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Emotional Reactiveness is defined as an uncontrollable reaction to a person, place, event or other stimuli. It can create defensiveness, decrease trust and most importantly, decrease understanding. When being emotionally reactive, it destroys the ability to effectively communicate. The person on the receiving end of emotional reactiveness only hears anger, not words.

Divorce is a very challenging time for everyone. The couple is ending a relationship. The children may feel uncertainty. Family members and friends struggle with what to do or say. It may even effect the family pets, who may demonstrate aggressive or regressed behavior.

What are some concrete examples of emotional reactiveness during divorce? Destroying or selling your partners property, making friends and family “ pick” a side, involving children in inappropriate conversations, spreading rumors about partner and so much more.

Why is it so important to reduce emotional reactiveness during divorce? There are many reasons, but in general, here are some specific ones. First, you need to have pride in yourself. Emotional stability is the key to success. If you remain stable, not only your emotional health will be enhanced, but your physical as well. Second, if you have children, you need to set a good example for them. Do you really want your children to see you screaming or cursing about your partner? The way you treat your partner when divorcing may set the standard on how your children will act in relationships. Lastly, remember that you should always treat others the way you want to be treated. A marriage may be ending, but it is the chance to start having a better, more stable relationship.

What can you do to avoid emotional reactiveness during a divorce? First, you need to create a “space” for yourself. This can be accomplished by changing the environment-such as walking away, utilizing breathing exercises-there are many excellent apps for your phone or distracting yourself-participating in an activity that will “take you away”. Second, you can have a conversation with yourself. Think more about the situation and why it is making you respond emotionally. Lastly, look at things from a different perspective. Tomorrow is another new day. What may seem important in the moment may not be weeks, months or years from now.

This blog was written by a guest blogger & colleague of Roseann Vanella,Professional Mediator, Collen Brigid Fitzpatrick, MSW, LCSW of Instrumental Change, LLC.

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