Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
No, I didn’t mistype that “thanks giving”. Yes, the holiday of Thanksgiving is upon us just as we finish the last bit of Halloween candy. You can’t read any self-help blog these days without coming upon the health value of gratitude. And if there was ever a holiday meant to focus on giving thanks, appreciation, gratitude, it is Thanksgiving. After all, research on gratitude and thankfulness shows that when you can muster these feelings, you feel better about life as a whole, experience greater levels of optimism and happiness, actually exercise more and eat healthier, and experience fewer symptoms of stress. Not bad, right? and all you have to do Is find a way to be thankful.
So, what are you reflecting on that’s positive about divorce? Huh? Positive about divorce????? The process, the angst, the costs, the children, the upheaval. Sure, all very stressful and seemingly thankless. But in order to go into the holiday season with the aim of growing through this time, not simply going through the motions of parties, dinners, gifts, and more, you MUST first understand that everything that happens in life happens FOR you, not TO you. Yep, EVEN divorce.
So let’s reflect and craft a list of what you can be grateful for, give thanks for, and appreciate about your new status in life?
Perhaps you grasp that the pain you’ve experienced has served a valuable purpose in helping you learn more…about you. Possibly, you’ve developed more self-respect and the opportunity to reclaim yourself having lost yourself in someone else for too long? Or you’ve opened your eyes and recognized that your marriage helped you learn what you don’t want in your life and helped you clarify what you do want in life?
Might you be thankful for not having to deal with nasty in-laws, cleaning up after another, or for finally being able to have great sex?
There’s a lot to be said for disconnecting from being called nasty names, daily hostility and anger, and learning who your true friends are in life.
From being free to reinvent yourself and go after your own dreams, to simply spending happier times with your children, divorce affords lots of gifts that the holidays can help you see clearly… if you are willing to look. This is your chance to grasp your own self-worth. Remember, letting go of the negative divorce experiences, learning from the bad, and honoring the realistic positives in your new stage of life, especially during the holidays, will help you show strength and authenticity to your family, friends, children and even your ex…
Try it and you may see just how sweet that extra serving of pumpkin pie can be.