I am fully capable of a quick and negative reaction. Exhibit A: The Husband. Mostly when I have a (perfect, let me remind you) plan of what needs to happen and The Husband interferes. It’s much easier to write about the importance of the pause before the reaction than it is to employ the technique. https://familyresolutions.us/2012/04/22/act-dont-react-why-is-it-so-hard-2/. Here’s a new tool to help us all remember in the moment. 

Look to the Hand

I delivered an advanced training on collaborative law last week with an especially skilled divorce coach. Most of us have heard about the “flight or fight” mode that takes over when we feel threatened or scared. But Katie Zuverink, my co-trainer and mental health professional, had a new-to-me graphic to demonstrate why it is so hard to speak and think rationally when in that mode. It’s pretty simple really.

As Katie puts it, when you lose your cool, “you lose access to the part of your brain that solves problems efficiently, the part that’s intuitive and does your critical thinking.” We aren’t bad people when we get irritated or lash out or just sigh heavily. It’s simply that the limbic brain (think primitive reptilian brain in the palm) has assumed control and the area responsible for good decision-making (the pre-frontal cortex represented by fingers) has shut down and collapsed. But it’s there that higher reasoning and functions occur. Let me just say, this is probably the place from which you want to develop a parenting plan and consider options for dividing assets!

Ask this question in your next meeting.

When you meet with your spouse and you feel yourself getting irritated, picture this image of the hand. Pause and ask, “has my prefrontal cortex (the fingers on the model) shut down? Or, “am I operating from my best brain here?”

I’ve written before about the importance of the pause (see above). For more techniques, Katie has a few at https://www.katiezconsulting.com/blog/keeping-calm-during-meetings. Read these and you’ll also have a better idea of why we always work with a divorce coach in the collaborative process.

The Husband has been searching for a sculpture of an open hand to display in our home! I’m considering the idea.

Wishing you wisdom,

Deborah Bennet Berecz

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Berecz and Associates PLC | Attorneys, Mediators, Collaborative Lawyers | Grand Rapids, MI | Saint Joseph, MI

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