New Beginnings is the final cornerstone for the Equal Exes programme. To show what it can be like our founder Brigette Jackson has written about her personal journey.
So what have my new beginnings been like?
It’s been one hell of a stressful journey for me and my children over the past 6 years. No one can go through one of the most life altering times in their lives and not get affected – emotionally, physically, financially and work-wise. You feel like you are constantly walking around with a cloud hanging over your head that never goes away…then suddenly one day the sun starts shining, you see the light at the end of the tunnel and your grief, anger, disbelief, pain, denial and every other negative emotion fades away.
Hello to the new me!
I’m now stronger, resilient and can cope with any challenge that comes my way. What used to be a 10/10 crisis is now a 1/10 in most cases. Your old life has ended and you have gone through the no person’s transition period (aka doggy paddling as fast as you can and going nowhere) to a new life. It’s time to redefine who you are and what you want out of your life as you move forward with enthusiasm, energy, hope, a positive mindset, future direction and brand new dreams.
So how can we learn from past relationships and reframe our stories?
When we’re in the throes of divorce or separation, it can be easy to assign the majority of blame to our ex partners. When we do this, we can subconsciously position ourselves as the victim and as a ‘victim’, it can be difficult to move forward. This does not take away from wrongs that your ex may have committed. But in order to move forward in a positive and constructive way, you need take a balanced view of the relationship. To move on, it’s helpful to look at the good and the bad and the learnings you might use in future relationships. Think of your previous relationship and complete the following exercise.
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- What learnings can I take from this?
Once you’ve thought more about your previous relationship, you can start to present a more balanced view and can give specific ideas about how you might move forward from things that weren’t serving you well. When you don’t do this, it can be easy to engage and become trapped in negative talk which can be an unrelenting and damaging spiral.
When you position yourself as a victim, you inadvertently give your ex power over your thoughts and feelings and your ability to move forward.
Consider the following for example:
Instead of saying:
My ex was this, this and this. It was damaging to me and I really don’t know how I can move on. We had our ups and downs.
Try saying this for example:
He/she was great at this but not so great at this. To avoid that in my next relationship, I’m going to try this, this and this.
You can see that the second example is solution-focused and helps to create a more positive and constructive conversation. Those who are supporting you throughout the divorce are more likely to respond better to these types of conversations as it can be easier to help others when they also think of ways to help themselves.
What’s your story and how might you reframe it?
Exercise: Building your best self in 6 lessons
As divorce can be draining, we sometimes lose sight of who we are and the qualities that make us our best selves. Work through the following 6 questions to help you identify your inner strengths and how you might draw on these to help you move forward.
- Think about 4 or 5 people who have had a positive influence on you. Write down their names and identify 2 or 3 attributes that you admire in them. If you can see the attributes in others, the chances are, these attributes are also important to you, ‘if you can spot it, you got it’.
- Think about you among your friends or family. When you are being your best self – what attributes are they seeing in YOU?
- Think about yourself, and being your best self, what attributes are you displaying when you are fully alive and fully engaged? Write these down. Feel free to borrow attributes from the lists above as well.
The next section asks you to look at yourself and some of the negative qualities that might spring up as red flags as they’ll distract you from being your best self. Be honest with yourself. When you deny the presence of any of these, they will perpetuate themselves in your behaviour – essentially ‘what you resist persists’.
4. When you’re not being your best self, what thoughts might you have? Tick those that apply to you:
- I am better than that
- I am less than others
- I have to do it all
- I deserve more than what I am getting
- I must be seen a certain way
5. When you’re not being your best self, what behaviours do you tend to display? Tick those that apply to you:
- Blaming others
- Criticising others and situations
- Need to be right – making the other wrong
- Catastrophising situations
- Being a victim
- Exaggerating differences
6. When you notice these red flags, explore them and think about why you might be acting this way. These red flags act as prompts to go back to that list of attributes identified in question 3 and to remind yourself to draw on these attributes in red flag situations.
Write down 10 words or short phrases that describe your feelings of wellbeing. It may be in the presence of another person, an activity or a physical place (like in nature, at the top of a mountain, in your hammock, etc). Be aware of the energy you experience and draw on this energy to help you out of difficult situations.
Get more help with New Beginnings
Equal Exes Online has written 8 Cornerstones which explain situations that develop during separation and divorce. New Beginnings is one cornerstone.
Go to our Cornerstone page New Beginnings and take the quiz to work out your situation.
There’s also a workbook to help you work out your own needs on the same page.