What Brad Pitt Can Teach You About Healing After Divorce

healing after divorceActor Brad Pitt recently gave an in-depth interview with GQ where he opened up about his divorce with Angelina Jolie.

News of the Brangelina split was splattered across tabloids last fall. Pitt reached a breaking point in September when he had an altercation on a private plane with one of his six children that led to an FBI investigation (although no charges were filed). Just five days after that incident, Jolie filed for divorce.

Rumors swirled about Pitt’s possible drug and alcohol abuse as his life seemed to fall apart at the seams.

It’s easy to follow stories like this from afar and not consider the emotions involved, but the emotional turmoil of a divorce can be devastating, and they affect everyone – even celebrities. No amount of fame or fortune can shield you from that heartache.

Pitt might be one of the wealthiest and most adored actors of the last 50 years, but he was also a 53-year-old man who lost his wife and access to his kids.

Pitt’s interview was raw and revealing. He admitted many of the problems he’s encountered in his life have been “self-inflicted” and talked openly and honestly about his past mistakes, his current mindset, and how he hopes to move on in the future.

His answers also provide a sort of roadmap for how guys should approach the divorce recovery process.

Don’t hide from your feelings

“I think that’s part of the human challenge: You either deny them (feelings) all your life or you answer them and evolve.”

A divorce is like a death, and the healing process often involves stages of grief. A lot of guys try to act tough and refuse to acknowledge the emotions they’re feeling. That’s dangerous and is only going to delay your recovery.

Research shows a lot of men actually take breakups harder than women do so you shouldn’t feel pressure to act like you’re OK when you are hurting. There is no shame in reaching out for help.

Develop new hobbies and avoid unhealthy habits

“I’m making everything. I’m working with clay, plaster, rebar, wood. Just trying to learn the materials. You know, I surprise myself.”

In the interview, Pitt admits he’s struggled with substance abuse in the past but no longer smokes and recently stopped drinking. He’s replaced booze with cranberry juice and fizzy water.

After divorce, it is very easy to develop bad habits that can derail the healing process. Some people turn to alcohol or drugs. Others immediately seek out rebound relationships.

These habits might numb your pain for a while, but you can count on feeling even worse once the hangover hits.

Pitt talks about how he’s taken up sculpting as a hobby in recent months. Trying out new things (that aren’t harmful) is one of the best things to do after a breakup. A divorce affords you a level of freedom that enables you to rediscover your passions and interests. Maybe, like Pitt, you’ll find something new you love to do to pass time.

Divorce is a season

“I always look at things in seasons, compartmentalized them, I guess. …”

Pitt is open about how tough the divorce process has been, but he adds that this is just one part of his life.

When you’re in the thick of divorce, it can seem like it will never end. At some point, you might start to think that your divorce will define you. Don’t give in to that type of negative self-talk.

Yes, you are now a divorced man. But that is just one tiny part of who you are as a person.

“Divorce is a season, said author Laura Petherbridge. “It’s a season of your life. It’s an event. It’s not who you are. It’s not an identity. It’s a season, and you will get over it.”

Put your kids first

“I heard one lawyer say, ‘No one wins in court – it’s just a matter of who gets hurt worse.’ And it seems to be true, you spend a year just focused on building a case to prove your point and why you’re right and why they’re wrong, and it’s just an investment in vitriolic hatred. I just refuse.”

The most encouraging parts of Pitt’s interview are when he talks about how he and Jolie are working together amicably to keep the best interests of their children in mind.

If you are a father, putting your children first is the single most important thing to keep in mind during your divorce. As angry as you might be at your ex, it is crucial that you work together to co-parent. Your kids deserve to have healthy, loving relationships with both you and your ex, and it is up to you two to provide that for them.

Stay mindful

I see joy out the window, and I can see the silhouette of palms and an expression on one of my kids’ faces, a parting smile, or finding some, you know, moment of bliss with the clay. You know, it’s everywhere, it’s got to be found.”

Pitt talks at length about staying in the moment regardless of what is going on around him. Even recently, he says he’s experienced strong feelings of sadness, but that hasn’t taken away his appreciation from the good things going on around him every day.

When you are experiencing so much stress during a divorce, one of the best ways to clear your head and remain grounded is by practicing daily meditation and cultivating a sense of mindfulness. Research shows even just a few minutes of mindful mediation each day can have tremendous benefits.

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