One of the things we explored at Omega’s holistic divorce workshop was the impact of our emotional intensity on decision-making.
It’s interesting, right? The stereotype of a woman possessed by her emotions is that she’s hysterical, overcome by her feelings to the extent that all she can do is cry and scream and make waves. What we practiced this weekend is maintaining touch with those feelings, AND being calm and serene so that we can begin to ride those emotions — surf those waves — rather than create more and more of them without any prospect of also feeling in control.
What does it mean to be in control? That’s a lot of what this weekend was about figuring out. Does it mean I have control over my partner? Over our joint finances? Over what the future holds for my children? I’m not sure, but it seems like the answer is yes as well as no. And here’s why —
We have control over our feelings in the moment, or we have the capacity to feel in control over our feelings in the moment. Sorry if this sounds like a tautology, but in essence it is! Our feelings start with generating a feeling of not being hurt, and then we can address the ways that others’ behavior may be impacting us. For example, thanks to the participants in this workshop, we can imagine what it would feel like to be a woman who’s built her own business, or directly supported the efforts of her partner for decades, and then in one fell swoop, approach a precipice where, through legal channels, half or even more may now be washed away. Suddenly what we’ve worked so hard for, or thought we were working hard for, is about to be lost. Suddenly, the security we thought we were leaving for our children is in jeopardy. And suddenly, the emotional safety we thought we had with another person has turned to dust. So two questions: where and how does money fit into this (i.e. the sense of financial ‘security’), and how do our emotions play into the belief that what we are experiencing is limited to a condition of loss? In other words, what in this situation are we really losing? Is it money? Or is it a sense of power? Moreover, at this point, isn’t leveraging our emotional intensity in a way that promotes an internal sense of security all the more important at this juncture of our lives?
Our lead facilitator, J. Kim Wright (http://jkimwright.com), offered a very simple graph for us to use as a guide and reminder of this. In essence, our emotional intelligence is what enables us to know when we are feeling mistreated. It is an essential aspect of our perceptive faculties and is an inherently powerful tool for understanding our needs. But when the radar goes off and tells us something is wrong, we benefit from stopping to listen to that voice rather than go off the deep end by reacting outwardly to whatever appears in our agitated state to be responsible for our distress. When we are at our highest intensity of feeling, it may have come from an accurate perception of trouble or injustice, but especially as women, we often allow ourselves to fly off the handle and respond from that place instead of using the information we were given in a moment of emotional intensity to gather our wits, step back, and respond strategically.
In general, the importance of using our emotional intelligence to bolster our capacity for power can’t be overstated. And in the context of divorce, it’s crucial. The exciting thing about this workshop is that it was a lawyer guiding participants through this idea. And outside the confines of this workshop, this approach to considering and practicing law would have a lawyer facilitating conversations about this with her client. That means a legal consultation would revolve around helping clients to be grounded, essentially, in their spiritual power before they labor to produce outcomes on paper. It’s about taking responsibility for our feelings so that we can exercise control in a way that is balanced, and in line with the realities that others perceive in addition to the fear and pain we so easily attach to when the threat of loss feels like it’s about to overtake us. It’s about thinking holistically.