By Allison Maxim, Attorney |
Blame takes the center stage in many divorces. Parties to a divorce often blame their partners for the hurt and grief they feel, and their partners in turn blame them for their pain. When taking a mindful approach to divorce, individuals learn to recognize these feelings, and use the appropriate tools to manage feelings in a productive way that can lead to healthier results for themselves and their children.
But what happens when individuals blame themselves for the divorce? It’s often easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves. By practicing self-compassion, we can move through a divorce without blaming anyone – including ourselves.
1. Practice Self-Kindness
There is no relationship more important than the one you have with yourself. We all have an inner critic, but when that critic takes the wheel, it can cause us to have a more destructive relationship with ourselves than we do with other people.
Be understanding with yourself. Be kind, and be gentle. Treat yourself as you would treat others in your situation. Remind yourself that it is okay to feel grief, pain, and hurt.
Each time a negative thought pops into your mind, observe that thought for what it is – a negative thought – not reality. Make an intentional effort to change course and give yourself words of kindness.
- May I accept myself for who I am.
- May I give myself the kindness and compassion I need.
- May I be strong and patient.
- May I let go and forgive myself.
2. Remind Yourself that You are Not Alone
One of the main components of self-compassion is “common humanity,” which is the recognition that you are not alone in your suffering.
Many of us feel isolated and lonely when we’re struggling. We often feel like we are the only ones who make mistakes, experience rejection, grieve for a loss, or fail at something we so badly want to achieve.
The next time you feel this way, stop, and remind yourself that life’s struggles are a part of the shared human experience. Right now, someone somewhere is going through the same thing you are, and is feeling the same way.
- I am not alone in my suffering.
- Other people have felt this way.
- Everyone has struggles in their lives.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is another key component of self-compassion because you become aware of your emotions and thoughts, and you learn to simply observe rather than judge.
In the practice of mindfulness, we become observers of the world around us. We learn to accept the moment and our situation as it is, and we learn not to suppress any feelings, thoughts, or emotions we may be experiencing in the present moment.
Recognize that what you’re going through is a moment of suffering, which is simply a part of life. Don’t be afraid to express these feelings.
- I am hurting right now.
- I am feeling stressed and anxious.
- I am in so much pain.
4. Practice Self-Care
When we take care of ourselves, we can better take care of the people we love. Self-care is not selfish, and it does not require you to spend all of your time on yourself.
If you have never practiced self-care, start small by doing one thing to nourish yourself. This can be anything from getting a massage to taking a hot bath or spending some quiet time alone.
Each day, do at least one thing to take care of yourself.
5. Practice Meditation
Meditation has been found to rewire the brain and facilitate changes to regions of the brain associated with empathy, memory, stress, and sense of self.
Just 25 minutes of meditation per day can lead to a reduction in stress and anxiety. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to recognize anxious thoughts for what they are: thoughts and nothing more.
Loving-kindness meditation is a method of developing compassion for oneself and others. It can be particularly beneficial when you’re going through a divorce. This type of meditation focuses on projecting kind and loving thoughts to those around you – including yourself.
If you are new to meditation, you may consider using a guided meditation (there are many free ones online) to help quiet your mind and get you acquainted with this practice. The following books are also excellent resources: Lovingkindness: the Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg and Jon Kabat-Zinn and Awakening Loving-Kindness by Pema Chodron.
Self-compassion can help you get through your divorce without blaming yourself or allowing stress and anxiety to take over. This is important because the way you think and feel affects your behavior, and your behavior may be observed and judged during a divorce or custody proceeding. Make each of these practices a part of your daily routine, and you may find yourself walking away from the divorce happier and more insightful than you were before.