YOURHEALTH YOURLIFE

Your ques­tions an­swered with Leanne Hall, psy­chol­o­gist, per­sonal trainer & health and nu­tri­tion coach.

Lift Magazine - - Contributors -

Hi Leanne, I am 23 months down the track of my sep­a­ra­tion and feel I’ve hit a plateau. I thought by this point I’d be feel­ing free and really get­ting on with my

life yet in ac­tual fact, I don’t know what I want, where I need to be, and I am over­whelmed to the point that I can’t seem to func­tion ef­fec­tively. I’m not sleep­ing and in the morn­ing I wake feel­ing heavy and un­mo­ti­vated as it’s all too much to cope with. I feel that the world is wait­ing for me to make a de­ci­sion, to do some­thing, to be some­thing. But I don’t know what and I don’t know how. Do you have sug­ges­tions for how I can get through all this? How can I make it eas­ier to

progress into my sin­gle life and feel some­how com­fort­able?

The fun­da­men­tal prob­lem you’re fac­ing is one of expectations not meet­ing re­al­ity. When peo­ple sep­a­rate they cre­ate an idea of what life will be life when they’re sin­gle. They look to the me­dia, friends, fam­ily, and a whole range of sources to cre­ate this idea, but th­ese ideas may not match re­al­ity, es­pe­cially when chil­dren are in­volved.

When you’re part­nered with chil­dren you can also over-in­vest in the role of be­ing a wife and a mother at the ex­pense of your core iden­tity, so when the re­la­tion­ship ends, you’re left ques­tion­ing who you are – that is over­whelm­ing on its own with­out also try­ing to bal­ance what’s best for your child.

Ba­si­cally, you’re in the mid­dle of one gi­ant hur­ri­cane, and my an­swer is this: You should be over­whelmed! You’re not even two years down the track yet and ev­ery­thing you’re feel­ing is

a nor­mal part of ad­just­ing, so here are some strate­gies that can help you with that ad­just­ment:

1. MAKE SURE YOUR EXPECTATIONS ARE RE­AL­IS­TIC AND SUIT YOU

It’s pos­i­tive to have a goal to help you through a neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, but re­mem­ber you need to read­just it reg­u­larly.

Chal­lenge your expectations and make sure they’re right for you. Re­flect why you think you should be free by now. Why do you feel like the world is wait­ing for you to make a de­ci­sion? Is it re­al­is­tic? Where did that idea come from? Why does it have to be cor­rect? Can you re-frame it?

Ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent and ev­ery­one’s ex­pe­ri­ence is dif­fer­ent. Don’t think you ‘should’ be over it if you’re not over it. Sit with it, then let it go and move for­ward.

2. GET THROUGH SEP­A­RAT­ING FIRST

Real emo­tional sep­a­ra­tion and feel­ing like you can move on with your new sin­gle life doesn’t really hap­pen un­til all the fi­nan­cials, child ar­range­ments and property set­tle­ments have been fi­nalised, so move for­ward through th­ese pro­cesses as quickly as you can. Don’t get tied up in hate and blame – let go, for­give and ac­cept.

3. LOOK AT YOUR SUP­PORT NET­WORK

Who are you hang­ing around? Who are you lis­ten­ing to? Do they serve your best in­ter­ests?

If you are spend­ing time with peo­ple who are at a dif­fer­ent life stage, they may not know what’s best for you right now. That doesn’t mean you have to end friend­ships, but just be mind­ful of ad­vice from oth­ers whose lives and ex­pe­ri­ences are con­sid­er­ably dif­fer­ent to your own. It’s also a great idea to seek out new friends who are in your sit­u­a­tion and can re­late more to where you are now.

4. GET TO KNOW YOUR­SELF

The most im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship in your life right now is the one you have with your­self. You need to in­vest in that. Quar­an­tine time for your­self ev­ery sin­gle day, at least ten min­utes, and do some­thing that makes you feel REALLY good. This slowly re­builds your self es­teem and brings you in line with your val­ues. Once you do this, you’ll be more able to take the big steps you need to take to cre­ate your new life.

5. HAVE AN OUT­LET

You need an out­let where you can be hon­est about how you feel, where you can fall to pieces and it’s con­tained away from your child. Have a place, a per­son, a time away from your child where you can just say ‘This is all crap’ or ‘I don’t know if I can do this!’. It’s nor­mal to have th­ese feel­ings and just be­cause you feel like you might fall apart, doesn’t mean you’re go­ing to.

6. BE HAPPY WITH WHERE YOU ARE

Stop think­ing about where you should be and con­nect with where you are and what you need to do now. Take one day and one de­ci­sion at a time. Some­times we don’t know what the right de­ci­sion is, there is no ob­vi­ous an­swer and we can get so wrapped up with what might hap­pen, but some­times you’ve just got to pick a de­ci­sion, get be­hind it with ev­ery­thing you have and hope that it’s the right one.

Life is never per­fect. Liv­ing a life that’s in line with our val­ues and goals is what we’re all af­ter, so try to ease off on the pres­sure, in­vest in get­ting to know your­self and see if things don’t start fall­ing into place!

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