How to control your emotions when going through a divorce.
- It's a cruel irony: the very time in your life when you're feeling most vulnerable is the very time you most need to keep a level head, an even temper, and a civil tongue.
No, it's not going to be easy, but learning to control your emotions as you go through the divorce process is one of the very best things you can do to ensure that everything runs smoothly, that you always bring your logical, rational head to the mediation table, and that you make the best decisions for you and your future.
So, how exactly do you stay in control of your emotions when the very thought of having to be in the same room (virtual or otherwise!) as your spouse fills you with dread? Well, with a few key strategies, and a little practice, you'll soon be confident in keeping a cool head even when things start to heat up.
Pick your moments.
I'm going to say it again for anyone who needs to hear it: being super emotional at this time is totally normal. Anger, bitterness, worry, sadness, grief are all par for the course and no one expects you to completely suppress these emotions — in fact, it's far healthier to allow yourself to accept your feelings, rather than to bottle them all up.
That said, learning to control when you express these emotions is definitely a good idea so they don't all come flooding out mid-mediation session or in the middle of a court appearance.
This is the perfect time to turn to your support system and to find someone who is totally on your side — someone who'll be there to listen to your rants, to provide endless tubs of Ben and Jerry's, to hug you when you need to cry, and to let you process your emotions in a safe, low-stakes environment. So call on your parents, your friends, a supportive colleague. I also always recommend engaging the help of a therapist to get you through this tough time, as simply having someone on your side who doesn't know you can be a much-needed neutral place to vent.
Avoid your triggers.
What are your triggers? Maybe there was a specific episode that heralded the end of your marriage. Perhaps a certain phrase your spouse always said to drive you mad. An old argument that you wish had played out differently.
Whatever it is, you likely have at least one and your brain is going to want to replay it over and over, especially when you're getting ready for a mediation session or a trip to court.
You might even feel like dwelling on your trigger is a good thing, that it's helping you get your game face on, when really it's just adding to your stress and moving you further away from the rational mindset you need to face these difficult situations.
So, whenever you feel your mind wandering back to past hurts, try to find a distraction. Listen to a podcast on your way to your mediation session, or try a few mindfulness techniques to help reign in your wandering mind and ground you in the present.
Similarly, if you're mid-session and your spouse has started to push your buttons (whether intentionally or not), it's absolutely fine to ask your mediator to press pause and give you the time you need to avoid that trigger and get your emotions back under control.
Expect the unexpected.
When going through times of change, it's only natural to strive for certainty — you'll likely start making all sorts of predictions about how the divorce process is going to play out as a way to comfort your anxious mind.
And, while there's nothing inherently wrong with that, it's worth remembering that during a divorce, it pays to expect the unexpected. Most people experience the odd curveball or two as well as moments when it feels like you've completely erased the progress you thought you'd made.
By telling yourself beforehand to expect some curveballs, you'll prime your brain to ride out these moments, to accept them as normal, and to work through them to get to the next stage of the process.
Focus on the future.
Going through a divorce is not entirely dissimilar to bereavement and as you work through the grief process you'll find yourself drawn to the past, to the good times and the hopes and plans you shared with your spouse, as well as the negative memories linked to your separation.
While this is a totally natural aspect of divorce, when you're preparing for mediation or court, focusing on the future is the key to keeping a cool head.
So, ask yourself: what does your future look like? Rather than dwelling on the negatives, consider the opportunities the future may hold, the hopes you have, and the dreams you're now free to pursue.
Visualize this future, play it like a movie in your mind and use it to inform the present moment. What do you need to achieve from your divorce to make that ideal future more likely? What do you have to say, how should you behave, how should you react?
Having a strong image in your head of an exciting future can help focus your mind and create a barrier against the emotions that might otherwise negatively impact the outcome of your divorce.
Because, as hurt as you are right now, as painful as divorce is, you do have a positive future ahead of you. With a little practice, a few deep breaths, and a healthy dose of support from those around you, you'll be more than strong enough to secure that future without letting your emotions get the better of you.
Don't forget, I'm more than happy to become part of your support system as you work through your divorce. Contact me today to find out how I can help you and your spouse achieve the peaceful, fair, healthy divorce you both want.