Cognitive Biases that Prevent Us from Predicting How We’ll Feel About Divorce and Other Life Changes

It's impossible to understand the experience of divorce until you go through it yourself. Many divorcees are astounded by the difference between real-world divorce and their preconceived notions. Why do our predictions look so wildly different from reality? Read on to find out.

Assumptions of a Similar World

Picture your future. What will your life look like one year from now? How about in five years? If you're like most people, your short-term predictions look a lot like your current life.

Expert Jason Hreha explains that we are bound by cognitive limitations — primarily our current state of mind. For example, if you currently work as a nurse, you naturally assume you'll still be a nurse in five years. If you live in the suburbs, you picture yourself in either the same house, or, perhaps, a modest upgrade.

Divorce throws a wrench in these plans. In an effort to console yourself, you may picture a life free of your ex, but otherwise nearly identical to your current state of affairs. For example: If you spend a lot of time with your kids, you figure you'll score custody with few problems. Likewise, you probably don't picture yourself living in a cramped studio apartment after your split — you imagine your present home, free of pictures from your wedding day.

How you perceive your divorce may also be influenced by how you currently feel about your relationship. If you and your spouse constantly fight, you may assume this behavior will continue — even in mediation. If you mostly get along, you could be surprised by unexpectedly aggressive behavior in court.

Creatures of Habit

Why do our current feelings play such a big role in our assumptions of the future? Our love of habit and routine may be to blame. Our day-to-day life seems to consist of a series of routines, so it's hard to think of anything else. In reality, however, habits only account for about 40% of our behavior. The remainder is determined by new stimuli or circumstances rarely under our control. How we act today is therefore a poor predictor of what happens tomorrow, as tomorrow's environment could be entirely different.

Before you proceed with divorce, it's important to get a better sense of what to expect from the process, and how a skilled Virginia divorce attorney can help with unanticipated curveballs. Don't hesitate to call DiPietro Law Group to schedule a consultation. We can be reached at (888) 530-4374, or you can fill out an online case evaluation form here.

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