3 Tips For Coping With A High-Conflict Divorce To Create The Life You Love & Deserve

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3 Tips For Coping With A High-Conflict Divorce To Create The Life You Love And Deserve
Heartbreak

Life after divorce or separation is certainly strange. It seems like more things are unknown than known.

Finances, parenting, and life dreams are all up in the air, leaving you wondering where everything will land. It can be scary, and self-doubt tops the list of common experiences.

RELATED: How To Stop Settling & Have An Even Happier Life After Divorce

While this transition time is different for everyone, you can still start settling into a wonderful next season of life.

Here are 3 tips to cope with a high-conflict divorce and create a life you love and deserve.

1. Get to know yourself better — again!

Your personality stays with you throughout every relationship. Recognizing who you are at your core — separate from circumstance — can give you a foothold to take the next step in life.

Stress behaviors mask your true self. Even if you appeared to hold up well during the divorce process, you likely created self-defenses for survival.

Humans are equipped with complex response mechanisms that allow us to keep functioning, even when we are falling apart or otherwise experiencing big shifts on the inside.

In my experience with hundreds of couples, I've observed big differences in how well people bounce back to their best self after the stress of the breakup. Insight into your core personality offers a reference point to return to as you process the stress. 

The Enneagram is a powerful yet simple tool to gain awareness into who you are at your core. Many people report feeling more confident to move forward in life when they know they are taking action that is in alignment with their truest self.

The Enneagram gives a general description of nine personality types— such as "the Achiever," "the Enthusiast," or "the Peacemaker" — along with the basic fear, desire, and motivation for each type.

It can be both reassuring and centering to get a clear depiction of your core personality, especially after being rocked off center from a rough breakup.

In addition to using a tool like the Enneagram, spend time with people who know you well. During these unusual times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may require you to connect over the phone or Zoom, or to be creative with your social time in person.

Whether you're there in person or using technology to connect, being with people who know you well can remind you of your basic values and key principles that guide your life.

2. Don’t force positivity.

You might flow between accepting all feelings and choosing the positive.

The brain works overtime to resist change that seems unmanageable. Our fight-or-flight reactions beg us to solve problems quickly and get back to feeling stable and otherwise "normal."

Staying positive might be frequently-heard advice, but it actually slows down processing of challenging experiences. Accepting all feelings as feelings allows them to be digested much more quickly.

Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield's online class The Power of Awareness teach that emotions leave the body in as little as 45 seconds if left to pass without attaching judgment. Once we add our analysis or judgment to feelings, they stick around much longer.

While maintaining a pleasant feelings such as joy or pride might be desirable, attaching judgment to negative feelings can lead to a life of misery. Notice them, name then, and let them drift off.

The other side of this dance is choosing positive thoughts.

And while it may not be easy to invent positive thoughts, noticing when something agreeable catches your attention can help relax the defensive brain and naturally notice life has positive moments to offer.

In his book Hardwiring Happiness, Rick Hanson reminds us that positive thoughts are only a blink away. Putting attention on pleasant thoughts for a few breaths can actually re-wire the brain to feel more positive experiences more often.

RELATED: 3 Ways You Sabotage Your Quality Of Life After Divorce — And 5 Ways To Take Charge Of It

3. Think small.

It's so tempting to try to take leaps forward. Stay in the present and focus on the decisions that need to be made today, even if it feels like you have far to go.

Micro-steps may be the right next move to create confidence and calm in real time.

In his meditation series Renew Yourself: Body, Mind & Spirit, Deepak Chopra shares two keys to remember when creating change.

First, Chopra encourages his audience to celebrate small successes every day. Putting attention on these successes is a mental habit that leads to even greater success.

Additionally, Chopra teaches listeners to take small steps that lead to lightness and joy, rather than taking steps that feel restricting or punitive. Finding a small step that elicits joy is more effective in creating a positive future than a big step that is made from self-judgment or fear.

A recent client came to me feeling powerless and stuck. He had been accused of less-than-stellar parenting of his young daughter.

He hired a good attorney and worked tirelessly to show the court how much he cared about his little girl. Making a solid case for the court was not enough for him to feel confident in his future with his child.

We tapped into his reactions to his ex’s berating comments. By his fourth coaching session, he had learned to take small steps that led to joy in his life, and soon reported a restored sense of self.

No longer bound to what his former partner said about him, he continued to make micro-decisions that celebrate his true self. He reconnected to his vision of what he wanted in his life, and focused on being his true self.

He accepted the ups and downs of the court case and actively created cherished day-to-day moments. He is well on his way to increased time with his child and enjoys his time with her immensely.

Affirmation: "I accept myself as I truly am. I aspire to create a bright future in small moments of joy today."

RELATED: 5 Reasons You Feel Lifeless After Divorce & How To Heal

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Amy Armstrong is the co-founder of The Center for Family Resolution in Columbus Ohio, serving separating and divorcing couples through parent coaching and mediation. Amy inspires clients to take responsibility for their mindset during tough transitions. For further coaching and mediation services, visit her website.