Getting divorced takes you through a full range of emotions, from anger to sadness and everything in between. Everyone goes through a rollecoaster of feelings. But you can make this easier by knowing hot to emotionally handle a divorce.
It’s important to recognize the impact of your emotions, because if you don’t, they can derail your divorce process and make you feel terrible.
If you’re making decisions in your divorce based on your emotions instead of on a clear strategy, you may make decisions you regret. For example, if you argue over season football tickets even though you know that your ex is the football fan, it can cost you a lot more money than if you come to an agreement on your own.
After decades as a therapist, divorce coach and going through my own divorce, I can attest to the intensity of emotions throughout divorce – anxiety, anger, fear and overwhelm just to name a few. Here are 3 ways to reign in those emotions so that you can think clearly through your divorce:
The practice of detachment is a mindfulness strategy which allows you to let go of expectations and observe your situation as a bystander, without getting wrapped up in it. Detachment enables you to recognize “this too shall pass”. By detaching, you are setting an emotional boundary so you have more control of where your energy goes. It allows you not to be controlled by another person’s actions or by your circumstances.
Detaching means that you don’t think about divorce all the time. Practice putting the divorce in a box and being in the present moment by taking deep breaths and observing your emotions. It takes a mere 90 seconds for the physical chemical reaction that comes with a negative feeling to dissipate. Give yourself at least two minutes before you respond when you feel an intense emotion. If you wait it out, you can move back into logical thinking.
Divorce is like a pressure cooker and taking care of your body is like the release valve that lets off steam so you don’t explode. You can take care of your body through the basics like drinking water, eating regularly, getting enough sleep, an exercise routine or meditation practice. These will all help you from always being on edge. Then you can approach decisions in your divorce with strategy and clarity instead of in an emotional and reactionary manner.
Research has shown that emotions and stress stay stuck in your body unless you make an effort to release them. Working through your emotions by journaling, talking to an understanding friend, therapist or support group allows you to get them out! When you don’t deal with them, powerful emotions cloud your ability to prioritize what’s truly important: making a plan for your future.
When I was going through my divorce, my ex and I fought over unimportant things that didn’t matter in the end. Because we were emotional, we got sucked into arguments. It was when I realized that the custody agreement was my biggest priority, I was able to step back and clearly focus on my goals.
One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself in divorce is working on keeping your emotions in check. This will give you confidence that you’re making decisions that will serve you and your children in the long run. And you can come through divorce with a sense of self-respect, knowing that you can be proud of the way you handled your divorce.