Shift #5: Shift the Conversation – Help Loved Ones to Support You in Divorce
Friends and family can be a wonderful source of support and comfort when you divorce. But sometimes, their love and loyalty can inadvertently hinder you from moving on with your life in a healthy way.
When you’re trying to make the shifts you need to find peace with your marriage and divorce, your loved ones should provide the kind of support that helps you get to where you want to be. Just as every marriage is unique, every divorce is too. You need to help family and friends understand that you’ve decided to reject the nasty divorce trope so pervasive in our society and have opted for something different.
This week’s guest, Deb Purdy, is here to help you teach your family and friends how to make the inner shifts that will best support you during your divorce and post-divorce journey.
Deb is a transformation coach, speaker, workshop leader who successfully changed her painful divorce story into one of positivity and peace by using several mental shifts. Thanks to these shifts, she was able to design the post-divorce life she wanted and create a collaborative and friendly co-parenting relationship with her ex-husband. Deb is the author of the book, Something Gained: 7 Shifts to Be Stronger, Smarter & Happier After Divorce.
Avoid the Victim Mentality
Well-meaning family members often think that the best way to support you in divorce is by “taking your side” and throwing a whole heap of negative judgment on your ex. Let’s admit it–sometimes this can feel pretty good. Hearing your ex trashed and getting sympathy can make you feel emotionally validated, comforted, and even loved.
But Deb Purdy points out that this type of support isn’t healthy in the long run. Listening to your friends bash your ex or absorbing their “poor you” vibes keeps you in a victim mindset that restricts your ability to break from your past and fully grow into the forward-looking new life that you want. And if you’re actively trying to make the shift toward your ex and guard your inner peace toward them, negativity from loved ones can severely undermine those efforts.
Ask for Active Empathy
Deb recommends steering loved ones toward the kind of support you need by telling them outright. “[Let] them know that you’re going to use your divorce to learn about yourself and grow,” she says.
Help them understand that you’re going use the divorce to your advantage and reinvent your life. Don’t hesitate to tell them that you want to be viewed, not as a victim, but as a powerful person capable of changing your life and achieving your goals. Their best support would be to actively empathize by standing by you and listening as you process without sharing their opinion or judgment.
Some people will have difficulty with this, especially those who provided emotional support during rough patches in your marriage or divorce. In this situation, Deb advises setting loving boundaries. Express appreciation for their support, but inform them that from now on, you’re only going to focus on the good that came out the marriage and divorce. To that end, if they can’t say anything nice about your ex, they should listen the classic adage and “don’t say anything at all.”
Shift Your Interactions
You can also help shift the conversation with loved ones having a hard time making their shift by changing your interactions with them. One of Deb’s clients, Pam, started to move past her anger at her ex, but her brother could not let go of his, which wore her down.
Pam decided to change the way she interacted with her brother to help shift the conversation. Instead of hanging out and chatting as they usually would, they went to the movies or bowling. When her ex did come up in conversation, Pam shifted the conversation toward what she was most excited about in her future.
Remember that you can’t control your loved one’s actions or feelings. You can’t make them get over any anger toward your ex. But those people that are truly committed to supporting you will learn to keep these feelings to themselves and use other means to help you move toward your goal of a peaceful and positive post-divorce life.
Read the rest of our series: “Rewriting Your Post-Divorce Storyline”:
- Use Your Divorce For Positive Transformation
- Shift #1: Culture Shift – Transform Your Relationship to Divorce
- Shift #2: Intention Shift – Decide How You Will Be in Divorce
- Shift #3: Story Shift – Change Your Divorce Story
- Shift #4: Shift on Your Ex – Find Peace in Your Relationship
- Shift #6: Kids are Shifters Too – Helping Your Children Thrive Post-Divorce
- Shift #7: Shift On – Enjoy Your Life Do-Over After Divorce