Whenever we react to someone or something, we can often spend a lot of negative energy arguing, defending, explaining, or convincing. Instead, wouldn’t it be far more satisfying to put that energy into standing for ourselves and our own needs? Certainly, when you are going through a divorce or facing any family law issue, it is far more productive and rewarding to focus your energy on rebuilding positive family connections and meeting your own needs rather than negatively reacting to your spouse, your lawyer or the legal system. The former empowers you while the latter makes you a victim.
Some suggestions for standing for yourself during the divorce process or when facing a family law issue:
1. It is important to remember that when we are focusing on someone else’s perceived shortcomings, chances are that we are neglecting ourselves. If you notice yourself having a strong negative reaction to someone or something, you might ask yourself what you have been avoiding or not facing in your own life. For example, perhaps you haven’t spoken to your mother in many years after an explosive argument and falling out. You also find yourself often blowing up at your children, your ex, or anyone or anything around you. Sure, you can justify your blowups but why not instead explore the anger you haven’t expressed towards your mother by keeping silent all these years? This is just one example. The point is that you might try identifying any areas in your life that you have been perpetually avoiding or putting off. This will put the focus on yourself and your own needs which in turn will likely reduce the need to focus on someone else’s perceived shortcomings.
2. Identify specific actions you can take to stand for yourself. For instance, in the example above, you might write a letter to your mother where you fully expresss your feelings. Chances are you will notice that your frequent blowups at those around you simply disappear. After identifying any areas that you have been avoiding, you might try listing specific and concrete actions that you can take to deal with the area head in a positive and productive way.
3. Communicate your feelings and needs in a productive (rather than destructive) way that brings about positive results. For example, perhaps your parents or former in-laws are driving your crazy by constantly telling you how to parent your children. Rather than reacting by defending or arguing with them, you might stand for yourself by calmly and assertively telling them that you appreciate their concern as your children’s grandparents and are confident that you have a parenting style that always looks out for your children’s best interests.
Specifically, in divorce negotiations, the goal is generally to achieve a global settlement with terms that are beneficial to both parties. Therefore, at the outset of negotiations, it is important for both you and your spouse (in conjunction with your attorneys) to identify values and specific goals. This will reduce the chance that both energy and money will be spent on reacting to each party’s behavior, which unfortunately can keep you polarized and disconnected from standing for yourself.