When we go through divorce, we have a lot of stories we tell ourselves. Mainly, those stories are protective. They help us protect our feelings, our thoughts, and our ‘position’. As we progress through the divorce process, we get to the point where our stories are no longer serving us.
For example, if your ex drops off your kids late, dirty, tired, and hungry, you can choose to stick to your story by thinking, “Why do I always have to be the responsible parent?”. This thinking keeps you stuck in your story of being the victim. Conversely, you can change it to “I’m so glad the kids have fun with their Dad right up until the last minute.” This thinking takes you out of the victim mindset and instead turns it around and frames it differently, without you in the starring role as the victim.
Why Do We Get Stuck?
Limiting beliefs are opinions and ideas that you have that are deeply ingrained in your subconscious that restrict you in some way. Over time, you have thought these things about yourself enough times that you actually believe them to be true. We all experience limiting beliefs, but often it is when we experience challenging life experiences, like divorce, that force us to recognize and address these beliefs so that we are able to grow.
Some examples of limiting beliefs are:
“I’m not good enough.”
“I’m not a good leader.”
“I’m bad at managing money.”
“I’ll never get over this.”
These beliefs will keep you in your comfort zone, which unfortunately also hinders your growth. You need that growth in order for you to move on and begin your new life. To change them, you need to recognize what they are.
Recognizing Limiting Beliefs
>Identify your beliefs. Listening to the negative thoughts in your head that pop up when you are presented with an opportunity like a date, a new job, or a new way of looking at something are the clues to what those beliefs are and how they are holding you back.
>Identify the source. Perhaps it is something you were always told or made to feel as a child. Maybe it’s part of your social circle, or culture. Identifying it helps you eliminate and change it.
>Determine how valid that belief is. Is it true? Is it true about you, in particular? Are there facts that support the belief you have, or are you relying on the opinion of close friends, family members, or colleagues? Questioning the belief and wondering what would happen if it wasn’t true is the first step in being able to change them.
How to Change Limiting Beliefs
>Have an alternate belief. Replace the thought ‘Writing is hard for me,’, with ‘I am a good and capable writer’. Substituting positive thoughts when you notice negative ones in your head is a good first step.
>Challenge your old beliefs. If you have always called yourself ‘shy’, turn that on its head and go out and meet people. Make small talk with the cashier at the grocery store, or a colleague you don’t talk to very often. Behaving in a way that is opposite your belief will help you see yourself differently, and your thoughts will follow.
>Use a mantra. I often think ‘I can do this,’ when I feel like I can’t. Finding the mantra that works for you and your limiting beliefs is another way you can tackle them and banish them from your brain.
The Inner Critic
Your Inner Critic also has the job of keeping you ‘safe’ from new experiences and hard things like failure and disappointment. Ladies, I don’t know how you learn unless you fail. You didn’t just start walking and never fall down!
Silencing Your Inner Critic
>Notice and acknowledge the critical thoughts.
>Recognize you are learning! Don’t beat yourself up for what your Inner Critic is telling you–great transformation takes time!
>Talk back to your Inner Critic – tell it how WRONG you are going to show it it is!
>Ask yourself what would happen if it did work out!
Other Ways to be Stuck
>Confiding in friends who don’t have your best interest at heart. Maybe they are terrified that they will get divorced too and want all the dirty details because of their own fear. Saying things like ‘I don’t like talking about the details of my divorce.” Then change the subject.
-Telling your story to people who are also stuck. Some friends have been there before and need the validation because THEY are stuck. Being a friend in this dynamic means you don’t talk about your divorce with her. You can, however, tell her how you are trying to heal and invite her along with you on the journey. Maybe she also has some insights to share that can help you, too.
-Telling your story to people who will just gossip. Steer clear at all costs. Divorce will also teach you who your friends are. You might want to choose to distance yourself from this type of friend.
As with any personal growth journey, the one that happens to you after divorce is tough. You will need to own your behavior, words, and contributions to what led to your marriage ending. This type of self-inspection can be hard for many of us–no one likes to admit faults! However, once you do, you will be on the path to success in reclaiming yourself and your life after divorce. If you don’t, you will stay stuck. And stuck isn’t a good place to be.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
― Anais Nin
Check out my guide on 7 Ways to Rebuild Your Confidence During Divorce, with real, practical tips on how to start taking control of your story and create the life you have been dreaming about!
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