Published at Huffington Post
While we step into a divorce we are consumed by emotions. Our spouse is consumed by emotions. When our emotions are steering the ship, a lot can go wrong. People fight, we provoke each other, we spiral into a depressed abyss. Why does this happen?
It is simple, we are allowing our thoughts to create a whirlwind of emotions within us. Rather than let the storm take over and pick you up and drop you where it may, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Take control, and it starts with your own thoughts.
To better illustrate I use the acronym S.T.E.E.R to hit this point home. Steer is such a great way to describe how we choose to steer our own thoughts and life. No one else is in control of this vessel, just you, it is all in your own power.
The “S” is the situation. Let’s say the soon-to-be-ex is mad and is yelling at you his story of what you did. That is the situation, and it is totally neutral. It is neutral because you have yet to apply a thought to it. He is just over there freaking out, alone.
The “T” is the thought you apply to that situation. You can go with one of two kinds of thoughts now, and they will lead you to two different outcomes. One is a constructive thought, something that is in some way positive. The other is a deconstructive thought, one that is somewhat negative. So let’s take the constructive route here, the other road just leads to the same result you have always had. Your thought then may be “he is hurting and needs to express himself, it does not mean I buy his story, I can just agree that he must be hurting.”
The the first “E” is the emotion that thought ignites in you. If you resisted and fought with him your emotions would be spinning. Do you see how your thought is putting you in agreement with the soon-to-be-ex? It completely neutralizes the emotion that would have built up inside you if you allowed a resistant thought to come in your mind. Remember, his story is true for him, there is nothing wrong with being empathetic. The less you engage the more neutralized the event becomes.
The next “E” is the energy you output. In other words, how do you react? If you just nod your head in agreement, allowing him to feel through his pain while you bear witness, may be enough. What if you yelled back in an accusing manner? The spiral of emoting on each other would just continue.
Lastly the “R” is the result of that chain of events. In one scenario we have your soon-to-be-ex emoting all over you while you accept it and nod. He feels heard, maybe even validated. You kept your cool and now he can no longer trigger your emotions because you are in control of your thoughts. Or you blew up right back at him and he smashed your favorite lamp that your Aunt Pearl gave you. You really get to decide the outcome based on the thought pattern you DECIDE to use.
So be wise, when you feel that prickly feeling of your emotions, ask yourself this question. What else could be true? Keep asking yourself until you believe there are other truths, even the truth of your soon-to-be-ex. His truth is his, you can’t change that.
By allowing him to feel through his pain he gets to release it and move on to the next phase of his grief. For this one interaction, you stayed calm and you did not allow his feelings to trigger you. It takes practice, but the more you do this the more you realize you have control of you, and that is a beautiful thing.