View this post on Instagram
If you’re like most divorced people, you may assume that your life will have magically improved after divorce.
After all, that is the message many of us have received from our divorced lawyers, friends, and family.
Life automatically improving after divorce is also the message many Hollywood movies and medias have sent.
It’s those kinds of messages that motivate many of us to be bold: to quit our job, put everything in storage, and go live as nomads—be our true, authentic selves.
Yet, chances are, the only thing that has changed is our marital status.
Many of us feel stuck in the same routine after divorce. We wait for life to magically change, but nothing seems to happen. And as the months and years go by after our divorce, we doubt ourselves.
What is wrong with us?
Are we unworthy of the post-divorce life that we see on social media?
When we feel like this, there are three ground truths to remember.
Barriers are actually in place—at no fault of our own—and they keep us from following our hearts after divorce.
The good news is, as soon as we knock those barriers down, we’re going to be unstoppable.
Follow Your Heart Warning #1: society will try to stop us.
Let’s face it—our society is work-obsessed. We have this puritanical work ethic that we can’t shake. And it’s that mentality that says we “can’t” do it. We’re made to feel guilty for wanting to listen to our hearts and live our lives, even if that doesn’t align with being a workaholic, answering emails at 11:30 p.m., and answering our bosses at the drop of a hat.
When we’re trying to follow our hearts, our work culture and society say we can’t walk away from a decent-paying job because that would be unprofessional. If we follow our heart—especially if doing so means walking away from our jobs—it might mean we’re some floozy hippies. But we’re not.
Have you struggled with this barrier when trying to follow your heart after divorce? I get it. One year after my divorce, I quit my high-paying job in the defense sector to go wander around Asia and Russia solo. It was something I had been dreaming of for years, well before I had been married and life happened.
But you wouldn’t believe the pushback I got. People at my job—who I knew didn’t even like their jobs—tried to convince me to stay. Friends who hated their bosses tried to talk me out of doing “something so crazy.” Well-meaning family members—who ground their teeth in jobs that they have hated—fretted I’d “lost my way” because I wanted to follow my heart.
We can’t let the toxic workplace and mentality of others stop us or gaslight us. They can’t make us feel like we’re crazy for wanting to follow our hearts.
We must trust our instincts. I know it’s been silenced for years, but dig in and listen to it.
Fearless Mindset Shift: the toxic workplace culture and puritanical ideas of this world do not dictate my life. I have the power to choose what is best for me. I am smart and strong and will figure it out.
Follow Your Heart Warning #2: our own self-doubt will try to stop us.
When it comes to following our heart after divorce, our biggest enemy is usually ourselves.
Most of us were raised in a broken, toxic, patriarchal society that had us doubting ourselves and feeling self-conscious before we even knew the definition of all those words.
From a young age, I remember doubting myself. I remember thinking, “I shouldn’t shout out the answer although the teacher is encouraging us to because then the other kids will make fun of my lisp.”
In my nonstop efforts as a child to be a people pleaser, I remember thinking, “I shouldn’t say if I don’t like something (how someone was bullying me) because the teacher or my parents might think it’s my fault.”
We deal with this in unhappy marriages as well.
Those experiences may have built up our self-doubt to a point that even if we’re divorced, professionally successful, and we have great friends, we still doubt ourselves. So it’s definitely a barrier to following our hearts.
When we try to do something bold, fearless, or courageous, that annoying voice may say, “You shouldn’t follow your heart. The last time you followed your heart and got married, your marriage failed, and you got divorced.”
Self-doubt can keep us from following our hearts. It can stop us from harnessing our intuition—until now.
That self-doubt has no place in your post-divorce life. The next time your self-doubt creeps in, trying to throw a wrench in your plans to be fearless, we must embrace the following:
Fearless Mindset Shift: my self-doubt has no power over me. I am wise. Brave. Fearless. I make the choices in my life. The bully of self-doubt no longer has control.
Follow Your Heart Warning #3: our family with “good intentions” will try to talk us out of it.
While they probably supported us and offered a shoulder to cry on during the worst days of our divorce, some of their unsolicited advice as we try to move on can be frustrating as hell.
Divorce wasn’t common in my family. I grew up in one of those huge, strict Catholic families that thrived on guilt and shame. And although I had family members who provided a lot of emotional support during the worst times of my divorce, what I found after it was over was that they still wanted to keep me in their heads as the sad divorcee who should be looking for penance and forgiveness.
And it seemed, at least in my family, that the only way to look for forgiveness was to be a sad, guilt-ridden divorcee.
It is difficult to follow our heart and summon the courage to live the post-divorce life of our dreams when our family seems to be getting in the way. The next time they try to stop us, remember the following.
Fearless Mindset Shift: I do not owe my family my happiness. I do not owe my family my future. I have the right to listen to my heart, even if it makes family members uncomfortable. At the end of the day, I have the right to follow my heart and live fearlessly.
Internalizing these mindsets can feel scary. Difficult. But with consistent practice, we will soon see those barriers disappear.
Listening to our hearts will become effortless. And the fearlessness we deserve in our post-divorce life will come as easily as breathing.