Survival Tips After a Divorce:
The Pitfalls of Advice
By Susie and Otto Collins
If you are going through-- or have recently experienced-- a
divorce, you probably have a lot happening in your life.
There might be decisions to make and certainly transitions
to adjust to.
It's likely that, at least some of the time,
you feel overwhelmed by the changes in your life as well as
any difficult emotions you might be feeling.
Your friends and family probably want to do anything they
can to help you during this time of your life. It's probable
that many of them are offering you suggestions.
Sometimes it's hard to resist giving advice when you observe
a person in a situation that appears to be similar to one
Pregnant women are particularly prone to
receive unsolicited anecdotes and recommendations. People
going through a divorce also tend to face a barrage
of suggestions from well-meaning friends, family and even
Of course it can be useful to learn such things as the name
of a good attorney or therapist. Unfortunately, though, much
of the advice that is offered around the topic divorce isn't
useful or beneficial to the recipient.
A whole lot of the
suggestions given relate mostly to the other person's
specific situation and his or her particular
point of view.
It's highly likely that this type of advice contains a
large dose of the anger, resentment and bitterness that this
person still may carry around.
Let's face it, more anger,
resentment and bitterness are probably things you don't need
more of right now!
Well-meant advice may come from someone close to you such as
your Uncle Louie who went through a divorce 25 years ago.
When he finds out that you are in the middle of a divorce,
he may call you with condolences and-- you guessed it-- his
Quite quickly into your conversation, Uncle
Louie's supportive words and assurances that things will
work out ok for you flip into a different tone.
He ends up spending most of the time on the phone with you
spewing perceptions of women, how "loose" and unreliable
they are, and how you are better off without them-- all
beliefs stemming from his own divorce and past marriage.
Pretty soon, it feels to you like it's Uncle Louie who needs
Needless to say, you hang up the phone and
feel even more overwhelmed and dismal about the state of
your own life than before.
We don't doubt that Uncle Louie and your own family and
friends truly want you to feel better and bounce back from
this difficult experience as best you can.
If it feels
helpful to you, then go ahead and receive the offered love
However, we encourage you to pay attention to
the moment when the "observations" and advice don't serve
When the tone of the conversation turns in a direction that
does not feel beneficial to you, we suggest that you
politely change the subject, thank the person for calling
and end the call, or in some other way move away from the
Be as seemingly selfish as you can be. Healing can
best happen when you care more about your well-being and
less about humoring Uncle Louie's rants.
Try these tips when you begin to feel overwhelmed by divorce
Tip #1: Tune in to you
Remember to stay tuned in to you. You may have a lot of
thoughts percolating in your head right now-- questions,
beliefs, decisions, even images of the future you want.
might also be experiencing confusing and conflicting
Advice offered by someone you trust and care
about can appear to be the lifeline you need to emerge from
all of the confusion. And it could be.
When you regularly take time to go within and check on how
you are feeling and become clear about what's true for you
right now, you can actually be your own lifeline.
appreciate Uncle Louie's well-intentioned call. And you
can also use your own inner guidance as your main source of
When Louie's words stop being helpful to you, you
are allowed to shift the conversation. By staying tuned in
to you, it will be clear when the advice does not feel good.
At that time, perhaps you could thank Uncle Louie for his
words of support, change the topic, or gently end the call.
Tip #2: Give your attention only to what feels good
It doesn't matter if you are listening to a dear friend's
recommendations, selecting a book or website, or even
watching television, be choosy about what you give your
Ask yourself if what you are hearing is
offered with love and then make note of how it makes you
If you find yourself feeling hopeful and encouraged by what
you are hearing, then keep paying attention. However, when
the talk turns in a direction that takes you toward more
hurt feelings, you can make a shift.
For example, if you stumble upon a divorce-related website
in your internet searches and the chats or content centers
on dismal statistics about infidelity, how to "get back at"
your ex, or even how to spy on your mate to be sure he or
she isn't cheating, click to another site and quickly.
Whether or not you experienced infidelity in your
previous marriage doesn't matter. Tuning in to someone
else's hurts in this way will not help you move toward ease
from your own pain.
Right here, right now there is a multitude of information
available to you. But you have to find a way to cut through
your fears and hurt feelings to get to this valuable
Practicing tuning in to your feelings and becoming
clear about what you know to be true at this time is a great
way to access that beneficial information.
From this place, you can sift through the advice and
suggestions and make clear decisions about what's right for
Above all, be gentle and loving with yourself.