Anger, sadness, guilt, anxiety, grief and loss are just some of the various emotions that you may be experiencing as a result of your divorce. Due to this vortex of emotions, it's not uncommon for you to act and behave in a way never imagined, nor should you beat yourself up about it. Can someone say "social media" as the new therapeutic emotional outlet?
However, acknowledging and being aware of your emotions during the divorce process is the first step in managing your emotions. And it is managing your emotions that will help you overcome some of the more difficult aspects of your divorce, not to mention it will also help you build a foundation for peace and harmony with your former spouse once the divorce is final.
As a family law attorney, clients contact me constantly when they are having a difficult time resolving issues with their spouse. And while many of these issues are of significant importance, there are many times when these issues can be resolved without the assistance of a professional. Calling your attorney every time you experience a stressful event is extremely costly and does not lay a foundation for problem solving once the divorce is complete. That is why I encourage individuals to think creatively about how to resolve these issues on their own so that their well-earned money can be used for another useful purpose and not always towards attorney's fees and costs.
In my last blog post, I discussed some practical applications on how to cope with an impossible spouse during and after a divorce. Here, I am also going to discuss some practical applications on how to manage your emotions during the divorce process in hopes that it will help ease the difficult divorce process.
1. Flexible Thinking: Flexible thinking means that you don't automatically reject what your former spouse may say when new ideas are discussed or decisions need to be made. Bill Eddy, President of the High Conflict Institute and author of several books related to high conflict divorce, explains that flexible thinking includes having the ability to think of several proposals for solving problems rather than just fighting for your first idea. This in turn results in making better decisions.
2. Check Yourself: It is always important to check yourself and your reactions to your spouse. Are you saying no because you're angry and upset over what your spouse did to you during the divorce? Are you saying no to spite your spouse? Or are you making decisions based on the situation at hand and what is best for you and your family going forward? Ask these questions before you respond to your spouse. When you make decisions that are born out of a rational and calm thought-process, you may find that you are making better decisions. "Being able to focus on changing yourself and not trying to change the other person will make your life less frustrating and more successful" says Eddy.
3. Focus on the Big Picture: Look at the big picture and write your goals down on paper so that you can keep track of what you are hoping to accomplish at the end of your divorce and beyond. For example, if your goal is to be cost conscious, then you may think differently about constantly picking up the phone to call your attorney asking him or her to intervene on your behalf. If your goal is to make the divorce a peaceful and as seamless as possible transition for your children, you may think differently about how you react and respond to your spouse in front of your children. Focusing on your goals will help you avoid sweating the small stuff and focus on what's really important.
With all of this being said, don't beat yourself up when you are immersed with a sense of overwhelming emotion. Divorce is a difficult process and it is important to allow yourself to indulge in the emotions you are feeling during the process. Be sure to contact trusted family and friends and seek professional assistance from psychological experts if you need a safe place to process through your emotions. Do your best however to keep your emotions out of the divorce process because divorce is essentially a legal business transaction.