We know one another so well. We know how to push each other’s buttons better than anyone does. Before you know it, you’re in the middle of the fight.
‘You’re such a !#$%&’
All these catches are like bait on a hook. And we get reeled in!
What if we could recognize bait on the hook and avoid it?
So let’s learn about the usual traps and get ready to face your ex.
- When do we fight?
- How does the fight depend on us?
- Develop a strategy
- What if you take the bait?
Some time ago I worked in a factory as an engineer. In order to improve productivity, we ran regular audits to see if something could be improved on. So at first, we had to learn all the details about the audited part of the production process. We gathered data and information. Then we analyzed it. Basing on the analyses, we concluded what was possible to change, how the project could improve the capacity, and finally, how cost-effective that change would be. Then a decision was made. If we moved forward, an action plan was created and implemented.
And so now we need to do exactly the same thing with your Ex! But don’t worry, contrary to engineering, it’s going to be fun.
So our project is this: to stay relatively calm, get more things agreed upon and save your nerves.
In order to stay calm we need to learn what really pisses us off
Once we know it, we can recognize when it happens. And then, we can choose whether we want to go down the old path and get into fight again, or do we want to try something else instead.
When do we fight? Let’s gather some data
The data we need is the way you and your Ex behave. The good news is, after so many years in the relationship you’ve got it all in your head. All we need to do is structure it.
So how does the ex drive you mad?
Here’s how to do it. Take a pen and paper and make a list
List #1: ‘What pisses me off about my Ex‘.
Yes, it means to be long! And detailed! Write everything that s/he does, says, promises s/he would do but never does, does although promised s/he never would… get as much paper as you need and write it all down!
⇒ This task helps recognize the baits so next time you know when you’re being caught
Name it, write it, see it!
Let’s get a strategy ready
Now let’s get the strategy ready. Split the paper into two columns and write ‘What can help me remain calm’ on the left and ‘What can stop me from being calm’ on the right.
While you work on this lists, keep referring back to the list you made before. It will help you identify your weak points.
List #2: ‘What can stop me from being calm‘.
What are your triggers? What does s/he do that pisses you off superfast?
Examples of what can stop you from being calm:
- counting on getting back together (no! end of story, schluss, basta, finito!)
- trying to explain yourself, your feelings or anything else for that matter (I know this urge, but just…. don’t)
- believing in everything what s/he says (especially about how happy s/he is now)
- when ex points out your mistakes or treats you like an idiot
Think… how can you protect yourself from these things? What would make them stop working?
Tip: embrace that you two are turning into strangers now. It makes things easier.
Additionally, think: In an alternative reality, could your Ex be in a relationship with someone who wouldn’t mind those things that piss you off?
In other words, which things are just your points of view?
Your points of view that piss you off, but not necessarily others?
Some things are just our expectations, so give up them up. You two are turning into strangers now, remember? Think of plan B regarding the children or money, express the anger in some healthy way and let the ex to be the jerk!
⇒ This exercise identifies your soft spots, in which you need to be extra careful
List #3: ‘What can help me to remain calm’
Let’s take examples of what can help you:
- referring to facts only. Less is more in this case. So cut the talking and stick to what you need to agree on. Kids, money, the house, the divorce papers
- cutting the conversation off when your Ex says things that annoy you. Do it simply by not answering, or even ignoring his/her comments (it feels like an itch you can’t scratch)
- leaving the situation physically when you can’t deal with it anymore. Go to the toilet. Use this time to calm down, but also to notice that you are actually doing things differently right now
- remember he’s a stranger now
⇒ This exercise arms you in advance with helpful tricks
Whoo… Armed with such know-how, you know the baits, you’ve got the catches in black-and-white. And this knowledge gives you a chance to do things differently next time.
But it doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly, right?
So what if you take the bait?
There’s no chance you will change all your habits overnight. But if you change one thing during a single conversation with your Ex, you may consider yourself successful. Over the course of a few meetings, you will spot the difference.
But what if you don’t make it and you two get into a fight again?
Track the weak point.
Replay what happened. Were you angry before, or was it just one thing s/he said that drove you mad? Name the things that annoyed you. Ask yourself about your part in this situation. What can help you to stay calm next time?
The bottom line is that it’s a process of learning how to be more confident and prepared each time. Like the little fish that can tell which chunky worm is a bait and then just swim away.
The change in you may change your relations from emotional to something more tangible. It’s not about being friends; rather, it’s about being able to agree on basic things without having to fight.
So stay vigilant. And be a smart fish.
So what’s the one thing you can do today?
Even if you have no time to do all this analyzing, think in advance of strategies that can help you! Get yourself ready!
Oh, and one more thing
What if TODAY was the best day ever since your breakup? Check it out here.