The mind can play strange tricks on us when we are in times of great stress. And divorce rates right up there for most people as one of the most stressful events in life – for good reason! Relationships with your children, financial survival – so many important things are at stake!
We know from current research on brain physiology that all information is first processed by human beings from a central emotional place – where the brain checks the data to see if the situation is safe enough to take the time to send it on to the reasoning center for more thoughtful consideration. This feature has been critical to the survival of the human species, combining memory with feeling for purposes of taking immediate action: fight, flight or freeze.
In divorce, most people now understand that fighting through their lawyers in court is likely to hurt the children, waste their money, and not achieve important underlying goals. And fleeing is not an option, because there is no escape from making important decisions – at least, not unless you want to walk away from children, assets or income.
What is left? Freezing.
No one wants to see themselves as the wide-eyed hapless victim, caught in the gaze of a man-eating tiger or deadly cobra, unable to move from danger. Our minds can trick us, however, choosing to freeze in other ways.
Many very highly intelligent people can freeze in divorce by getting stuck in their analytical minds. They feel the need to complete more and yet more mathematical projections, or project potential future problems, no matter how statistically improbable such outcomes might be. This goes far beyond the point where all relevant information has been collected on assets, liabilities, income, potential tax consequences and how to compare “apples to apples” where embedded taxes are concerned. “What if” is a great and important question to ask of attorneys and financial professionals in a divorce setting – but spending hard earned money on highly unlikely outcomes can get couples stuck and stand in the way of future success and happiness for all family members.
And this is where being highly intelligent can actually work against you. If you are someone who has been highly effective in work and in life, it’s hard to let go of trying to think your way out of anything. “Wait a minute – I figured my way out of a lot of tough situations before – there must be a solution here I haven’t thought of……. I should be able to figure this out!”
And in all truth, there are optimal solutions in divorce. Collaborative Team Divorce is an interdisciplinary model which helps couples work together to find financial solutions which are uniquely tailored to the needs of each family member. But that’s different from believing you can think your way out of it, if you just had more and more time and spent more and more money.
Don’t let your brain persuade you to stay stuck in divorce through endless analysis. Instead, make sure you understand your assets and liabilities, come up with a fair budget which meets everyone’s needs, and move on. Save the money which could be wasted on endless professional fees, and start planning for a positive future!