Dealing with the stress of divorce by taking action

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Recently while working with a client, I was once again reminded of the powerful connection that exists between action/inaction and our emotional health.

Sally had been dealing with a number of significant changes in her life including a recent separation from her husband, a pending divorce and the possibility of having to re-enter the professional world after devoting years to being a stay at home Mom.

In the midst of these changes, she had been struggling for several months with getting her home office organized. She absolutely dreaded entering the room and did everything she could think of to avoid it.

Fantasies abounded from boarding up the doors and never opening it again, to having the whole room demolished and shipped to the local dump. She yearned for a clean fresh start. Anytime she spoke about her home office you could hear the life being sucked out of her. She felt hopeless, overwhelmed and incompetent.

It became clear through our sessions that she had a considerable amount of emotional energy invested in this room. For her it was not just a cluttered room but a constant reminder of the disappointment she felt in other areas of her life.

After several months of work, Sally reached a point where she was able to acknowledge and accept that avoiding the home office was keeping her stuck. She moved herself into action, picked up the telephone, located a professional organizer and quickly found the help she needed to get the job done. In one afternoon, not only was the room she had once dreaded completely transformed, but so was Sally. She had energy in her voice and a more positive outlook about her future. Instead of feeling powerless she felt empowered. She also realized a couple of important things about herself.

  • When she took action, the other challenges in her life no longer seemed so overwhelming but actually quite manageable.
  • Cleaning the room gave her the emotional confidence she needed to move forward in other areas of her life.
  • Asking for the help you need is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of strength.

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Like Sally, we all get overwhelmed at times by things in our lives that are not quite the way we would like them to be. Maybe you need to take a serious look at your finances but are afraid of what you will discover. Perhaps you are putting off a doctor’s appointment, changing jobs, dealing with issues from your previous marriage, cleaning your own house or confronting a problem you are having with your ex. By moving ourselves into an “avoidance mode” we usually end up feeling more stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated rather than getting the job done and moving on to bigger and better things.

This is especially true when you are going through a divorce or separation. It can be very tempting to let yourself slip into feeling helpless and out of control. However, it’s important to remember that often even the smallest of changes can reap the biggest rewards. Only by taking action will you be able to “shed the dread” and stop expending your valuable energy and positively contribute to your emotional health. So try asking yourself ….

What needs attention in your life?

What are you dreading?

What is stopping you from taking action?

Once you have figured out what you need to do, find some way to get the support you need to take that first step. Just like Sally, you may find that it will make all the difference.

Action challenge:

1. Makes a list of 10 things that are energy drains for you or that you would like to be different in your life. (Remember they don’t all have to be monumental, the key is to choose things that generate stress on a regular basis. If you dread thinking about the items you listed then you have probably chosen well)

2. Choose one item you are willing to work on and write down the answers to following questions:

• What will it take to get this done?
• Do I have what I need to complete this task?
• If not, where and when can I get what I need?
• How much time will it take?
• Where can I get the support I need to get started?

3. After you have outlined the steps you need to take, schedule a time on your calendar to get started. If the task seems too overwhelming break it down into smaller steps. For example, if you need to update financial records, work on one month per evening until you are finished.

Where are you yearning to make a change and what’s stopping you?

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