Change is a bitch, isn’t it? It can feel strange, uncomfortable and scary. I think that fear of change is one of the biggest stressors of divorce. Whether your spouse left you or you left him, change is scary, and probably one of the most difficult aspects of getting divorced.
Even if deep in your heart you know the marriage can’t work any longer, it’s normal to have a fear of change. And, even if you know that staying in the past is most likely worse than facing the unknown future, change is scary. Change can feel terrifying, actually.
Fear of change during a divorce can stem from several things:
1. Going from being a couple with children—a “typical” family to being a single parent.
2. Going from feeling financially secure to feeling unsure you can provide for yourself.
3. Having to be the head of your household—handle big decisions without the support of a partner.
4. Taking off your ring and dating again after being married for years.
5. Getting into a relationship, having sex, and trusting someone after being with the same person for so many years.
6. Possibly having to sell your home and move into a new place.
7. Wondering how your kids are going to handle the change.
8. Going through the legal process of getting divorced with the man you thought you were with for life.
9. Feeling like you might grow old alone.
I have been divorced for 15 years, and I experienced all of these fears when I was getting divorced. So, how do you cope with fear of change?
Here are my tips on coping with fear of change:
I’m actually going to begin a Mindful Breathing for Stress Reduction (MBSR) class in a few weeks. There are so many studies that prove breathing will help anxiety and give you a better quality of life.
2. Relinquish control and realize the things you cannot change.
Maybe you didn’t want the divorce, but that’s something you can’t control. Or, if you were the one who left, you couldn’t control the fact that you married the wrong person or were so unhappy you chose to leave. Things you CAN control are the choices you make moving forward. If you make ethical, rational and well thought out choices, then if you think about it, you have nothing to fear!
3. Exercise expressing gratitude.
If you focus on the things you are grateful for: your health, your kids, your dog, your family, your home, and a million other things, there’s no room in your head for negative thoughts that have to do with fear and change.
4. Keep going.
My dad used to say this to me all the time during my divorce: “You’re doing great. keep going.” I think what he meant was, just keep living, keep doing good things and keep being a good parent and working hard and making good choices and doing the best you can because this change thing is only temporary. Things are going to get a lot better!
5. Find your inner strength and believe in yourself.
Remember where you came from and all of the role models (even if it’s just one or two people) who made you who you are today. Remember that courageous young person who was unafraid to do anything, who was strong and who knew she was an amazing person. Find her. She’s in your heart.
6. Spin the changes.
What I mean by that is, instead of feeling scared or anxious that you are moving into a new house, or that you are single again or that you are going back to work or any other big life change, spin it to a positive: my new house is really warm and cozy and I will probably love living there, I could meet someone and fall in love and be a lot happier, or I could enjoy my new job and be so glad the divorce forced me to go back to work.
Here’s the thing.
Change is a bitch…until you realize the change was the best thing that ever happened to you. And I think most people who get divorced come to realize this down the road-even those whose spouses left them.
I got divorced 15 years ago, and I’ve been through lots of changes since then, but recently, the way things have turned out, I am facing a ton of changes all at once! They are all good, but they are really, really scary!!
I sold my house, I left my full time job to focus completely on Divorced Girl Smiling, my daughter is leaving for college in a couple months, and my long-term boyfriend/love of my life and I are moving in together! I haven’t lived with anyone other than my children in 15 years!!!! Do I have fear of change?! Yes!!!!! But I feel so confident that these are all the right decisions.
Remember that fear of change is very normal, especially during divorce. Most people don’t like change, and do everything they can to avoid it. It’s actually a big reason some people choose to stay in an unhappy marriage. Embrace your changes. They are what was meant to be and they are good for you! I wish you all the best!
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