How to Free Yourself After Divorce by Letting Go Despite the difficulty, letting go is an essential part of a healthy divorce healing journey.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Letting go is one of the most important keys to healing after divorce, but it may be difficult to grasp the true meaning and how to get started. Letting go means diving deep into how to be the best version of oneself to live a life full of joy.
While the discovery of what is needed to live such a life is step one, the next step involves figuring out which connections prohibit the self from opening to happiness. The connections themselves do not "make" us incapable of being happy; rather, our acceptance of the infusion of negativity or false beliefs leads to stagnation instead of growth.
There are four ways to let go to heal from divorce.
1. Letting go of people
This is what most people envision when they imagine letting go. It involves looking at the people in one's life and determining whether there are toxic connections — those who continuously bring negativity into a relationship. Such people usually want others to adopt their views and beliefs as to what is "right" when it comes to healing after divorce instead of supporting individual beliefs as to how the healing process should look. They also may constantly complain and see things from a pessimistic viewpoint. Both can create emotional exhaustion, often leading to self-doubt and negative feelings.
It is worth noting that all people have difficult moments, weeks or even periods where they may not be their most positive selves — this does not necessarily make one toxic to be around. Communicate with those whose energy doesn't feel right by letting them know that although you are hoping they heal from their own tough times and send positive energy their way, it is not a good time to get involved while trying to heal oneself. If they are gracious with your request, then these are not people who need to be let go. It is really a judgment call, so trust your intuition by noticing how you feel when around people in such situations.
The best way to compensate for those we may need to let go of to move forward in the healing process is to establish the right support networks. We do this by connecting with those who have similar experiences and enjoy doing the things we love to do.
It is important to meet these types of people, so signing up for a fun class or joining a group that engages in fun activities is a great way to start. The more you connect with positive people, the better you will feel, allowing you to open your heart more so you can process and move on.
2. Letting go of concepts and beliefs
We are programmed from childhood that certain concepts and beliefs just are, and these can be extremely difficult to let go. For example, society, culture, religion and familial values often portray divorce as wrong, bad or unacceptable. When we decide to divorce, we may feel guilty because these "rules" have been ingrained into our minds practically our entire lives. It takes courage to get past this and realize that no one can dictate our own rules but US, and also to realize that to find true happiness and create a new life after divorce, we need to trust our instincts.
The bottom line is that sometimes relationships, including marriages, cannot be fixed. Society is becoming more accepting of this fact, as is apparent from new belief systems and choices relating to divorce that are not as stressful and are getting a lot of recognition, like Conscious Uncoupling.
Presently there is still a lot of negativity surrounding divorce, and to heal, we need to let those concepts go. If there are people in our lives who will not allow this to happen and cannot stop with the negativity and statements about how you "failed" your spouse, family or marriage or "shouldn't" be divorcing, those people may need to be let go as well.
To start healing, it is essential to eliminate negative stories or belief systems and replace them with uplifting versions. The more we tune into positivity, the more we can envision and thus create a beautiful new life for ourselves.
3. Letting go of situations
This form of letting go involves taking ourselves out of situations where we are subjected to negativity, shaming or blaming. For example, someone from a very religious background where divorce is seen as wrong may not want to go to a family reunion while going through or upon completion of a divorce due to fear of being judged and shamed. Standing in one's truth to express the intention to stay upbeat while healing allows the opportunity to bow out of an uncomfortable situation politely. Family or friends may be upset, but it is ok to put yourself first.
Similarly, joining a divorce group can have the opposite effect of healing when the participants focus on negativity – like complaining about their divorces and ex-spouses. Stay clear of groups that do not focus on positivity because energy levels will be affected, and healing will be challenging if we don't surround ourselves with positive people and situations.
4. Letting go of patterns of behavior
Similar to letting go of situations, patterns of behavior often come from beliefs and can be part of how we were raised. If one is feeling negative, down or lacking in self-confidence, behaviors may form that do not best serve the healing process and creation of a new, happy life. For example, negative feelings about divorce (instilled within society, culture or religion) may lead to confidence issues, anger, sadness, depression or other negative emotions.
If such feelings cause one to stay at home and not seek support networks, eat healthy or exercise, such behavior patterns can make healing a challenge and even bring the onset of illness and physical or emotional pain, or any combination of these.
Similarly, negative feelings and behaviors can create a pattern of choosing the wrong people as part of one's support network. This pattern of behavior makes the healing process difficult and often impossible. The right attitude and the right people are a crucial part of healing, and letting go of unhealthy patterns can lead to healthy changes emotionally and physically.
Despite the difficulty, letting go is an essential part of a healthy divorce healing journey. Putting personal needs first, without worrying about the effect letting go may have on others, allows one to stay strong and focus on the work needed to get through the challenges. It becomes easier to understand that letting go is only temporary (unless a decision is made to the contrary); none of us need to carry negativity from outside sources on our shoulders, especially when recovering from a trauma like a divorce.