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A Happier New Year – 2013

Rachel Alexander Jan. 10, 2013

The New Year brings the opportunity to look ahead with a clean slate. For divorcing couples this can be an ideal time to clarify goals for reshaping their lives and redefining their families. Divorce usually brings with it a sense of disempowerment, alienation, identity crisis, and loss of control. But the New Year – with its tradition of resolution setting and focusing forward – offers a chance to take hold of the reins of one’s life again.

Here are a few suggested New Year’s resolutions for everyone to follow, especially the divorcing and newly divorced:

Set one or two new family traditions.

This could be anything from instituting Taco night once a month, to choosing a book to read aloud as a family. The idea is to introduce some positive, structured activity that is simple to adhere to and can bring the family some comfort, joy and togetherness.

Acknowledge yourself and what you have overcome.

Going through a divorce is treacherous and most people do not make it through unscathed. Had you undergone major surgery, you would take the necessary time to heal and would be gentle with yourself while you were recovering. You would do anything you could for yourself, without hesitation, to support your well-being.

Now is the time to adopt this attitude toward your psychological and emotional self. No harm will come if you stop beating yourself up and lingering on past mistakes. Not even if you silence your internal critic. In fact, doing this will allow you to heal faster and feel stronger as you move forward with your life.

Choose gratitude.

Divorce is synonymous with loss. It can be difficult to feel anything but victimized and afraid. Focusing on what you have – even if it is much less than what you feel you want, need or should have – can be an enormous help. From this sense of having a lot and being thankful for it, you are better equipped to create more. Refocusing is a choice and available to each of us at every moment. Sometimes changing what we focus on is not only one of the most immediate and plausible things we can control, it is also one of the most powerful.

Have fun.

Divorce is the antithesis of fun, so much so that people feel they have no time for or right to experience something as trivial as fun. By making room to have fun – even for an hour a week – – think recording and watching, uninterrupted, your favorite TV show, or taking an evening Zumba class, having a bath, meeting a friend for coffee – – you signify to yourself that you are not required to function in crisis mode at all times, and can begin to inhabit a life that includes enjoyment. Having fun will not be a waste of time, but rather will rejuvenate you and make you even more effective in your more serious pursuits.

As you embark on this new year, I wish you peace, wellness and perhaps most of all, happiness.