Mindfulness in Divorce: One second can make the difference

Recovering from the myriad, challenging emotions of divorce requires a strategy. For most people, divorce is the most emotionally challenging situation they will encounter in their lifetimes.

When experiencing such powerful feelings, it is not uncommon for such feelings to overtake our sense of awareness, leading to wild swings of emotion that, if not checked, can cause us to act outwardly or inwardly in ways that can be destructive to ourselves or to others.

The good news is we can train our brains to create enough mental space between the moment our powerful feelings are triggered, and our eventual response. We can do this by recognizing when our attention is being hijacked and redirecting our attention from the powerful feelings from the reactionary part of our brain, or the limbic system, to the rational thinking part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex.

There are many similar, but different variations on how to train our brains. My favorite is a simple four-step process sometimes referred to as SBRC or Stop-Breathe-Reflect-Choose:

Step 1: STOP. Recognizing when you feel powerful emotions permeating your psyche and you feel yourself starting to react. In this moment, catch yourself before you say anything or do anything.

Step 2: BREATHE. Take three deep breaths. Find a comfortable place to sit if you can, but it is not necessary. Breathing will trigger your body’s relaxation response.

Step 3: REFLECT. Notice the feelings you are experiencing. Ask yourself questions like: what am I most concerned about; what is making me feel such strong emotions; are there negatives thoughts about myself that are arising; is there another way to view the situation; do I need to reach out to another person to help me with these feelings?

Step 4: CHOOSE. From this space, you will have the decide how to respond to this situation in the way that is the healthiest for yourself and in the most positive manner possible.

In divorce or separation, this can be the difference between acting out of a rushed emotion such as anger and acting out of a reasoned emotion such as patience. This can literally be the difference in thousands of dollars in legal fees, months upon months of extended conflict, and irreparable damage to relationships. Not to creating more challenges for your children, if you have any.

This may sound easier said than done and if so, you are in the right place. Make no mistake, this is a practice and it can take time to reprogram the way our brains operate. With practice and training, however, we can create a one-second mental space between the stimulus of events that trigger us and our response to them.

At New York Holistic Divorce we pride ourselves on encouraging those going through separation or divorce to learn to learn how to practice mindfulness, whether they are clients of ours, or as a divorce coach to those who have engaged other attorneys. If you would like to learn more, please reach out today.

“Don’t ask the mountain to move; just take a pebble each time you visit.”
~ John Paul Lederach


“You can’t control the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn


“To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy…but it’s still allowed…and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”
~ Bill Watterson