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The Lies Divorcing People Tell … and What to Do About Them – Part 2

The Lies Divorcing People Tell … and What to Do About Them – Part 2
February 10, 2021 Rachel Alexander, Esq.
Man and woman touching their elongated noses (lie concept)

Lies – What to Do About them


If we agree to expect that our own bad behavior and that of others is an inevitable part of life, at least we can prepare for damage mitigation.


{5 minutes to read} In spite of our best efforts to evolve and improve our self-management skills, emotions will likely get the better of us from time to time, resulting in hurtful and damaging outbursts. If we agree to expect that our own bad behavior and that of others is an inevitable part of life, at least we can prepare for damage mitigation. When people talk about divorce, words can be more like sparks from a welding tool, searing and painful. Unprocessed anger, fear, desperation and ignorance have a bilious quality not suited to constructive communication; they hurt both the expressor and the recipient. Raw emotions give way to verbalizations that are often mere expressions of overwhelming, unmanageable feelings, not actual bridges for useful interaction or authentic communication with one another.


When you or another is flooded with negative emotion, constructive communication is impossible.


Here are some things to keep in mind when engaged in a dangerous verbal encounter:

Do not peer into an erupting volcano

When you or another is flooded with negative emotion, constructive communication is impossible. Take a time out. Do what is necessary, including taking the time needed to calm down and return to a state of reason and equilibrium before attempting to re-engage and address the conflict.

Some simple ways to do this begin with getting back into a relationship with your own body. Take some deep breaths, take a walk, or shower; exercise. Regroup and regain control. Make space for the other to do the same, without recrimination.

Ninja listening or Zealous listening

Strategic listening — what I am terming “Ninja listening” or “Zealous listening”— is a skill to start honing now. Listen to the other as if to a piece of music; hear more the way you would listen for a storm passing. Include yourself in your listening — how is your body taking it in? By listening in a spacious, self-monitoring way, you can not only give the other a wide berth, but you can stay present and responsive to yourself, including your needs to take a break or make other adjustments to protect your emotional safety. This way of listening can reshape and relieve a situation; at the very least it does not worsen it.

I’m coaching you here, how to listen more effectively when the words can strike and scar and are better to hold at arm’s length — the way you would a pan splattering oil.


Treat threats and attacks as verbal fits; keep a safe distance and do not join in.


Do not engage 

Do not engage with threats of any kind. Allow threats to fall like bombs and detonate in the ocean — which, admittedly, is not great for ocean life but at least protects land-lover civilizations. It’s better if the threat is just allowed to be swallowed by non-reactive, yielding, water-like quiet, so it can dissipate while you maintain a safe distance.

Resist responding with aggressive silence or speech. Try instead for nimble, friendly, even sympathetic observation. Allow the comment to have only the oxygen immediately surrounding it, and provide it none of yours. Give it no more life. If you pick it up, even to refute it, you make the unwanted thing larger and stronger. Instead, allow it to fall and die a quick and quiet death. Then move on.

Treat threats and attacks as verbal fits; keep a safe distance and do not join in.

Don’t take it literally

Do not take an angry rant for the truth of the matter asserted. Don’t take angry words literally. Mute the words and instead hear the feeling behind them — the feelings might be big, wet cries for comfort — the way a tired child cries for no apparent reason and the wise parent responds by putting him to bed rather than inquiring into what has him so upset.

Often the person who is lashing out feels frenzied and emotionally overwhelmed and is unconsciously endeavoring to make the other feel what they are feeling, or at least demonstrate or alleviate their own terrible feelings. To the extent you’re able to get some space around it and understand it as an expression of emotion rather than factual declarations to be taken literally, you can survive it.

Don’t engage and don’t take it literally.

Find your feet then find the facts

Consult with an attorney or mediator. Speak with a financial advisor or accountant. Orient yourself by obtaining information. Pay attention to the particulars of your finances and circumstances; grow educated and grounded in factual reality. Fact-finding helps balance the high emotionality that often runs the show, especially the first act, of a divorce.

Rachel Alexander

 

Rachel Alexander
Alexander Mediation Group

(908) 310-3397‬

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