“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie
Dealing with fear is one of the biggest challenges in divorce. Fear is designed to keep us safe; it stops us from touching a hot stove or running out into traffic. But when we let it dominate our thoughts, it can keep us stuck and unable to move forward toward a new life. We humans all suffer from fear of change and fear of the unknown. And yet, life is filled with change, and the unknown future may well hold all the goodness we desire, rather than what we fear.
How can we get a grip on fear and begin trusting ourselves to cope well with change?
As the wise saying goes, “Knowledge is power.” Fear is our own creation, a phantom of our negative thinking. We can cut our fears down to size when we face them clearly and learn all we can about what is worrying us. Fear is a feeling and not a fact. When we look at the facts and gather information, we can use our understanding and our clear thinking to generate optimism and hope—a positive and fearless outlook. Here, for example, are some ways to meet the most immediate fears that divorce brings up, those involving how we will continue to pay the bills:
“I’m afraid I won’t get a fair share of our family’s assets in this divorce.”
The solution to this fear is first to determine what these assets are and then what they are worth. The more you know about what you own, the more empowered you will feel. If your family finances are simple, it may not be difficult to divide the assets. If they are more complex with multiple homes, non-liquid investments, employer stock-options, family-owned companies, etc., it will take more investigating to sort things out. Learning all you can about what you have to work with will help you fight fear with knowledge. Your ideas about “fair” and “share” will be important in determining how you experience divorce and move forward into the future.
“I’m afraid of not knowing what I will have after the divorce.”
This fear of the unknown can once again be countered best with information. Once you know what the family assets consist of and what they are worth, you can take a closer look at how they can be useful to you in your new life. Be clear about what your post-divorce finances will look like. Will you have enough liquid assets? You won’t be able to pay bills with home equity or stock options although their value may be great on paper. Making a post-divorce budget will help you see the big picture of your financial future.
“I’m afraid of not knowing what my lifestyle will look like after the divorce.”
Once again, fear of the unknown is at work. Although you can’t know everything about what the future holds, you can have faith that positive results are just as likely as the negative ones you fear. You can have faith in yourself as well and try to be as informed as possible about your finances. Your post-divorce budget, created with all the information you have gathered about your financial picture, can help with the facts about your money. How you feel about your new life, will you be fearful or hopeful, is in your hands. Everyone has concerns about cash flow and financial well-being. Just as in driving a car, we make adjustments along each mile. Although the scenery may be changing, we can learn to stop scaring ourselves and begin trusting ourselves to be capable navigators.