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7 Ways Children of Divorce Deal with Love and Relationships

7 Ways Children of Divorce Deal with Love and Relationships

Although there are numerous studies done on how divorce affects children and that children of divorce have a higher risk of failing at marriage than children of non-divorced parents, in this day and age, divorce itself doesn’t seem to surprise us and rather seems to be the norm.

Yet after surviving our parents’ divorce, some of us get stuck in our past hurt and end up struggling with nurturing our own romantic relationships. Apart from these limiting beliefs, here are some lessons learned while growing up as children of divorce, and unforeseen positives we discovered on the road to healing and moving on.

1. We assume relationships are bound to be broken.

When we witnessed our parents’ marriage crumbling, we may have adapted a pessimistic perception about love and relationships. We may stray away from the notion of marriage altogether to avoid the possibility of divorce in the future.

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Turn-around: Contrary to the uncertainty about lasting marriages, we hang in and try to work things out hoping that it will last forever. Divorce is not a viable option to us and not acceptable. We don’t easily give up and want to prove that our marriage survived and succeeded.

2. We try to avoid arguments at all costs.

We know arguments can turn ugly.  We might hide from difficult situations rather than confront the issues and resolve them, just to avoid arguments or uncomfortable emotions.

Turn-around: Most arguments start from lack of clarity. We understand good communication is a fundamental part of a healthy relationship. We believe that we can work through whatever problem we’re facing and are able to build the lasting relationship with open and honest communication.

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3. We doubt our mate and relationship.

We struggle with trust when working through our own relationship challenges, especially if we witnessed a breakdown of trust between our own parents. Fostering these feelings of betrayal will continue to affect us in our own relationships in the future.

Turn-around: Healthy relationships are built on trust. In order for us to love fully without disguising who we are, or holding back our true emotion, we need to be courageous to be vulnerable and trust our partners. We learn to let go of the pain and anger, and forgive ourselves and our parents. Although it may take time, we learn to empathize and understand what has happened.

4. We are immature attention seekers.

We play the blame game and act childish. We refuse to take responsibility for our own actions and blame others for everything. We act out to get the attention from our partners and, in an effort to avoid changes, we learned early on that it may be the only way we know how to cry out for affection.

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Turn-around: We are aware that it’s essential to articulate our expectations, our wants and needs to our partners in a relationship. When our needs and expectations aren’t met, it leads to tension, which mounts and turns into chronic frustration and anger. This eventually eats away at the love and happiness in a relationship. The more we give our partner love and respect, the more they return them.

5. We are afraid of being alone.

We understand that our parents went through a tough divorce, but we felt alone without support from them. If one parent left, it signaled us that they did not love us and did not want to be with us anymore. We felt tremendous loss. We felt abandoned and became resentful. We need constant reassurance that everything is okay and we are safe under the circumstances. We don’t choose our love. Instead, we want to be chosen in a relationship.

Turn-around: When we enter into a relationship we expect it to last, maybe even for the rest of our life. But in reality, lifestyles change and so do people. After watching our parents’ marriage dissolve into divorce, we eventually learn to assess our own relationship values, must-haves and deal breakers. Hence, love becomes a deliberate choice.

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6. We feel responsible for the divorce.

We feel our parents’ marriage ended because of something we said or did when we were young. We harbor this and feel guilty over losing the other parent in our life.

Turn-around:  We form tighter bonds with our family as we are facing the challenges together and know that we have each other to count on. We are very supportive of our parents and siblings in the end. We become more compassionate. We learn coping skills we never knew we had and feel stronger as a result of what we went through. We build resilience in the face of rough times.

7. We opt out for our own children.

We know what it’s like to be children of divorce, thus we do not want our own children to go through the similar challenges. Our fear that marriage could lead to divorce leads to a fear of failure. We are afraid that our divorce might label them negatively as children of divorce, just like us.

Turn-around: We show our children that we deserve to be in a satisfying and supportive relationship. We thrive to exhibit what a healthy relationship looks like and how to express love with one another. We want to become a role model in love for them.

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Kris Lee

Emotional health and communication writer

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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