We have discussed in this blog how different personality traits or approaches can impact the outcome of divorce or custody matters. Today, we look at overthinking.
What is overthinking? Generally, when we have a lot on the line, we want even more to make the correct choice. The higher the risk of a mistake, the greater the tendency to analyze so much you feel like you go around in circles and lose confidence in what you want or focus on what you need. That is the state of overthinking, and it can have terrible effects in the process of a divorce or custody dispute.
In family law, we as lawyers know that everyone cannot “win” and that compromise ultimately must rule the day. Even in cases where a party could “win” on all issues, that outcome might not be the best because it leaves bitterness and that could lead to further litigation or an undermining of the ruling the court issues. The best outcome in a family law case is one where all the parties, including the children, feel they have a stable path forward and that the remaining family ties can continue without serious conflict or harm.
If one goes into a divorce or custody matter understanding these basic rules and focuses on what is most important, getting to a final acceptable resolution becomes much easier. However, if one goes into the process wanting always to “win” or, just as troublesome, fearful of making a “wrong” decision, the process can grind to a halt or go sideways.
Why do parties overthink in divorce or custody matters?
First, the ending of a relationship and the reality that one will not see one’s children every night causes real emotional pain. Subconsciously, one way to push off that reality is the belief that by not making decisions the status quo will continue indefinitely.
Second, we do worry about making wrong choices. One’s sense of trust is broken by divorce and concern for children can lead to questioning every action a parent makes. We have to regain that trust in ourselves by learning to trust the process, the professionals involved in the case, and most of all our own judgment of what will be in the best interest of ourselves and our children.
Third, we see divorce as a huge failure and tend to think if we made the wrong choice in marrying someone we need to be extra cautious in all subsequent choices. While we do not want to act impulsively, we do not want to become paralyzed by fear of making mistakes. No one is perfect; the issue is not using divorce to work out what went wrong but to make a path to what is best post-divorce.
How can we get past overthinking family law issues?
First, write out a set of goals you would like at the end of the process. Evaluate with your attorney which goals are realistic. Once you have an acceptable plan, use that as your guidepost. All decisions that advance to those goals will be good decisions.
Second, try to minimize conflict. As mentioned, often conflict is a way to keep the future from happening. But we cannot stop time. In the end, generating more conflict only makes your case more difficult, more expensive, and more emotional, and it will push you further away from your goals.
Third, go with your “gut” if you cannot get out of your head. Overthinking becomes an endless exercise in reevaluating your options, and at some point, you need to make a decision and learn to be comfortable with that decision. That will only happen when you trust your internal instincts, guided by good counsel from your attorney, financial advisor, and health professionals.
Finally, take a deep breath and count to ten. It can help to simply engage in meditation, exercise or relaxation, and sometimes a distraction, to shut off the overthinking and recenter yourself to what is important and true to you.
It can be hard to trust again during divorce and custody proceedings, but you have to get there. Overthinking will at some point lead you astray from your inner self. Analyze, yes. Overanalyze, no. Learn to recognize this and you will be on the path to good choices.
If you have questions about overthinking and divorce, contact us – we can help.