High Conflict Sanity Saver: Stop Attack/Defend Behaviour!

You know how it goes: an email pops into your Inbox, you read it, and your blood boils. The email is riddled with negative parenting comments and accusations. You instantly feel the need to defend yourself against the horrible words directed at you.

You want to somehow prove to the other parent that they are wrong. However, instead of just defending yourself, you throw in a few snide insults as well. Those comments are received as ‘attacks’ by the other parent. That parent reacts by defending themselves, and then throwing in a few more rude remarks while they are at it.

Just like that, the Attack/Defend cycle continues.

Many parents get stuck on this merry-go-round for years and sometimes lifetimes. They are attached to what the other parent thinks or believes to be true about them. They believe that by defending themselves, they will be able to convince the other parent that they were wrong to make the attacks in the first place.

How do you get off the merry-go-round that goes nowhere?

DISENGAGE from the need to defend yourself.

Read that line again. It’s important.

DISENGAGE from the need to defend yourself.

I have often heard parents say, “I hate my former spouse, you’ll never guess what he or she just did/said”.

Whenever I hear one parent say he or she hates the other parent, I know they need to work on disengaging.

Love and hate are on the same continuum. Both take up significant space in our lives. Love occupies space in our hearts, and hate occupies space in our minds.

By hating the other parent, you are giving them valuable space in your head.

That space could be better used to create a new way of engaging your children, dream of a new goal that you wish to attain, or imagine yourself successfully overcoming a challenge.

By removing the hate from your mind, you provide yourself with opportunities to spend more time enjoying your life and being happy with your children rather then engaging in conflict with the other parent.

Your goal is to feel INDIFFERENT towards the other parent, regardless of the mud slinging they send your way. Indifference equates to disengagement.

When you are attacked in an email (or in person), your GUT reaction is usually to react by defending yourself.

Practice disengaging from the need to defend yourself, rather than reacting, take 24 hours to disengage yourself from the attacks and respond only to topics pertaining to your children. Easier said than done, but an imperative step to regaining your sanity while parenting with someone you are in conflict with.

You cannot change the attacks that are sent your way. Nothing you say or do will ever change the other parent; not their behavior, not their actions and certainly not the words they choose to use.

The ONLY thing you can do is to change how you respond to the other parent’s behavior.

You can choose to disengage from the attacks. You can choose to respond only about what is important (your children). You can choose to stop defending yourself.

Just because the other parent says something about you or to you, it doesn’t mean you have to believe it or prove it wrong.

It is a choice to disengage and ignore the hurtful digs, lies and manipulations. It is a choice to give your self time to respond rather than react. It is a choice to stop defending yourself against someone who isn’t listening anyways. And it’s a choice to start regaining your sanity.