Stress Impacts Decision Making

Apr 25, 2020

We can all look back on stressful times in our lives and feel pangs of regret for our own poor behavior. Who hasn’t wanted to take back words and acts that have been hurtful to others? We can make choices that turn out to be unwise. We are left with the consequences of our decisions.
The process of separation and divorce can be stressful, and that can impact decision-making skills. 
Many divorcing spouses don’t recognize the level of stress they themselves are under during the divorce process. They may not even realize how they were affected until much later. Most are not thinking as wisely as they usually do. In addition, the overwhelming majority of people believe they ARE thinking wisely, when, in fact, after the dust has settled, they know they could have made better choices. 
As a mediator, I am trained to help clients recognize needs and interests that may be obscured by emotion and avoid stress-based decisions. 

Consider these “danger areas”:
  • Saying or doing things that permanently damage your parenting relationship
with your spouse (Marital relationships end, but parenting relationships or their
absence last for a lifetime.)
  • Making uninformed financial decisions
  • Not seeking help in understanding and coping with the emotional impact you
are experiencing
  • Failing to reinforce trust in your future ex-spouse with clearly documented expectations to protect both of you from unexpected changes in your personal relationship
  • Hastily becoming romantically involved with an inappropriate partner while processing the emotional impact of an end to your marriage
  • Quickly engaging in a litigated divorce with a “fighting lawyer” with the hope of a better settlement than may be possible in out-of-court options
When the stress of divorce is combined with the shock and numbness that lead to irrational decision making, things can backfire with long-term and even life-long negative consequences.
The mediation process acknowledges the presence of emotion within the participants and in their conversation. In mediation I help my clients look within themselves to find the needs and interests that are being held in the emotions of the moment.
While other processes, like litigating a divorce, may throw fuel on the emotional fires of a client’s heart, mediators can use empathy and understanding to assist emotional clients in navigating gently through a difficult transition. With a mediator’s eye on maintaining focus and purpose, I strive for a more positive outcome through honest dialogue rather than a negative backlash from emotionally impacted behavior and speech.