Surviving Ex-MasIt's that time again. Christmas. The world is aglitter with holiday lights, tinsel, snowflakes and the Man in the Red Suit. It's a holly-jolly time, as snowman Burl Ives once sang. But why are you sitting there with the blues? If it's your first Xmas after a divorce, it's feeling more like Ex-Mas. How do you cope? Here are five suggestions:
Acc-centuate the positive
It's simple math. Divorced plus the holidays equals heartache. It's hard to have a light, positive outlook on the world when your mind is working overtime on the "shoulda-woulda-couldas." "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas," the old saying goes. How can you not have negative, depressed thoughts? How can you help yourself? Psychologists say we need to be aware of our negative thoughts and realize how they are controlling our lives and making a difficult situation worse. Combat bad, negative thoughts with good, positive ones. Thinking good thoughts attracts more good thoughts and the negativity in your life will begin to subside, counselors advise. Also, get outside yourself and concentrate on the happiness of those around you. Ring a Salvation Army bell, volunteer for a food drive, man the lines at a Toys for Tots event.
You are worthy
After divorce, many people feel that they're "not good enough." There is a sense of failure surrounding you, especially when witnessing other happy couples basking in Yuletide cheer. Holidays escalate this feeling. Joanie Winberg, CEO of an organization called the Association of Divorce for Women and Children, advises divorced people to ease up on themselves. "Be gentle with yourself! You are unique and magnificent," she wrote in an online posting. "To see how magnificent you are, make a list of at least ten things that you love about yourself. Keep the list with you at all times as a friendly reminder in case your thoughts and feelings of not being good enough try to take over again," Winberg wrote.
Write a new history
Begin new traditions. Find things to do that don't require you being half of a couple. If there are kids in the mix, relish in them and find new activities you can enjoy together. You are still their loving parent. Love spending time with them.
Be a dreamer (not the only one)
Bitterness and anger post-divorce can rob you of happiness and roadblock your ability to move your life forward. Focus instead on your goals and dreams. What have you always wanted to do? Learn to play the guitar? Take dancing lessons? Learn how to make stained glass? Include your children and make this a family project. It helps all of you become deram-centric. Dreams breed positivity; positivity breeds content.
Believe in yourself
Feeling emotionally wrung out during the holidays makes it very difficult to make decisions. Nothing seems right. Winberg advises readers to "learn to let go and be still." You have to find a stable center, she writes. "Start by using all your senses and focus on this very moment. For example, what do you hear, see, smell and feel? Write it down. If your thoughts start to wander, that's okay, just start again. I promise it will get easier with practice. As I tell all my clients, be kind, gentle and patient with yourself. Honor your sense of right and wrong and believe in who you have become."