facts. Looking at the evidence we have to confirm and challenge our feelings helps us to see things for how they likely are. Is that person mad at you? Or is it more likely that they are busy at work, or their phone is dead and they will respond when they have the time to do so? Challenging your feelings alongside the facts that support them can help to eliminate those negative self-impressions.
Part of rewriting your narrative is changing up your routine. It is completely normal to experience grief or depression after your divorce, after all, you are grieving a loss. Setting small, attainable goals for yourself in the weeks after your divorce — preferably goals that bring you joy — can help you to get over that “divorce hump.” Meeting a friend for coffee, taking a walk in your favorite place, or even something as seemingly minuscule as putting your laundry away can bring a sense of accomplishment and joy. As you begin to feel better, continue to set more frequent or more challenging goals, and over time these changes and activities will become automatic and begin to feel like second nature.
We know the toll a divorce can take. Our team is compassionate, experienced, and ready to do whatever it takes to support you in your divorce. Visit our Facebook page or give us a call at 561.430.4121 to begin the journey to the next chapter of your life.