Divorce and Separation: Being On Your Own Again

Divorce and Separation: Being On Your Own Again

Q. “How do I get used to being alone and not so addicted to trying to find a new mate?”

A. When you’re in pain at the ending of a relationship, it can be sooo tempting to just find someone quickly to fill that void. We torture ourselves with thoughts of “I’m going to be alone forever!” ringing in your ears. Particularly if your former spouse has already moved on with someone else, some people go even more all out to get their next relationship so they can “keep up” with or prove something to their ex.

But you’re wise to notice how strong your drive is right now to find a new partner, and to ask how you can get used to being alone. With about 50% of marriages ending in divorce, the statistics are even grimmer for second and third marriages! Unless you take the time to stop and as honestly as you can reflect on what went off the rails in your first marriage, you’re setting yourself up for a scenario where history may repeat itself in future relationships.

Here are some tips to help you in this transition period!

1. Date Yourself First

Treat yourself with the love, respect and appreciation that you would like to have in a romantic relationship. Little love gestures like giving yourself flowers or lighting candles for dinner add up to a lot in terms of setting the stage for new love.

2. Identify What You Want

Extract all the wisdom from your divorce by identifying what didn’t work in your relationship. Make a list of the characteristics and dynamics that didn’t serve you well, e.g. “My ex was close-minded.” Ask yourself what you do want instead in a new partner and write that down, “My partner is open-minded.” You’ll end up with a much clearer idea of what you do want in relationship.

3. Indulge In Your Passions

Give yourself time to devote to your passions. Indulging in them not only fills up your emotional reserve tank, but it gives you the opportunity to connect with other people who share that same passion.

Harvest Your Wisdom for Future Success

When facing challenges or uncertainty, some of the greatest tools we have at our disposal is past experience. Every incident – whether joyful or traumatic – contains the seeds of your greatness that help you step into the next greatest evolution of you.

Too often we rush quickly past the missteps, the failures and even the successes in our drive to get on to the next thing. But in that rush to get to some preconceived destination, we miss the joy and the wisdom of the journey. Just as the vineyard owner carefully harvests the grapes to produce a fine wine, so we must take the time to harvest our own wisdom of life experience so we can savor the fullness of life.

I invite you to use these contemplations and action questions to help you harvest your own wisdom so you can apply it in service of your future success.

H – Heart

Too often when people are faced with a challenge, they try to “figure it all out” and lead from their head. (I know – I’ve done that many times myself!) Adopting a strictly rational approach and minimizing or denying our feelings is ultimately a recipe for disaster. This has been a year when so many people are waking up and feeling the call of their hearts to lead lives of more passion and deeper meaning. Letting yourself lead from your heart creates powerful connection to others.

What could be possible for you if you could let your heart’s wisdom and strength guide you even more powerfully this year?

A – Acceptance

Acceptance is a key ingredient to living with more peace and ease. Of course there are situations where wrongs must be righted, boundaries set or expectations clarified. But I see everything as part of a spiritual curriculum that we have created for ourselves. I accept that I can choose each day to live with as much heart and consciousness as I am able. Some days are easier than others to do that! I accept that heartaches, victories and quiet moments all contribute to the fabric of who I have become today, and I am grateful for it all.

Where have you been in resistance to something and how can you find a greater level of acceptance?

R – Resilience

The pace of our daily lives operates at such an accelerated rate and change is the only constant. More than ever, we need to be adaptable to changing and challenging circumstances. Resilience helps us to draw upon those inner resources and strength we may not have realized we had. It allows us to stay flexible and regroup when we need to.

Where can you acknowledge yourself for the great resilience you are already showing?

V – Vision

Like the beacon of a lighthouse guides a ship through rocky waters, our vision of who we want to be in the world and what we want to accomplish is our personal beacon. It can be easy to lose sight of that vision or to substitute someone else’s for your own. But creating a vision uplifts and motivates you to keep going through even the tough times because you keep the bigger picture in mind.

What elements need to be a part of your life’s vision so that it would inspire and uplift you?

E – Excellence

No matter what you do, bring your best effort and highest integrity to it. Hold an expectation of excellence for yourself and others. In the world today, there are too many people taking shortcuts or backdoors. When you commit to excellence you naturally alchemize the best that is already within you to come forward.

Where can you express excellence today?

S – Service

I’ve always had the perspective of leaving an environment a little better than when I found it. Even when I was working in a bullpen office on Wall Street putting together municipal bond deals, I was looking from the lens of “How can I make this process a bit better? How can I empower others to work together more effectively?”

How can you be of service – to others and to yourself – so that you leave the world at least a little better off than how you found it today?

T – Trust

Without trust, we become paralyzed. The road ahead can never become clear unless we are willing to take the first step out in trust. With trust, we know that we are never given more than we can handle.

What can you do today to feel more trust within yourself?

Divorce and the Holiday Season

Q. “The holiday season is coming up and I’m recently separated. I have two school-age boys. My stomach feels like a knot thinking how different the holidays are going to be now for them. Is there some way to make it easier?”

A. Family holidays are supposed to be relaxing and stress-free, but often they aren’t. Planning family holidays is a particular challenge for the millions of divorced families out there. In fact, one out of three Americans is part of a blended family (and I suspect the statistics are similar for Canadians).

Divorced families face an even bigger challenge with holiday planning with children shuttling back and forth between mom’s house and dad’s house. There are all those logistical questions. Whose turn is it to have the children for Christmas morning? What if both parents are having a turkey dinner on the same day? How do you handle summer break? What do you do if you end up solo on a major family celebration day?

The key for separated families, like yours, is to doing some advance planning and preparation. Without that, holidays can end up being a time for stress and re-opening of old wounds instead of a time to relax and unwind, both for divorced parents and their children. There are some tips I can offer to make it a bit easier. First of all, instead of planning your holidays one at a time, … Continue reading

Divorce and Separation: Stopping the Negative Mental Loops


How can you stop the negative loops recalling what went wrong (and what was so right)? How do you stop trying to ‘fix’ it in your own mind?”


Divorce, heartache, grief and rebuilding your life – it’s all part of the healing journey everyone must travel when your relationship ends. The mind is a beautiful problem-solving tool. But when it comes to matters of the heart and relationship, our brain is often not well-equipped to help us heal.

Having those cyclical thoughts and questions of “What if….?” or questioning what might have turned out differently if you’d made different choices in the past is quite natural. It is simply the brain sifting, sorting and trying to find patterns and solutions from past experiences it has stored to find a way out of the situation you find yourself in. Sometimes you know your relationship is on the rocks, and sometimes you don’t. So our powerful brain is literally scanning its memory banks to find pieces of data that might help you to create a solution and get to the other side of your heartache.

But your power and choices lie in each present moment. The problem with unchecked cyclical thoughts is that they keep you replaying the past or projecting yourself into a fantasy future that is sheer speculation. The key to making empowering choices for yourself and navigating through your divorce is when you stay present, moment-to-moment.

If you find yourself caught in a mental spin cycle, a great way to break out of it is to write it all down. Use a journal to capture your thoughts and questions. This will assure your brain you’re doing something productive with all of its gyrations and help loosen the grip of these negative loops on your mind.

You can also set some boundaries around this kind of thinking. Give yourself a time limit of some kind to fully review the good, bad and ugly about your situation and how you got there and then once your timer goes off, stop. Break your physical and mental state by putting on some great tunes and dancing, or do some jumping jacks, and then undertake another kind of activity.

It’s also important to ask great questions. Setting your brain to the task of “How could I “fix” things?” assumes that something is broken that you are responsible for fixing. Redirect your powerful mind to answering the question “If this experience is part of my soul curriculum, what are the gifts in it for me and my personal evolution?” or “What can I learn from this that will serve me in all future relationships?”

Have a question about divorce you’d like to see answered? Submit yours to Thrive after Divorce by sending an email to askthrive@ThriveAfterDivorce.com.


Divorce in a Small Town


“I live in a small community. My biggest challenge is I am always seeing my ex and the woman he had an affair with and married on a weekly basis because of the children’s activities. I feel like I can’t “get over” my divorce because I am kept inflamed constantly in the present.”


Living in a small community where “everybody knows your name” can pose an additional challenge to those trying to rebuild their life after divorce, particularly when your ex and his partner seem to be omnipresent. Nonetheless, the basic principles of thriving after divorce … Continue reading

Divorce Relief: What to Do When You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Ex

Q. “I am challenged by wondering all the time about what my soon-to- be ex-spouse is thinking or doing, and most agonizingly sad, who is is with?

A. Separation and divorce is a bumpy road and it takes some time, dedicated effort and great tools to help get through to the other side. You are not alone is having part of your mind get on a frustrating hamster wheel of wondering about your ex. Our brain can get like a dog on a bone, chewing endlessly (often in the middle of the night) with a litany of questions like:

Is he as sad as I’m feeling?

Is he regretting his choices?

Is he healing faster than I am and what is wrong with me that I still feel grief?

Has he moved on in love, and who is he with? What is she like? How do I compare to her?

Divorce, even if you’re the one who initiated, is still a shock to your emotional system. The brain wants to make sense of it all, so it starts to seek and scan for answers. Our egos want to compare and judge – who is “winning the race” for getting through the pain and over the divorce first. It’s simply a natural way our sense of self-identity gets constructed.

It is important to realize excessive speculating and wondering is actually a distraction from your own healing journey. Here are some ways you can break the pattern and stop fixating on your ex….

Keep a journal and write out all the questions you have running around in your head. Like taking the lid off a boiling pot of water releases the pressure, journaling your worry thoughts will help them to dissipate more quickly. You get to see your questions from a more objective perspective.

Sometimes we let our attention wander and get ourselves stuck in the past is because we don’t have a clear vision for our future after divorce. Do some work to help create your road map through your divorce. The award-winning Divorce Resource Kit to has questions, exercises and guided meditations that can help you chart your course for your future.

It’s also important to keep your focus on what you actually have control and influence over, such as your own thoughts, words and actions. Diverting your energy to anyone else instead of your own process of understanding the deeper spiritual lessons that are available through your divorce is a distraction. Take responsibility for what you can change and learn, and let the rest go.

© 2012 Carolyn B. Ellis


Mission Possible: 3 Keys to Achieving Your Goals Despite the Odds

Have you ever been told that what you want is impossible to have?

You have a goal or a dream, but those around you – family, friends, experts – tell you that it can’t be done.

If you’ve ever built a campfire, that initial phase of having the spark hit the dry kindling is critical. You need to get more wood to help build the fire so it can get to a critical mass of its own rather than sputter out and die. When an idea catches fire within you, it’s important that you take the right action quickly so you can keep it alive and make it happen.

Deciding to start your business is a spark of an inspiration. But you need the right kindling of where to find the perfect clients and what programs to offer them to stay in business. Being in an intimate relationship with another starts with those initial sparks, but it needs tending and fuel so it can last for the long run.

When you make a decision, particularly those where you feel you are answering a deep calling of your soul, it can initially feel like you’ve signed on for an episode of Mission Impossible. But when you apply these 3 success principles, you can turn that around into achieving your goal despite the odds.

When I recently decided it was time to release my home for a new family to enjoy, I wanted to be able to take advantage of a strong selling market. But I was still in the process of a serious renovation in my basement and walking into an almost-ready home doesn’t make a great impression on potential buyers.

My main contractor thought my time frames were way too tight (they were) and that my request he, his equipment and his team be off the property in such a short time frame was an impossible task. But I wasn’t prepared to settle for a “No.” I made 3 critical choices that helped me get the job done – and you can apply them yourself to any goal you have.

Key #1 – Use Your Vision as Your Anchor

Throughout the renovation process, I held a strong and steady vision of what I wanted and why. I kept visualizing my home as inviting, gracious and ready to be a place of love for a new family. Keeping sight of why I was subjecting myself and my family to this disruption allowed me to keep steady and relatively calm during the ups and downs of the renovation.

Key #2 – Do Whatever It Takes

I am a firm believer in delegation, but to get what you want in the face of the odds being against you, you need to do whatever it takes. As we progressed in the renovation, I could see places that needed shoring up so my goal of having the house ready for public viewing happen.

I did whatever it took. When the walkway needed power washing before the real estate agent had the house photos taken, I was out there at 6:30 am with a contractor sweeping and handling the power washer myself. To make things smoother for the crew in the morning, I would get the shop vac out to keep the site clean even if it was 11:30 pm.

Here’s the beautiful thing about being willing to get your hands dirty and doing whatever it takes. Not only did it help get the job done, it inspired and motivated the great crew of workers I had to do the same.

Key #3 – Keep A Light Heart

When the going gets tough, it’s easy to get discouraged and frustrated. When your goal and vision come from a deep place within your heart, it is tempting to take setbacks personally. But anger, sarcasm and blame are like throwing a bucket of water on the bonfire you’re trying to build.

Keep a light heart and instead find the humor in those trying moments. Choose to be compassionate with yourself and others instead of condemning.

© 2012 Carolyn B. Ellis All Rights Reserved


Leadership: The One Person You Absolutely MUST Lead

Being a brilliant entrepreneur, a brilliant mom or a brilliant partner requires one thing. To succeed we need to be able to calls forth the best of ourselves every day and in every way.

As the leader of your life, there are so many people who look to you to take their cues: your clients, your children, your partner, your colleagues, and your neighbors. Mompreneurs in particular are often caught trying to find that elusive balance between work and family, between joyful creation and stressful chaos.

But the true test of leadership is this – are you practicing your own internal leadership? Would you be inspired, motivated and decide to follow yourself?

One of my teachers used to say that the first person you must learn to lead is yourself. Attending management courses and reading the very finest leadership literature is good, but the greatest arena for learning about powerful and lasting leadership is … within yourself.

Having a strong and resilient emotional foundation is a key ingredient to one’s success and impact. So I believe we must always be willing to do our own emotional homework to ensure that this internal foundation is strong enough to hold the business we desire.

Here are some tips to help you diagnose and up-level your self-leadership!

1.  Do an Integrity Check

Do a scan of your life to see if there are areas where what you are doing is different than what you are saying. Are there places where things feel out of integrity? Are you tolerating things that are incomplete? Are you walking your talk? It might be finishing up a product, making a call you’ve been avoiding, or letting clutter overwhelm your office. This scan will tell you where you have the opportunity to recommit to the leadership of your life. Write them down and come up with a plan to tackle these areas that are energetically eroding your leadership.

2.  Get in the Driver’s Seat

It’s tough to lead your life, let alone a business, if you allow other people to be in the driver’s seat. Self-leadership requires you to take responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions. When you’re in the driver’s seat of your life, you get to decide where you’re going, the route you’re going to take, and how fast you want to drive to get there. Yet sometimes we subtly concede that driver’s seat position to others – a spouse, our children, a business partner, a demanding client, or a parent, to name a few examples.

3. Perfection is Not Required, Shifting is

Don’t forget that we’re all human, and we definitely make mistakes. So even if you see there are areas where your ability to lead yourself isn’t what you want it to be, don’t despair! Perfection is not required in order to move forward to unleash your brilliance. Self-awareness and a consistent choice to shift out of limiting behaviors or patterns is. Being able to see what’s not working and shift it quickly, and with confidence, is critical so your true brilliance can shine brightly in the world. Learning to lead yourself with confidence and ease is the goal.

© 2011-2012 Carolyn B. Ellis All Rights Reserved

Divorce: Is It OK to Talk to Your Children When They are With Your Ex

Q. “My ex-wife will not let me speak to the kids when they are with her. She does not want me to call the house. Is there anything I can do about this? It breaks my heart.”

A. This is a great question and raises a thorny issue that needs to be negotiated, particularly when your separation is still fresh. On the one hand it’s important for the children to feel they are connected and able to have a relationship with both mom and dad. But on the other hand, mom and dad are separated now and children and adults alike need to ease into that new reality.

It is not clear how old your children are and I am not sure how long your separation has been in place. In the absence of that, there could be factors in your ex-wife’s request that you not have contact with your children. So I’d love to offer you some tips now to get you started, but would encourage you to work with a parenting coordinator or counselor to discuss this issue further so you can come up with a plan that is just right for your family.

If you don’t have your children often, having a phone call or two from dad just to touch base with them can be ….

very reassuring. Even though they aren’t with you, they know the channels of communication, love and support don’t disappear even when they aren’t with you physically.

The guiding principle should be to do what is in the best interests of the children. In the days of cell phones, texting and Skype, there are many ways to still communicate with your children, and they may even request that.

See if you can be clear with your ex-wife about your need to communicate with your kids and to do so in a way that isn’t so persistent or involving that it won’t rob her of their time with her. In some cases, having the other parent in constant communication might be confusing for the children, or open the door to have the children play one parent off the other (yes, they sometimes do that!) Have a conversation with your ex-wife and apply Stephen Covey’s principle of “Seek to understand.” Do your best to separate out what’s important to your children versus what’s your own emotional homework about processing how you feel about your divorce. It could be really helpful to get some third party assistance so you can address any other issues that might be fueling her unwillingness to have you contact them.

© 2012 Carolyn B. Ellis

Ask your question, in confidence, by clicking here or you may email us at mailto:askthrive@thriveafterdivorce.com. We’ll answer your question in upcoming issues!

Get Over Yourself: One Sure-Fire Way to Stop Playing Small

Sometimes the biggest obstacle you face in business or in your personal life is yourself. Those voices of self-doubt, fear and negativity can drown out your dreams and test your conviction in your vision. But there is brilliance and inspiration inside of every one of us, and it takes an enormous amount of energy to hold that back and play small. In this episode, I’ll share with you an exercise I created that will help you get out of your own way, stop modulating yourself and step into your confidence and commitment to share your true brilliance in the world.