No, it’s not your locks. If only it were that easy.
The most important thing that you must change after your divorce is your attitude. Before you roll your eyes and click back to Facebook, hear me out, because this might be the most important thing you hear post-divorce. At least, it was for me.
About 3-4 months after I left my ex-husband, I was talking to one of my friends about the divorce and how I was wronged, how I don’t know if I would be able to trust again, how I wasn’t sure how to deal with life as a single mom, and so forth. I don’t remember the exact circumstance of where we were or what we were doing, but suddenly, my friend stops and looks at me and says, “I know all this sh*tty stuff has happened to you, and you are in the middle of trying to figure things out, but remember, he may have victimized you, but you can choose to not be a victim.” Taken aback, I fell silent and a little embarrassed. Was that really what I was doing? But he did all this stuff to me.
But, as soon as I changed my mindset, instead of wallowing in self-pity and self-righteousness, I MOVED ON. (Amazing how that happens). Now, of course, changing your attitude and mindset about something, like most things in life, is easier said than done. But the hard work, tears, finger-nail clawing out of rock bottom, is all worth it once you look back and see how far you’ve come! The saying, “Anything worth having is worth fighting for,” is absolutely true! So, how do you actually change your attitude about your ex, your crappy situation, the lot that life has handed you? Here are a ten things I did that changed my attitude from being the helpless victim to becoming a confident, happy, and content person.
1. Letting Go
Letting go and working toward forgiveness is one of the hardest parts of this entire process and honestly, I’m only half there. I haven’t fully forgiven my ex-husband, but I’ve let go what happened in our marriage. Like any deep wound, though it has healed, the scars will eventually fade, but never completely. Everything that I’ve been through is a part of me and a part of my story, and though I no longer cling to that part of my story, it is what shaped my life thus far. I’ve taken it and used it to become who I am now.
2. Practicing Gratitude
Every day I wake up and think about five things I am grateful for. Some days are much easier than others, but practicing gratitude is one of the quickest ways to change your mindset and your attitude. One book that really helped me was The Power (The Secret) by Rhonda Bryne. Let me first warn you that the book can be a little “woo-woo,” but the concept of waking up each day listing 10 things you are grateful for and mentally acknowledging each of them is powerful stuff to getting your attitude in check.
3. Changing My Story
We all have the power to change our story and it’s as simple (and difficult) as making the choice to change it. I could have (and probably did in a few past blog posts) dwelled on the “woe is me, he did this and this to me,” narrative and lived the rest of my life just being broken and sad. But I was challenged to pick up the pieces and make something beautiful from the mess. And so I did. Now, it’s part of the story of the road to my success.
4. Reading & Growing
I spend a good number of months hiding from my inner self. I did what I could to mask the noise within by turning up the volume on the outside noise. Parties, TV, entertainment…anything that didn’t necessitate stopping and looking too deep. Growing is difficult and painful, but eventually, I got back to looking for resources that would help me discover more of myself, my purpose, and my life. I began voraciously reading self-help books (I am working on a top ten book list post) and listening to podcasts. I rarely use my TV, but I usually have about four books I’m in the middle of reading. Right now, I am reading The School of Greatness: A Real-World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy by Lewis Howes. I’m working on my vision and goals for the next 6-12 months and working toward greatness. I would never be moving anywhere near greatness if I continued to allow myself to be the victim.
5. Challenging Myself
I’m not gonna lie. It was super easy to let myself live it up for the first year after I left. I did nothing but eat and drink and hang out for the latter part of the week when my daughter wasn’t with me. I had no goals other than enjoying life and not thinking. I became pudgy and lethargic, avoiding reality. I did the bare minimum at work and hated being there because it reminded me of my former life. That all started to change in July 2012, about ten months after I left. Under the encouragement of my friend, I began to write, starting with this post here. From there, I challenged myself to blog every single day – the very blog you are reading now. This blog gave me not only an outlet but a purpose.
6. Finding My Purpose
It took me almost four decades to figure out what I wanted to do in my life, and when I finally figured it out, it seemed so anti-climactic. I still have all the little details to sort through, but the process of seeking and looking inward to discover the purpose for my life had a huge impact on the change in my attitude.
7. Serving Others
When you are thinking about and helping others, it’s difficult to wallow in the “poor me,” mentality. There is always someone less fortunate than you and helping them keeps your mind off you – the divorce, the affair, the single mom life – and everything you’re going through.
8. Taking Care of Myself
As I mentioned above, I partied. I drank a lot, I ate terrible food at terrible hours, I barely slept, and I didn’t really care. On the outside, I looked just dandy – nails were done (by myself, because who can afford mani-pedis on a single mom salary?!), hair was curled, makeup done and clothes looked nice. It was my inside that was a mess. And the funny thing? Once I began taking care of my inner self, I stopped caring so much about how my outward appearance looked. I now spend most days in workout clothes (at least they are clean), hair in a bun and no makeup.
9. Surrounding Myself With The Right People
A wise, wise man, Jim Rohn, whose books and lectures really helped me change my attitude said,
You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Choose wisely.
Those five people have pushed me, challenged me, encouraged me, made me mad, and brought me joy. I would never be where I am today without them.
10. Choosing to be Positive
Just like changing your story (#3), you can choose to be positive. I used to be a very negative person and at times, I still tend to look at the glass as half full. But now I really work on looking at the bright side of things, try to complain less, and be more grateful.
I told you it would be easier to change the locks. But in all seriousness, changing this one thing – your attitude – benefits YOU the most. If you find yourself in the self-pity mode, wallowing in sadness and anger at “what he did to you,” I’ll give you the advice that someone once gave me, and it has changed my life from that moment on.
You can choose to not be a victim. So don’t be.