In my nearly half a century of living, after spending nearly half my years working with people going through a divorce, I’ve become clear on an important truth. Are you ready? Here it is.  

Our personal perspective informs all that we see and all that we do.  

It creates who we are and influences everything experienced by us.  Our viewpoints lead us to believe that we hold the keys to “the truth”.  And while there may be only one set of facts, how we consciously or subconsciously choose to interpret those facts varies. 

As much as anything else, this variation in perspective is what fuels conflict.  What’s so exciting about this truth is that we each possess personal agency over how we see the facts of our life, and in turn, we can choose what we do with what we see.  

No matter how devastating and messy your break-up may be, it has been suggested that it can actually “spark-joy” (The New York Post compared Better Apart to Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up).  Now, even I think that sparking joy may be a bit of a leap (at least at first). However, in time, I think you may see that the writer was onto something, and that after a while you too may be able to notice the positive things about your divorce. After all, when we rid ourselves of things that are not working for us, we tend to feel more clear, less encumbered.  More joyful. 

So what if today, instead of focusing on the negative, you decide to try on noticing one thing, no matter how small, that is potentially better because of your break up?

If you’re really struggling to find anything positive about your divorce, pick something neutral. You could think to yourself, I can still stretch my arms in the air when I arise in the morning.  Or, maybe, I can take three long breaths in and out through my nose slowly before getting out of bed and before falling asleep. Something do-able. And, slowly, you can build from there.

This year, in an effort to press reset in my own thinking, I’ve committed to changing how I look at the seasonal change.  Spring has always been my favorite season. I’ve always been naturally oriented toward warmer weather and drawn to new life literally springing all around. I’ve been nearly intoxicated by the budding colors of nature and the ever-increasing sunlight.  

For me, the transition from summer to the colder darker months is never easy. In the past, I’ve found the dying trees and greying skies depressing. It means shorter days, more mess (because of more clothes and gear for everyone). It sometimes means bone-chilling days, cold cars and walks, and often lifeless, flat hair.  Some years I have felt that I am in a kind of time-suspending bubble for nearly half the year until the spring skies re-surface. 

This year, I’ve committed to practicing patience with the change of seasons.  I’m doing this by making myself take a second look at the seasonal change. Rather than focusing on the shorter days and darker skies, I am concentrating on re-calibrating how I see things. I’m spending more time enjoying the beauty of the changing colors and the swaying of the trees in the wind.  Each day I go outside and breathe in the brisk, cool fall air (that I would rather remain somewhere other than where I live). I sip it in and drench my eyes with the colors that abound and I say thank you. Thank you to nature, and thank you to my own human ability to decide to shift my experience. 

Notice when you are feeling reactive or uncomfortable.  How can you find the patience to take a second look at what is happening?  Often, a small shift in perspective truly makes all the difference. Shifting how you see things can truly help you to close one chapter and allow space to open the next.

As you navigate your divorce and grapple with feeling positive, consider what one small change in view might you be able to make. Perhaps you can decide to recite a daily mantra about remaining open to possibilities. Or, maybe, doing something more concrete is more comfortable. It may be that you commit to spending ten minutes a day digging into the financial statement that you’ve been avoiding up to this moment.  It may be as simple as deciding to notice when you are feeling upset and committing to allowing the feeling to pass with a set of slow, long breaths. Whatever it is for you, see if you can allow your own thoughts about your separation to develop in a way that actually serves you and your family.  

I love to hear stories about all the things that help you to make your life just a little bit easier.  Remember, you have all the power you need right inside you. Right now. You just need to have the courage to access it!

Want to share your thoughts?  Please drop me a note in a comment below.

P.S. Want more tools and resources to stay positive during a divorce? Download my Free Divorce Survive & Thrive Kit below!


With support and strength,

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  1. Carol :-)

    I love this post, and I try to practice the art of positive thinking daily. However, when in a relationship that is failing, and you’re trying to look at the positives, when do you know it’s time to throw in the towel? Also, post break up, do positive thoughts like waking up being thankful you do not have that rotten person in your life anymore still count as positive?

    • gabrielle hartley

      You focus on you, all that you are, all you can be. And, you then take a step back and consider if you have given all that this relationship deserves. If so, then you can be thankful to yourself for the lessons learned, and for the compassion you can bring as you move forward. Post break up, being free from what was causing you harm sounds like something positive. One day at a time with as much calm space is all any of us ever have. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

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