5 Things NOT to Do for Someone Who is Overwhelmed by Divorce

stressedWhen I share with people that what I do for a living is train people to be divorce coaches – they sometime back away and ask, “How can you spend all of your time dealing with such overwhelming and heart-breaking situations?” I understand where they are coming from because I remember the first time someone told me their whole divorce story – I was overwhelmed even with my years of training. I knew I was going to support people in divorce, I was first going to have to figure out a way for me not to get pulled into the impact of the divorce story.

And given that there are many new divorces every year as well as those who are still recovering form past divorces, the number of people suffering from this ongoing overwhelm and confusion is in itself overwhelming. So this is important for you as part of a group, a community, a family to know what NOT to do when someone is going through those rough spots.

So answer this question for yourself – What is it that you do NOT need when you are overwhelmed?
Let me share with you how I would answer that question –

I do not need someone who wants to fix the situation for me.
If you ask me how I am doing, have enough compassion for me to listen to what I am saying without interruption, allowing me to express myself and all of my concerns. I just want someone who will listen to me without judgment and be a sounding board. When I can just get it all out of my head and into words, it helps to reduce the chaos in my head.

Do not ask me to turn back and look at the past and figure out everything that went wrong.
I may include some of that in my telling of the story, but I really just want to be heard and acknowledged for where I am. I only know how to talk about what is going wrong because that is dominating my world. What I really want is someone to help me sort out my thoughts, and to focus on just one thing at a time.

5 Things NOT To Do for Someone in Divorce

  1. Don’t try to fix the situation.
  2. Do not ask me to dig into the past for everything that went wrong!
  3. Do not tell me what I SHOULD do!
  4. Don’t ignore that I am an intelligent human being.
  5. Don’t abandon me because I know I can’t do this alone!

Do not make well-intentioned suggestions for things I SHOULD do!
Everyone is already telling me what I should do, what they did, what they would do if they were me. But they aren’t me and half of the things they are telling me are things I could never do and the other half are things that just don’t even apply to my situation. What you could do is ask me a few questions to help me get clear about what my own thinking is on the kazillion concerns I have.

Do not ignore me as a an intelligent human being.
I am not a pathetic person to be pitied but my thinking is overwhelmed by the many changes I am anticipating in my life and the financial concerns that show up everyday in the form of bills and questions about what I am going to do. Do express interest in which of these many areas of concern I have is most important and is what I want to handle as a first order of priority. Until you ask me that question, I keep spinning all of the concerns equally in my head. Ask me what thoughts I have had about the best way this could go for me and what options I have been considering. The more I focus on one things and begin to explore my options, the fast I can see it more clearly and develop confidence that I can deal with this one thing.

Don’t abandon me because you are bored with my talking only about my divorce.
I want and need your support, your help as a thinking partner and sounding board, and your listening and helping me to focus on the strengths that I have and the other times I have gotten through rough spots is just the reassurance I need.

Divorce-Overwhelm-cover-200Overcoming the overwhelm and avoiding he six biggest mistakes in divorce is the topic of a book we have just published through Amazon. The book elaborates on the steps you can take with your friends or family members or clients if you are a personal divorce coach or other divorce professional to help them overcome the overwhelming feeling that often lead to the biggest mistakes we can make in divorce – the ones hat lead to all of the other mistakes that take us back to court or back to our attorney over and over again.

You can purchase the book online as a Kindle or as a Print Book – and it is designed as a workbook or place to reflect on the questions posed throughout the book which will help you gain clarity and take action and get unstuck from the overwhelm of divorce.

For more information about joining the CDC Certified Divorce Coach certification program which starts May 15, click here. To find a divorce coach, go to the directory on this website .


To provide your insights about what NOT to do for someone who is overwhelmed by divorce, make a comment in the area below. I look forward to hearing your ideas.

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