When your own well-being is taken care of, you will be in a better position to make good decisions for your family and yourself.
Be Kind to Yourself
Recognise that you are going through a very difficult time and to treat yourself with kindness. As you consider a divorce, you may blame yourself for how your marriage has turned out with thoughts such as: “It was my fault—if only I had acted differently”; “If only I was more attractive”; “I am not good enough for my spouse…”.
While it is helpful to acknowledge your role in marital distress and to accept some level of responsibility for your contributing actions and responses, there is no point beating yourself up over it. The reason you blame yourself for may also not be the cause of the marital strain. If you focus solely on your thoughts of blame, guilt and regret, your emotional health can be affected adversely. Here are some ways to be kind to yourself:
1. Do not be over-critical of yourself.
Pay attention to how you may be overly critical of yourself—you can be your own worst enemy at times. Instead, think and speak about yourself with kindness and understanding.
2. Don’t judge your thoughts and feelings
Allow whatever thoughts and feelings you have while contemplating divorce to exist and do not judge yourself for thinking or feeling those things. Simply acknowledge that these are things on your heart and mind. This will help you to create some distance from your thoughts and emotions, and not let yourself be overwhelmed by them. For example, when you notice a change in your mood, you may say to yourself, “I am feeling sad right now” or “I am feeling very angry with …”.
3. Remember that nobody’s perfect
Being kind to yourself is also reminding yourself that no one is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes. It is also about accepting that some things are beyond your control and that you have done your best in the situation. Understand that the highs and lows of life are natural and unavoidable. Difficulties in life, whether they be divorce or other hardships, are part and parcel of life. Be assured that you are not alone in this.
ACTIVITY: SPEAK POSITIVELY ABOUT YOURSELF
We tend to use a critical voice on ourselves.
- Pay attention to the words you use and your tone of voice when you speak or think about yourself over several weeks and write them down.
- Make an intentional effort to talk to yourself with compassion rather than self-judgment.
- For example,
- DO NOT SAY: “I am a failure, I couldn’t make my marriage work!”
- INSTEAD, SAY: “There are multiple reasons why my marriage is in this state now. I can learn from this and find a way to be happy again.”
ACTIVITY: WRITE A LETTER TO YOURSELF
You may find it hard to stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself. Remember that nobody is perfect, and everybody has something that they do not like about themselves or times when they feel like a failure. Try this exercise to see yourself from a different perspective
- List down the negative thoughts that you constantly have about yourself. Write down how these thoughts make you feel as well.
- Imagine yourself as a friend who can see all of your strengths and flaws and is kind, gentle, and accepting of you.
- Write yourself a letter from the perspective of this imaginary friend. How would this friend respond to you? How would he/she convey kindness, compassion, and acceptance towards you and the circumstances you are in?
If you find this exercise difficult, you may seek help from a trusted friend and note how they respond to your negative thoughts about yourself. Additionally, if you are comfortable, consider sharing what you wrote with a close friend as part of practising self-kindness.