Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Post-Divorce Holiday Tips

If I do say so myself, my tips from last year on managing post-divorce holiday stress are pretty good: Do what you do to de-stress; create new rituals; look good; accept the new; remember why you made the choices you made.

I have a few more for this year.

Acceptance is golden. It wasn’t perfect before the divorce and it won’t be perfect now. Accept that truth. It’s okay to do the best you can. It’s quite good enough because it has to be. If you and your brother didn’t get along well before, you’re not going to get along better now just because you’re divorced and want things to be peaceful and pleasant. If the kids argue normally, they’re going to argue even though it’s the holidays.

Be social. Although we don’t always get along with our loved ones, even for the most diehard introverts, holidays are tough alone. If need be, invite yourself someplace. Friends are usually more than happy to make room for one more.

Money can’t buy you love. Coming into the Chanukah and Christmas spending seasons, post-divorce most of us just don’t have as much as before. The kids can do with less. Either they’re old enough to understand or too young to care about exactly how much money you spent. Your friends will understand if you don’t have as much to give as you did before.

Volunteer. Serving Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner to people in need is a fulfilling experience and one that can make even the most depressing post-divorce holiday warmer and more upbeat. If you can’t serve, considering giving food or money.

Be thankful. It’s Thanksgiving, so be thankful for what you do have. What a great time to start a gratitude journal or a gratitude book for the whole family. And speaking of gifts, gratitude letters are great gifts. So are personalized cards expressing thanks to friends and family for specific things. And so are photo books and other handmade or made-to-order personalized gifts that are not too expensive.

Happy holidays! And thanks for reading my blog.

Say you don't need no diamond ring and I'll be satisfied
Tell me that you want the kind of thing that money just can't buy
I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me loveCan’t Buy Me Love. The Beatles.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Post-divorce Self-compassion

Considering the value of self-esteem is relevant to the post-divorce period. I’ve already talked about how self-esteem can be impacted negatively in marriage, but now we’re all about questioning the very notion of self-esteem. Some people call it self-indulgence.

I like the idea that we would do better to consider self-compassion as an alternative to self-esteem. Adapted for post-divorce, self-compassion involves:

* Being tolerant of the self. Tolerance is about being non-judgmental, particularly in the face of failures. Since divorce is the ultimate failure for many because of their values, hopes and dreams, it’s useful to consider a different view. Perhaps it isn’t a failure at all. Perhaps we do not need to judge ourselves through the right-wrong lens. Acceptance without judgment is a different view. Sometimes, if not always, we’re where we need to be.

* Recognizing that pain is part of the human experience. We need not be isolated in our pain. I’ve talked about the role of friendship and support post-divorce which I think is really important. We are not islands but part of the common humanity. Everyone has their pain and it’s good to talk about ours. We can help others by being there, listening and supporting.

* Trying to maintain emotional balance. We need not exaggerate our failings, including indulging in self-pity when in pain. This is a toughie, but ruminating, obsessing and getting hysterical about our problems is rarely useful. Trying to get a calm, clear perspective and to maintain that perspective without drama is very useful. It involves noticing your thoughts and accepting or redirecting them instead of allowing the negative focus to engulf us. Sometimes input from others helps us gain perspective and feel supported.

So instead of bemoaning that your self-esteem is low because of the divorce, try taking special care to be kind and compassionate towards yourself, and maybe even to others, post-divorce. It’s a goal likely to boost happiness.