FDR nerves? Tame the catastrophes in your head

Woman sitting at a very messy desk surrounded by paperwork. She looks anxious and has her head in her hands.

Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearings are often one of the most stressful parts of a divorce and their looming shadow can trigger a wave of anxieties. It’s completely understandable to feel nervous and overwhelmed but often these feelings morph into full-blown catastrophising –  imagining the worst possible outcomes and they play out in agonising detail in our heads.


You're not alone. Catastrophising is a sneaky mental habit many of us fall prey to, especially in high-pressure situations like divorce. It might feel "productive" – a way to prepare for every scenario –  but ultimately, it leaves us feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and much worse than we need to feel.

So, why do we catastrophise?

Fear of the Unknown: The FDR involves negotiation, and negotiation inherently has some uncertainty. Our brains, wired for survival, try to predict and control the situation by conjuring up the worst-case scenario. We think we're preparing for the worst” but all we are doing is making the present much harder than it needs to be.

Loss of Control: Divorce is a life-altering event, and the FDR feels like another step in letting go of the past. Catastrophising can be a way of clinging to some semblance of control, even if it's an illusion.

Emotional Rollercoaster: Divorce is emotionally messy. Negative emotions like anger, resentment, and insecurity can fuel catastrophic thinking, painting a bleak picture of the future.

But here's the thing: catastrophising rarely aligns with reality. It saps our energy, hinders clear thinking, and makes situations like FDR’s feel even more daunting.  So, how do we break free from this unhelpful mental loop?

Challenge the Catastrophes: When a negative scenario pops into your head, question its validity. Ask yourself, "How likely is this to actually happen?" and "What evidence supports this fear?" Often, you'll find the worst-case scenario is highly improbable. 

Just breathe: If we feel that your thoughts are spiraling out of control, focus on your breathing. This brings us back the present moment and helps ground us.

Focus on the Facts: Ground yourself in reality. Instead of dwelling on "what ifs," focus on the facts surrounding your financial situation, the proposed settlement, and your lawyer's expertise. Knowledge is power, and a clear understanding of the situation reduces room for catastrophising.

Shift Your Focus: Instead of fixating on the negative, turn your attention to what you can control. This could be getting a good night's sleep before the hearing, preparing any questions you have for your lawyer, or practicing relaxation techniques.

Positive Visualisation: Instead of picturing disaster, create a positive mental image of the hearing. See yourself communicating clearly, advocating for yourself confidently, and reaching a fair resolution. Visualisation can prime your mind for a more successful outcome.

Remember, the FDR is a negotiation, not a battlefield. You and your lawyer, if you have one, are there to represent your interests and advocate for a fair settlement.

Talk it Out: Don't bottle up your anxieties. Talking to a trusted friend, coach or therapist about your catastrophising tendencies can help you gain perspective and develop coping mechanisms.

Taking these steps can help you break free from the cycle of catastrophising and approach your FDR with a calmer, more empowered mindset.  Focus on what you can control, trust the process, and remember, many couples navigate FDR hearings successfully every day. You can do this. 

Would you like weekly tips and advice on how to rebuild your life after divorce or relationship breakup? Sign up for my newsletter 'The Next Chapter'. 


I hate SPAM. I will never sell your information, for any reason or send you excessive emails. You can opt out of my list at anytime.