For newly separated and divorced people, the new year can shine a spotlight on how much will be different in the life of the family. This can intensify feelings of sadness, inadequacy and loss. It shouldn’t. With some planning, creativity and courage you really can cope.
Here are some “New Year, New Life” tips:
1. Move your needs to the front burner. Especially if you have children, you may have spent years pushing your needs and dreams to the back burner. Now it’s time to take some time for yourself. This doesn’t mean becoming completely selfish, or shutting yourself away from others, but it does mean taking the time to rediscover and follow your bliss. Do at least one thing that matters to you every day.
2. Let go of the past. It’s time to start the next chapter of your life — and to do that, you need to shut the page on the last one.
3. Gifts from the heart, not from the mall. You may think you really want that new 50-inch flat screen TV, but the joy of having that will wear off in short order. The most wonderful gifts are totally free: spending time with friends and family, and enjoying your favorite hobby/sport/leisure activity. Give the gift of quality time with you to your children, family, and friends. Give them your full attention, and don’t forget to tell them how blessed you feel to have them in your life.
4. Search for happiness within. If you’re still waiting for others to make you happy, you need to cut that out right now! It only works for a very short time, and then you’re left more miserable when it stops working (and it always does). If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside — and if you’re not comfortable spending time in your own company — you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either. Create happiness and stability in your own life before looking to share your life with someone else.
5. Take a tip from the kids. Dr. Wayne Dyer is the author of No More Holiday Blues: Uplifting Advice for Recapturing the True Spirit of Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year, an inspirational little book that offers positive suggestions in a quick-read format. Dr. Dyer says that, as adults, “we’ve come to believe that the holiday season is really only for children … thus only children can enjoy the holidays; adults must suffer through them.” He contrasts child-like attitudes (“I can’t believe it’s over already, it seems like it just started”) to negative adult attitudes (“Thank God it’s over. If it lasted one more day I’d have a nervous breakdown”). Ring any bells? This year, try to recapture some of the joy you experienced as a child during the holidays.
6. Forgiveness will set you free. You need to find a way to forgive your ex — and then forgive yourself — for what went wrong in your marriage. That doesn’t mean forgetting the lessons you learned, but it does mean letting go of the bitterness that’s poisoning your life. Remember: hatred binds us as mercilessly to its object as does love. So forgive, and free yourself.