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5 Steps to Finding Yourself After Divorce

Anna Khmara

Anna is a certified life transformation and relationship coach with an in-depth focus on positive psychology and transactional analysis. Using her 3+ years of experience, she helps her clients understand the essence of the problem, build self-esteem, establish healthy relationships, find harmony, and manifest their dreams into reality.

Living in a system of the unconscious game, we smoothly flow from one role to another. First, we play as children. Then, we take on the role of independent individuals. Later, we become spouses and parents.

Quite often, these identities define us. However, if the person’s role absorbs them deeply, they become paralyzed when playing the part is no longer possible.

It sounds like a real identity crisis.

After a divorce, this issue is especially relevant. Once family life is over, husbands and wives stop playing their roles of spouses. And the questions arise, “Who am I after divorce, as a single person?”, “What to do after divorce?”, and so on.

Today, we’ll focus on how to find yourself after divorce since looking for your inner self may be confusing and emotional.

However, it all depends on the perception of the situation. Just imagine that now you have an opportunity to explore and rediscover yourself and find the path in life you want.

The first step towards finding yourself after divorce could be this article. So keep reading to get some valuable insights!

Accepting Through Grieving

Rebuilding your life and finding purpose after divorce starts with accepting change. However, you can’t do it without letting yourself mourn your loss.

It’s crucial to understand that both men and women need some time to grieve their breakups. But men tend to skip this process, leading to some severe effects.


The Influence of Divorce on Men’s Health, published in the Journal of Men’s Health, states divorce affects men more than women. For example, men are more likely to suffer from deep depression, physical health problems, and alcohol abuse after divorce. What’s more, the risk of suicide among unmarried and divorced men is 39% higher than that of a married man.

While many women are more likely to take the time to grieve, not everyone can “get the job done” and go all the way from denial to acceptance. Some women can’t deal with their post-divorce emotions and eventually go astray, finding themselves in the same position as most men.

If the grieving process is not completed, a person could slip into acute depression, says Dr. Arun John, executive vice president of the Vandrevala Foundation and expert in grief issues.

Indeed, depression can occur when people don’t deal with their grief properly. If left untreated, a problem can affect every aspect of life, including the emergence of other physical and mental health issues.

In 1969, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, wrote On Death and Dying. In her book, she presented her theory that grief can be divided into five stages. While the psychiatrist initially developed it for terminally ill people, these stages of grief have been adapted for other types of losses, including divorce.

Each person’s grief is different, and not everyone goes through all five stages. What’s more, people don’t always go through them in the order presented below. However, to move on and discover your new self or find the well-forgotten old one, you need to turn the page. And you need to do it right.

Denial of what happened

After a breakup, a person is in shock. They don’t fully understand that their family broke up, the spouse is no longer the spouse, and joint plans have turned into dreams that won’t come true with them around.

As a result, we feel self-pity, and our mind turns on its defense. Our consciousness tries to isolate us from reality, provoking a denial of what is happening. It is a way to cope with the pain of loss.

Anger that can turn into resentment

At this phase, the person realizes that the relationship is over. When consciousness starts to perceive information about divorce correctly, some negative feelings, mainly anger, break out.

The person becomes extremely irritable. They begin to reproach and accuse their ex-spouse and can even blame themselves for what happened.

If you decide to deaden this anger, know that it won’t go anywhere. Your anger will stay with you but in a suppressed form. It will turn into resentment.

Resentment binds you to the person who caused it. So you can get stuck at this stage for a long time.

Bargaining to change what you can’t

Bargaining is more than just trying to find ways to get the relationship back. At this stage, a person often turns on what-if or if-only thinking.

Basically, ex-spouses try to change the past or the reality with their thoughts. However, realizing that it’s impossible, a person sinks into despair.

Depression can make you take a step back

Depression is considered the most difficult stage of grieving. A person realizes that the relationship is gone forever, and there is no hope to get the past back.

You may feel apathy, but it’s different for every person. One can lie on the couch for 19 hours per day. Others find themselves looking at old photos left as a keepsake from lost marriage.

At this stage, the person has no idea how to live after divorce or separation. They are not interested in anyone or anything. If the situation is critical, only a psychologist can help to get out of this state.

If you stay depressed for a long time, you can return to any of the previous stages and will have to start your path to acceptance again.

Acceptance as the ultimate goal

Acceptance comes when you fully accept the situation. Finally, you are ready to start learning to live after divorce. To accept is to let go of the past.

Even after the acceptance stage, you can still feel anger or guilt, but negative emotions will become less intense over time. You should focus on self-love and self-care and restart your life after divorce.

We can compare the whole process described above to the restoration of a house destroyed by a hurricane.

You are the foundation. Unlike the walls, neither fire nor even the strongest thunderstorms can destroy it. Even if your house could not withstand the worst hurricane in your life, you still have an excellent solid foundation to build your new life on after removing all the trash.

How to Find Yourself Again After Divorce: 5 Steps to Succeed

Once you have accepted the situation, you need to understand where and how you want to move on. You can do it by digging into yourself and analyzing your marriage and how it impacted you.

Perhaps your relationship has changed you. Then, you need to understand whether you want to roll back these system updates, in whole or in part. In fact, these changes are not always negative. Comparing yourself before marriage, during it, and after divorce, you may see some positive personality shifts you won’t want to change.

Find Yourself Again After Divorce

Perhaps you have become so merged with your spouse in this relationship that you have forgotten who you really are. There were too many “we” and too few “me.”

Thus, you need to recall what you were like before marriage and understand whether you want to return to that version of yourself.

Scenarios vary, but the path to finding and rebuilding yourself after divorce starts with the 5 basic steps outlined below. Explore them and, perhaps, some of them will suit your case.

Work on your self-esteem

After divorce, many people suffer from a low sense of self-worth. The Charting Self-Esteem During Marital Dissolution study published in the Journal of Personality showed that a person’s self-rating begins to decline a year before divorce and stabilizes only a few years after the divorce.

However, the authors emphasize that not all people can return to their original level of self-esteem. Indeed, it takes a long time to work on building confidence in yourself.

There are many ways to do it, but the one we’ll focus on can be called rationalistic. You simply need to make a list of your best qualities, achievements, and skills.

It’s not as simple as it sounds. So start by writing some basic things first. For example, your list of achievements can begin with a book you read or cleaning your apartment. Then, step by step, you will come to more meaningful things.

Think about what you do well and what questions people ask you for advice. Perhaps they perceive you as an expert in some area. Just ask your friends, and you will realize that you have something to bring to the world.

Reach out to your inner child

According to Eric Berne’s transactional analysis, every person has three subpersonalities: child, parent, and adult. They may replace each other depending on the situation and sometimes can come out simultaneously.

The American psychologist states that the inner child recreates our childhood thoughts and feelings, aspirations, fears, and reactions. They are responsible for our impulses, curiosity, and creativity. This child you need to find in yourself.

As we grow up, we forget about the child in us that knows how to dance in the rain. We stop doing things that awaken hopes and dreams inside us probably because we consider ourselves too old for this.

Searching for that inner child after a divorce is one of the critical steps to finding yourself after separation because it takes you back to the basics of yourself.

Think about what brought you joy when you were a child. What made you feel happy? How did you see yourself in the future? What were your hobbies?

Learn to interact with and hear your inner child because you can learn a lot from them.

Find an environment that makes you comfortable

The environment around us and each person we interact with shapes us as individuals. Therefore, when thinking about how to rediscover yourself after divorce, you should study not only yourself but those around you.

Analyzing others can be easier emotionally than analyzing yourself. But knowing yourself is impossible without knowing the people surrounding you. So, look at your friends as if choosing these people to be part of your life was your conscious decision.

Identify negative people and try to exclude them from your circle, if not forever, then at least for a certain time. Instead, try to reconnect with those who understand you. Their support and sincere opinions will help you on the path to your happy life.

If you are comfortable alone, that’s okay too. Not everyone needs people around.

Create new habits

Ask yourself what good you can bring to your own life right now. For instance, book several massage sessions, get a dog or an aquarium with goldfish, make it a rule to attend opera every Sunday, or attend pottery masterclass once a week. Think about all the things your spouse didn’t want to do, but you did, and finally try them.

You can add at least three new habits to your life right now. Such positive changes will strengthen the basis for your future without your ex-spouse. Realizing old desires and mastering new ones will improve self-image, help personal growth, and make you feel your worthiness.

However, it’s better to choose things that will be present in your life regularly and reinforce your faith in yourself.

For example, after a divorce, it may be a good idea to go on a trip that you have long dreamed of taking. It’s great, but it’s not enough to restore spiritual harmony. It’s as if you take a step towards self-discovery but find yourself a few steps back after returning to your everyday life.

Seek advice from a coach or expert

Many professionals can help divorce survivors find themselves after such a life-changing event. For example, you can go to a personal growth coach, life coach, therapist, psychologist, relationship coach, and many other experts.

Seeking help is a smart decision if you can’t sort out your feelings yourself. And even if it seems you can handle everything without outside interference, it would be wise to talk to a professional because this person can bring their unique perspective to the situation.

One of the benefits is getting an action plan that meets your personal needs because everything is purely individual when it comes to feelings and emotions.

In addition, you have various options regarding the format of therapy. For example, it can be individual or group sessions, even seminars, where you can find answers to your questions, get support from new friends, and learn about effective methods of dealing with negative feelings.

Will New Relationships Help in Self-Discovery After Divorce?

There’s no definite answer to this question. However, if your main goal is to rediscover yourself after divorce, you should focus on yourself, not on searching for a new partner or relationship.

Divorce can shake your foundation and make you doubt yourself. After your marriage is over, you may feel differently. Your understanding of love and relationships may change. Until you learn your new self, it is too early for you to learn about another person.

You shouldn’t rush until you’ve worked through your situation, handled your past trauma, and learned the necessary lessons. By hurrying, you can only make the situation worse.

New Relationships After Divorce

Sandy Weiner, a dating expert, supports this idea and says, “It can be very challenging to date after your divorce. There are many potential obstacles to overcome, such as learning to trust, feeling good about yourself if you’ve been in a degrading relationship, and balancing work, kids, parents, and your own self-care. It’s a complex process and it takes time to heal after divorce.”

No one knows how long it will take for a divorced person to recover from a breakup to enter into a relationship responsibly. Only by reflecting on yourself and your situation can you find the answer that is right for you.

It doesn’t mean that you should forbid yourself from dating. Just wait to do it until you at least roughly understand what you want. In this case, dating and a new relationship can help you find the missing pieces of your puzzle.

Final Thoughts About Finding Yourself After Divorce

In a relationship, no matter how long it lasts, spouses can lose themselves. They adjust to each other’s behavior and live following each other’s interests. But after a divorce, it’s time to think about who you are and what you want from life, not your spouse.

You need to find out what you like and what makes you happy, and learn to look at yourself with your own eyes, not your partner’s. After analyzing and accepting yourself, you will understand who you really are. Moreover, you’ll realize that you are much stronger than you thought.

To fill your life with meaning after divorce, set goals for yourself, define tasks that will help you achieve them, and determine your personal values ​​and priorities. They make up your personality. And step by step, move towards your dreams.


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