Unlike other years during the holiday season, most of us will not be with family we used to look forward to seeing during the holidays, and maybe now we’re stuck seeing family we’d rather not be with because there is nowhere to go! On top of these strange circumstances, some of us will be without family we loved being with, but who have passed on recently whether due to COVID or other circumstances. It is a particularly challenging Holiday Season this year, indeed.
So, I reached out to divorce coaches, Karen McMahon and Lisa Brick, of Journey Beyond Divorce, who have worked with thousands of divorcing individuals before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, for their top 5 tips to get you through this Holiday Season without draining your spirit or your liquor cabinet completely.
1) Expect predictable and unwanted behaviors. Know how extra emotionally charged you and your STBX (soon-to-be-ex) are and expect to hear awful things, without allowing them to hit home. Would you engage with a rabid fox? If not, keep an emotional distance from the blame and insult game that may be coming. Prepare to be teflon, and do not engage.
2) Prepare yourself to respond unpredictably when the predictable behaviors occur. Remember to breathe, distance, and walk out of the room gracefully until you can return with composure. Literally, work out and plan unique responses intended to dampen conflict rather than further ignite it. Prepare that you may not need them.
3) Consider what is healthiest for the children to be your guide for action/inaction. Seriously now, don’t use “what is best for the kids” as a manipulative tool to forward your agenda. If your STBX has squandered resources, exhibited a lack of integrity, and has generally been a disaster of a spouse, he/she is still your children’s parent. Belittling him/her in front of or privately with the kids does immeasurable long-term damage to your children’s psyche and future. Conflict, external and internal, is what damages kids long-term, not divorce itself.
4) Question your assumptions about how the holiday should be or how your spouse or your children should act, so you can be mindful and strategic in managing how you act when they do. Swimming upstream is a waste of energy. You only have direct influence over how YOU act.
5) Accept that this year is simply atrocious in many ways. Look for the silver linings. Be loving and kind to yourself. Do something that is different and fun for yourself, whether it is learning to play a new instrument or getting out in the fresh air for a walk in a new place with a friend. Your energy will be uplifted by shifting your mind to something that is new and different, even if it’s just taking a car ride to someplace new.
Bonus tip: Allow yourself to be supported by friends, family, and professionals who will help you to stay grounded, clear, and calm in the face of the challenges ahead.
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him…We need not wait to see what others do.”
__– Mahatma Gandhi
May 2021 be healthier and happier for all!
Reach out for a Rapid Call if you are struggling and want to see how divorce coaching can help: (https://www.jbddivorcesupport.com/rapid-relief-call)
Lisa Brick is a Relationship and Divorce Coach with Journey Beyond Divorce.
Visit www.JourneyBeyondDivorce.com for more information.