I am not, nor ever have been, a basketball player. The one or two seasons I donned a basketball uniform in junior high, I felt like I was an accomplished player if I fouled out of the game. Clearly, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and I am not what people would call “athletic.” I found my authentic match when I switched to a cheerleading uniform and all that required was good ol’ fashioned positivity. That I could do.
Despite that I know absolutely nothing about basketball, every March it becomes important to me. The competitiveness of brackets is a draw I cannot resist. I whip out my $5 bill and add it to the pot of our office pool and cheerfully fill out my bracket. I then watch basketball games, I track scores, and I talk trash with Philip in my office. My priorities get out of whack as I tell my daughter to hold on, while I watch the last 30 seconds of a basketball game. Then, after the first weekend when my bracket looks bleak, I again lose all interest.
It occurs to me that I see this trend surface often with my clients moving through divorce. Although the cycle is not nearly as predictable as the 48 hours that I love basketball every year – it is predictable in the sense that it is human nature to sometimes get confused about what really matters to us, to misalign our priorities in the rush of an emotion, or to direct our focus to something that in the big scheme of things isn’t worth the attention.
I have seen couples in divorce argue vehemently over cookie jars (albeit it was mushroom-shaped…), tv’s, log splitters, purses, artwork, you name it. Not only do they argue about ownership, but they pay their respective lawyers hundreds of dollars an hour to fight about it. When not in the intensity of the moment, paying me $295/hour for used monogrammed linens may seem like a poor decision. But we lose all sense of that in the heat of hatred. We lose all sense of ourselves.
And that is what I am most interested in for my clients, how do I support them to not lose who they are, not lose their integrity, and not lose sight of what really matters in the outcome of divorce?
We start with an inventory of priorities. I often ask clients to map out what really matters to them, before they attend mediation or a settlement conference. Preferably they are pointing out their preferences before they have a button pushed by their spouse so they can refer back to their desired outcome and be reminded of what their level-headed-self wanted before they got angry, sad, scared, or confused.
Any time we are facing a big change, an enormous decision, or significant upset, this is a useful tool to pull out of the skills box. When feeling calm and rational, write out what matters. Identify those things worth fighting for and those worth letting go.
My advice during any season of March Madness you experience in your life? Make sure you are tracking the right score in your life, counting the baskets that mean something, and not committing too many fouls in the process.