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Why DO we pump the brakes?

The speed limit on most major highways is 55 miles per hour, right?

You and I both know that we are usually not driving 55 miles per hour, right?

So, what do you do when you see the flashing blue lights and state police emblem, or the dark grey Crown Victoria that you just know is an unmarked cruiser?

You do what I do. . . 

We pump the brakes.

It's okay.  I'm not judging you.  Like I said, I do the same thing.

After I pump the brakes and pass by the cruiser (or the Crown Victoria), I hold my breath as I look in the rear view mirror to see if I'm going to get pulled over.

So why do we pump the brakes in that moment?

It's not because we remember that we're "supposed" to be driving 55.  We pump the brakes because we might get a ticket.

Instead of just doing what we're supposed to do in the first place, we take action to avoid being punished for not doing the thing.

There are a lot of reasons why we behave this way, and those reasons are all thoughts in our brain that we choose to believe.

We're running late.

We are an otherwise excellent and safe driver, so we should be allowed to drive a little faster.

And the old favorite, "I was just keeping up with the traffic."

Your ex has all of the same thoughts about your divorce or custody decree.

Yet you continue to believe that he should just do what he's "supposed" to do.

And from that place where you're thinking that he's not doing what he should be doing, you feel. . . frustrated, maybe disempowered.  Am I close?

And when you feel frustrated and disempowered, you do, well, usually nothing about enforcing the decree, right?

Why not?  Usually, it is relatively simple to seek the Court's intervention when someone is violating a court order.  You may  not even need a lawyer -- I show my clients how to do this all the time.

It's not the court process that is complicated.

It's our own brains that complicate things with drama -- thinking that the ex "should" just "do what he's supposed to do."

This thought fascinates me.  It fascinates me that my clients believe this thought.

Even though it sounds delightful, it has never been true in the entire course of human history.

We've always had a mechanism to enforce the rules.  This has been true for thousands of years and will be true as long as humans inhabit this earth.

Why?  Because we know that it is not enough to simply ask people to do what they're supposed to do.

It is not enough to post a speed limit on the highway.  We also have to have state police patrol the highway and actually write out the ticket once in a while.

If they just pulled us over and asked us nicely to drive more slowly and carefully -- and, never issued the ticket -- how well do you think that would work?

It wouldn't.  And we all know that.

So, stop and think about how you feel when this sentence -- he should just do what he's supposed to do -- goes through your mind.

What action are you taking from that feeling?

More importantly, what action are you not taking from that feeling?

If the ex is not following the court order, then pull him over stop talking to your friends about what he's "supposed" to be doing and just write the ticket seek the Court's intervention.

I promise you it's really not that hard.

Talk to you soon, friends.