Confidence in Conflict: Three Methods to Resolving Conflict Without Losing Your Cool

Confidence in Conflict: Three Methods to Resolving Conflict Without Losing Your Cool

In coaching we often suggest clients that they “keep Amy in the backseat” when you’re in a conflict. We are referring to your Amygdala. A tiny almond shaped structure in our brains. Although small, it is mighty. The amygdala controls the fight or flight response in our bodies and brains. Often it acts instinctually and without warning. This is especially true when dealing with a High Conflict Personality (HPC) partner. Our brain unconsciously takes over and we often respond in ways we normally wouldn’t. When we feel lack of control or vulnerability it’s nearly impossible to have thoughtful, well considered conflict resolutions.

There are methods to keep “Amy” in the backseat. Here are three communication tactics that can help you regulate, respond, and rise above conflict.

 

Regulate:

 

In divorce cases we see several physical responses that happen when we are faced feeling attacked. I want to focus on two that I see most often.

Approaching conflict with aggression. Aggressive communication is when you state your needs and leave little room for your partner to share theirs. Examples of aggressive communication would be an attempt to dominate the conversation, using humiliation, critical language, and “you” statements in an attempt to avoid your responsibility in the situation and negate feeling insecure about yourself. This method of communication is often seeing with HPC’s.

Fawning is a response that is very common, especially with clients that have suffered past trauma or suffer from PTSD. Fawning is a maladaptive survival response. It is ones need to avoid conflict at any cost. When a client is in a fawning response they often exhibit people pleasing behaviors, deny their truth for the sake of ending the conflict, and feel that they are unworthy and undervalued.

Approaching conflict with either response can is a recipe for disaster. One of you will surely walk away from the conflict feeling “less than”, unheard, and unloved. We can regulate our own physical reactions to regulate our bodies response to threats. Start with a deep breath. Taking a moment to center yourself and regulate your breathing can instantly change the bodies stress response. Take a break from the conflict, find a quiet place, and spend five minutes focusing on your breath, inhaling, and exhaling slowly. You are allowed to excuse yourself from the conversation. The conflicts you are trying to resolve did not develop overnight and they do not have to be resolved in an instant. When you feel your heart rate begin to rise and the walls feel like they are closing in, simply tell your partner you need a moment to gather yourself and acknowledge you will touch back on the topic when you are in control of your thoughts and emotions. There is absolutely no reason These simple tactics can you help you prepare for the response phase of the argument and knock it down to a discussion.

 

 

Reason:

 

Reasonable, well thought out responses to conflict help us to protect our mental health, self-worth, and sanity.

Now that you have taken a moment to gather yourself, it’s time to gather your thoughts. I encourage clients to take time to look at things from their partners viewpoint. Try to understand the issue and why it is so important to them. At times, the real reason may be convoluted by finger pointing and “you never” statements. For example, my client is angry that her husband forgot it was their anniversary.

She took time and made an effort to make him his favorite meal and buy him a card. How dare he not get her a gift? Is the issue the gift? Is it possible that the gift was the issue on the surface of the problem but really, she feels uncared for, unloved, and possibly unworthy? In true conflict, we must dig deeper to find the issue because it’s rarely floating on the surface of our relationships. Changing our perspective in turn changes our insight.

What if your partner can’t articulate the deeper issue? I suggest questioning them with curiosity. What are you upset about? Can you tell me why you feel like that? and my personal favorite, “what was your expectation of me in that moment?” Try not to interrupt them and stay on the actual issue at hand. Curious questioning does a few things. It gives your partner acknowledgement that you are open to listening and a willingness to let them articulate how they really feel. This can lead to a deeper understanding of their perspective, the opportunity to form a more informed opinion for yourself, and hopefully a resolution in the conflict itself.

How we respond to our partner can make or break the outcome of the conversation. You have the choice to respond in a non-confrontational manner once your partner has finished speaking. “I had no idea you felt that way, do you mind if I address this from my perspective?” or “I would like to avoid continuing to argue about this topic, how do we suggest we fix it?” The goal is to identify the issue, take responsibility only for our actions (if there is any), and stop the conflict cycle in its tracks.

 

Rise above:

 

“But Melissa, this just makes it seem like I’m being a pushover! By keeping my cool and not showing a reaction, the other person doesn’t know how much they have affected me with their words or actions.” This is precisely why these methods work. HCP’s are fueled by the ability to incite hurt, confusion, and lack of control on their target. If you have been with your partner for a while, they know exactly what buttons to push to get a reaction from you. They will rely on that pattern to gaslight, stonewall, and trigger you to get their desired outcome. How many times have you ended a conflict and come away questioning yourself, your involvement, and wondering if you really are at fault for the problem?

Let’s change that! By regulating your body’s reactions, thoroughly considering your responses, and responding without malice, you have taken all the control back and on your terms. You weren’t goaded into angry reactions and remorseful words that can’t be taken back. You maintained your dignity, bolstered your self-worth, and you can leave the conversation feeling good about who you are at your core.

This is not something you can learn overnight. High conflict relationships are volatile, and these methods must be practiced over time. After all, you are fighting your amygdala, its natural response, and it takes time to unlearn unhealthy communication. This is why so many of my clients continue with coaching even after divorce, particularly with co- parenting after divorce. These methods work and can be applied to any kind of conflict that needs resolution.

Divorce CoachAt Divorce Strategies Group, we offer mediation and coaching services for clients thinking about divorce, in the midst of divorce, and even co-parent coaching. If you can relate to this article, I’d love to talk to you. Complimentary Discovery Session’s can be booked directly through our website.

 

 

 

* If you are currently in a relationship and experiencing domestic violence, this article is not applicable. Please call/chat/text with an advocate by calling 800-799-SAFE or visit thehotline.org.

 

What is a Divorce Coach and How Can they Help You?

What is a Divorce Coach and How Can they Help You?

Divorce CoachAre you waking up at 3:00 AM, feeling overwhelmed and panicked by the uncertainty of your future?

Questions and worries run through your mind? “Can I afford to get divorced?” “How do I tell my spouse our marriage it’s over?” “What about our kids?” “How do I tell them?” “How will I survive?” “Do I have to share my retirement savings?” “Do I need to lawyer up?” “What lawyer do I hire?”

The questioning can be endless and in a attempt to find answers, you start Googling. Taking the first steps in a divorce can be terrifying and overwhelming. In researching, something pops up about “Divorce Coaching.” Like almost everything else related to divorce, this is a new term for you.

 

What is a Divorce Coach?

A Divorce Coach is a trained mental health professional who shepherds you through your divorce. Divorce Coaches have unique expertise in divorce, co-parenting, parenting planning, child development, the impact of divorce on children, and all other issues related to divorce. Divorce Coaching is not therapy. Instead, coaches specialize in helping you emotionally cope with divorce before, during and after the process.

 

Is Divorce Coaching Right for Me?

For most people, the prospect of a divorce is an overwhelming life crisis. You need to make big decisions at a time when you are emotionally overloaded. The demands and decisions can be confusing. Divorce can require the time and energy of a full-time job (when a lot of women already have full time jobs and are full time moms).   In the process, it can also be exhausting to get through each day especially when you are meeting with your legal team or financial advisors to discuss divorce related issues.  You don’t know what steps you need to take, how you can figure it all out, or how long it will take. If this sounds familiar, then a Divorce Coach can help. 

 

How Can a Coach Help?

A Divorce Coach can help you understand one of the first and most important decisions you will have to make. You will need to decide which of the divorce process options available to you will work best for your family: a do-it-yourself divorce, mediation, collaborative law divorce, or litigation. The process you choose will dramatically affect your outcomes and the process.

A Divorce Coach will walk the path with you, through the legal process you have chosen, to provide support and guidance when needed. Divorce coaches also offer post-divorce support, addressing issues like co-parenting, setting up a spending plan, and claiming your new life.

 

 

One of the first and most painful things you will have to do is talk to your children about the upcoming changes in your family. A Divorce Coach will help you (and often your spouse) structure and plan for this, telling your children what they need to know. The Coach will help you respond to their questions and concerns in age-appropriate ways.

A Divorce Coach will help you build or strengthen your skills to cope with your emotions, especially at meetings with professionals and your spouse. In addition, your Coach can help you develop and hold you accountable for implementing much needed self-care practices.  This is critical as they can help you feel more grounded and help you cope during this time of life changes.

A Divorce Coach will help you begin to envision your life post-divorce, as a single parent and perhaps going back to work. The Coach will help you set goals and keep you accountable for them. This type of planning may influence your divorce negotiations. For example, if you need re-training to enter the workforce, this can be discussed as part of your divorce settlement.

Coaching will help you develop skills for the negotiations, which usually come after the information-gathering stage. With the help of your Coach, you will be clear about what is important to you in the final resolution. Identifying what matters most to you and where you can compromise is critical in divorce negotiations, and a Coach can help you do this with confidence.

Your Coach will help you understand and think through the many decisions you will be asked to make. A coach can help you feel brave, confident, and articulate in expressing what matters to you without being hijacked by emotions. This makes the process more efficient and cost-effective!

A Divorce Coach can help you build a new kind of parenting partnership relationship with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. A Coach can work with you to establish good communication, boundaries, and strategies for dealing with issues that inevitably arise.

A Divorce Coach provides a safe space to emotionally let go, vent, breathe and heal.

 

 

How Do I Find a Divorce Coach?

At Divorce Strategies Group we offer complimentary Discovery Sessions to discuss you and your situation. This introductory call with Divorce Coach Melissa Provence allows us to learn about you and pinpoint your immediate needs. Let’s talk!

The Mediation Process – How It Works

Mediation is a structured, interactive process where an impartial third-party helps disputing parties in resolving conflict using specialized communication and negotiation techniques. The mediator is there to aid the parties in reaching their own agreement. The mediated settlement agreement is not a decision by the mediator as to how the divorce should be decided; it is an agreement between the parties as to how the parties’ issues are to be resolved. The mediator’s function is to use the mediator’s legal and financial knowledge as well specialized negotiating skills to facilitate a resolution for the parties.

Usually what happens at mediation is both parties meet with the mediator at the mediator’s office or a special mediation center. Almost all mediators now immediately divide the parties into different rooms. Typically, the mediator will start out with the Petitioner and will spend an hour or more learning about the particulars of the Petitioner’s case. Many times, the mediator will not even try to get an offer of settlement out of the Petitioner during the first meeting. Then the mediator will meet with the Respondent for a similar period of time. This way the mediator becomes completely familiar with the issues that exist between the parties.

With Divorce Strategies Group mediation process, we meet with the parties several times before mediation day to learn about your situation, your wants, and your wishes. We walk through your finances – what you own, what you owe and different options for division. In addition, we meet with each party prior to mediation to discuss the decisions you will need to make with your children in a formal parenting plan during mediation. With Divorce Strategies Group mediation process, we provide two mediators – a divorce financial mediator who understands even the most complex estate issues as well an experienced family law attorney mediator to walk through parenting plan options and oversee the entire legal process. You will have two experienced mediators – each with a different area of expertise, helping you with the decisions you need to make to achieve a resolution to your dispute.

During mediation, the mediator(s) will go back and forth between the parties negotiating a settlement. Skilled mediators can provide particularly helpful suggestions to the parties when an impasse on a particular situation begins to arise. Many times, people go into mediation with the attitude of “my way or the highway.” A good mediator can usually deflect this type of attitude by making suggestions for settlement that neither party thought of before mediation. If an agreement is reached at mediation, then the mediator prepares a Mediated Settlement Agreement which is signed by the parties and becomes binding.

Many people serving as mediators are highly experienced attorneys. In order to be a mediator, an attorney must undergo substantial training in the art of negotiation and the ethics of mediation. Another person who is often a mediator is someone with substantial financial knowledge in the specialized realm of divorce finance as well as specific training in family law mediation. At Divorce Strategies Group, we provide both.

There are usually a few rules that go with mediation. First, everything that occurs at mediation is confidential and cannot be used in court. The mediator(s) can never be brought into court to testify one way or another. Furthermore, the parties are barred by the court from stating in court what occurred at mediation. Secondly, when you are discussing your case with the mediator, the mediator is free to assume that whatever you tell the mediator may be discussed with the other side. However, if you have a certain piece of information that you believe critically shapes your case, and the other side does not have that information, and you do not want them to learn about it, you should be sure and tell the mediator that you do not want the mediator to disclose that information to the other side. In that case, the mediator(s) will keep your information private.

As I pointed our earlier, once you sign a mediated settlement agreement it is irrevocable and binding, and a party is entitled to ask the court to enter a final decree of divorce based upon the mediated settlement agreement. That means at the end of mediation day, your agreements are binding. There are no “take backs”. The negotiations – aka the fight — is over. At this point, we usually help the parties decide which accounts are going to be used by whom, timelines for transitioning of accounts and even a timeline for moving out of the marital home if needed and any other pertinent issues.

Usually, a mediated settlement agreement is a shorthand rendition of the parties’ agreement. Afterwards, an attorney will prepare a Final Decree of Divorce based off the mediated settlement agreement and submit it to the court for entry by the court.

Usually, mediation is an all-day affair. At Divorce Strategies Group, we try to walk into mediation knowing where agreements already exist and where the disputes will arise. We then focus on helping the parties walk through the disputes in order to find a win-win solution or a compromise everyone can live with. That way, we are not in mediation late into the evening when judgement is not always clear, and tensions are higher.

At Divorce Strategies Group, our goal is to help parties achieve a settlement for their family and their finances in a softer, gentler fashion. We strive to help you achieve a resolution within a few short months without catastrophic loss to the estate and nearly a year wasted in litigation. For more information on Divorce Strategies Group mediation process, please visit us at Divorce Strategies Group. We look forward to helping you!

Married to a Narcissist

Married to a Narcissist

Many of the people I meet with tell me they are married to a narcissist. As cutting as this may seem, many people are divorcing someone with a personality disorder. One therapist we refer states many people who divorce have issues like narcissist personality disorder because the people who do not have this or other personality disorders are able to work through problems in the marriage and stay married.  So, if you are married to someone you think is a narcissist, know you are not alone.  Also know there is a way out of this with your sanity intact, it will just take a little extra effort.

What Is A Narcissist?

A diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder can only be given by a mental health professional.  There are signs and symptoms you can identify and read about all over the internet.  A general internet search will typically identify this as a disorder in which a person has an inflated sense of self-importance.  Narcissistic personality disorder is found more commonly in men. Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle any criticism, and a sense of entitlement.

Although understanding and recognizing the characteristics involved is helpful, this knowledge will not give you the help you need to divorce and save your sanity. It can be frustrating and emotionally draining.

It did not start out this way. They may have started out showing you how much they loved and cherished you. You believed it would always be that way. When did it change? Do you wonder if maybe they will change their mind and go back to loving and cherishing you like they used to? It is normal to hope for that, but it is likely keeping you frustrated and stuck. And, if you are reading this, it is probably not going to happen.

And Here’s Why . . .

If you are dealing with a narcissist, you have likely already tried everything! Not only does it get tiresome it can wear down your own self-esteem. It takes a massive amount of your time and energy with nothing in return!   Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq., creator of New Ways for Families and founder of The High Conflict Institute has 4 Tips on How to Deal with a Narcissist Without Getting Stuck and Disliking Yourself:

Do not call them a “narcissist!”

As tempting as this is, it absolutely backfires and makes things worse.  Instead, they become obsessed with proving you are the one with the problem.

Do not argue with them.

You do not need to defend yourself because it is not about you.  It is about them and their personality.  They have no insight into their own behavior and see things in all or nothing terms.  They see themselves as the victims and they feel it is your fault.

Set limits on what you will do.

You have probably spent years trying to figure out how to placate a narcissist, right?  Bill Eddy has a saying he uses…”FORGETABOUTIT!” You are not going to change them so work on changing how you react to them.

Do get support and consultation.

Your self-esteem may be worn down from all the insults, criticism, embarrassment, and shame.  Bill Eddy suggests getting help from professionals like a coach or therapist.

How to Move Forward

You will need a step-by-step course of action. You may have to cut ties and build some distance emotionally. The key takeaway is you will need support and guidance on how to successfully navigate this difficult time. You will not want to do this alone.

Please reach out for your complimentary initial consultation.  We will give you the information and confidence to decide how to best move forward and have the life you deserve – a life of joy, love, and peace of mind.  Contact us today!

 

Divorce Noise

Divorce Noise

Over the years I have been doing divorce financial advising, I’ve learned so much from women just like you. It’s so normal for us to ask questions and want information from those who have already been through this overwhelming time in our lives.

I remember talking with my friends (many of whom had been divorced) and wanting them to understand how my experiences left me feeling afraid and alone. I wanted to compare my story to theirs. I wanted to not feel so alone. After so many calls and conversations, I’ve made lists and lists of what I’ve heard being said and I want to share some key takeaways with you. I hope it will help you “cut through the divorce noise.”

 

1. You don’t need to listen to people who don’t know what’s best for you.

Some well-meaning friends and family want you to quit worrying about everything you’ve got on your mind and “just get back out there.” If you’re not ready, then take it easy. You’ll be ready when you’re ready. There’s a huge, new world waiting for you when you’re ready!

 

2. Try to separate the emotional part of your journey from the business of divorce.

There are so many ups and downs and it’s important that you have emotional support so that you have a safe place to deal with all of the feelings you’re experiencing.  That is the value of a coach or therapist.

 

3. One of the biggest issues women tell me is that they’re afraid.

Honestly, who isn’t afraid? It means you’re human, but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to be OK. Your fear can actually move you forward and push you to learn new things that you never dreamed you could learn.

 

4. Feeling lonely isn’t the same as being alone.

The reason some women don’t want to divorce is because they’re afraid of being alone. But the truth is that so many of us were lonely in our marriages! When I talk with women who are divorced, they actually like being alone and just being able to do whatever they want whenever they want!

 

5. Wanting to find all the answers online.

Many women tell me they are getting all their information online. While I do suggest you read about different options for divorce, for example, I don’t recommend you keep digging deeper and deeper trying to find the answers to all of your concerns. Again, that is where you can get in trouble with inaccurate information. It can lead you to doubt and waste time questioning what is true and correct in this process.

 

6. If you’re feeling so tired, hurt, and damaged emotionally right now, I’ve learned that so many of you are going to find love again!

Even if you’re not even interested right now, after you’ve worked on the role you may have played in the divorce, it may surprised to find that you’re interested in something new and healthier. It’s human nature to want connection with others. So give yourself time to figure out who you want to show up as now on a deeper level and you will attract what you need.

 

Don’t Give Up

I want you to know you’re not alone and we all have worries and fears. If I had to summarize what I’ve learned through the “divorce noise” is that we all struggle. But there is light at the end of the tunnel – it just can be a long tunnel and the light can seem so far away, but don’t give up.

And if you would more support and want to speak with one of our team members here at Divorce Strategies Group, please schedule your 30 minute complimentary consultation today.

Good Things Can Come From Divorce

Good Things Can Come From Divorce

Let’s face it. Change is tough for many people and divorce changes just about every facet of your life.  Divorce can often test one’s ability to handle change to an extreme.   Some people struggle more than others with change. They fight it, avoid it, fear it, and sometimes feel guilty about it. These notions would make anyone want to keep things as normalized as possible. One would think only adrenaline junkies and dysfunctional people would want to disrupt what could be a perfectly normal situation.   However, change can be very positive and powerful, especially if you have been in an unhappy or abusive marriage.   Here are five truths in my life I’ve experienced with change.  Hopefully this will help readers cope with their own life changes.

1. Change is inevitable

While divorce may not be inevitable, relationships will evolve. Whether you cling to what you have or long for something more, change is unavoidable. Nothing can or will stay the same. You have power when it comes to change. Your actions or reactions to change will determine how positive or negative the change is. Get comfortable with the notion of change as part of the evolution of life and stop resisting.

My divorce meant not only losing a spouse, but losing his entire family, the life I had envisioned and dreams I had of being a stay at home mom.  Oddly, I have a relationship with my ex-spouses family today.  It’s different than it was, but it’s good.  I also had the chance to be a “stay at home” mom for a year, and I found I really didn’t like it.   I love to work and I’m a better mom because of it.  I own two businesses today which I never would have had the chance to own if I had stayed in my marriage – he would not have given me the freedom to explore these opportunities.  What was the absolutely worst thing in 2007 is a gift today.

2. Change helps your brain stay healthy

Science suggest our brains need new and varied problems to work on. When our minds aren’t working out problems, solving mysteries, or figuring things out we can become weak. Change is one of the best ways to keep our brains healthy. This means our lifespan will be healthier, and our mind will not be as susceptible to diseases like dementia. It’s good for your brain to embrace the change in your life as a puzzle you can solve.

I certainly fought the divorce in the beginning, and I went through the stages of grief for at least a year if not longer.  No doubt, there was a grieving process to walk through.  However, my divorce also brought about new changes which were fun and unexpected, like meeting new friends and having a fun, loving social environment.  I was also able to thrive with my career after the divorce which meant learning a lot of new things and experiencing new challenges.  When I was no longer subject to emotional abuse I was able to really thrive and grow.

3. Change creates maturity

Sometimes change comes with a price tag. Sometimes change comes with a penalty. Sometimes change requires risk, and sometimes change is forced on us. No matter how change occurs, it causes us to grow. From learning we are tougher than we realized and having to do some difficult things – change creates maturity.

When my divorce was over I made a list of gifts.  To my suprise, I had three pages of small, single spaced gifts.  Many of them had to do with personal strength and fortitude.  I’m so much stronger today.  While I certainly would not have chosen this path voluntarily, I’m so grateful today for it.

4. Change teaches you to overcome fear and anxiety

Whether stepping out towards change in doubt or being pushed into the unknown without your consent, change can be scary. The devil we know is easier to manage than the one we don’t. Once the fears are faced, they are often scarier in theory than reality. Change teaches you to overcome fear and anxiety as you learn new coping skills or how to talk yourself through fear.

I was a single mom of a 2 year old child when my divorce was final – that is big change.  It was scary.  Looking back I’m convinced there is no stronger force than a parent protecting their child.  Being a single mom of a young child drove me to bigger and better things with my career.  It also lead me to be a better mom and person.   I no longer fear financial insecurity (for the most part).  I no longer fear being alone. I no longer fear many things – all because of what I went through.

5. Change gives you choices

Once the spirit of change is validated and embraced, change can become part of your normal routine.  If you choose something and don’t like it, that isn’t the end of the line. Change things again! From changing your coffee order to the brand of cereal your family eats this week, change can be fun. From picking a new wall color to a new genre of book to read, change can be exciting. From changing where you volunteer your time or which organization you donate to, change can matter to more people.

When my divorce was final I made big changes to my house – I repainted rooms, moved furniture around, rearranged the cabinets and made changes to the yard.  These small changes made a big difference.  Small things like which cabinet your plates are in can help facilitate change in your head and heart which can give you courage for more change.    In my first marriage I really wanted multiple children.  As a child I was much younger than my siblings and as a result raised as an only child.  I did not like it.  I decided very young I would have no children or multiple children – but not an only child!  Even though my first husband and I had decided on two or three children when we married, after our first (and only) child was born he decided he didn’t want any more.   Well, guess what.  When I remarried it was to someone with three young children, and now we have five!! Talk about an evolution of change.  It is a beautiful blended crazy mess which this extrovert absolutely loves.

There are many truths about change – some scary and some not so much. Embrace the concept of change, and it will lead to enjoying the realities of change.   We at Divorce Strategies Group are here to help you navigate changes from married to single.  Schedule a strategy session or call us at 281-210-0057 to schedule your first mediation session today.  No matter what your situation we strive to help our clients walk through divorce with confidence, strength and courage!