Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Art of Mindfully Communicating with your Ex

How do you go about continuing the relationship with your Ex? Especially if a breakdown in communication itself was a cause of your divorce. What do you do if you have children together?  Does the end of a relationship with someone who you may no longer love, connect with or even like any more give you the right to behave without a sense of dignity, pride or compassion?  Not one of us can truly take ownership of the mantle of behavioural perfection in a relationship.  

So are you are a good, kind and generous hearted human being or are you some crazy, hate infused, gun wielding (I could go on) pixelated screen monster that ought to be left to the plastic electrical games consoles (Ex-box :))... Visualise yourself as this on screen character – do you really want your Ex seeing you as the visceral chief gamer of more emotional, physical and mental destruction?   Do you want to see yourself as this character? Do you want the beginning of the rest of your life to be shored up under the guise of this confused, scared and frightened person?  How good would it feel to know that you could be strong enough to be respectful, kind and decent not only to yourself but to your Ex too? To leave your bruised, hurting and embarrassed ego at the door of the future relationship in whatever form it becomes thus lending itself to the greater good of all those involved.

So here are a few of my tips to help you mindfully communicate with your Ex:


1.  Your Amazing Grace 
Firstly grace doesn’t hold fair hands with a war mongering, shoot 'em up verbaliser. If you can, try to see yourself serene, calm and in your own protective cool power. If you are up against an angry Ex -  let them have their space to be the fighty one and just see if their attitude changes. It is a strange energy dynamic that happens when you change the energy of your own attitude and outlook, invariably those around you begin to also change. A breathing practise of breathing in for 4, holding for 2 then out slowly for 6, five times worked for me. Feeling and seeing yourself with a sense of calm can help your voice sound and you feel more relaxed, allowing you to pick up the phone, to go meet your Ex or have that necessary Skype conversation.  Trust yourself that you can be the calm person you know you can be.

2.   Preparation and Planning   Have a clear objective about what you both are going to talk about, email each other about subject matter, dates and times. Planning as with all difficult situations gives everyone due time to prepare, to think about what is to be discussed. Point scoring by landing a scenario on your Ex that could have been planned, although at times tempting, is very likely to upset you both and is unhelpful. Although life’s sneaky curve balls happen invariably when we least need them, be mindful that we can’t always keep our meetings or be on time.  As you would with your family, friends or workplace, text, email, even try an apology, rearrange and keep your cool kindly.
  
3.   Check in with yourself   Get into the habit of embracing the natural mindfulness inherent within you.  Every time, before communicating, get good at checking how you are feeling.  If you are minded to be vitriolic and get on the email then do - write down your thoughts, feelings and frustrations then take that critical step back, even for an hour, the rest of the day or overnight and PARK the written stuff in the Draft Box. Return when you've slept, eaten, not drunk wine and read it again – if it is bad stuff then better you wrote it down, to help clear it, do not feel guilty, just don’t press SEND.  Write your emails to your Ex as if you were writing to yourself, be gentle - you are both going through the ‘stuff’ no matter who is at fault. Our brains can filter differently, but the hurt, shame and sadness still exists on some level. Awareness is the key to mindfully communicating with our Ex, appreciating we are all so different, so read, reread and check again.

4.   Leave the expectations and control freakery alone Realistically controlling your Ex, is going to be about as easy as stopping a brilliant viral video clip.  Just let the talk, the meet and the seeing of your Ex happen, allowing it to be as it is, without negative or positive expectations of any interaction. You know the plan of the meeting, you arrived all prepared, calm and good and if your Ex doesn’t, don’t let the emotional mashup happen, let the "shoulds" just be.  Our automatic pilot of negativity can then send us down the angry mind monkey 101 disappointment dungeon …  There were times at this juncture where I would try so very hard not to swear a lot and I would ask the Universe why is it, with all our good intentions do we end up suddenly in this place? Because, dear beautiful people, this is life.  Acceptance is that we cannot control everything, sometimes letting go is the big one and none more so than when feeling vulnerable, fearful and unsure.

5.  Hearing The Rants. Your Ex doesn’t need to hear your drama. Okay, so leave the cross, ranty married or partner person alone – give yourself permission to not be that person any more! Do you in your most honest heart of hearts think your Ex wants to hear any more complaints or personal 'flea in the ear' grumblings? It’s dull, boring and now needs to not be an option for either of you, it leads to arguments or a closing down and then no talking which is worse ....Your Ex no longer needs to be your emotional crutch, so go shout at the clouds or sun at the top of a big hill, verbally pound a pillow or phone a friend. Not having that shoulder around no matter how much you’ve been hurt is hard – FACT, learning to deal with your drama yourself – now that is empowering. 

6.   Your Well-being  How 'angsty' can we all become, so very easily when we haven’t eaten, are tired and may be with a little alcohol under our belts?  How easy is it to give more thought to negativity that can so naturally flow when we least expect it?  Perhaps the meeting went badly at work, you are stressed about a project, the kids are ill, money is tight and the hot date cancelled....  this is just the stuff mind monkeys prod us with to send our well-intentioned conversations with our Ex ‘red’ side. Picking up the phone in this state feels defiant, the powerhouse ego expands and 5 minutes later your phone call/email has depleted the GOOD WILL pile you are trying so hard to build. Looking after your well-being is so important to our bodies and brains supporting us through these stressed times.  Get your sleep in, nourish yourself with good fresh healthy food, think seriously about the unhelpfuls such as alcohol or smoking. Go exercise, dance in the kitchen, burn off some of that mental energy and find laughter...anywhere.

7.   The drama triangle   Have a look, understand where you are in this, what aspect do you choose to adopt depending on the conversations you are having with your Ex. For me it was a helpful reminder of the roles we can all choose to play depending on how we are feeling at any given time.  So it shows us specific, co-dependent, destructive inter-action patterns, which in the end can have a negative impact our lives and future relationship with our Ex. So depending on how I felt; whether feeling so sorry for myself; being supportive and kind; or just plain cross, I became the Victim, the Rescuer or Persecutor. We can so easily slot into these roles and becoming aware and mindful of this when we are scared, lonely or angry helps identify and break the pattern. This gives us the opportunity to create a healthier relationship with our Ex and with importantly with ourselves.
  
8.   Remembering your manners   Your Ex, no matter how your mind has fashioned this person since your troubles began, is still and will continue to be part of the fabric of your life, whether you have children or not.  They have been in your life, they ain't going away, the memories may fade but really, will they disappear? Be kind and if not kind be polite... you can do this..... It is OK to say sorry if you are late, if you get upset, to be gracious if they mess up.  Divorce doesn’t have to be about winners and losers any more, but rather working together towards a common good, it is about keeping your cool and with it your balanced lovely head.

8.   Keep it Simple - Literally, the more we add drama and emotional baggage to the divorce pyre the more we keep it burning and the more management it needs, the longer it is going to hang around and the more money it is going to cost.  No matter how scary our futures feel with in most cases the lack of money, housing, savings, fancy handbags if you want and the like, keeping your eye on what matters, what is important and needs to be dealt with is your focus. Learning to be in a different relationship with your Ex is weird, tricky and hard, but what is harder is not trying ….

With love Natasha 

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