There are so many decisions to make during divorce. The whole process can seem like decision after decision after decision with no end in sight. For those of us who are not expert and confident decision makers this can be scary and overwhelming. The fear of making the wrong decision can be debilitating to the point of feeling paralyzed and completely unable to move forward.
If we are willing, divorce will help us learn and practice solid and wise decision making. Decisions we can live with in the future. There are endless opportunities during the process and there is a great little tool we can use when faced with a choice. It's called The Cost-Benefit Coordinates.
All we need is a piece of paper with a pen, and a quiet place where we can focus inward for a short time without rush or distractions.
On top of the paper we need to state clearly the decision to be made, identifying two separate options as option "A" and option "B".
Example: I need to make the financial decision of either accepting the settlement my ex is offering or not. Option "A": Accept. Option "B": Refuse.
On the paper we draw a line horizontally across in the middle and another one vertically across like making a coordinate plane. On the top of the left quadrate we write "Cost" and on the top of the right one "Benefit". On the far left in the top section we write "A" and in the bottom section "B", so the top half of the paper is about Option "A" and the bottom half of the paper is about Option "B".
We start in the top left box and list all the costs, loss, disadvantages, pain, negative feelings and side effects of our Option "A". Writing down everything that comes to mind from the smallest disadvantage to the biggest loss we can suffer if going through with this decision. Not dismissing or minimizing anything for being not important enough or silly. If it occurs to us as a possible cost we write it down. Being sure we are putting down all the emotional and mental costs too, even if it's a practical or financial decision we are making. Remembering, there is nothing in divorce that does not have an emotional side.
Example: Might end up with less money. I would feel I didn't do everything I could to take care of me. My friends will be disappointed I didn't fight for myself. I will be upset with myself for not fighting for more. I will lose the house. I'm not gonna be able to take care of the cat.
Then we go to the bottom right box and list all of the benefits of our Option "B". Writing down everything we can gain from going with this decision but staying realistic and not putting down wishful thinking scenarios as possible outcomes. Instead listing all the reasonable and viable benefits we will gain if going with this option.
Example: I will feel like a fighter even if at the end I don't get more money. I might get more money. I can probably keep the house and the cat.
The reason for jumping into this box and not going straight to the benefits of Option "A" is to examine the two sides of the same coin first. The statements we just wrote down in these two boxes should be somewhat opposites of each others. Looking at them all individually like that we can examine if all of them are true as stated and valid for us.
Next, we go to the box above and list all the benefits of Option "A", writing down every possible and realistic benefits of going with this choice.
Example: Divorce will end soon. No more fighting about money. More peace and serenity, I can move forward sooner. Less lawyer bills. Might be enough for keeping the cat.
Finally we go to the last remaining box at the bottom left listing all the costs of our Option "B". Same as before, writing down every possible disadvantage, pain, loss, negative feeling caused by this decision.
Example: Divorce will drag out longer. Higher lawyer bills. More fights and stress. Can't move on with my plans yet. More sleepless nights and anxiety.
After filling out all of the boxes we take a good look at the page as a whole. What is jumping out at us? What do I see? Which option seems better for me? It might take a while, and we might have to go back and put in some missing pieces in the boxes, something we did not think about first, but came to us an hour or a day later, but eventually we will start leaning toward our "right" decision. It might not be clear instantly but if we keep the piece of paper around and look at it more we will get the answer. The option that will serve us better will reveal itself.
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