While having clear goals is helpful, sometimes they can slip your mind in the heat of the moment. When you feel scared and angry, the hardest thing to do is to pause. The easiest thing to do is to rush headlong into battle; you are wounded, your spouse is ‘wrong’, you are ‘right’, and he/she needs to pay or be punished.

Angry outbursts can feel satisfying, and outbursts in the presence of your children or other people can make you feel validated in your anger about what your ex has said or done to you. However, they can cause you both to lose sight of the bigger picture. Expressing anger in a way that is going to escalate conflict and your own pain is not healthy. It’s not healthy for your emotional wellbeing and it’s not healthy if you care about achieving the best outcome for you, your spouse, and your children.

When you end up arguing instead of cooperating, you damage your own emotional and often physical health, and you will spend much more money than you need to, usually on lawyers, and get less for it. Those very early steps or missteps count against everyone, down the track. Holding back can often be the difference between reaching a reasonable solution and getting stuck in acrimonious fights about everything: your children, your money, your property and so on.

This is where mindfulness is key.

One of the common misconceptions about mindfulness is that it involves sitting cross-legged and stilling your mind so you can connect with a higher power. The truth is that incorporating small mindfulness practices in your day-to-day life can help you become more aware of your actions. This can help you make conscious choices about how you will respond to any situation rather than falling into fight or flight. Then, rather than reflecting on your separation with regret, knowing that if you had done things differently you and your family might have a much better life, you will have the ability to make.much better choices in the moment. You will be able to look back, knowing you did the best you could.

Some techniques you can use to become more mindful include:

  • Tuning into your senses – Take the time to smell your coffee in the morning, to feel the heat of the water in the shower, and to taste the food you are eating. So many of us are so caught up in our thoughts that we never truly experience these moments.
  • Breathing – Most of us don’t breathe deeply, and this can put our bodies into a state of stress. Instead, notice your breathing. Then, slow it down – count out five seconds on the inhale, and slowly exhale for another five seconds, filling your lungs from the bottom to the top.
  • Appreciating what you have – If you haven’t reached a state of detachment yet, it can be easy to find yourself constantly on the attack. Try to take five minutes a day, either when you first wake up or before bed, to reflect on the things you can appreciate in your life – your children, having a roof over your head, a beautiful spring day – there is plenty to appreciate.
  • Releasing your emotions – If you’re struggling to feel appreciation because strong emotions keep getting in the way, let them out. Scream into a pillow, hit the gym, dance or sing along to loud music, hit some cushions – all these activities can help get your emotions out, so you can then be more mindful.
  • Taking time to relax – In a separation, it can feel like there’s always something to do, to negotiate or to organise. It’s important to make time to rest so you can reconnect with yourself.
  • Getting help – There are no medals for getting through a divorce without emotional support. Working with a counsellor can help you process your separation and talk about your fears for the future, or anything else that is holding you in one place.
  • Meditating – The benefits of meditation have been widely covered. One valuable exercise is visualising letting go of your hurt, frustration, and guilt, as described below. You can also consider downloading some guided meditations to your phone.

This excerpt is from ‘Breaking Up Without Breaking Down’ – Dr Tina Sinclair, Tricia Peters

Marguerite Picard which can be purchased via Amazon – https://www.amazon.com.au/Breaking-Up-Without-Down-Preserving/dp/0992317665

Please contact MELCA – https://melca.com.au/ for more information and to book a free 15-minute information session.