7 Ways To Keep Your Breakup (Or Divorce) From Making You Bitter

Photo: Jovana Rikalo

Breakups suck no matter how you spin 'em. But acknowledging the uncertainties and seeking out the positive in the tough moments can help you turn yours into an experience that's illuminating rather than embittering. Ending a relationship is never not painful, but it ended for a reason, right? Whether you were with someone who didn't treat you well or who wanted to be with someone else, you are free from that toxicity. So, why not focus on the good?

Your mindset during this time is absolutely crucial to remaining positive and healthy. With that in mind, here are seven things I believe are essential to maintaining a positive outlook and turning your breakup into a blessing:

1. Practice gratitude.

Each morning when you wake up, think about what you’re grateful for. It can be as simple as the bed you sleep in, your children, or the fact that you have a roof over your head and a family that loves you. This period of your life will be tumultuous. Some days, everything will seem wrong, and you'll feel indescribably sad or angry. Some days you won't be able to think straight. It’s as if you’re in a fog. And some days, you'll be filled with hope and a sense of freedom. Gratitude will help you to see the beauty that's emerging from this storm.

2. Breathe.

Learning to breathe in the good and breathe out the bad is a crucial tool in navigating rough emotional waters. Take deep, cleansing, calming breaths before dealing with stressful situations like court dates, arbitration, or dividing your belongings: 4-4-4 breathing is great for providing structure to this practice when you feel out of control. It is breathing in for 4 seconds, holding that breath for 4 seconds, and exhaling for 4 seconds. Just focus on those breathing techniques until you feel ready to tackle whatever's coming.

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3. Let go of expectations.

Whether it's a custody agreement or a conversation about how to deal with the holidays, not having any expectations will save you endless disappointment. According to the Second Truth of Buddhism, desire causes suffering. The desire for a certain outcome is what creates our expectations, and unmet expectations lead to inevitable disappointment. Let go of them, and embrace the uncertainty of this phase of your life. Whatever happens, you'll be able to handle it. Trust yourself.

4. Enjoy your freedom.

You are free to move, to travel, and to date and meet new people. Embrace that freedom. William Butler Yeats said, "The world is full of magic things patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper." This is a whole new chapter. What do you dream about doing? Does your work feed your soul? Find out what does, and go after it.

5. Learn to forgive.

The end of a relationship is inevitably painful, and it may be difficult to forgive your ex. It starts, believe it or not, with forgiving yourself. You are your worst critic, and when things like this happen, we tend to focus on what we did wrong. Reflecting on the past is only beneficial insofar as it helps you make better choices in the future. Learn the lessons, then let go. I’ve been going through a divorce for two years, and I still struggle with forgiveness. I am a stronger person because of what I've dealt with. Knowing that empowers me to forgive.

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6. Be present.

Our lives are continually disrupted by text messages, phone calls, and social media. It's becoming more and more difficult to just be present. Think about what being present means to you. For me, it means communing with nature. It means going for a walk and noticing the bright sky, the trees changing colors, or the birds chirping. I try to look at the world the way my children see it. They see the ocean in a puddle, a forest monster in a pile of leaves, a valiant fortress in the boughs of a tree. Try to sharpen your sense and see the magic around you.

7. Shed the toxic people.

You can't make a toxic person happy, but they will likely succeed in bringing you down if you keep spending time with them. The end of a major relationship should be a time of cleansing, getting rid of the debris of your life. Reconsider your relationships in this new phase, and distance yourself from anyone who drains you. It is OK to distant yourself from people not adding value to your well-being. If you want to make the most of this next period in your life, you need to surround yourself with positive people who will uplift and support you through the hard times and the good.

Want more insight into your relationship? Find out the five things couples who stay together do every day and the ways your sex life can show you what's wrong in your relationship.

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