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How to Cope With Divorce without Turning to Social Media

How to Cope With Divorce without Turning to Social Media

Couples embarking on marriage love the feeling of connection as they choose to build lives together.

Partners of a divorcing couple, on the other hand, get slammed with a sense of disconnection and loneliness. Now that our communities live online, it’s no wonder so many divorcing partners vent their anger, insecurity and anguish on social media.

We’re here to say:  don’t do it.

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Social networks not only contribute to the decision to divorce, they also impact divorce settlements, including child custody decisions. Recently, Facebook has provided evidence for petitioners and defendants documenting marijuana smoking and participation in other illegal activities. Petitioners claiming they were home with the children have been caught in lies when photographed at out and about at certain venues at specific times. More frightening, psychologists and other experts now search for evidence of personality disorders, drug and alcohol use and more in the personality profiles and timeline posts that social media users create for themselves. One post or profile appearing on the Internet can forever be retrieved, even if deleted.

Facebook Really Isn’t Your Friend Right Now . . .

. . . nor are the other social media networks.

First of all, keep in mind that you may have been still married when you first signed up. The number of friends the average Facebook user can boast is 338 (but the median is 200) and 15% have over 500 friends.  Who can keep track of that many people? You’ve probably accrued friends who, since your separation, count themselves more as your ex’s friends. Posting your activities and ideas on Facebook can be like sending a letter directly to your ex and his or her attorney.

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A post on Lifehack explains:

“While Facebook can feel like a forum of friends to whom you turn for sympathy and support, it can also be a trap. Extreme emotion, fatigue and alcohol and render reality in all kinds of exaggerated shapes and colors. Do yourself a favor and find another way to vent when in these conditions.”

It also contains a list of do’s and don’ts, including “turn off location indicators” that could prove your whereabouts. Keep in mind that you ex, the judge and even your attorney are watching you. Don’t hand them the binoculars!

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Coping with Intense Emotions:  3 Alternatives Far Superior to Facebook

Have we scared you?

Despite the stern warnings we’ve delivered above, please understand that we understand the need to feel connected.  Facebook proved a popular tool for divorcing couples to use for handling immediate pain. But popular tools are not necessarily effective. Understanding why Facebook tempts so mightily helps prevent giving into the temptation. While emotions may be ruling you right now, please take the time to carefully read the next few paragraphs. It should only take you a few minutes.

Married couples enjoy the support not only of their own friends and families of origin but those of their spouses. It’s only human nature to long to be in a network or social group. Newly single people dread the descent into isolation. Further, no matter how strenuously they assert that the divorce had to be, they’re usually plagued by self-doubt, not only about the decision to divorce, but about their role in the failure of the marriage, their chances of finding another life partner and even their own worthiness.

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Therefore, they look for the reassurance of their communities. With long work hours followed by more shifts performing child and home care, much of our communities have shifted online. Many of us touch base with friends and family several times a week, daily, and even several times a day through Facebook, Twitter and others. They build us back up in perhaps the worst time of our lives.

Three far more robust and helpful alternatives to venting on Facebook and other social media exist. Those divorcing dwell in a dire time daily that requires back-up and outside support. Consider these three alternatives to reaching out on Facebook:

  1. DivorceCare.org:  This nationwide clearinghouse gets you to a local support group immediately. Once there, they make it clear that friends and family who’ve never divorced tend to share bad advice. Plain English? They’re clueless.

Workshops focusing on the divorce process acknowledge the intensity of your feelings and provide lots of chances for you to share your story and your plans for your new life. Your zip code leads you to groups held in churches (but not affiliated with the church), schools and many other locations. They provide workbooks to help you journal your feelings and a group of people in the same boat to talk to.

  1. Therapy:  With as much pain as you may be in, you risk wearing out your friends (Facebook or otherwise) with your angst, anger and sadness . . . all of which is understandable, heart-breaking and legitimate. Directing some of your emotions to a trained professional not only refreshes you, it makes you a better friend because you’re more available to LISTEN as well as vent.

Most health plans have free or low cost visits to a counselor. Therapists are trained to help you make smart decisions amid emotional turmoil. Contrary to popular fears, they are more problem-solvers than critics. Going to a therapist does not mean something is wrong with your mind or mental health. Even family court judges view therapy as a positive.  Understand that the emotions you’re dealing with will deplete your energy significantly.

  1.      Join new groups, go new places, make new friends:  when you do this, you see that a whole new world is out there for you to explore. Consider journaling as you go. As Katie Couric says, “Life is a series of re-dos.” Re-do-it UP!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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Peter Mueller

Founder of Father's Rights Law Center

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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