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Divorce Your Way: How do you want to feel?

Updated: May 23, 2020

You can allow negative, unproductive feelings to guide you through the proceedings or open your heart to positive, productive feelings to help you heal faster, negotiate better, and move on to new beginnings.

“FEELINGS inform our THOUGHTS, and our perspective. THOUGHTS inform our ACTIONS, our behaviour. FEELINGS. THOUGHTS. ACTIONS.” Danielle LaPorte

In the initial stages of divorce, your physiological reaction puts you in a fight-or-flight response state. It is natural to feel emotionally turbulent, angry, fearful, devastated, and uncertain. Negative, angry, destructive, victim feelings, and acting out with tantrums, screaming, and negative behaviors characterize one aspect of the fight or flight response. The situation may also immobilize you. Regardless of your initial reaction, these feelings and resulting behaviors won't help you in the divorce or your future planning. Besides, it isn't healthy or sustainable to be in either of these states for too long.

Regardless of your spouse's actions, you can choose feelings that will help guide you and your loved ones to go through a divorce with greater ease and grace. To help you understand where I'm going, let me ask you, "Do you prefer to be seen and remembered as an irrational person, a victim, or as calm, thoughtful, and deliberate?"

The sooner you get to a place where you are in control of your emotions and can set an intention on how you want to feel, the better able you will be to manage the process, get what you want, and move on to a new life.

To take control of out-of-control emotions, you'll need to put a few things in place. The goal with these practices is to calm down, open your heart, and head to how you want to feel, think, and act during one of your worst experiences.

1. Practice whatever is your version of extreme self-care.

2. Exercise will combat the physiological reactions to the situation. Just do it!

3. Eat a healthy diet, and avoid drugs and alcohol.

4. Be careful about driving and operating heavy machinery.

5. Get plenty of sleep and rest.

6. Ask for help with kids.

7. Slow down so you can be aware and avoid emotional triggers.

8. Meditate, read, and journal.

9. Minimize who you discuss the situation with (best friend, of course - co-workers not so much). You'll avoid a lot of judgment and create personal space for a more quiet mind.

10. Practice gratitude daily and write your golden nuggets down.

11. Don't be hard on yourself.

Once you've got an initial grasp on your emotions, take the next step to choose how you want to feel during the process. Write down what you're feeling at your worst moments. Examine the words and their meanings. What are their antonyms? In my situation, my head was always racing, I was panicked, afraid, and devastated. I settled on the words calm, safe, and happy as words to guide my emotions and subsequent decisions and behaviors. To anchor my feelings, I created a warmly colored vision board of homes, with a woman protected in a tower and kept her visible in my office. If vision boarding isn't for you, use post-it notes to keep your chosen words front and center. You'll ultimately get the words into your mind and body. The words will become cues for your actions.

My desired feeling words informed my every divorce decision. If an attorney was overly combative and aggressive, he wasn't for me. I wanted to go forward and be calm, safe, and happy. I settled on a reserved, competent attorney who was a determined and steady negotiator. His demeanor helped me stay in the game when out of court negotiations failed, and confidently put forth a deal that assured me I would be calm, safe, and happy.

My feelings words have been my guides for years since the divorce. My mind is calm; I'm rarely afraid of change or financial decisions, and I am a happy person. I'm safe with me.

When you first discover you're getting divorced, you feel as though your life is over. And parts of it are. But find your own feeling words and trust them to help guide you through this difficult time. You can get through this, come out whole, and have self-respect, independence, and a life you love. Just start by asking yourself how do you want to feel.


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