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Don’t Let Divorce Define You

The negative self-talk is how you may be projecting yourself to the world. Those words become empowered and that is who you become. Learn to move past this!
(3 min 36 sec read)

Hon. Sherrill Ellsworth (RET)
Judge Ellsworth was one of the court's most respected and admired bench officers. She retired from the bench to focus on having a greater impact on today’s families by making our courts more accessible, effective, and efficient.

I am a divorced mother of three…

I am a single dad…

I went through a bad breakup…

My ex is a narcissist…

My life is forever changed…

My Baby daddy is impossible…

Ever since the Divorce…

I used to be married but, my wife cheated on me…

I have been divorced twice

I am a victim

I am the bad guy

Without perhaps knowing it, this is how you may be projecting yourself to the world. Those words become empowered and that is who you become.

All of these cocktail party descriptors, PTA intros, or phrases used to define oneself can be restrict you from moving past your divorce. For so many, a nasty breakup, divorce, or separation is a defining moment. We get stuck in these labels and can live very stilted lives based on how we see, describe, and represent ourselves. We are all so much more than our divorce or breakup yet it is the easiest to go to when we pass around the introductions.

By defining yourself in terms of the past instead of the present. The downside of this is as apparent as perpetual as  Polaroid Snapshots capturing the worst moments of life. This photo op becomes a level set using that tragic transformation period of loss as a personal measuring stick, metric, definitive label, and intro. If fans counted the strikeouts, interceptions or missed 3 pointers at the buzzer as the defining moments of Babe Ruth, Tom Brady, or Lebron then ESPN analysts would be missing the totality of the greatness these athletes represent.

That is not to say there is shame in divorcing or a relationship gone awry. Certainly, I personally feel a sense of pride when describing the sacrifices my mother made as a single mother when raising her three daughters; almost a badge of courage or honor. That same honor language describing an obstacle that has been overcome can be a pitfall for languishing in the “fall” or fail, as well.

Define yourself in phrases that more appropriately describe the who you are, not why you are?

  • Try this on, ‘I am frugal and like to find a great bargain’ versus, ‘I lost everything in the divorce now I am one step above a dumpster diver.’
  • ‘I have a few close friends whom I treasure. Their loyalty is a great support to me’ instead of, ‘She took all of our friends, they turned on me like wolves. I have like one friend who I sort of trust.’

Find the measures in life that are positive reinforcing support beams, not wheelbarrows full of self-bashing bricks that weigh down instead of build up.

  • I may be 40 years old but, I am graduating from college next week with a nursing degree.
  • I am exercising more and some of my friends and I are going to sign up for this Fall’s Turkey Trot.
  • I love volunteering at our local center for the mentally disabled it gives so much meaning in my life. I don’t have a moment to be lonely when I am serving others.

How you define yourself is typically how you see yourself and your possibilities. If you look in the mirror and get beyond your own stigmas. Finding a good therapist can assist you as you push through these things. Surround yourself with positive people who do not allow events to define them but, rather their own personal belief systems, their deeds, their successes, their contributions, adventures, and curiosity. Practice describing yourself without bringing up the detrimental “D” Day when your life stood still and the vibrancy and breadth of you sucked dry and dusty. Be your own best self, be kind and be patient.

Give yourself positive personal pet names that you use to motivate yourself toward good habits. ‘Come on ClaireBear you got this.’ ‘Digger, get this done.’ ‘Keep climbing, Everest the day is almost conquered.’

Trite? silly? maybe but, simple quiet personal salutations to yourself to get your brain wrapped around the future being so bright you need sunglasses is a simple amplification of positivity. How you see and present yourself is how you will be received, labeled and treated for the rest of your days. You get to set the tone of your future relationships; friendships, professional & casual acquaintances, faith community, and perhaps one day love revisited.

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