Divorce – Managing Change
In this blog, in-house therapist and divorce consultant Andrew Pearce discusses how best to manage change and our own reactions to change when emotions are running high and the future can seem uncertain. This is particularly the case during a divorce or separation.
Most people have an internal dialogue or narrative running. I’m not talking about hearing voices rather the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, others, the world around us etc.
We take in external events via our senses and then filter them through a myriad of processes including our memories, experiences, values, beliefs etc. In short we take the external experience and personalise it according to what makes us “us”.
This in turn governs our internal state/feeling and drives our behaviour or response to the external experience.
So, depending on the tone and content of the internal dialogue we can talk ourselves in a more or less positive direction and choose a response to what just happened rather than be driven by an instinctive reaction.
- We can choose to fight fire with fire, or not.
- We can choose to be positional ( attack and defence), or not.
- We can dig our heels in and be principled, or not.
- We can focus on our needs in the short term or a more holistic bigger picture.
- We can demand justice and fairness (according to us!) or accept others may have different perspectives.
Separation and divorce is often an uncertain and emotionally challenging experience. There’s a lot at stake. Unkind, unfair and untrue things are often said. It is difficult not to react or instruct your lawyer to do so.
Historically legal language has been oppositional and impersonal which can up the ante still further. You can read more about the language used in divorce, and the moves to change it in the recent article by my colleague, Senior Associate Nicole Phillip’s for Tatler Magazine, here.
It takes a good deal of courage to own our part in any interaction, be aware of what is driving us and choosing to respond rather than retaliate.
The legal process around divorce and separation is finite. It is important to focus on what lies beyond both for ourselves, others and especially children. Clearly we cannot control how others think, act and behave.
We do, however, have control of ourselves. It may not be easy to do alone and often helps to talk it through with an independent professional. Both Jo Harrison (FLiP’s other in-house therapist and divorce consultant) and I have a wealth of experience assisting people to negotiate the labyrinth of divorce and separation, and emerge wiser and stronger.
Please take a look at my previous blog “Divorce – Great Expectations” which talks about managing feelings and expectations during times of heightened emotion.