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Do NOT eat that doughnut.

When my clients ask me how they should respond a particular message from the ex, many times I’ll say, “don’t respond at all.”

They’re like “really?  Nothing?”

Me: ”Correct.  Nothing.  No response.”

Client:  “But what if s/he messages me again?  What if the text messages keep coming?”

Me:  “Same answer.  Nothing.”

Ooo-kay,” they say, with the “Oooo” part of “okay” elongated, and dripping with hesitation.

I say, “I’m serious.  Do NOT respond.”

And the client is, like, “I’ll try.”

This conservation fascinated me, until something clicked in my brain one day.

I was fascinated because I was thinking “what is there to try?  I’m literally telling you to do nothing.  I mean, it actually takes more physical energy to type the text response than it does to not type it.”

Until I realized the hard part isn’t not typing the message.  The hard part is feeling the urge to respond. . . and then not responding.

It’s like if you were my personal trainer, and I told you I really wanted to lose that last ten pounds I’ve had since my youngest child was born, and my youngest child is now in high school.  (This is very easy for me to imagine, if you get what I’m saying.)

And I keep asking you how to lose the weight.

And you would say, “it’s simple.  Just eliminate — or at least cut way way back on -- sugar and flour.  Get some cardio exercise a few times a week, but really just don’t eat the sugar and flour, and overall calorically consume less that what you’re burning."

Then I'd be like “Ooo-kay,” with the “Oooo” part of “okay” elongated, "but what do I do when I want to eat a doughnut?”

And you'd say "Nothing.”

Me: “But what if I see the doughnuts again?  What if there's a whole box of them on my kitchen counter?”

You:  “Just do nothing.  Don't pick up the doughnut and put it in your mouth.”

Me:  “I’ll try.”

You see where I'm going with this, right?

The advice about losing the weight is pretty simple, but, man, I really want to eat that doughnut.  It isn’t not eating the doughnut that’s hard.  It’s feeling the urge to eat it — and just letting the urge be there — that’s hard.

It’s the same for you when your ex says something, right? The urge to defend yourself is just THERE.

And I’m telling you to feel the discomfort of that urge and not respond.

The temptation to respond (or, metaphorically speaking, to eat that doughnut) is veeeerrrry hard to resist.

Sure you could respond, just this one time.  But you know the rabbit hole that’s leading you down right?!  Just like I know if I eat that doughnut, it’s not going to be just that one doughnut. . .

But I’m telling you right now, if you defend yourself, you’re just going to get better at defending yourself.  Just like I’ll get better at eating doughnuts.

Neither of us need to improve on these skills. 

We need to practice feeling the urge, and allowing it to be there and just. . . do. . . nothing.

And you’ll get better at not picking up the doughnut.

And next week, it will be just a little bit easier to not eat the doughnut.

And then you’ll be able to walk past the box of doughnuts on the kitchen counter and not even lift the lid.

And then you won’t believe all the space that opens up in your brain — and in your life — when you’re no longer consumed with the urge to eat the doughnut defend yourself.

I can show you how to do this.

Talk to you soon.

Allowing urges is a skill that will serve you well when you’re trying to manage your post-divorce relationship with your ex.

I can show you.

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