The life transition of uncoupling or going from ‘We to Me’ is initially peppered with feelings of fear, uncertainty, ambiguity, and sadness until one day it becomes one of freedom, growth, and hope. This transition is unique to each person but for women it is especially challenging. Why? Think of living in the Neanderthal day. At that time, women stayed behind with other women, nurtured their relationships, helped them raise children while men went out and gathered food. So, our relationships – how we create, maintain, and sustain them – are the priority in our lives. Our relationships are a critical piece to who we are. Simply put, we are hard-wired for connection. And although we have advanced, the primitive part of our brain hasn’t changed all that much. So, the loss of attachment through uncoupling can be devastating and because of that, this life transition, in particular, is challenging.
Further, when our significant relationship dissolves, women are more prone to become depressed. We may find it difficult to move forward with our life. We compare ourselves to others which affects our self-esteem and creates greater anxiety, especially as we age. And because our brains produce less serotonin, this also contributes to feeling depressed and sad.
And although we are moving through the uncoupling process, whether we believe we are or not, there is a part of our brain that knows rationally that time waits for no one and we need to take action. So, we can choose to remain stuck or take the steps to become more actively engaged in our life as we go from We to Me. And, although in the moment, it might feel daunting and unimaginable, there are several healthy behaviors you can do that can help you do just that – embrace the single life as you turn the page and start a new chapter. How you cope with your divorce and work to get your life back on track is key. In fact, it is essential.
First, breathe. And then breathe again. As you begin to visualize yourself as a single person, incorporating these new behaviors and strategies will help you achieve your ‘end game’, on that you have actively created for yourself.
As a couple, you made decisions together. Now, you have the opportunity to really get to know yourself – your likes, dislikes, and preferences. What are your interests? How do you want to live your life? This can be a time of great self-discovery, insight and self-exploration of living your life on your terms. Take a solo trip, or travel with friends. Want to stay in on a Friday night? Go ahead! Your time is your own now.
When a marriage ends, importance is placed on not only went wrong, but what are your strengths? We all have them. Learning to accept and take responsibility for the role you played in the divorce and the demise of the relationship – and what you did not, is critical. The goal? Accept and learn from your mistakes and actively engage in taking the steps to correct them. This encourages growth and thriving. Introspection is key and provides the new lens for this next chapter up until this point in your life. This means examining the qualities, values, and lifestyle you are looking for in your next partner, should that be the path you choose.
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Although it’s often recommended by professionals that people wait a year after their divorce to get grounded and feel centered, there really is no magic answer. Some people need longer and some need less time. It really is an individual decision and much depends on your specific circumstances. Yet, despite the timeline, learning how to be alone and building a new relationship with yourself is critical. Don’t allow fear to be the driver in your life by embarking on an unhealthy relationship. Start a relationship only if you are ready and for the right reasons and not the wrong ones.
Moving through the uncoupling process and learning to embrace your singlehood is a process. Your process. So, getting to the place where you can embrace the single life often means changing your mindset to reinforce that. Knowing that we need to change and shift how we think of ourselves. For example, if we choose to stay in the mindset of everyone is coupled up or I am the ‘outsider’, we will miss the opportunities, growth and greater insight we would garner that’s hiding in plain sight.
Leaning on others helps sustain our relationships and at the same time, provide the love and support that will help guide us. Whether it be with family, friends, colleagues, or simply joining groups of like minds, women ‘tend and befriend.’ Learn to be okay accepting support from others. It will get you where you need to be sooner and in healthy ways. It also provides you the opportunity to ‘get away from yourself’ and giving ourselves a break from thinking about our situation so you can eventually move forward in your life.
Life is different as a single person but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun and fulfilling. More people today choose to remain single, and thoroughly enjoy the single lifestyle. Advantages of not having to ask someone how to spend their money or lifestyle choices can be very empowering and fulfilling. Learn to embrace the good things that being single can do for you. Take time to enjoy yourself and laugh often!
The biggest problem for women is negative self-talk. It can bury you and turn sadness into hopelessness. Women are highly self-critical. It starts in childhood and leads to low self-esteem, guilt, and shame. Self-criticism and the “should haves” totally undermine self-esteem and happiness, and can immobilize you with doubt, fear, and guilt. Pay attention to your words and notice how what you say to yourself. And use your voice! Being assertive and autonomous is related to greater self-esteem. Because if you suppress your anger, that anger has to go somewhere and often leads to an increase in depression.
Being single is a great time to rethink your priorities and focus on what you really want to achieve. This is very empowering and helps create a path of self-development, personal goals while taking action to achieve them. Remembering that being in a negative relationship is emotionally and physically draining. By making yourself a priority, you are setting yourself up for your new path.
Managing feelings is a combination of allowing them to happen, but not dwelling on them. Being mindful of your feelings allows you to acknowledge and accept them and let the emotion pass. That’s the best way to release them. If you are feeling blue or sad, do something that encourages happiness or pleasure. Take action. Change your scene. Change your state of mind. Do something creative, exercise, journal, or connect with a friend. Before you know it, your mind will be elsewhere and your sad feelings have started to dissolve.
In the end, self-care and compassion, being kind to yourself, accepting the roller coaster ride of embracing your new single life goes a long way to feeling good about yourself. You are able to create your own happiness. By accepting reality you will learn how to move on and create the next chapter in your life.
We are the sum of our choices. Choose wisely.
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