Involvement in a divorce usually delivers a huge psychological and emotional jolt to the parties. The agony and mental turmoil caused by the loss of an intimate relationship can be overwhelming, even paralyzing.
Question & Answer
As the trauma nears the crescendo level, the question arises: “Can I Get Through This Mess?”
And the follow-up question is: “If So, How?”
Psychologists say the first answer is: “Yes.”
And the second answer is: “You have the tools, you just need to use them.”
Brain Power –
Medical researchers assure us that our minds are resilient and we have the capability to prepare for and deal with adversity. When a negative situation arises, the mind subconsciously activates what psychologists call our psychological immune system. The psychological immune system is a process the brain initiates to help us make sense of an adverse environment, determine a course of action and, ultimately, to define positives for the future. The system serves as a buffer against the stresses of life. The countervailing force within our minds is the negativity bias – the tendency to focus more on negative experiences than on positive ones. Psychological and emotional stability requires recognizing the forces at work within our minds and keeping them in balance.
Allowing the psychological immune system to push back the negativity bias can create a psychological “neutral zone”. In the neutral zone, a person can recognize there are both an “up-side” and a “down-side” to the current situation. An accurate evaluation of the existing situation is a necessary first step toward careful and thoughtful decisions.
So how do you get to neutrality?
Stay in the present moment –
Focus on what you can control. Avoid ruminations about what might happen and what might happen after that and after that and after that. Remember that you can guide yourself but not others.
Participate in activities that require your attention but not deep concentration. Physical exertion (anything that raises your heart rate) will divert your thoughts away from problems and allow the body’s “feel-good” chemicals to take effect.
Notes to self –
Jotting down a few notes about the positive versus the negative can help analyze the predicament realistically. Positive messaging goes a long way. An occasional memo to self about a pleasant past event will initiate thoughts about how and when the present difficulties will end.
What is right –
Assume that a close friend has fallen victim to the problems that are currently swirling around you and the friend requests your advice. From that point of view, what would you say is the “right” thing to do? Decisions based on values (instead of what feels good at the moment) are more likely to help you persist through the difficulties.
Gratitude is a strong tool. “With gratitude, optimism is sustainable” – Michael J. Fox.
Hire competent help –
In a divorce situation hiring a team of experienced professionals is a wise move. Competent professionals – a lawyer to handle the legal issues, a counselor for emotional support, a member of the clergy for spiritual guidance – competent help is absolutely necessary.
Ultimately, you are responsible for yourself and your ability to deal with adversity.
Remember – you have the tools to get past the trauma of the divorce. Use them.