One of the best ways to deal with (and eventually recover from) loss and emotional pain – whether it derives from the end of a relationship, job loss, illness or death of a loved one – is to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is based on meditation, a technique that is free, easy to learn and available to you on a 24/7 basis. From a psychological standpoint, mindfulness is a state of mind that leads to decreased emotional reactivity and objectivity – a more balanced response to negative experiences. Instead of reacting with urgency and emotion, you can respond rationally and objectively. If you are facing a separation or divorce (or other major setbacks in life), a meditation practice can give you the tools to cope with frustrations of the process, manage anger, and find a route to future happiness. This is very important, especially if you have children, who have a front-row seat to your ill-advised conduct. During divorce, these include inappropriate Facebook posts, name-calling, and verbally abusive text messages. An additional caveat: these inevitably, end up as evidence in court.
The first step towards a mindful approach to a relationship crisis is to accept the reality of the situation you are facing. Relax and trust that you will get through this experience. Do not try to control it. Your thoughts and feelings will unfold and develop. If you are in a state of denial, you cannot proceed mindfully. If the relationship is over, and marriage counseling has not been fruitful, or if you have been served with papers from your spouse’s attorney, you must accept the truth of your new reality. Buddhist teachings of mindfulness demand that you “see clearly” and acknowledge your suffering. Indeed, divorce is one of the most painful experiences a person can have, akin to the death of a loved one. The end of a marriage can bring profound feelings of sadness, anger, and betrayal. You must recognize these feelings, see the truth in them and accept them.
Mindfulness practice teaches you to “sit with your thoughts”, and watch your own experience unfold. While you are meditating, if an uncomfortable thought comes up, you accept it rather than push it away or avoid it. You strive for a non- reactive and non-judgmental attitude. You develop patience. As you clear your mind and focus on your breath, you let negative judgments and obsessive thoughts pass (i.e. “That cheater! I can’t believe she did this to me!” or, “He thinks I’m going to pay alimony? I am going to take him to the cleaners!”) With daily practice, in time, meditation will help you become more objective and less emotional. You will let go of old grievances and your thoughts will follow suit. (i.e. “We tried our best. We both made mistakes. This relationship may be over, but I will be ok. My children will have a secure future.)
Why You Should Practice Minfulness To Help With Divorce
When the divorce process begins, it might seem as if everything important is at stake – your finances, your children, your assets – not to mention your peace of mind. It is easy to feel as if your life is completely out of control. If your thoughts go in that direction, it is only a matter of time before your emotions follow that path. That’s when the issues in your divorce may escalate. Habitual thoughts may lead you to destructive – and self-destructive – mindsets. You worry and stress. You nickel and dime over support payments and how to split up the stuff in the basement and garage. You remember the old days. You plot revenge. In short, you spend your waking hours thinking about your future (without your ex) and your past (with your ex). (i.e. “I’m not paying him one dime from my 401k!”, or “I’m going for full custody!” or “This case will drive me into bankruptcy!”)
So how can practicing mindfulness help with divorce? It forces you into the present day. It gives you a more balanced understanding, by helping you see all of the underlying blame and resentment in your thoughts. It can help you deal with your out of control emotions, and help you cope with the difficult, costly and frustrating legal process of divorce (which can take years to conclude, depending on the issues in your case). Connecting to your breath, spirit, and the universe will reduce feelings of pain, depression, anxiety, and betrayal. It will guide you away from negative thoughts that lead to emotional and vindictive behaviors against your ex. (Spoiler alert: One day, you may derive positive change and personal growth from this painful experience.)
The goal is to find peace of mind and a calm mindset in dealing with your ex. To think rationally, not emotionally. If you practice mindfulness on a regular basis, you may decide that you prefer to resolve a minor dispute and be happy, rather than fight endlessly to prove you are right. You may discover that co-parenting with your ex is worth the effort, especially because your children will benefit from having access to both parents. Best of all, you may shift your focus to living your best life, and closing this negative chapter.
The clients with the best outcomes usually have realistic expectations, and they hire lawyers that encourage resolution and compromise, not conflict. The clients with the worst outcomes often have unresolved anger and unrealistic expectations. To make matters worse, they hire lawyers that exacerbate the conflict and drive up costs. (These are the same clients that blame their ex, their lawyers, the judge, the forensic accountant, and the “system” for the outcome. They almost never accept responsibility.) The fallout from litigation in family law can be significant. It affects the couple. It also affects their children, their finances and their future wellbeing.
To paraphrase Danny DeVito in the classic film, War of the Roses, “There is no winning in divorce litigation, only degrees of losing. Letting go is the most direct route to happiness post divorce. Whether it is letting go of anger towards your ex, or letting go of the personal property you are both fighting over (while incurring thousands in legal fees), just let it go.”
Practicing mindfulness can help with divorce by allowing you to release negative thought patterns and let go of living too much in the past, or too much in the future. When you allow yourself to focus on the present moment, you will discover a peace you didn’t know was possible.
JACQUELINE HAROUNIAN, Esq., a Partner of The Law Firm of Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, P.C., adeptly handles complex family and matrimonial litigation, appearing on divorce, custody, and support matters in the Family and Supreme Courts in Long Island and New York City. She is recognized as a leader in the field of matrimonial and family law and is committed to providing the highest quality legal representation. Please connect with Wissselman, Harounian & Associates, P.C. on Facebook and on Twitter at Wisselmanlaw and learn more about our law firm and Jacqueline Harounian at www.lawjaw.com.
P.S. Want more tools and resources to stay positive during a divorce? Download my Free Divorce Survive & Thrive Kit below!
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