Essential divorce recovery tip: Turn off the TV news now, and instantly begin healing from your divorce anger, anxiety and depression. Divorce is brutal enough without a steady diet of angry, negative TV news. Here’s how to do it.
Negative emotions during divorce are harder to deal with because divorce is such a mystery to most of us. Most will enter the process once and once you’ve entered you don’t know what to expect. Since that is the case, divorce will cause us to second guess every move and decision we make.
When we find ourselves in a situation that is a mystery to us, we can get lost in magical thinking or conspiracy theories. For example, we question every move our soon-to-be-ex makes and assign meaning to their actions based on anxiety and fear instead of reality. Bottom line, the negative emotions we experience during the divorce process cause our minds to do the opposite of what’s in our best interest.
It’s imperative that you be able to protect yourself emotionally, protect your legal divorce rights and come out the other side of divorce with no regrets. Below I’m going to share a few tips for how to manage negative emotions so you can do just that.
5 Tips For Managing Negative Emotions During Divorce
Don’t react right away
If you have a decision to make pertaining to your divorce, step back and take time to settle yourself emotionally. Don’t agree to anything if you’ve not put thought into it.
If there is a conflict between you and your soon-to-be-ex, don’t engage until you’ve taken time to soothe yourself and know that the way you do engage won’t cause more conflict.
Get Rid of Negative Thought Patterns
I think it goes without saying that the more negative our thoughts about our situation, the more negative emotions we’re going to experience. Evict negative thinking from your head! Negative thinking during times of adversity makes adversity worse.
Become More Aware!
Learn everything you can about your state’s divorce laws and how those laws are handled in your jurisdiction. Go to family court and sit through a couple of divorce cases, read up on mediation in your state so you’ll know what to expect should you go that route. The more knowledgeable you are about how divorce is dealt with in your state the more confident you will be. The more confident you are, the more relaxed about the process you’ll be.
Allow Yourself to be Vulnerable
If you can be emotionally vulnerable and ask for help when needed, you won’t carry around anxiety or stress that needs to be relieved. Asking for help can be really scary and hard. Sometimes we worry it will make us look weak or incompetent. Other times we worry we will hear “no”. Other times, we worry people will say yes, but that we will feel like a burden and become ashamed or embarrassed. BUT the truth is most of the time people LOVE to help others and love to be asked for help.
So, don’t isolate yourself from those who would support you.
Find a Way to be Thankful for Your Situation
There is a silver lining in every situation. If you’re the one who wanted out of a bad marriage, your silver lining is freedom. Be thankful it’s close at hand.
If you didn’t want the divorce, if you’re in pain over the loss of your marriage, you’ll one day know that divorcing is better than living with someone who doesn’t love you or want to be with you. Be thankful that you’re being freed up to one day meet someone who can’t imagine life without you.
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Emotional Harm a Narcissistic Parent Can Cause
Narcissistic parents harm their children whether there is a divorce or not. Add divorce to the mix and the narcissist become vindictive, suffers a narcissistic injury and goes full-force vindictive.
It’s almost as if they are hell-bent on making their ex and children pay for the suffering they are experiencing do to the narcissistic injury.
With a lack of insight into their behavior the narcissist is either unable to see the damage they do, or, due to their lack of empathy doesn’t care about the damage they do. If you’re the other parent, I’m sharing insights into their behavior plus personal experiences from my son’s relationship with their narcissistic father.
8 Ways the Narcissistic Parent Can Cause Harm
1. Your Child Won’t Be Heard or Validated
As I’ve said in the video, the narcissist doesn’t consider consequences before acting and if he doesn’t something that hurts your child, he doesn’t consider your child’s voice or opinion. He doesn’t care or take into consideration how his actions impact his children. Only he deserves validation, everyone else will be immediately shut down by him.
2. Your Child Will Learn That Being Real Isn’t Safe
The narcissistic parent defines what is and isn’t real. If your daughter is uncomfortable meeting his new girlfriend, he will dismiss her discomfort and something she is making up because of what she has heard from her Mom. If your son writes an email that is grammatically correct with no spelling errors he will accuse the son of letting Mom write the email. The narcissistic parent deflects what is real to your child onto what is real to him.
3. The Narcissist Will Share Too Much With Your Child
No information is sacred to the narcissistic parent. No child’s emotional state is of importance to the narcissistic parent. If it’s information that can make you look back, it will be shared with their child and the child will be told it’s a secret. “Don’t tell Mom.” This puts the child in the precarious position of having to carry around harmful information and no one to soothe their emotional upheaval.
4. Your Child Won’t Be Emotionally Nourished.
Asking for or expecting emotional nourishment from a narcissist is like asking a 2-year-old to carry on a conversation about quantum physics. They don’t have the emotional IQ to offer other’s emotional nourishment. And, if it is offered, it’s only because the narcissist is in a situation of trying to look good in front of others.
5. Your Child Is Expected To Be There For The Narcissistic Parent
The narcissistic parent won’t be there for the child. My ex goes 6 and 7 years at a time without contacting or seeing his sons. Why? Because he thinks it is their place to contact him. It is their place to be there for him, not the other way around. It’s sick!
6. Your Child’s Needs Won’t Be Met
The narcissistic parent cares about no one’s needs but their own. They will plow right over their own children if it means getting their needs met. They, at no time, put any thought or effort into meeting their children’s needs. This can lead to feelings of worthlessness in your child and it’s imperative that you take up the slack when it comes to meeting their needs.
7. The Narcissistic Parent Will Shame and Humiliate Their Child
If it will make the narcissist feel better about themselves they have no qualms about shaming and humiliating their child in front of others. They will compare your child to others, disparaging the way your child dresses or even looks. This can lead to low self-esteem in your child and I, personally have no problem with you telling your child that their father is sick and twisted and unable to behave like an adult.
8. Your Child May Suffer Mental Health Issues
There is a high probability that exposure to the narcissistic parent will cause PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues in your child. My youngest was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder at 17-years-old. After my ex had a session with the psychiatrist, the psychiatrist told me this, “That fucking narcissist has nearly destroyed his son’s life.”
Please, at the first sign of distress, get your child into therapy.
Parenting The Child With a Narcissistic Parent
The narcissistic parent, parents without empathy. They have no ability to feel empathy so it only makes sense they would parent without it. You have to do the opposite and parent with empathy and love.
To maintain a close bond with your children, it is essential for you to focus on being lovingly responsive in your interactions with them. You want to relate well with them, sense what they are feeling, help them put their thoughts and feelings into words, and anticipate their reactions as well as their needs.
Validate Their Feelings
Validating a child means letting them share their thoughts and feelings without judging, criticizing, ridiculing or abandoning them. You let your child feel heard and understood. You convey that you love and accept them no matter what they’re feeling or thinking.
Coach Your Child Through Negative Emotions
Emotion coaching is the practice of talking with children about their feelings and offering kids concrete strategies for coping with emotionally difficult situations.
Get Them Into Therapy
In the video, I advise parents to get their children in therapy at the first sign of distress. If you’re 100 percent sure your are dealing with a narcissistic ex, you may not want to wait until you see signs of distress.
If you can do the 4 things above you have a very good chance of countering the harm the narcissistic parent will do. You have the opportunity to counterbalance and fill up the gaping holes the narcissistic parent will leave in your child’s heart.
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5 Tips for Co-Parenting With a Narcissist
The word “narcissist” gets a lot of use these days. It seems everyone with an irrational ex is divorced from a narcissist. That’s doubtful! So, why did I title this guide, “Co-Parenting with a Narcissist? Because, whether your ex is a narcissist or nothing more than a common, garden variety jerk if he is giving you a hard time co-parenting and causing your children emotional harm, this video is for you.
Co-Parenting With a Narcissist Tips:
1. Don’t Allow Him to push your buttons
That is his number one goal! Don’t allow him to succeed. He wants to cause you to respond to him with anger. He wants you to appear as angry and irrational as he is. If you do, you give him ammunition to use against you in court, with his family and his friends.
He was married to you long enough to know your vulnerabilities and which buttons to push. He is adept at getting you worked up and he knows it. If you allow yourself to overreact to his nonsense you’re giving him exactly what he wants and the last thing you want is to give him any satisfaction. Keep that in mind when you’re trying to cool yourself down and ignore him.
2. Use Reverse Pronouns
Narcissists project, nearly every statement they make is a projection of something they fear. Example: If he says, “You’re a terrible mother who is going to ruin her children’s lives.” What he really means is, “I’m a terrible parent who is going to ruin his children’s lives. If you reverse those pronouns and understand the degree of his projection it will free you up from feeling like you need to defend yourself or concern yourself with what he thinks.
3. Lower your Expectations of Him
He is never going to be a good co-parent, stop hoping he will. What you have now, is what you’re stuck with. There is nothing you can do that will cause him to magically one day become the perfect co-parent so don’t waste your time and energy on hoping he will change.
4. Set Communication Boundaries
Communicate via email only. If you’re able to use a communication software like Our Family Wizard to keep track of and document all email communications with him.
No texting, phone calls or in-person communication about child-related issues. If all child-related issues are discussed via email and a legal issue comes up, you have documented proof to use in court.
5. Grey Rock Him
What does this mean? NO personal interaction, NONE. If you’re around him, do not acknowledge him. Do not attend school functions together. If you both happen to be in the same place at the same time, ignore him.
Have minimal communication and only via email. Respond to his emails with 2 or 3 words. If he emails and says, “I’m sick and can’t take the children this weekend.” Respond back and simply say, “Understand.”
He no longer exists to you other than some being in the clouds that you converse with as little as possible.
Last but Not Least
Be a good Mom to both your children and him! He is, after all, nothing more than an emotionally stunted child.
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The Aftermath Of Divorce From a Narcissist
If you’re divorced from a narcissist you know that the conflict has continued after your divorce was finalized. Divorce doesn’t put an end to the irrational behavior of a narcissist. In fact, divorce ramps it up and causes him to become worse.
And his ramped up narcissistic behavior can have you constantly spinning your wheels, living in a state of increased stress and responding in ways that aren’t healthy for you.
If you don’t learn how to respond to your narcissistic ex’s irrational behavior in a productive way, it can have severe emotional and physical consequences. And, most women don’t know how to respond to and process the constant conflict experienced after divorce from a narcissist.
3 Mistakes Women Make After Divorce From a Narcissist
1. Have Unreasonable Expectations
- They expect him to be reasonable and rational.
- They expect him to care about their situation.
- They expect him to do what is in their children’s best interest.
2. Believe They Can Fix the Problem
Narcissists target empaths, empaths are natural problem solvers and fixers. If you were married to a narcissist you probably spent years trying to fix the problems in the marriage. If you’re divorced from a narcissist, you’ll have the same inherent urge to fix the conflict between the two of you. It is, after all, the way you’re wired. How do “fixers” try to fix the conflict? Below are 2 examples.
- They justify their position. They believe that if they defend and justify their position on an issue or their needs they will eventually make him understand and “come around.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Trying to get him to understand their point of view on any issue is just added work and stress to an already untenable situation.
- They roll over and play nice doggy. They believe that if they give respect they will eventually get respect. What they don’t realize is, by playing nice doggy they are showing the narcissistic ex that they are vulnerable…that they need something from him. All this does is open the door for more emotional punches from the narcissist!
3. Fail to Understand the Emotional and Physical Harm Done by His Narcissistic Behavior
Narcissists are conflict generators. In the aftermath of divorce from a narcissist, if a woman doesn’t respond to the narcissist’s behavior in a manner that is healthy for her, she doesn’t have the opportunity to process her emotions and recover before the next onslaught of conflict.
She’ll find herself in a constant state of hypervigilance. She’ll be constantly on guard because she knows he will cause another conflict for her to deal with. She lives her life waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Living in constant state of fear and hypervigilance does both physical and emotional harm to the victim of a narcissist. What she is actually dealing with is trauma on an ongoing basis and, if not relieved can turn into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
What are the Symptoms of Ongoing Trauma?
- Pain disorders
- Somatoform disorders
- Problems sleeping
- Menstrual problems
- Gastrointestinal problems, just to name a few.
- Unhealthy coping strategies. Working too much as a distraction. Using drugs or alcohol to relieve stress.
- Anxiety and panic attacks.
- Depression and agitation.
- Compulsive/impulsive behaviors
In other words, if a woman isn’t responding to an irrational, narcissistic ex in a healthy manner she’ll end up with far more problems than a bully of an ex.
Below are 4 tips for healthy responses/interactions with a narcissistic ex.
1. Communicate Via Email Only
No in-person communication, text communication or phone communication! It’s acceptable to nod and say hello if in the presence of the ex but keep all communication about post-divorce issues strictly to email. Doing so gives you written proof should any issues turn into legal problems.
Using email also gives you the opportunity to back away from the computer and not respond immediately. To gather yourself emotionally and your thoughts. Remember, you don’t want to get drawn into conflict, you want to avoid conflict. The best way to do that is keep a rational head and not engage or allow him to push your buttons.
2. Lowered Expectations
If you expect the worst from someone you’re not going to be upset when that is what you receive. Expect NOTHING from a narcissistic ex!
3. Stop Trying to Fix Things
You aren’t MacGyver. You’re not going to be able to fix a problem you aren’t causing no matter how hard you try or how much faith you have in yourself to tackle that task. He is never going to negotiate fairly with you. He is never going to return respect, no matter how much you shower him with. Please, for your own wellbeing, stop believing that if you can only say or do the right thing, he’ll change. He won’t!
4. Check in With Your Emotions
It’s important to stay mindful of your emotional state. If you’re living in a constant state of stress and fear make sure you are doing what needs to be done to take care of yourself emotionally. If you’re feeling overwhelmed you may need something as simple as time away from the kids and stressors, you may need to seek help from a therapist in processing your stress.
When dealing with a narcissist after divorce it’s important that you choose your battles. If you choose wisely you’ll find yourself engaged in very few battles. don’t feed his need to control you via conflict by responding in an unhealthy manner.
For more resources, check out these articles:
- Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome: Could This Be You?
- 4 Stages of Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse
- 5 Communication Tips For Dealing With a Narcissistic Ex
- 10 Strategies For Dealing With a Narcissistic, Challenging Or High Conflict Ex
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How To Find Joy In The Holidays After Divorce
Your attitude precedes and determines the quality of your emotional state.
In other words, if you have a positive attitude about a situation, you’ll experience a positive outcome. Why? Because negative thinking promotes a negative outcome.
If you’re having negative thoughts and feelings about the upcoming holiday it’s in your best interest if you’re able to interrupt those negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
“I won’t have my kids for Christmas this year. It’s going to be a terrible Christmas without them. I can’t imagine enjoying Christmas without my kids.”
“Christmas is going to be different this year without the kids. They are safe and having a blast with their Dad and his family so, knowing that will help me enjoy my Christmas holiday.”
If you’re able to flip the negative thinking and put into practice positive thinking you’ll have a far better chance of having a great Christmas.
Happiness, contentment, peace of mind and holiday spirit come about by adopting a positive attitude.
The post Divorce Tip Tuesday: How To Find Joy In The Holidays After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.
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