This should be printed on a coffee mug as a daily reminder! Yet, after my divorce, I found myself thinking that I was broken for years (after I stopped blaming my ex for being the only broken one).
This was my self talk: I’m damaged goods. Nobody will ever want to marry me while I’m raising kids… LITTLE kids. Who’s going to want to sign up for this? My life is like a circus. There are crumbs and toys and holes burned into the crappy carpeting of my crappy rental. I’m destined to be alone forever. Or, maybe I’ll meet someone after my kids go to college.
Society has somehow made us believe we are broken when we find ourselves single with kids. They even call it a “broken home”. And before we know it, this negative, self-deprecating talk becomes our self talk. And we talk to ourselves A LOT. This is a topic I recently spoke about on the Single Parent Advocate podcast because it’s something most of us struggle with. Negative beliefs.
Don’t get me wrong. Breaking up is hard. Divorce is traumatic. Some single parents are single because of a death of their spouse. Most of us didn’t choose single parenthood. But “single parent” is not your identity. t’s your role. Just because you break up doesn’t mean you can’t be whole again.
If you’ve read my book Becoming Mrs. Stanley, you know I spend a lot of time on negative beliefs and the importance of transforming them. This was my biggest barrier. It’s just easier just to think: I’ve got too much baggage, I’m damaged goods; nobody will marry me with kids and debt; all men are jerks, all men are liars, etc. It’s easy because those thoughts have come from the stories we told about our experiences. But our past experiences do not determine our future experiences.
If you think you’re broken, like I did, think of it this way: every break though is preceded by a break down. If you’re feeling broken, you’re on the verge of a break through. I also love the saying, “not all storms come to make a mess; some storms come to clear a new path.” And what helped me take the first step on that path is just to take action. Taking action changes your mind.
Transformation starts with awareness. Being honest with yourself about your negative beliefs. What are you constantly telling yourself about yourself or about men or about relationships? Because what you’re telling yourself is what you believe.
Henry Ford says, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
This hit me hard when I went to my friend’s wedding. I was surrounded by loving couples who had been married for decades. And I thought, you know what? The beliefs that I had before are just simply not true. Lots of people have loving relationships all over the place, and plenty of people get married again and they find real love. They find partners who love and accept their children. That was a revelation. I made this shift. I realized that everyone that was put into our lives was there for a reason. There are no accidents; there are no coincidences. Every single person is here to teach us something. Instead of defining a date as “bad date” or a relationship a “bad relationship” we can call them teachers. I had just been focused on all of the wrong things.
This was a major breakthrough, because as soon as I reframed that and made a decision to focus on everything that I learned, everything changed. Why did God put that person into our lives? All of them: kids, sisters, parents, friends, business associates, everyone. What am I learning from this? Why is this person here?
If every person can teach us something, then our ex can be our GREATEST teacher. We just have to be open to learning what those lessons are. Every relationship gives you the opportunity either to be angry and depressed or to learn and grow. I wanted to grow. I wanted to be whole and then attract someone whole.
I spent a lot of time with myself and with God to dig deep, reflect, get past the hurt and reveal to me what I had learned from those dates, relationships, and my marriage. Then I was able to change my story, and my future. I committed to building self-worth, self-love and self-confidence.
I don’t think that we are meant to be alone. We are not solitary creatures. We are not meant to be solo warriors for the rest of our lives. But it also requires faith. It’s God’s timing and God’s plan. And we are all children of God. And I believe he wants us to grow, to learn, to build self-worth, self-love and self-confidence. To know that we are whole.
I wrote down a list of things that I wish were different in my life, and then I made a commitment to making progress toward those things. Now I call that list my boss list. I thought, “I’m not going to attract a boss unless I feel like a boss when I walk out the door. So what do I need to do to feel like a boss?” One of those areas was my finances. I had IRS debt.
Instead of focusing on the debt and the amount of that debt ($30,000), I had to reframe those thoughts. How about we make a small, quantifiable goal to get out of debt and then shift the focus to zero debt. The party I’m going to have one when it’s zero. The trip I’m going to take with my kids when it’s zero. And then I just put it on an installment plan. And I didn’t even look at the statements because what I wanted to focus on was the end game. I wanted to focus on the fact that I was making progress. That’s really a strategy for getting out of these feelings that we’re hopeless, broken and damaged. That number doesn’t matter because I’m making progress toward a goal that I have. It only matters how I feel, how you feel. We can change the way we feel if we change the focus to our progress. In every area of our lives. I put a couple hundred bucks, whatever I could afford, and had it automatically withdrawn each month out of my checking account. I didn’t look at it, and I didn’t touch the statements. I didn’t even think about it because if I looked at those, my focus would change to the debt. I kept my focus on the progress.
And you know what, as time went by, those negative beliefs started to no longer have power over me. My self talk changed. We don’t even have to have all of our goals perfectly accomplished to be whole. I wasn’t completely out of debt when I started dating my husband. And I didn’t feel less than because of it either. I focused on the life I wanted to live, not the life I had lived. And miracles happen when we do this!
Wishing you lots of love,
PS if you’d like to receive my weekly(ish) newsletter, sign up below for more tips and strategies for cultivating self-love, self-confidence, healing from past trauma, and attracting Mr. Right. One of the strategies is listening to my Love Playlist exclusively, and I put the whole thing on Spotify if you want to follow along and add to it if you have a good love song!