Surviving Divorce -- and Making Your Life Better Than Ever

Step 3:Surrender: Allowing Change to Happen

From acceptance to forgiveness, divorce is a process of letting go. The next installment of this workshop focuses on a difficult but important step for recovery: surrendering to change. This means letting go of the pain, allowing life to move on and, ultimately, helping yourself heal. For some people it happens in the first year after divorce; for others it takes longer. Whether you fall into the first group or the second, the moment you allow change to happen, is the moment your life will start to become yours again.

Why Do We Resist?
It's human nature to find comfort in things that remain the same. This is true for jobs, friendships, marriages and so on. But why do we resist change? We resist out of the fear that if we let go of what we know, we will be faced with circumstances we can't handle. Our resistance is a natural protective mechanism, a shield that we unconsciously put up to guard ourselves against pain. But in the end, resistance doesn't protect us as much as it robs us of our right to heal, especially in the case of divorce.

Seeing Your Progress
When you're in the midst of change, life can be scary. You won't know exactly where your new life is headed. It's an uncomfortable position -- a time when doubts are sure to arise: Where will I end up? Who will I meet along the way? Will I be better off than I was before? Will my pain ever end? But you won't feel so lost and confused if you focus on your progress.

My friend Gerhard compares the process of divorce to his sailing adventures. One day he set off to sail from the land he knew to a small, distant island. For a few hours, whenever he looked back, he was able to see the land he had left behind. But the further he sailed, the smaller his homeland became until it finally faded into the distant ocean. Now he could no longer see the place he had left behind, and the island he was traveling to was still out of sight. Feeling lost, he looked into the water for direction. When you look into the water, you know the boat is moving and you're making your way. The same thing holds true for your recovery. Just look back on how far you've come since the day you and your partner separated. You're making progress every day, whether you realize it or not.



Be Patient with Yourself -- and Your Situation

Allowing change to happen takes patience. If you become too focused on the outcome rather than on the progress you're making, you may panic and miss the fact that you are making progress -- step by step. When you surrender your will and allow change to happen you are saying, "Even though things are not exactly how I'd like them to be, I will face my reality. I will look it directly in the eye and allow it to be here." Choose to trust that there is a greater plan for you and if you allow life to happen as it should, your plan will be unfolded in time.

Surrender is a gift that you can give yourself. It's an act of faith. It's saying that even though you can't see where this river is flowing, you trust it will take you in the right direction.

Healing Action Steps:
This lesson's exercise can be written privately in your own journal. It's important that you bring your full attention to answering each of the questions below. All the answers you need are inside of you; you only have to become quiet enough to hear them. Leave yourself plenty of time and completely surrender to the process. You may want to light some candles, put on some soft music and create a nurturing atmosphere.

What scares you the most about your divorce? Having less money? Caring for your children? Being lonely? Make a list of your worst fears without editing them. The purpose of this exercise is to identify your fears, imagine the worst possible outcome and discover what you could do to turn the situation around. Looking at the worst possible outcome, imagine that what you've feared has come true. Now ask yourself these questions:

  1. Now that this has happened, what do I need to do to be happy?
  2. What steps do I need to take?
  3. Who do I need to contact?
  4. Where do I need to go?
  5. What do I need to change?

When you can be at peace with the worst possible outcome, you will finally be ready to accept change -- and get on with discovering how great your life can be.

Next: A lesson in self-esteem. Be sure to check it out here.

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