There are few things more terrifying than the unknown. We want to feel like we have our feet under us and have some control over our lives, but going through a difficult time affects us both externally (one’s life structure) and internally (one’s center). So how do we create some stability for ourselves and our families when we are going through a disruption like divorce?
First, like any kind of crises, it is going to require extra resources and a return to basics. A clinician and therapist said, ”When you go through a time that is particularly difficult, it is just like going through a storm. You hold on tight and deal with the basics.”
Second, acknowledge the difficulties and make shifts in priorities. Instead of expecting yourself to start another Master’s Degree, you might in fact help yourself by setting simple, achievable goals. There will be time for more complex and esoteric things once you are in calmer waters.
Goals may include:
- Maintain a regular schedule: eating, sleeping and family time
- Focus on the basics: food, shelter, meal preparation, etc.
By lowering our expectations of ourselves, we can actually create the fertile environment in which we can do and be more.
Marsha Linehan, the founder of dialectical behavioral therapy, suggests that we not make major decisions or take irreversible actions while in a highly emotional state. She discusses three states of mind, which she calls: “emotional mind,” “rational mind,” and “wise mind.”
- Emotional mind is the state of being flooded with emotion – e.g. so angry we see red, so upset we cannot think clearly, etc.
- Rational mind describes the state when we are able to be completely logical and reasonable, and unaffected by our emotions – to the point of not being informed by them or tapped into our intuitive, or “gut” feelings.
- Wise mind is the state we strive to inhabit as much as possible and where we want to be situated when making decisions. In wise mind we are grounded, with access to our reason and logic, yet we are also present in our bodies, and in touch with our higher selves.
The goal when in a state of heightened emotion and upset may simply be to find the way back to wise mind.
While in the throes of divorce (or any other crisis, for that matter) heed this: now is not the time to quit smoking, sell all your belongings, move into an RV and go nomadic. Now is the time to breathe deeply, hug your pets, and eat something.