by Erika Boissiere
For many, the word “divorce” conjures up negative thoughts and impressions. We gasp: “what about the kids? I thought they were happy? There go the holidays.” No one wants to be part of those statistics, but many of us are or will be. So, how do we surpass the social and psychological hurdles of this transition to realize the positive outcomes of a divorce? The decision to end your relationship and get divorced is a difficult one. The process can be fraught with emotional stress and interpersonal conflict. To make things worse, any positive attitudes one may have related to this change are often overshadowed and dismissed as inappropriate or unhealthy. However, cognitive behavioral therapy provides us a unique insight – balancing negative thoughts alongside positive thoughts is a sign of good mental health. If you are considering divorce or recently divorced, here is a glimpse of the bright side of your decision:
Positive Attribute #1: Positive modeling for your children By choosing to end an unhappy relationship, you teach your children an important life lesson: people change. Although change can be difficult, it is an integral part of our natural and social world. By being a positive model for change, you are teaching your children how to cope in tough situations and helping them understand the complex nature of relationships.
Positive Attribute #2: Your physical health will improve Research shows that telomeres, small areas at the end of chromosome strings protecting your DNA molecules, shorten or die off as you age or when under stress. This shortening process is associated with premature aging, cancer and a higher risk of death. However, you can reverse this process and restore these vital cells through improved lifestyle changes and healthier relationship living,
Positive Attribute #3: You will learn about yourself It is common for people to wonder “Why me?” when considering or going through a divorce. This process of self-reflection is a critical step in understanding your psychological make-up and to perhaps avoid the experience again. Entering counseling, talking to a trusted friend, or conducting your own soul searching are ways to truly connect with your deepest inner self and help you transition.
Positive Attribute #4: Your mood will fluctuate, but on your terms Mood management is very hard for some and especially challenging if you are leaving a situation in which your mood was subject to the mood of another person. After a divorce, your mood may fluctuate – but at least it will be your mood yours to control, and yours only.
Positive Attribute #5: Self confidence Divorce can be complicated, messy, and very emotionally taxing. Once you survive the transition, you will feel alive with the confidence that you made a decision to better your life. This esteem will lead to a sense of empowerment and deep self-knowledge that you are in control your happiness.
Erica Boissierre, MFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, specializing in couples, relationships and marriage therapy. She is the founder of The Relationship Institute of San Francisco, http://www.trisf.com