Remember hearing that as a child? I do. I said it. I believed it. And then I didn’t. Names DO hurt, even if they aren’t “really bad, mean names.” They can burn a memory into your brain that can haunt you. My son, who is six, is one of the younger children in his 1st grade class. Next to his 2nd grade soccer buddies, he’s a bit vertically challenged, although he’s considered “average” in height. Nonetheless, when he came home in tears the other day because an older child called him “shorty,” he undoubtedly felt the sting of name-calling. Welcome to the real world, my sweet, darling son! We have all experienced it, to some extent, and it stinks. Rather than utter that renowned phrase to my son, my collaboratively-trained lawyer brain went into “better-get-more-information” mode. The conversation went like this: Me: How did that make you feel when he said that? Son: Sad. Me: Mmmmm….I can see that… Son: And angry… Me: Definitely! (Pause). So, what happened next? Son: (without missing a beat) I grabbed the ball out of his hands, dribbled it down the court, and made a basket. Me: (Stunned!) Wow! That is AMAZING! (Beaming with pride…that’s my boy!) So, my son “shows up” this kid by making a basket, yet he was still upset (hours?) later and recalls the name-calling rather than his awesome basket?! This certainly illustrates words have a HUGE impact on others, whether we realize it or not. It doesn’t have to be name-calling, either. It can be just the language we use and the way we say it. The tone in our voice can turn an otherwise innocuous comment into a heated argument. So…STOP. Take a DEEP breath (and maybe throw a stick at some THING). THINK before you speak, and CHOOSE your words carefully. Then go shoot some hoops.
I remember about 9 years ago when I needed to make a big life changing decision. I knew I needed to decide whether or not to leave my safe, predictable law position or go and start my own firm, practicing in a way that felt aligned with my values. But there were so many uncertainties about making the change. So I maintained the status quo longer than planned because I needed to get to the place of being ready to take that next step. And sometimes circumstances push us to a place of being ready before we were planning on it. This is what happens when people divorce. Usually, one spouse has been contemplating the idea longer than the other and when they make the decision to move forward with divorce, their spouse is not at the same place of readiness. And when people decide to get a divorce, wanting it over sooner rather than later is what many people want. But paying attention to where your partner is in readiness, can make all the difference between a good divorce and a bad divorce. This is something you have influence over. Giving your spouse a chance to “catch up” and come to terms with the end of the relationship means they will be able to move forward with less resentment, anger and sadness. And those emotions in a divorce do not make for smooth sailing for you or your children. If you want a peaceful divorce, readiness is your first opportunity to begin that process. There are things that you can do to move things forward that you can discuss with your attorney, while your soon-to-be ex catches up, like researching your divorce process options (i.e., Collaborative Divorce, Mediation, etc.), gathering necessary documents, working with a therapist, or exploring separating. But to push them into a process before they are ready, can end up being a disastrous decision. Giving them time, can be the best thing you do for yourself and your family as a whole. This is the difference between being penny-wise and pound-foolish and having a no-court divorce. If I had been forced to start my practice before I was ready, I might have chosen to do a different area of law; not found my great office space; and possibly made unwise financial decisions, rather than practicing Collaborative Family Law (something that I truly enjoy doing) in an office that feels safe and comfortable to my clients. Being ready made all the difference for me.