7 Pieces of Practical Advice for Letting Go of Shame After Divorce

Carrying failure

After divorce, it is common to experience feelings of shame. That shame could arise from multiple sources, including feeling that you let your spouse or children down or because you are worried about what others may think of you.

Regardless of the reason underlying it, shame resulting from divorce can result in you making decisions that may not be to your benefit, decisions you base on emotion rather than logic. So, if you are experiencing feelings of shame due to your divorce, you may want to consider taking steps to alleviate it. Here are a few ideas to get started.   

1. Seek professional help.

Divorce is traumatic. It can also bring to the surface past trauma. Therefore, your first order of business should be to find a mental health professional to support you emotionally during this time. It may be one person or more than one person. Sometimes, depending on your needs, it is necessary to have both a therapist and a psychiatrist who can also prescribe medication.

Not only can a mental health professional provide you with the emotional support you need, but this individual can also keep your legal fees down. How? By being a sounding board for your emotional issues and a source of guidance for you. That way, you will have little incentive to take such matters to your attorney, whose job is to lawyer for you.

Although the right attorney will exhibit compassion and be able to empathize with your situation, their primary purpose in your divorce is to represent your interests as they pertain to your case. A lawyer is also generally not a trained mental health professional. Consequently, you do not want to direct your valuable resources to an individual who may not be best suited to support you emotionally.

2. Forgive yourself.

Individuals going through a divorce often blame themselves for circumstances within their control and even those beyond it. The problem with self-blame is that, at some point, it doesn’t do anyone, especially the person engaging in the behavior, any good.

If you blame yourself for your divorce, figure out why you are and then see what lessons you can glean from it. Again, a mental health professional can assist, helping you to eventually move forward.

3. Forgive others.  

In the same vein, forgiving others is also critical for moving on with your life after a divorce. When you continually blame others, the one who suffers the most or at all is you. Blaming others for circumstances within and outside their control will do nothing to change the past.

The best part of a divorce is the fresh start it can afford you. However, that fresh start will not be within reach until you can let go of the emotions that do not serve you. If you have difficulty with this step in your healing, a mental health professional can likewise assist.

4. Practice gratitude.

A positive mindset, especially following a divorce, is worth its weight in gold. However, that gold has to begin with you. Meaning, your ability to recognize the gifts you already have, despite any challenging situations which may have served to conceal them in the present.

If you are having trouble identifying those aspects of your life which used to bring you joy, set a pen to paper. Consider devoting time to sitting in a quiet space and thinking about what you have from before your divorce or as a result of it. As discussed earlier, opportunity is one result of divorce to be thankful for, as are many others, including children if you have them, a special pet, a friend, or a relative.

Make your list, visualize it, then say thank you for it. You may be surprised at how empowering saying thanks can be. Sometimes it is in the simplest moments that beauty exists.

5. Find your tribe.

Especially after a divorce and flying solo, you may need some extra support that you may not have previously. So first, acknowledge those areas and then seek out the help you need.

That help can come from multiple places: a mental health professional, clergy, family, friends, and your community. So use your voice and never feel ashamed for asking for even the tiniest bit of help because a little bit can go a long way. Those ways can include a ride home for your children, babysitting, advice about a résumé, or anything you believe will make your life easier today or in the future.

As you will discover, most people will be more than happy to lend a hand. But be sure not to forget to do the same for others whenever you are able. Being a part of a tribe means contributing. This, too, can be most gratifying and boost your self-esteem if it is lacking.  

6. Accept what you cannot change.

Some situations are just beyond control, but the key is recognizing that. Acceptance is freeing. Letting go and then moving forward is a way to nod to the past without holding onto it and remaining stagnated.

Remember, acceptance is not failure. Instead, it is a sign of your growth.

7. Look toward the future.

Stop what you are doing and give yourself a hand because you have already come this far. You got through your divorce — the divorce planning, the demands placed on you during the divorce process, and the immediate aftermath of your divorce. 

Now comes the fun part, which is rebuilding. It will not be easy, that I can pretty much promise. Nothing of value usually is.

That said, there is joy in hard work and seeing the fruits of your labor. Whether it is redecorating your existing space post-divorce, moving to a new home and making it your own, starting a nest egg, returning to school, revisiting your career goals, or becoming a positive co-parent, your post-divorce life is now within reach. The only question left is when you will take that first step to grab for it?

Find a Seattle family lawyer to help you let go of divorce shame and move forward.

At Elise Buie Family Law Group, our team of compassionate and empathetic family law attorneys knows how critical having a positive mindset is when preparing for a divorce, during the divorce process, and once the dust settles. That is why, in addition to our legal services, we offer copious resources about how to build your best life post-divorce. Among them are co-parenting education, estate planning, and blended families. Contact us at our Seattle office today.

STAY UP TO DATE

Subscribe to our newsletters

 
Subscribe to one or more of our newsletters, delivering meaningful insight on topics that matter to you and your family.

FURTHER READING

Latest Blog Posts

If you are getting divorced, you may be worried about what it will do to your finances. Maybe your finances are heavily intertwined with your spouse’s, or you are worried about what your future will look like, given these changes.…

Establishing paternity and parentage is important for many families and parents. Regardless of why you want to establish paternity and parentage, the process has the potential to be confusing, especially if you are unfamiliar with the terms and rules for…

After divorce, you may find yourself living on one less stream of income than you did when you were married and want to find a way to make up for it. Or even if you didn’t lose any income by…

If you are in the process of getting remarried, a prenuptial agreement may be the last thing on your mind. It should be at the forefront of it, however, as it can be beneficial for you, your spouse, and, if…

As a mom of four (now adult) kids, I remember well the flood of emotions that came each time they went to my ex’s, especially during the early days of my separation and eventually after my divorce. Not only was…

The holidays can look much different during a divorce than they did only a year earlier, and the changes can take some getting used to. The challenge is that you have to start somewhere, and in these “newer” moments, it…

You can use Collaborative Law to support your process of creating and negotiating a prenup with your partner.

In Washington state, if you are involved in a custody dispute, which involves difficult questions related to specific needs for your children or serious parenting deficits (such as mental health, substance abuse, or domestic violence), an evaluation service may be…

Apologizing can be hard, especially if you have a contentious relationship with the person you are apologizing to. If you want to have a polite (even friendly) relationship with your ex in the future, though, owning up to and apologizing…

In the same way that every divorce is different, so, too, is every divorce lawyer and the law firms where they work. From lawyers’ individual personalities, expertise, and experience to law firms’ varying cultures and values which provide the framework…