Resiliency: 8 Ways to Bounce Back After Divorce

March 28, 2017

“Resiliency is a quality in objects to hold or recover their shape, or in people to stay intact. This is a kind of strength.” (definition from

The concept of resiliency has been trending in the pervasive “how to be happy” media genre. I find the concept of resiliency to be particularly important when attempting to bounce back after the trauma of divorce. If you want to be happy after your divorce or break-up, you will need to sharpen up your resiliency skills.

The key to resiliency is to not let failure overcome your life. Resilient people have the ability to fail, time and time again, and still manage to succeed and recover from the setbacks. In a divorce, being resilient allows you to more readily heal from the sadness, trauma, guilt, fear and having the rug yanked out from under your life.

If you don’t have a naturally resilient personality, don’t worry. Your resilient self is there. It is in your DNA. Sometimes, though, that part of our genetic make-up gets a little dusty and we need to clean it off. This can be done by anyone who truly wants to feel good and get on with living a happy life (assuming you do not have a diagnoses that disallows happiness or self-satisfaction).

Finding resilience in yourself is a matter of developing behaviors, thoughts and actions that support resiliency. It requires changing some of you habits. But, how will you find the energy to change your habits and become resilient after a divorce? Because now your changes will be for you. You are in charge. Everything you do to build up your resiliency will be to become a happier person. What have you got to lose?

8 Factors that build resiliency and reduce the time that it takes to bounce back after divorce include:

  • Optimism

Your marriage could not have been good, or you wouldn’t be getting divorced (whether or not it was your idea). Freeing yourself from a bad marriage is liberating and opens doors. Start planning for a bright future.

  • Positive Attitude

There are often silver linings to divorce. For example, divorce can enable to you be more authentic in your personality and in how you parent your children.

  • Smile and Laugh

Don’t be afraid to have a good time. Encourage your mind, body and soul to feel joy. Smiling (with teeth!) is a good idea whether you feel it or not – you will do better socially and you will feel better, too. This is natural “medicine” with no side effects.

  • Be Flexible

Training yourself to be resilient will require a flexible persona. If you are not a fan of change, you will need practice at gently pushing yourself to accept new situations as simply “different, not bad”. Accept that change is part of life and that, often times, you have very little or no control over the biggest changes that occur in your life.

  • View Failure as a form of Helpful Feedback

Learning from mistakes gives people a sense of control and makes stressful situations seem less threatening. Take ownership and learn from your role in the break-up (both parties always have some level of responsiblity). Your new relationships will be stronger and healthier as a result.

  • Be Confident.

Be sure to nurture a positive view of yourself. Trust your instincts. Solve problems. Set small goals so you can feel personal progress.

  • Be Involved. Be Social.

If you have family or close friends, accept their help and support. If you don’t, now is the time to join an organization where you can help others. Civic groups, faith-based organizations and other local groups provide both social support and opportunities to help others. Helping others provides relief from own problems and gives you helpful perspective.

  • Be Strong.

Literally. Get your exercise. It’s hard to be resilient when you are a physical wreck. If you are not fit now, use your divorce as a jumping off point to get healthy. Also, exercise will give your mind a break from your issues, give you confidence and nurture creative thinking.

  • Motivation

If you were not motivated to change bad habits while you were married, your divorce or break-up may be just the catalyst you need to make important changes that stick. And remember, your children are watching everything that you do. The more motivated you are to heal yourself, the more chance your children will have of being resilient themselves.


By Erin Brockman, Mediation, Marketing & Research Assistant &
Robin Graine, JD, CDFA


How To Turn Break-Up Stress Into A Meditative Experience

October 14, 2014

Have you ever heard someone say, “I am so stressed out–I’m in the middle of a nasty break-up/separation/divorce”? Maybe you were the one who said it. It’s a reasonable way to feel. There’s so much to consider when ending a relationship, especially one with the legal trappings marriage entails, that it gets overwhelming very quickly. How are the children coping? How are we splitting the house, the bank accounts, the business? Will I still be insured under my ex-partner’s policy? What about my benefits? The list of questions is very close to endless.

Now, have you ever heard someone say, “I’m in the middle of a nasty break-up/separation/divorce–I find it very relaxing”? If you did, you’d probably assume they were being sarcastic. While that statement tends toward hyperbole, know that you really can find something freeing and perhaps even relaxing about the process. It’s all a matter of perspective.

zenFirst, know that no two break-ups are the same. There is no formula that divorce lawyers or mediators can apply to a couple and achieve the same result every time. That means that there are no absolutes, no set-paths, no “perfect” divorces. Once you begin to understand that such a large life transition can’t ever be “perfect,” you can free yourself from the burden of trying to attain that perfection.

Second, realize that life transitions are dynamic and fluid by nature. It can often feel like you are constantly struggling just to keep up, but consider a river. If you try to fight the force of the current by obsessing over all of the inherent problems within a transition, you will quickly tire and drown. But give yourself over to the flow of the river, know that things will–and should–change, and you may find yourself floating lazily before you realize what has happened.

The next time you begin to feel overwhelmed by the flurry of activity and upheaval your break-up is causing, take a step back. Consider the necessity of the movement that keeps you from sputtering to a standstill. Remember that movement means progress. When you give up perfection and give into the transition, you may be surprised where life floats you to next.

Posted by Jane Baber, Mediation Assistant

This blog and its materials have been prepared by Graine Mediation for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as, legal advice.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

What Happy People Do Differently

November 12, 2013

“One of life’s sharpest paradoxes is that the key to satisfaction is doing things that are risky, uncomfortable, and downright unhappy!”

group-of-happy-people-2            The question “How can I be happy?” is a source of continuous pondering and countless research studies.  One of the latest compilations and statistical analysis of data on this topic appeared in the August 2013 issue of Psychology Today, “What Happy People Do Differently” (by Todd B. Kashdan, George Mason University and Robert Biswas-Diener, author of The Courage Quotient).

The pursuit of happiness is a billion dollar industry, and for good reason.  In a recent study by Ed Diener (University of Illinois) and Shieghiro Oishi (University of Virginia)—that included a whopping 10,000+ participants, from 48 countries—Diener and Oishi concluded that being happy ranks higher, as a desirable personal outcome, than other “old fashioned” measures of well-being, such as: feeling that you have true meaning in your life, finding your way to prosperity, and even getting into heaven!

Happiness is a State of Mind (not just an emotion)

            The authors of this Psychology Today article assume, like most contemporary psychologists, that true happiness is more than a mere emotion – it is, instead, a state of mind.  As such, happiness can be cultivated by intentional and strategic acts and thoughts, much like changing a habit.

In other words, only a small portion of what most of us consider “happiness” has to do with how we feel at any given moment.  Instead, the sense of being a “happy person” has to do with a person’s cognitive reflections, expectations, ideals, and acceptance of what you cannot change”.

40% of our capacity for happiness is within our power to change.

— Sonja Lyubomirsky, University of CA, Riverside

            Most striking is Diener and Oishi’s finding that the unique habits of those that are happiest in life point toward engagement in activities that lead people to feel uncertain, discomforted, and even guilty!  “Happy people, it seems, engage in a wide range of counterintuitive habits that seem, well, downright unhappy.”


            “Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that sustained happiness is not just about doing things that you like.  It also requires growth and adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone.  Happy people are, simply put, curious”.

Happy people tend not to view being uncomfortable and vulnerable as the end of the world.  Instead, they see such feelings as temporary and a sure-fire way to becoming stronger and wiser.  “Curious people, it seems, invest in activities that cause them discomfort as a springboard to higher psychological peaks”. (Based on a 2007 study by Todd B. Kashdan, George Mason University and Michael Stegger, Colorado State Psychologist).

Blissfully Inattentive

            I have always thought that teenage boys are some of the happiest people on the planet.  Now I know why!  Your chances of being happy are greater when you are somewhat “out of it”!

Happy people tend not to pick apart other people and situations.  They are less skeptical than their more unhappy counterparts. The most bliss-filled among us tend, also, to be uncritically open toward strangers and may even appear naïve. (Based on a study led by Joseph Forgas (University of New South Wales)).

Happy folks are less likely to be analytical and detail-oriented. Depressed people, however, are more likely to reflect on and process (over and over again) their experiences – for which they pay a big emotional price. (Paul Andrews, Virginia Commonwealth University).

At school, work, and in relationships, too, the happiest among us, say Oishi and Diener, are not the A students, the best performers on the job, or the individuals who strive for smooth sailing in their relationships.  Strict expectations of ourselves or others do not, apparently, bode well for a happy state of being.

“Sweating the details seems to be a job for the miserable . . . and they better get to it . . . because all of the happy people already went home!”

Be a Cheerleader 

            The happiest people among us are the ones who are present when things go right (not just wrong) for others.  This is because we are actually buoyed by others’ good fortunes.  After all, don’t we all know that two positives make a positive?

“When romantic partners fail to make a big deal out of each other’s success, the couple is more likely to break up.  On the flipside, when partners celebrate each other’s accomplishments, they’re more likely to be satisfied and committed to their relationships, enjoying greater love and happiness”.

                  — Shelly Gable, University of California, Santa Barbara

Feelings as Radar

            The most psychologically healthy people recognize that “emotions serve as excellent feedback – an internal radar system providing information about what’s happening (and about to happen) in our social world”.  (Kashdan and Biswas-Diener) Hiding from negative emotions is not where it’s at, in terms of attaining and sustaining a sense of well-being.  Instead, acknowledging emotions and being able to intuitively utilize that information to better your situation (as opposed to allowing those same emotions to exhaust you), and balancing your emotional reaction, depending on the circumstances, is what will put you on the fast track to developing positive happiness habits.

Thick Skin

            Happy people tend to be pretty thick-skinned.  Though some people are born this way, even the thin-skinned among us can learn to toughen up a bit.  The authors of this article suggest that those of us with thin skin should practice simply tolerating an emotionally challenging feeling for a little bit. No judgment.  No acting out. No numbing. No ramping up. Just deal with it.  Over time, your ability to withstand day-to-day negative emotions will expand and, since you cannot avoid them, your “skin will thicken” and you will have the emotional energy to shift it to the positive!

Balancing Pleasure with Purpose

People who are happiest, says Steger, tend to be “superior at sacrificing short-term pleasures when there is a good opportunity to make progress toward what they aspire to become in life”.

Further, making advances toward achievement of our goals causes us to feel more engaged while, at the same time, helps us tolerate any negative emotions that arise on the journey. (Richard Davidson, University of Wisconsin, Madison).

Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.

                                                               – Eleanor Roosevelt

Posted by Elizabeth Revell, Mediation Assistant and Robin Graine, JD, Virginia Supreme Court Certified Mediator

This blog and its materials have been prepared by Graine Mediation for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as, legal advice.  This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.  Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

Are You Ready to be Vulnerable?

August 27, 2013
You are now single, or are considering becoming a single person.  At its best, this time of transition is an opportunity for change.  It is a time to become the person you have always wanted to be. Why not?  It makes no sense to get divorced and then be more miserable than you were in your marriage.
Most mental heath experts, psychologists and social workers agree that the single most important factor that supports a happy life is connection to other people.  That does not, necessarily, mean a spouse.  It means people–groups, individuals, friends, family, workmates, neighbors, etc.  Dr. Brené Brown, a social worker of great renown, gives a wonderful TedTalk on this subject.
 Dr. Brown spent many years studying “the happy” and “the unhappy”.  The core difference, she found, was their comfort level with vulnerability.  To be happy is to be comfortable with one’s vulnerability, it seems.  To be vulnerable is to be human.  The more you are comfortable with your humanity, the more people want to be connected to you; and the more you are comfortable being connected with them.
Watch Dr. Brown’s TedTalk below. I hope that it inspires you as it has me.

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