By Nabila Fowles-Gutierrez, Divorce Coach & Founder of Divorce Survival
Published on April 10, 2019
We all know divorce is a reason for people to feel betrayed and angry. That's why, after all, they are getting divorced. Something has malfunctioned and broken beyond repair, so it's no wonder there are strong emotions, especially anger. But what most people don't seem to understand, is that anger is the wall preventing most problems from being resolved in divorce. I know. I was there, not once but twice, (true story!).
I know better than most that decision-making and judgement are impaired by emotions and most of all anger. When I was in the thrust of proceedings, the blood boiled in my veins constantly. I was unable to sleep, eat or think without feeling like I was falling off an edge. The symptoms were not just emotional, they were physical. Dry mouth, tight chest, palpitations, shallow breathing. Toxic adrenaline and cortisol racing through me in a debilitating cocktail day and night, causing me sleep depravation, and most of all impaired thinking. Little wonder when I was asked to make an important decision, my head was unable to process the information clearly. As a fully-functioning professional in my career, it was frustratingly impossible for me to make simple decisions in my divorce without making critical errors. People observing me would see me change from a lovely person into a raging monster, blurting out a monologue of poison without taking a breath. Nasty stuff. What I didn't realise it that this anger was blinding me from being able to make clear decisions for my family, and the ones I did make, just kept making the problems worse. Instead of creating solutions, my decisions through the fog of my anger were building even bigger obstacles. As it at every juncture, I would just keep shooting myself in the foot. Behaviour of the lowest standards. Not my proudest moments in life.
This is what most people in divorce are unable so see, and why many legal professionals highly skilled in creating legal solutions and ways forward are unable to manage in their incensed clients. They ask themselves "Why won't he/she just settle? There's a good offer on the table". The reason is blind anger. It's not about the sensible settlement, or creating a perfect court order. None of that will fix the problem. An angry client with a "perfect" settlement will not be happy, because the emotional blindfold is on tight and they are unable to see past their own feelings to consider any viable solutions. There are countless stories of epic and drawn out divorce fights, ones costing hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in legal fees. In the end, no settlement, no solutions, no ways forward. Frustration. Bankruptcy. Everyone loses. Why? Anger. Blind anger.
This anger is not just in financial settlements, it impairs parents from being able to effectively co-parent after divorce with children stuck in the middle of a nasty war. It's vicious becoming all about a "getting one-up" situation, with parents throwing to the side any options for moving forward positively. Instead making choices that to an outsider, are quite frankly baffling, irrational and devoid of any sense of putting a child's needs first.
But what can be done? It's not a simple task, by any means. Working with clients who are facing blind-anger scenarios takes sensitivity, empathy, patience and courage. It's not for the faint-hearted or the inexperienced. An angry response in divorce proceedings is a triggered primal reaction, I have previously described as the "Bear Reflex". Another way of looking at it is pure, unfiltered emotional pain. The manifestation of that pain is anger. These people mostly need someone to hear them out, someone not afraid of the spontaneous and uncontrollable vitriolic expulsions. Eventually, when an atmosphere of understanding and trust is developed, it is possible to help them climb out of that particular angry black hole into a sense of clarity and calm. In the hole they can only see above them, a narrow and limiting perspective. However, in the process of supporting someone to come out of the black hole they are finally able to rise above the angry fog, gain a better perspective and achieve clear thinking. When this breakthrough happens, it's one of the most powerful moments, often with a release of healing tears and even laughter, like a veil being removed - offering clarity and the ability to move in a different direction.
If you are a legal professional and have one of those clients who is stuck, not moving forward and you dread their calls or avoid their barrage of emails, consider that they are probably up against their own angry wall. They can't see past it, and the likelihood is, that until they do, whatever solutions you offer will be disregarded and tossed aside. Until they feel heard and understood, their hollering will not cease and no matter what sensible solution you offer, they will be rejected. So, if you I've just described "that" client, don't worry, I'm here. Reach out. It might just be the br
©Divorce Survival 2019 no part of this article may be used without the Author's permission
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