No matter where you are in the divorce process, it’s unavoidable — that anxiety and stress. You know the feeling all too well. The fear of the unknown. The loss of control of the life we thought we knew. It’s normal to panic, but that doesn’t mean you have to go through your days worried that you’re doing something wrong, or that you’re going to screw something up. You deserve better than that.
Here’s the thing that cripples us during divorce: when we’re going through something new and unfamiliar, we think that, for some reason, we won’t be good at it, that we’ll completely fail. The same irrational thinking is applicable to the divorce process. Most of the time we’re panicking because we have no idea what the hell is going to happen from one day to the next.
“Is my ex going to change their mind on the settlement?”
“Oh god. What if this divorce drags out? Am I going to be broke?”
“Am I ever going to get over this anger I have?”
“Will I ever find love again?”
We don’t know the answers to these questions or the myriad others invading our thoughts at all hours of the day, and those unanswered questions are what make us anxious. Anxiety preys on our insecurities about what we don’t know. And for some reason, we have been conditioned to think that the unknown is something horrible, which is just crazy.
We fear the unknown without really fully grasping that it can actually have amazing things for us. Anxiety paralyzes us because it has hijacked our minds, saying things like, “Because you are unsure of what will happen, that means it must automatically be something horrible.”
And you know what, Anxiety? That’s just bullshit. Just because we don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future doesn’t mean we’re going to be held hostage anymore, lying awake at night, worried sick about what the future has in store for us.
You, my friend, are going to do things differently. You already have all the tools you need to kick your anxiety to the curb. And with the exercise below, you’ll learn how to do just that.
The Kick Anxiety in the Ass Exercise
This exercise is actually really easy and a lot of fun. Chances are that in your life, you have been though other stressful situations. And I know for a fact that you were able to think those situations through, plan them out, and navigate with grace.
You can do the same thing with your divorce anxiety in a few easy steps. Here they are.
- Take a few minutes and think about some of the past stressful situations in your life.
- Write down how you dealt with those situations. What did you do, exactly? What fears did you have that you were able to work through? What steps did you take?
- Example: I was laid off unexpectedly last year. I totally didn’t see it coming and I wasn’t prepared to look for another job. After initially freaking out, I knew that I had to get busy and that I didn’t have time to sit and be upset. I updated my resume. I subscribed to job alerts on several job sites. I started attending as many career fairs as I could find. I started reaching out to former colleagues to see if they knew of any openings. I also applied for unemployment compensation and re-tooled my budget because I knew things would be tight until I found new work.
- After you are finished doing this with a few events in your life, list the things in your divorce that are causing your anxiety. Be honest and thorough. You’ll find that getting it all off your chest will make you feel better.
- Now for the big leap: How can you apply some the things that you did in other stressful situations of your life to your current divorce anxiety? The connections are there, and they are strong.
- Example: I am anxious about the divorce because I don’t know what to do. But I remember feeling that way when I was laid off.
- Plan: Much like when I was laid off, the only way I can make any changes in the way I feel is if I take action. I feel anxious because I feel unsure, but I won’t feel unsure if I start to plan. So, I am going to start to research. I am going to list everything I actually can do, and then take action to do them. If I am worried about money, I will look at my budget and see if I really need to worry. If I do, I will research other income sources or speak with a financial advisor. If I need help trying to figure this all out, I will reach out for further guidance.
Repeat this step with all the things that are giving you anxiety and stress and you’ll start to realize that there is actually so much you can control. This is your life. You own it. And the anxiety that holds you hostage is something you can kick to the curb.
The Game Plan
Even though it feels like your world is crumbling around you, remember that you can handle this. You can handle it with grace, intelligence, and courage. You weren’t born yesterday, and you have years of experience handling stressful situations. Whether it was moving, managing a sickness, dealing with an asshole boss or co-worker, or sticking up for yourself. You know how to plan, make lists, and handle crises. The key is to apply those same principles to your divorce.
The more credit you give yourself, and the more you remember to draw from your past experiences of dealing with drama in your life, the easier it will be to kick your divorce anxiety in the ass. You’re smart enough and organized enough to do anything.
Featured photo credit: KIA Karate USA via kiakarateusa.com