It is natural and often warranted to feel hard done by, ripped off and downright angry through separation and divorce. It can be easy to get sucked into a vortex of negativity. The negative feelings in your gut and heart, flow vigorously into negative thoughts in your mind like waves. These feelings of negativity may be more than you have ever experienced before. It is important, at this time, that you are compassionate with yourself and let these feelings come over you and go again, as they do. But equally, don’t dwell and get stuck in a negative zone.
Your friends and family are great support; however, they can sometimes keep you stuck in a negative space. They hurt for you, and it can be easy to use them only as a sounding board for self-pity — and they also don’t mind digging into all your ex’s wrongdoings. Sometimes this might help you feel validated and supported, but you do have to be careful you don’t get trapped in the negativity. Ex-bashing and endless talk about what a pain your ex-partner has been will just keep you in a zone of negativity, which does not maximise your chances of moving forwards and living your best life.
When you are feeling angry, negative, or vengeful, ultimately the only person this really hurts is the one holding the feelings. There might be times when the feelings are overpowering and you just have to accept and sit with them for a time.
Last year, in our legal practice we spent a lot of time on mindfulness, and as a team, we learnt a lot about feelings — this is generally something the majority of lawyers try to avoid in the workplace because we are all about solutions, outcomes, and results. Which seems strange given we are dealing with divorce, which is such an emotional issue.
One of the key learnings I took away was ‘Naming and Taming’. Naming and taming are all about recognising what you are feeling and allowing that feeling to be there, accepting it, and ‘sitting with it’, or not pushing it away, for a time. To name and tame, you need to have a conversation with yourself in which you ask, ‘What is happening for you right now? and answer, ‘Well, I’m feeling hurt and angry because this all seems so unfair.’
Once you recognise and name the feeling or emotion, the taming part is to allow the feeling, as uncomfortable as it is, to stay present. Sit with it, and allow yourself time and space to feel it.
Naming and taming is about finding compassion for yourself and what you are going through right now; it is being a friend to yourself and dealing with negative feelings as and when they pop up. Naming and taming do take practice, but it also helps a great deal to shift the negativity from your life.
When you are going through the divorce process, it is also helpful to connect with others who are upbeat and who can inspire you to move forwards with strength and optimism. Seek out professionals, read positive blogs, books, quotes, and magazines about making changes for the better. Or listen to uplifting podcasts or watch YouTube clips that can help you focus on a positive mindset.
Start the work of leaving a negative mindset behind and focusing on yourself and the positive things for which you can be grateful. There is a new life waiting for you on the other side of your settlement and divorce. Ex-bashing, being vengeful, and being negative about your past relationship will not benefit you. In fact, we believe, from our observations of many clients that people who stay in the negative stay in the divorce process for longer.