You’re lying awake at night, a million horrible scenarios taunting you as you desperately try to fall asleep.
“I can’t believe I’m going to have to meet with his jerk pit-bull lawyer. Again.”
“The settlement date is a week from today. What if they throw a hissy fit and refuse to sign. I can’t keep doing this!
The stupid clock is glaring 2:37 AM and you have to get up in four hours. Great. Another day to worry about all the crap that will still probably go wrong in this divorce.
We’ve all done this during the separation and divorce process. We are terrified that the worst possible thing is going to happen, and we sit there, unable to breath, our neck muscles tensed up, our head pounding, that stupid anxiety holding us hostage.
So, what will you do? Will you continue to go day in, day out worrying about a future you think you cannot control. Do you continue to let all the “what ifs” crowd your brain as you try to run errands, fix dinner, meet with your boss, and oh, I don’t know, try to live your life?
It’s nice for well-meaning people to tell you, “oh, look on the bright side…it will all be over soon!” but what if those words are hollow and all you want to do is ring their necks and scream, “Shut up! You have no idea what I’m going through!!!”
Well, that will get you nowhere, because the anxiety you feel will continue to win.
But what if you could build upon the lessons you’ve already learned about anxiety and take it a step further? I know for a fact that you can and I want to show you how. You probably are all too familiar with those weeks and months of sleepless nights, days of distracted thinking and unable to concentrate at work, and feeling guilty, like you’re not being the parent your children need right now, because you’re trying to stay strong for everybody but sometimes you go into the bathroom, lock the door, turn on the faucet, and cry because you’re afraid of what the future will bring.
I want to show you an advanced technique for getting rid of those fears that your worse divorce nightmares will come true with an exercise named…
What’s the Worst that Could Happen?
When we’re frazzled and unable to concentrate, thinking about all unknowns in divorce and automatically assuming they’ll be something bad, we shortchange ourselves. Not only because the unknowns could be something actually really amazing, but also because we still let the anxiety win.
And the only way we can face that anxiety down is to deal with it head on.
Instead of telling yourself to not think about worst-case scenarios with your divorce, have you tried to confront them instead? It’s only by doing this that we can neutralize them and move on with our lives.
Confronting this type of anxiety easy, and something you can do in just three steps:
- Map out worst case scenario for your divorce
- Write down what you would do if this happened.
- Write down who you can reach out to for help
Need a little nudge to get you going? Take a look at the worst-case scenarios I worked through during my own messy divorce:
- Mapping out the worst case case scenarios
- I am going to get totally screwed over
- In three years I’m still going to be stuck in this mess and I’ll never be free and independent. I’m going to be like a prisoner.
- I’ll be broke. I’ll have no idea how to function on a limited income and I’ll wrack up a bunch of credit card debt and deplete my savings and…
You’ve probably noticed a lot of worst-case scenarios are complete exaggerations of a) what our lives really are like right now and b) what our lives could ever be like. There’s a reason for that. When we panic and not think things through logically, of course everything is going to look and feel like the day after the Zombie Apocalypse.
- Write down what you would do if this happened. And remember, just writing down, “curling into a fetal position and not leaving my bedroom” is NOT an option. Take a look at what I wrote, and think about your own experience.
- Getting totally screwed over: Now that I think of it, what does that even mean? Do I think I’m going to get screwed over financially? With custody? Okay. How about I first figure out what is really worry me. Oh, I see, it’s the fact that I’m nervous because we have joint accounts and I’m not good at budgeting. So, what steps have I taken to make sure that this won’t happen? Have I made a list of all the financial records to keep track of?
- Write down who you can reach out to for help.
- It takes a strong person to know that they cannot do everything themselves. If, when planning your own worst-case scenario and you find yourself writing about money and finances, you might want to consider reaching out to a trusted financial advisor who can help you with managing your money.
- Or, if you recognize in this exercise that a lot of the anxiety is coming from money, dig deeper into that and educate yourself about all the options you have.
- The same goes for any Worst Case Scenario result you see, whether it deals with feeling afraid of moving on, worrying about finding a job, or learning how to live alone, the more you analyze your fears and why you’re feeling them, the easier it will be to educate yourself. And the more you educate yourself, the easier it will be to take action. And when you know you can take action and that you’ll be okay, the less anxiety you will feel.
Remember to be kind (but also honest) with yourself when doing this exercise! Since a lot of anxiety goes away once you know how to plan for what is making you anxious, it’s important to work through the situations as truthfully as you can. Nothing is too shameful or embarrassing or silly to express.
And at the end you’ll find out that although the divorce has changed many things in your life, it does not have the power to render you helpless. Divorce is merely an inconvenience, and you are too strong and smart for it to ever ruin you.