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 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


Divorce and Separation: Can Ex-Spouses Still be Friends?

Q. “How do I cope with my husband moving on and no longer sharing a friendship after 22 years together? How do I make sure my little boy is OK and doesn’t find it too hard?

A. One important dynamic In divorce is that partners will work through the emotional stages of the divorce process often at very different paces. The one who initiates the divorce has had more time to process and come to terms with a life and an identity outside the marriage. The one who is left behind struggles not only with the loss of the relationship and the dreams of living happily ever after, but also must cope with the shock of being passed over or possibly replaced by someone else.

From your question, I must assume that your husband initiated the divorce and that is why this is feeling particularly difficult for you. I would recommend that instead of seeing you and your ex as friends, … Continue reading

Divorce: The On again, Off Again Relationship

Q. “I am dealing with the pain of a long term relationship break-up I can’t seem to let go of. He comes back, missing me terribly, we get back together and then 9 months to a year later we are apart again. How do I get off this roller coaster?”

A. “Should I stay or should I go?” This is a question that torments many separating couples. Having a significant relationship end really throws you into a gap. Fear of being alone, the desire to avoid heartache and a willingness to simply stay in relationship with someone when you know the love you truly desire cannot be found there are some of the reasons people engage in these “on again, off again” relationships.

To help you sort through this situation, allow me to offer some questions for you to contemplate and get really honest with yourself as you answer them. First, every relationship is a co-creation. You are participating with your sometimes-ex-partner in perpetuating a situation that seems to end up with you letting your heart twist in the wind. What are you getting from … Continue reading

My Ex Tells My Kids I Don’t Love Them

Q. My children mean everything to me. I have always had a great relationship with them…how do I maintain a healthy relationship with my children when their mother tells them that divorcing her proves I do not love them?

A. It is a sad reality that children get caught in the emotional cross-fire between their parents in a divorce situation. While I think society has made huge gains in terms of creating more civilized divorces and supporting the ability of children to have healthy relationships with both there parents, hearing a story like yours still makes my heart sink. Your ex-wife is obviously still in emotional pain but your kids will be the one to pay the price until the grown-ups are willing and able to get their emotional homework done outside the parenting arena.

For starters, I highly recommend both you and your ex-wife read a copy of my award-winning book, The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive after Divorce. Telling your kids because daddy doesn’t love his kids because he divorced mommy is a classic case of Pitfall #5: Not Putting Your Children First in action. There are some very important principles and ways to immediately break free of …. Continue reading

Divorce: Handling Mood Swings from Your Ex

Q. “How do you deal with your ex-husband’s mood swings? One day he is pleasant, the next day he is cold.”

A. Ah, yes, this is definitely a part of the emotional roller coaster ride that divorce offers! Not only do your emotions hit some highs and lows, but you ask a great question about how to deal with your ex when he is having that experience. After all, life gets just that much more complicated and difficult when you have to deal with someone else who’s in a foul mood. As I share in my book, The 7 Pitfalls of Single Parenting: What to Avoid to Help Your Children Thrive after Divorce, getting hooked emotionally into your ex-spouse on a regular basis is one of the major challenges divorcees, particularly those with children, face.

I’ll share with you some quick tips that I’ve road-tested myself to help you keep your peace of mind in the face of someone else’s strong emotions. First, realize that what your ex thinks of you ….. Continue reading

Divorce Process Stalled?


“What do you do when resolution is slow? In my case, we decided almost 2 years ago to divorce, but are still in the same house with the “For Sale” sign in the front yard. Limbo sucks! I’ve tried every healthy approach possible. It’s tough to be grateful, patient and sane!”


I hear your frustration! I appreciate how difficult it must be for you to have made the decision to separate, yet it’s taking such a long time for your physical reality to line up with that decision. I think many of us can relate to the despair of being in a “limbo” state.

Unfortunately when it comes to … Continue reading

Anger and Betrayal in Divorce


“Three years down the road, why am I still soooo angry at the betrayal of my husband?”


Thank you so much for your honesty in asking this question and, if I may, I’ll give you a blunt answer. You’re still angry because you are getting something out of holding on to your anger. There is some kind of emotional pay-off you receive and that’s why you are choosing to stay angry. I’d like to acknowledge you for asking this question though! It shows me that you are becoming aware that this anger is holding you back. Awareness is the first critical ingredient in transforming any situation, so you… Continue reading