No matter where you are in the breakup process, it’s unavoidable.
You know the feeling all too well—that breakup anxiety and stress. 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 in your breakup or that you’re going to screw something up.
You deserve better than that.
See, here’s the 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—or that we’ll completely fail at it. The same irrational thinking is applicable to the divorce process. Most of the time, we’re panicking because we have no idea what the heck is going to happen from one day to the next.
“Is my ex going to change their mind about the settlement?”
“Will I have enough money as a single parent to support myself, but still be there for my children?”
“Oh god. What if this divorce drags out? Am I going to be broke?”
“I haven’t worked outside the home for years. Where on earth will I even start?”
“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 of 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” equals “Something Completely Horrible,” which is just crazy.
We fear the unknown, without really fully grasping that the unknown can actually offer a ton of amazing things for us. Our anxiety paralyzes us because it has hijacked our not knowing the future, the unknown, and has put dibs on it saying, “Oh, because you are unsure of what will happen, that means it must automatically something horrible.”
And you know what, Anxiety? That’s just B.S. 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. We’re 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.
“Kick Anxiety to the Curb” 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 get through those situations, plan them out, and navigate with grace.
You can do the same thing with your divorce anxiety in a few easy steps:
1. Take a few minutes and think about some of the past stressful situations in your life.
2. 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 didn’t see it coming at all, and I wasn’t prepared to look for another job.
After initially freaking out, I knew that I had to get 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 retooled my budget, because I knew things would be tight until I found new work
3. After you are finished doing this with a few events in your life, list the things in your divorce that are causing you anxiety. Be honest and thorough. You’ll find that getting it all off your chest will make you feel better.
4. 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 also feeling that way when I was laid off.
Then, 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 adviser. 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.