Guest blogger: Claire Black
Top tips to feel calm when you receive communication from your ex
Every time your phone pings, you feel a burst of anxiety.
Your email flashes with a new message, and your heart rate starts to soar.
Every time your ex mentions certain triggers, the red mist descends, and you lose your temper.
Do these feelings sound familiar? Communication with your ex during your separation or divorce can be stressful, anxiety-inducing, anger-provoking.
Your emotional brain responds to these triggers with an instinctive reaction to what it perceives as a threat. You go straight into a fight, flight, freeze response. Your brain sends messages to your body to pump cortisol and adrenalin around your system. Your heart rate rises, and you feel on high alert.
This emotional response to threat is massively helpful when you are faced with an articulated lorry speeding towards you – it enables you move quickly out of the way, without needing to think or weigh up your options. Once the threat has passed, your body stops pumping the stress hormones and returns to its usual state.
When you are in the middle of a divorce, this response to perceived threat isn’t so useful. You end up feeling anxious a lot of the time, your body is always on high alert, and it’s difficult to relax.
Here are 7 tips to keep calm when you receive communication from your ex:
As soon as you feel your stress response rising, take a deep breath and pause.
Your breath is always with you. It’s a free resource. And it’s powerful. Try this:
- Breathe in and count to 5 in your head
- Hold for 2
- Breathe out and count to 7 in your head
- Repeat x 3-5
Notice how your heart rate slows down. Getting oxygen to your brain helps to soothe the stress response and enables your logical brain to come back online.
Stop. Breathe. Think. Respond.
Now that you’re feeling a little calmer, take a moment to think before you respond. Stop and think before you write that angry response or let rip with a sarcastic retort.
If you find this difficult to remember, write it out on post it notes, and stick them up where you can see them. This will help cement the mantra in your mind.
Know what you can and can’t control
Put simply, you can control anything that is within your power – your own words, actions, behaviours, assumptions, responses and choices.
You can’t control their behaviour, words, actions, responses. And when you try to, you end up feeling frustrated when they simply don’t do what you want.
When you focus on what you CAN control, you stay in your zone of power.
Remember you always have choice
You can always choose whether, how and when you respond to any communication. Unless a message requires a truly urgent response, you don’t have to respond right now.
You can choose to leave 24 hours between receiving a message and replying, giving yourself time to process and think it all through.
You can choose not to respond to personal attacks.
You can choose when you read messages, and you can choose to turn your notifications off should you wish to.
Sleep on it
When you sleep, your brain assimilates and processes all that has happened during the day. If you receive an email, or message that triggers an emotional response, sleep on it whenever possible. Write an initial response if you feel angry but DO NOT send it. File the email and come back to it in the morning.
Be calm and consistent in your replies
When you come back to the message, try this process:
- Put a line through all personal attacks that do not require a response
- Highlight any questions that need an answer
- Draft your answer to those questions only
Use your imagination to help you
Before you open any message, or go to any meeting, imagine you are wearing a Teflon coat. This coat is shiny and has very sloping shoulders. Personal attacks simply slide off it; they can’t stick.
If it feels like your ex takes up a lot of space in your head, change how you see them in your mind’s eye. If they are big, dark and loud in your mind, shrink them, make them smaller, lighter and quieter. Move them further away. Make their voice in your mind sound silly – like Donald Duck or Mickie Mouse. Put clown shoes on them in your mind, or imagine they look and behave like Kevin the Teenager.
This will help to diminish the power they have in your mind.
If you would like some help to feel calmer when you receive communication from your ex, please do get in touch – there are many more strategies you can use!
Guest blogger: Claire Black of Claire Black Divorce Coaching: https://www.claireblackcoaching.com/