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From A Divorce Recovery Coach: How To Follow Your Heart After A Split

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~ August, 2021 ~

After your divorce, you may be tempted to follow your heart, quit your job, and do all of the things that you’ve seen in movies.

But if you’re like most divorced women, you’re probably still stuck in the same routine. The same unfulfilling job. Still looking at the same drab online dating profiles.

You’re waiting for your life to get better, but nothing seems to be happening.

You wonder if it’s just you. Is it your fault that you’re not following your heart?

And as the months and years go by after your divorce, you start to question yourself.

Are you just being lazy?

Or a coward?

Is your life meant to be like this? Just going through the motions day in and day out for the next few decades? Will you ever feel fulfilled again?

If you’re panicking right now and scared, I have good news for you.

It’s not your fault that you’re stuck. And you can break out of it, follow your heart, and start living the life of your dreams.

There are three hidden barriers that are keeping you from following your heart right now. And as soon as you knock those barriers down, you’re going to be unstoppable.

Society will try to stop you.

Our toxic work-obsessed society/Puritanical work ethic will tell you that you “can’t” do it

Look, there’s a lot of things I like about our society and culture. I like that we invented Netflix. And that you can find a great ’80s station nearly anywhere in America. But there is a shitload in our culture that is pure garbage. And we see that as divorced women in the workplace.

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 if that doesn’t align with being a workaholic, answering emails at 11:30pm and answering our bosses at the drop of a hat.

When you’re trying to follow your heart, our work culture and society says that we can’t walk away from a decent-paying job because that would be unprofessional.

If we follow our hearts—especially if doing so means we walk away from our jobs–then we’re seen as some floozy hippie.

Have you struggled with this barrier when trying to follow your heart after divorce? 

I get it. A year after my divorce in 2012, 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 over the years in jobs that they hated–fretted I’d “lost my way,” because I wanted to follow my heart.

You have lived all of your life trying to please others—especially as a professional divorced woman. But now is the time to listen to your heart. Fearlessly. With courage.

Don’t let society and cultural pressures stop you. Don’t let your toxic workplace or pain-in-the-ass boss stop you.

Or gaslight you, making you feel like you’re crazy or wrong or stupid for wanting to follow your heart.

Trust your instincts. I know it’s been silenced for years, but dig in and listen to it.

There’s a reason you’ve been thinking about following your heart, whatever that path leads you. Listen to it. And f*ck whatever society says you should or shouldn’t do.

Fearless Mindset Shift: The toxic workplace culture and Puritanical ideas of this country 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. 

Your own self-doubt will try to stop you. 

When it comes to following your 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.”

Or, “I shouldn’t try to ride my bike without training wheels again, or else I’ll fall and my siblings will tease me.”

In my non-stop efforts as a child to be 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 will think it’s my fault.

Do you remember going through something similar?

That self-doubt didn’t leave as we got older, either. It turned up everywhere.

It showed up in high school when you tried to fit in with the cool crowd.

Or in college when, if you were anything like me, over analyzing every single thing I did, hoping to get the attention of some mediocre guy who’s probably posting a picture on the dating app right now of him holding a fish.

Did you ever doubt yourself in your marriage?  Especially if you were married to someone who was a narcissist, or a cheater, or just an asshole. 

Those experiences may have built up your self-doubt to a point that even if you’re divorced and professionally successful and you have great friends, you still doubt yourself.

So it’s definitely a barrier to following your heart.

When you try to do something bold and fearless and 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.”

That self-doubt can keep you from following your heart.

It can stop you from harnessing your 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, I want you to 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. 

Your family with “good intentions” will try to talk you out of it. 

Ah, family.

While they (family) probably supported you and offered a shoulder to cry on during the worst days of your divorce, some of their unsolicited advice as you 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 image 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.

So when I expressed to a few family members (siblings, some aunts, some cousins), that I felt ready to get back out there, the barrier I was met with was,

“Aren’t you moving kind of fast?” 

“Maybe you should go back to church. It will make you feel better.” 

“You know we care about you and are just trying to help.” 

Are you experiencing the same thing with your family?

If you say that you’re going to set up an online dating profile, your sister may raise an eyebrow, make a face, and say, “Are you SURE that’s what you want to do?”

You may have summoned up the courage to sell your old house (the one you and your ex shared) and you want to get something small in the country so you can finally get some horses, and your brother my quip, “You’re going to be lost out there. You’re a city girl,” or some sexist BS like that.

It can feel difficult as hell to follow your heart and summon the courage to live the post-divorce life of your dreams when your family seems to be getting in the damn way. The next time they try to stop you, 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, you will soon see those barriers disappear.

Listening to your heart will become effortless. And the fearlessness you deserve in your post-divorce life will come as easily as breathing.

A version of this article appeared in scarymommy.com

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scarymommy.com

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