Chaos is a part of life. You move along the path your life takes you on, and you get used to the grooves in the road. Until all of a sudden, a twist or turn or bump sends you into a tailspin. Things happen.
In marriage, it might seem like your relationship is moving along well. But then something transpires: you find out your spouse has been unfaithful, they’ve been lying about their finances, or your spouse no longer loves you. They want a divorce.
Even if it was clear your marriage had been falling apart for years and divorce would be inevitable, the divorce process itself is enough to invite chaos into your life. It can be mind-blowing.
The way you deal with the change conflict brings has a lot to do with your mindset, the beliefs, and feelings you import into any given situation. Though it may not seem so, you have more control than you think.
So, when there’s a bump in the road, or a crater, like a divorce, how should you react? How can you handle the situation you’re facing? Based on my experience as a family and divorce lawyer and once divorced myself, I have a few ideas.
Imagine the worst-case scenario.
You heard me; think the worst. Give me a moment to explain.
When I’m faced with an adverse situation, before I start to panic or overreact, I think of the worst-case scenario that can come from my conflict. That might seem backward because you’ve probably heard like I have to be optimistic during hard times. And not to make your problems appear worse than they are.
What I do instead is I imagine the worst-case scenario. Then I figure out the intricacies of my situation and what I can do to fix them.
As I think more about possible solutions and process the problem, I grow used to the worst-case scenario. I familiarize myself with it, limiting its power over me. People often fear what they don’t know, and I, for one, don’t like feeling afraid.
This thinking enables me to turn my focus inward to figure out how to survive in the situation and thrive after it. Instead of focusing on what I can’t control, I focus on what I can by asking myself: How can I move forward in a way that propels my life forward positively?
Write out a plan.
Now that I have the worst-case scenario for my situation figured out, as well as potential solutions, it’s time for me to write out a plan. And I say write out, not think up, because ideas in our minds don’t exist in the same form as ideas put on paper.
When you think of ideas in your mind, they can quickly become messy and convoluted, making you susceptible to fixating on specific details while neglecting others entirely. When you write out your ideas, they will look different from the ones in your head.
When you see your intentions written out, it leaves you room for additional planning. When you write out your ideas, it’s not as easy to overlook details you might otherwise dismiss in your mind. Seeing your thoughts on paper allows for thinking of even more solutions, as the visual may spark connections between ideas you might not have thought before to connect.
By writing out your ideas, the task of solving our problems becomes more real. It’s easy to think of what to do. But writing out a plan is far more tangible. After all, we’re writing it on something we can see and touch.
Monitor the situation.
As the worst-case scenario you’ve imagined continues to unfold in your life, you’ll likely find that it’s not truly the worst-case scenario. Any aspect that’s not the worst it could be should be considered a win. As you keep learning more and building on wins, you can gradually move forward and begin to feel better about your situation.
Think of problem-solving during divorce like problem-solving for any other issue, such as a Rubik’s cube. When you solve a Rubik’s cube, you don’t think of the cube from just one angle or dimension. The same is true of your divorce. You need to look at the problems you encounter analytically, from multiple vantage points. Then, from there, you can assess which approaches to the problem work best for you.
Remember, the challenges you face in life make you stronger and give you the strength to face future problems.
Your life might seem too chaotic to recognize this right now. But as you continue to evaluate and acclimate yourself to the worst possible outcome, then write out a plan to get you through the divorce process itself and the days that come after, you’ll find the ending you anticipated is something far different from what you initially expected.
And that’s the opportunity for a new beginning.