Where Do I Begin?

by: Susan Morrow | Website

Where Do I Begin?

Once you have decided to divorce, there is an important first step.

Stop. Second-guessing. Yourself.

This is a journey through an admittedly unsettling adjustment. It doesn’t have to result in long lasting trauma. To help you to avoid unnecessary abrasions, I’m offering 5 additional tools.

1. Develop an attitude of self responsibility for your future. No one else can decide your future as well as you. This is where freedom starts, and, with practice, confidence grows.

2. Take proactive steps to get support. Enlist your most trusted friends and a good therapist. They can help you to tune in to your priorities. To be an internally divided house while dividing a household is counter-productive.

3. It’s crucial to develop buffers of hope and a sense of personal agency. In divorce, there are points where you will naturally suffer from “enforced helplessness”.

Lab studies in rats, exposed to unavoidable shock, has helped us understand immune system compromise, from simply not having control over exposure to negative events. Psychologists use the term “learned helplessness” when describing this phenomena. The brain’s architecture can actually change from repeated, unmitigated exposure to unavoidable, negative events.

4. Mindfulness meditation practices can effectively mediate the cascading emotions triggered by the negative and unavoidable divorce events you will encounter. In divorce, “Monkey Mind”, a Buddhist description of agitation, distraction, moving mind, often sets in. It’s easy to get lost in confusion and contradictions.

In the midst of painful triggers (ie. email from your spouse), deploy a mindset of detached curiosity about your own thinking… while noticing how a narrative develops. Notice thoughts “lightly”.  Let them pass by without building a story about them or making judgements of them. Simultaneously, tune in to physical sensations. Notice and watch-through the lens of a detached, curious scientist. Note and follow the natural flow of your breathing.

These simple strategies offer you  protection from energy-sapping rabbit holes and the accompanying parade of costly stress hormones.

5. Have you got second guessing under wraps? Decide next, how much authority you want in making decisions about your divorce. Evaluate the collaborative family law model. It’s designed to help you to be the judge and jury of your own future.

Collaboratively trained family law professionals are bushwhacking the way to change-away from the learned helplessness narrative of the antiquated traditional divorce system.

Susan Morrow, LCSW, has been working with individuals, couples, and families for 25 years in private practice with Center Charlotte Psychotherapy. Success in family health breeds from coherence within the family system. This process is fostered by engaged, responsive, attuned communication between partners. Getting these essentials right can disarm animosity and promote lifelong friendship. I help couples track the well worn negative cycles that have developed in their relationship. With blocks to healthier communication dismantled, distress dissolves. Both dramatic and mundane problems become more easy to resolve.