People have an uncanny ability to get in their own way when it comes to dealing with difficult situations. When we are stressed or operating in a state of fear, it’s easy to get caught up in our emotions and that’s when we lose objectivity and perspective. We justify our thoughts and can convince ourselves with statements like: it’s ok, we are right, we deserve it, they owe me. And while most of the time it’s harmless, this pattern of thinking can easily get in the way of us achieving what is ‘really important’.
So what happens when both people enter into a divorce with this mindset?
In divorce, I’ve seen how these thoughts can often lead to further destruction of the relationship, lengthy legal battles, and positions that can’t be moved and needs that can’t be met. It sets up the classic scenario where one party has to lose in order for the other party to feel they’ve won. Often, the original issue that caused the conflict is long forgotten. Emotions rule, rational thinking is out the window. And the cost takes its heavy toll on finances, children as well as the parenting relationship going forward.
Sometimes I hear people ask: “But shouldn’t I fight for myself?” Or, “If I don’t look out for myself, who will? Besides, it’s my legal right, isn’t it?” They feel that if they give up what they want, then the other person wins. It’s pretty natural that they have the potential to feel taken advantage of when they are stuck deeply in this mind set.
I wonder if the wrong questions are being asked? Maybe instead of asking “what it is that I WANT”, the real question should be “what it is that I NEED?” This would help you start to understand what is really most important and why. By shifting to this perspective, it is possible for you to start to see how to achieve what you need and still allow for the other to achieve what they need.
In other words, it’s about allowing space for ‘both’ points of view, for both parties to achieve what they need.
As Dr. Landau (Divorce mediation guru) says, “My needs are met, my greed I’ll regret.” So be careful what you ask for, you just might get ‘it’ and everything else that goes along with it. Are you prepared to get what you want at all cost? As the Rolling Stones song made famous – “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try, sometimes well, you just might find you get what you need”.
So if you are in the midst of divorce or facing any difficult negotiation, taking a time out and asking yourself the right questions is essential to leading you to the right path. Remember you can both ‘win’. I see the proof of it everyday in Divorce Mediation. It’s a matter of opening the mind to the possibilities and having the truthful conversation with yourself about ‘what’s really important’.
So get out of your own way and be ready to answer the right questions. This will lead you both to a more peaceful, successful resolution.
There doesn’t have to be a winner and a loser in divorce.