This week we are keeping on working on our website and the edits of our book. This ongoing task of bringing two big projects to birth is the cause of some frustration for us at the Clinic, not because we find it frustrating to do this work but we do not have enough time to devote to it because of the huge demand for our services. We are working at full stretch in our family court cases, our coaching and our training delivery. Next week we will be delivering training in Dublin with Family Mediators and in the new year we will be co-delivering training for legal people in London together with leading Chambers (more on that and other training soon).  So busy are we that I have not been able to find the time to write for the blog this week and that in itself is frustrating. And so I thought that, in the spirit of creating dynamic change (which never happens without some level of frustration), I would share with you another section of the website and the book so that you know what is coming. I hope sharing it doesn’t frustrate you further because I know that you are waiting for this but I promise you we are working as hard as we can, well into the night some nights and over the weekends to get these projects ready to go. We want to put as much self help into your hands as we can. I hope this section helps for now.

Working with your frustration

Working with your frustration requires you to obtain the tools that help you to feel more in control. When your children are surly and withdrawn it can leave you feeling that they are in control and not you. When children are moving into an alienation reaction they often act as if they are older than they are and as if they are entitled to behave in that way. This is because they have been elevated in the hierarchy of relationships by the aligned parent and have been given permission to see you as someone who they should not respect or have regard for.

Working with your frustration requires you to learn three simple things.

  1. Acceptance – that your children are in an alienation situation and as such they are not going to behave as they used to or as you believe they should or as other children who are not in an alienation situation do.
  2. Understanding – that this is NOT personal, this is NOT about you it is about what the other parent is doing to them.
  3. Counter intuitive behaviours – are what are required to manage your children when they are surly and angry and withdrawn from you, how you deploy counter intuitive behaviours is dependent on your ability to closely understand what is happening.

Working from a place of acceptance, understanding and the ability to use counter intuitive behaviours you become an alienation aware parent not a naïve one. When you are alienation aware your frustration levels drop dramatically because you understand what is happening and you know what to do about it. Frustration comes from putting your focus in the wrong place and spending your time asking why does this happen? Reducing frustration is a core part of coping as an alienated parent and coping leads to healing.

Reframing your feelings is a core part of coping and healing from the impact of being alienated. The following table shows how reframing feelings leads to a greater degree of awareness and how being an alienation aware parent helps you to tackle the problem over the longer term.

Feeling Caused by Reframed as Outcome
  • Interruption of relationship with children.
  • Children’s behaviours.
  • Lack of understanding in the court process.
  • Acceptance of children as alienated.
  • Understanding that this is not personal.
  • Use of counter intuitive behaviours
  • Disconnection from the children’s attempts to cause hurt.
  • Ability to know what to do and how to do it.
  • Increased confidence in knowing it is not personal.
  • Knowledge of how to help professionals to understand.
  • Experiencing changes in children.
  • Feeling lack of control over own life because of what the other parent is doing.
  • Lack of understanding from other people.
  • Understanding how behavioural change occurs and why.
  • Retrieval of locus of control leading to knowing what to do and how to do it.
  • Ability to educate other people based on increased knowledge and self confidence.
  • Increased ability to manage children’s behaviours.
  • Feeling more in control over own life.
  • Less affected by other people’s ignorance.
  • Not knowing how children are going to behave or why.
  • Not understanding the behaviours of the alienating parent.
  • Being an educated and alienation aware parent.
  • Being an educated an aware rejected parent.
  • Understanding what brought you into a relationship with this person in the first place.
  • Increased confidence in using counter intuitive behaviours when you do see your children.
  • Increased confidence in unhooking yourself from the alienating parent’s control over you.
  • Seeing children change into being angry and rejecting.
  • Seeing children reject other family members.
  • Feeling that time is being wasted.
  • Knowing why children are angry and how to help them deal with it.
  • Helping family members to understand what is happening to the children and to depersonalise it.
  • Feeling that time is useful not wasted because it allows you to learn more about what is happening.
  • Increased sense of purpose and control over your life.
  • Increased knowledge and confidence about how to build strategies to help your children.
  • Increased ability to understand how to help others affected by alienation.
  • Not feeling able to do anything at all about the situation.
  • Seeing the other parent as having all of the control over your life.
  • Locating all of your hope and happiness in being able to stop the alienating parent doing what they are doing.
  • Knowing that you cannot change other people but you can change yourself.
  • Knowing that the other parent only has the control over your life that you give to them.
  • Finding the other things in life that are important to you and doing them alongside the things you are doing to create strategies to help your children.
  • Greater understanding of self leads to increased satisfaction in other areas of life.
  • Stronger relationships with other people as you learn more about what matters to you in relationships.
  • Increased enjoyment of other things in life alongside your children and your love for them.

To cope and heal from the impact of alienation it is vital that you pay attention to reframing those feelings which have driven you to despair and to avoid the prolonged sense of being under attack by the other parent that being controlled by parental alienation can bring. When you begin to unhook yourself from this way of living it brings immediate relief. Building on simple strategies which are proven to change your thinking, release and relief are not only possible but inevitable. Try the following reframing exercises on changing your thinking on a daily basis for at least the next 21 days.

Step one

Tell yourself you are the parent of an alienated child not a rejected parent.

Step Two

Keep your image of yourself as your child’s best hope for a healthy future at the forefront of your mind, freshen that image daily.

Step Three

Retrieve your locus of control from the other parent and focus on the things that you can control in your life not the things you can’t.

These exercises are based upon Cognitive Behavioural approaches to healing in which your thoughts are seen as the cause of your suffering. Whilst the outside world may not change, how we think about ourselves and the other people in the family drama of alienation can and do change, especially when we practice actively changing them. A thought is merely a reflection of the mind’s understanding of what your are feeling. In that respect it is vulnerable to change because it has been created by past experience and has therefore been etched into our habitual thinking patterns. At the Family Separation Clinic we are fond of the saying if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got‘ which is another way of saying, that if you repeat your habits the same outcome will always arrive. If you want something to change, you have to do something differently and the first thing you have to do differently is think in a different way, about yourself and about what has happened to your children. If all that you do is repeat to yourself that your children have been taken from you and there is nothing that you can do about it then all you will ever feel is despair and hopelessness. If you change that thinking into my children have been alienated and that requires me to think about my parenting differently in order to help them, then you immediately set up an expectation in your mind that you are going to do something differently. Life doesn’t just happen to us, it starts in our imagination. You cannot stand up or sit down without having given your brain the command to do so and you cannot change your world without first imagining a different outcome. Much of the work that we do at the Clinic in the first weeks we are working with families is to help them to imagine themselves differently. In creating new ideas and new thoughts we create new feelings and when feelings change we interrupt the negative loop that creates despair and hopelessness. When that happens anything becomes possible.

More next week when I hope to be able to tell you the launch date of the new website and the name!