When you think about meeting your ex-partner (at handover time, for example) does your heart start to race? You might also feel clammy and your stomach can lurch making you feel physically sick. You might start to feel overwhelmed with despair, dread or anger.
What’s happening is that your emotions are getting in the way and are clouding your thinking. Did you know that when we get stressed the part of the brain that does our rational thinking shuts down, the primitive part kicks in and we go into “flight, fight or freeze?”
One way of bringing your rational brain back on-line is to slow down your breathing. It might sound strange, but your heart is racing so that you have more energy to run away or fight, but if you breathe in and out slowly, your heart rate slows down and you trick your body into thinking that the stress has gone; your rational brain is then able to process the information in a calmer way.
There are lots of things that you can do to manage your emotions. Knowing your trigger points and changing what you do before you get too emotional is the first step.
The main points to remember are:
- Manage your emotions so that you stay calm - remember to breathe!
- Keep the big picture in mind, that big picture is about putting your children first and not letting them witness the adult conflict.
- Think before you speak - is what you want to say going to make the situation better or worse?
- Don’t send a text or email directly after writing it; always step away from the keyboard and give yourself time to reflect and calm down and then re-read it and amend it before sending.
- When you re-read it, imagine how the other person will interpret it - keep it simple and avoid point-scoring.
- Although it can often feel as though you have no power to change the situation, making some small changes in what you do can make a big difference.
- You can waste a lot of emotional energy on trying to change the other person, so think about what you can do and not what the other person should do.
- Learn from your mistakes; don’t expect to get it right every time.
- Spend time on looking after yourself – if you burn out, you won’t be able to give your best to your child or children.
- If communication is difficult, consider using a mediator. Our mediators are highly trained and qualified;
contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 3440 8000