In this instalment of Stowe guests, we catch-up back again with Claire Black from Claire Black Divorce Coaching.
Claire was with us back in September looking to look at what divorce coaching is and how it can help people thinking about or going through a relationship breakdown. Today, she joins us to look at reclaiming your power and control when going through a divorce.
Tony Robbins classifies certainty as one of the basic human needs: when we have certainty, we feel safe, secure, comfortable, and in control. Divorce is a time of uncertainty and change, which can be painful and challenging. There are a lot of unknowns, and it can be frightening as you wonder what the future might look like. No wonder divorce is often ranked as the second most traumatic life event after the death of a loved one.
It is totally normal to feel uncertain and fearful when your life is in a state of transition and change. The human brain responds to what it perceives as a threat with instinctive reactions: to fight, flight or freeze. This worked for the early man, whose fears might have been life-threatening: a sabre-toothed tiger or woolly mammoth.
Fight, flight or freeze isn’t so useful when the threat is internal and fuelled by feelings, thoughts and worries about an uncertain future. Fighting may find you embroiled in a long, bitter, expensive divorce; flight may mean you give up and throw in the towel; freeze and you may find yourself stuck, paralysed by fear.
The good news is that there are ways to reclaim some certainty and increase the feeling of power you have over your life.
Find areas where you can be in control, and let go of the rest
How could you have more power over your daily life? If you and your ex-partner had particular routines, how could you change them? Could you shop in a different supermarket at a different time, walk the dog in a different place, go to a different café, watch new programmes on TV? Could you join a new club, or learn a new skill? Which clothes or colours make you feel most confident? Wear those when you need an extra boost.
Think about your environment. If you and your ex-partner are living separately now, how can you make your home your own? Choose colours that you love and that make you feel happy. Change the curtains, the duvet cover, buy new colourful mugs, move the furniture around, take down old photos and replace them with new ones. Even if you are still living in the same house, you can create a space that is yours, however small, and make it feel safe and welcoming.
Consider your own emotions, behaviours and reactions. You are responsible for your own actions, and not those of others. Some people spend massive amounts of energy trying to make their ex-partner do X, Y or Z. Once you realise that whilst you can’t control their actions, you CAN control your own, you increase your sense of self-power. For example, if your ex-partner sends you an angry email, know that you don’t need to reply right now. You can choose how and when to respond. I always advise clients not to respond immediately to anything said in anger, but to wait, sleep on it, and respond without a cloud of emotion in the way.
You can control your breathing, so when you feel your emotions bubbling up and starting to overwhelm you, breathe in and out slowly, counting in for 5, holding for 2, and breathing out for 5. Repeat 5 times and see what happens to your heart rate. Notice also what happens to your thoughts when you concentrate on counting as you breathe.
Build a good support network
You have power over who you spend your time with, and what you talk about and do when you are with people. Choose your confidants wisely. We all have those friends who love a bit of drama and gossip, and who seem to suck our energy – the “energy vampires”.
Choose instead to surround yourself with people who are helpful and positive, who listen and give you time, who are calm in a crisis, and who help you to feel better about yourself. If you are exhausted by talking about your break up, let your friends know that you would rather talk about something else. Or if you need a hug, ask for a hug.
Get yourself a skilled professional support network too. Choose your lawyer carefully so that you are comfortable you are in good hands, perhaps talk to a financial adviser, a coach like me, or a counsellor.
Choose how you treat yourself, and choose to be kind
You can take control of how you help yourself. It’s easy to beat yourself up with thoughts that begin with “I should have”, “why didn’t I…?”. The way you talk to yourself is powerful, so be kind to yourself. Do things that make you feel that little bit better. Next time you find yourself beating yourself up, ask yourself what your best friend would say to you right now. Ask yourself how you could best support yourself today. Do things that you enjoy and that make you smile. Write a list of activities that bring you pleasure, promise yourself that you will do more of those, and then make plans to do them.
You hold the power to make these choices, to decide to take back your power, and put yourself back in the driving seat of your life.
It is not what happens to you that matters; it is what you do with what happens to you.
Get in touch
Claire is one of the UK’s first accredited specialist Divorce Coaches, a former lawyer, and Advanced NLP Practitioner. She is based in the Bristol area.
You can get in touch with Claire at www.claireblackcoaching.com or call 07722 007528