Many years ago, a couple came to see me to talk about how to tell their two boys that they were getting a divorce. The husband, a dentist, sat stone-faced as his wife sobbed, deeply grief stricken that he was leaving her. She pretty much begged him not to go, and although it was not such a rapturous marriage for either of them, she just didn’t want it to end. She said that her life was over and she could never be happy again. But he was resolute and we talked about how to help the kids and then they left.
A few years later, she came back to discuss some issue she was having with her older son, and a very different woman entered the office. After her divorce, she’d met a man who was easy-going and funny and adored her and her kids, and she was very happily married. I compared in my mind the memory of the miserable distraught soul whom I’d met years before with the cheerful, chatty woman sitting across from me now.
At that earlier time, she believed that nothing good could happen in her future. Her pain was so great that she was unable to glimpse other possibilities.
That belief was wrong.
Do you know that, even though you strongly believe something, it doesn’t mean that it’s true? Are you willing to entertain the possibility that the sadness or pain you may be feeling at the end of your relationship is leading you to adopt beliefs that limit your possibilities for your future? Can you recognize that once you start to live your life guided by this diminished vision, you shut down options for new directions and growth? You stop taking risks? You start making empty blanket statements like, “I’ll never be happy” or “It’ll always be bad.”
Take a look at this list of 33 Erroneous Beliefs and check the ones you believe. Be honest! If you’ve checked twenty or more, you’re in a really negative state of mind and are believing a lot of things that you can’t know are true! Between ten and twenty, you’re also seeing yourself in a very diminished state, but hopefully, you’re transitioning from a really hard time to a better frame of mind. Even if you’ve checked ten or below, I’m going to challenge you!
I challenge you to have the courage to fight these negative beliefs and do whatever it takes to create a future for yourself. No doubt, you’re sad. No doubt, you may be hurting. But that doesn’t mean that you permit yourself to define yourself as a helpless victim. You don’t have the luxury of doing that. I’m sure there’s someone in your life who wants to see you happy, so do it for that person, if not for yourself.
Stand all these negative beliefs on their head and reach for the light! Pour some steel in your spine and fight for your life. I know you can do it!
I’m a family therapist and the author of Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife's Guide to Recovery and Renewal and My Sister, My Self: The Surprising Ways that Being an Older, Middle, Younger or Twin Shaped Your Life. I can be found online at www.vikkistark.com and www.runawayhusbands.com.
33 Erroneous Beliefs
1. I am no longer desirable
2. My life is totally out of my control
3. It's all my fault
4. Why me? It’s just not fair
5. I failed to make my marriage last
6. My ex spouse is right – I am defective
7. God has abandoned me
8. I can’t handle my future alone
9. My spouse made a fool of me
10. My whole marriage must have been a lie
11. I’m unable to make decisions alone
12. Everyone thinks I’m damaged goods
13. There’s no point in trying to look good
14. It’s hardly worth trying to survive alone
15. I can’t make a man happy
16. It’s embarrassing to be alone at my age
17. I’ll never get over this
18. My family sees me as a failure
19. I will always be alone
20. Divorce means my kids’ lives will be ruined
21. I've wasted the best years of my life
22. I can never be truly happy again
23. I’ll never have a sex life again
24. There’s no light at the end of this tunnel
25. I’ll never trust the opposite sex again
26. No one else will ever be interested in me
27. No one wants a woman with two kids
28. Single women are losers
29. I’m over the hill
30. I am not complete without a partner
31. I'm no good
32. No one will ever love me the way he loved me
33. He was the only person for me