Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law

Insight into the Brain’s Reaction During Divorce with Dr. Bill Crawford | Episode 146

March 23, 2023 Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha Season 1 Episode 146
Insight into the Brain’s Reaction During Divorce with Dr. Bill Crawford | Episode 146
Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
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Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
Insight into the Brain’s Reaction During Divorce with Dr. Bill Crawford | Episode 146
Mar 23, 2023 Season 1 Episode 146
Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha

Dr. Bill Crawford has written eight books, all derived from the philosophy of 'life from the top of the mind'. During today’s conversation, he offers a psychologist’s insight into the brain’s reaction to the divorce process and how to rise above its protective mechanisms for clear, influential communication, and constructive, fair boundary setting. 

We begin by unpacking the philosophy underpinning all of Dr. Crawford’s work before discussing the necessity of grieving the shattered dream during the divorce process. We talk about cycle breaking and how the triune brain theory can help you to gain a better understanding of your own experience before hearing some insights into how to regain control from the angry and resentful mind. 


Key Points From This Episode:

  • What Dr. Crawford means by his philosophy ‘life from the top of the mind’.
  • Grieving the shattered dream during the process of divorce.
  • Barriers to an amicable divorce, especially with children. 
  • Finding a reason to break the cycle.
  • How a better understanding of the brain can help you to become more influential in any discussions you may have.
  • Regaining control from the angry, resentful, guilty mind.
  • Asking purposeful questions.
  • Identifying who you want to be. 
  • His method: breathe, relax, imagine, ask, notice. 
  • When the best time is to practice this. 
  • Training the brain to go into life at the top of the mind.
  • Communicating with people who are stuck in a lower mind. 
  • Navigating difficulties later down the line.
  • What to consider when bringing in a third party.
  • Engaging with children as they move through parental divorce.
  • Advice for authoritarian parents. 
  • The importance of loving, healthy boundaries.
  • What you can learn from Life from the Top of the Mind.

What is Divorce at Altitude?

Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha provide tips and recommendations on issues related to divorce, separation, and co-parenting in Colorado. Ryan and Amy are the founding partners of an innovative and ambitious law firm, Kalamaya | Goscha, that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries, and criminal defense in Colorado.

To subscribe to Divorce at Altitude, click here and select your favorite podcast player. To subscribe to Kalamaya | Goscha's YouTube channel where many of the episodes will be posted as videos, click here. If you have additional questions or would like to speak to one of our attorneys, give us a call at 970-429-5784 or email us at info@kalamaya.law.

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DISCLAIMER: THE COMMENTARY AND OPINIONS ON THIS PODCAST IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES AND NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING LEGAL ADVICE. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY IN YOUR STATE OR AREA TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE ON ANY OF THESE ISSUES.

Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Bill Crawford has written eight books, all derived from the philosophy of 'life from the top of the mind'. During today’s conversation, he offers a psychologist’s insight into the brain’s reaction to the divorce process and how to rise above its protective mechanisms for clear, influential communication, and constructive, fair boundary setting. 

We begin by unpacking the philosophy underpinning all of Dr. Crawford’s work before discussing the necessity of grieving the shattered dream during the divorce process. We talk about cycle breaking and how the triune brain theory can help you to gain a better understanding of your own experience before hearing some insights into how to regain control from the angry and resentful mind. 


Key Points From This Episode:

  • What Dr. Crawford means by his philosophy ‘life from the top of the mind’.
  • Grieving the shattered dream during the process of divorce.
  • Barriers to an amicable divorce, especially with children. 
  • Finding a reason to break the cycle.
  • How a better understanding of the brain can help you to become more influential in any discussions you may have.
  • Regaining control from the angry, resentful, guilty mind.
  • Asking purposeful questions.
  • Identifying who you want to be. 
  • His method: breathe, relax, imagine, ask, notice. 
  • When the best time is to practice this. 
  • Training the brain to go into life at the top of the mind.
  • Communicating with people who are stuck in a lower mind. 
  • Navigating difficulties later down the line.
  • What to consider when bringing in a third party.
  • Engaging with children as they move through parental divorce.
  • Advice for authoritarian parents. 
  • The importance of loving, healthy boundaries.
  • What you can learn from Life from the Top of the Mind.

What is Divorce at Altitude?

Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha provide tips and recommendations on issues related to divorce, separation, and co-parenting in Colorado. Ryan and Amy are the founding partners of an innovative and ambitious law firm, Kalamaya | Goscha, that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries, and criminal defense in Colorado.

To subscribe to Divorce at Altitude, click here and select your favorite podcast player. To subscribe to Kalamaya | Goscha's YouTube channel where many of the episodes will be posted as videos, click here. If you have additional questions or would like to speak to one of our attorneys, give us a call at 970-429-5784 or email us at info@kalamaya.law.

************************************************************************

DISCLAIMER: THE COMMENTARY AND OPINIONS ON THIS PODCAST IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES AND NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING LEGAL ADVICE. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY IN YOUR STATE OR AREA TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE ON ANY OF THESE ISSUES.

Ryan Kalamaya (3s):
Hey Everyone. I'm Ryan Kalamaya.

Amy Goscha (6s):
And I'm Amy Goscha

Ryan Kalamaya (8s):
Welcome to the Divorce at Altitude. A Podcast on Colorado. Family Law.

Amy Goscha (13s):
Divorce is not easy. It really sucks. Trust me I. know Besides. being an experienced divorce attorney, I'm also a Divorce client.

Ryan Kalamaya (20s):
Whether You are someone considering divorce or a fellow family law attorney, listen in for weekly tips and insight into topics related to Divorce co parenting and Separation in Colorado.

Amy Goscha (36s):
Welcome back to another episode with Divorce at Altitude. This is Amy Goscha, your co-host and I have the pleasure of having Dr. Bill Crawford with me today. How, are you doing Dr. Bill?

Dr. Bill Crawford (46s):
I am wonderful. Looking forward to sharing anything I know with your audience.

Amy Goscha (50s):
Yeah, no, I really appreciate it. I know that you came and spoke to my Vistage group. I found it so helpful. And you know, you speak around the nation, but why don't you give for our Listeners a little bit of your background?

Dr. Bill Crawford (1m 3s):
Well, number one, I've been divorced, so that might be a good, good to know. I mean, my second marriage is like going on 35 years, so I got it right the second time. Oh,

Amy Goscha (1m 12s):
That's awesome.

Dr. Bill Crawford (1m 13s):
Yeah, I was a drummer. I started off my life as a drummer up until around early thirties, and then I got really clear, okay Bill, this is a lot of fun, but you're not gonna make any money at this. So I wanted to do something that I loved as much as music, but made more money at, and was really more meaningful from a home where my dad was a recovering alcoholic, so he was really big in the program of aa. And so I grew up with the whole AA philosophy and 12 step kind of as part of my thought process, didn't really notice it having much effect until life started going, what do I wanna do after music? And I went back after I'd gotten my undergraduate degree, got a master's degree and a PhD in psychology because I was just fascinated with what makes people tick and what ticks people off and what can we do about it?

Dr. Bill Crawford (1m 57s):
How can we deal with that more effectively?

Amy Goscha (1m 59s):
Yeah, I didn't realize, I didn't know that about you, that you did a lot with music and drums, so that's very interesting.

Dr. Bill Crawford (2m 5s):
Yeah, and a lot of people are way more interested in that than they are.

Amy Goscha (2m 8s):
Well, what's also interesting to me, but I think also the li My Listeners are you've written, I mean how many books have you written and what does the topics entail?

Dr. Bill Crawford (2m 16s):
Yeah, it's eight books and it's all kind of derived from a philosophy that I call life from the top of the mind. And that means that everything we think and feel and do and say how we react to others, how others react to us, all has to do with how the brain processes information. So I've created a system that shows people how to understand what happens when they get triggered, when they feel anxious, stress, worried, angry, resentful, overwhelmed, whatever, any negative emotion. I've helped them understand what's going on in the brain, a way of kind of breaking that cycle that goes from trigger to reaction to trigger to reaction. And that's certainly the case in Divorce because there's a lot of triggers and a lot of reactions that people have very understandably.

Amy Goscha (2m 58s):
Yeah.

Dr. Bill Crawford (2m 59s):
Kinda shift to what I call the top of the mind or this clear, confident, creative part of who we are. So we're dealing with life in a much more purposeful way. So the eight books revolve around that. There's one called College From the Top of the Mind, which is all about kids who are going through college. There's one on, let's see, freeing the artistic mind for kids going through that. So there's a lot of things and there's one that actually call what to say, it's like when you're dealing with someone and you wanna have a solution focused conversation, how do you do that in a way where they really hear it and it moves in that, in that direction. So they're all around that theme.

Amy Goscha (3m 37s):
Yeah, no, and I think your information is really helpful, not just for people going through a Divorce, dealing with like a co-parent after a Divorce, but even I think as a Divorce attorney, just hearing your concept and dealing with clients and moving them from one place of being stuck to either resolution or to move forward, you know, in their lives. Yeah.

Dr. Bill Crawford (3m 59s):
You know, one of the things I found that when people are going through a Divorce, there's something called grieving the shattered dream. We get married, we don't have a, we don't dream of it, have ending, we dream of it going on forever. And so when it ends, there's a shattered dream. And so there's some grieving that gets mixed in with anger and resentment and frustration and, and are you the lever or the levee? And boy, that's a different experience. Plus the depth of love at the very beginning of the marriage often sets up the depth of vulnerability and hurt when the Divorce happens. So that's why people get so t and and their reactions is because they have been vulnerable with the love and now they feel either betrayed or hurt or something and they wanna hurt back.

Dr. Bill Crawford (4m 47s):
And boy, it can get caught in a cycle where it's just really no good for anyone.

Amy Goscha (4m 52s):
Yeah. I have a lot of parents that come to me, you know, at the very beginning of whether they're looking at getting a Divorce, considering a Divorce or about to go through a Divorce and they usually say if they have kids, they say, I want this to be amicable. I want to be a good co-parent. Moving forward, from your perspective, what are some things that someone in that circumstance should be looking at? Cuz it's hard.

Dr. Bill Crawford (5m 16s):
It is. It's really hard. And the reason it's hard is because our brain is trying to protect us by being angry, frustrated. Because if we're like kind and loving the brain doesn't feel like it's being protected. And so it goes to those negative emotions to try to protect us. But we don't really need protecting as much as we need purposeful thoughts and ways of being during this very hard time. So I help people when they're going through anything kind of recognize, okay, the reason I am really angry and frustrated and, and and resentful and, and overwhelmed is because my brain is interpreting this situation almost as dangerous and throwing me into a part of the brain that's designed, designed to deal with danger.

Dr. Bill Crawford (5m 58s):
That certain chemicals that are more survival kind of fight or flight stuff. But we can get trapped in this lower brain if we're not careful. So one of the things that I help people do when they come to me and say, okay Bill, this is, this is what I'm dealing with. I, I really don't like it. What can I do? And I say, okay, you gotta find a reason to break the cycle that's stronger than the hurt and stronger than the anger. And stronger than the pain. So whenever there's kids involved, I ask the question, is your love for your kids stronger than your resentment of your ex? And I've never heard anybody say no to that. Right? Which is great because now there is a reason to move forward out of love versus needing to protect oneself out of anger and resentment.

Dr. Bill Crawford (6m 45s):
Plus we know that unfortunately the people who really get hurt the most in any Divorce situation are the kids. It is, they don't understand it, they don't want it. They often feel like it was their fault in some ways cuz kids have a tendency to take it on themselves. I must have not have been a good enough kid. And, we can tell 'em that's not the case, but boy that's, that's still how they feel and think. So when two parents who are getting a Divorce are willing to put their love for their kids above their resentment or their hurt or their anger, then they can begin to say, okay, if we are willing to interact with each other as we divide up the property, as we deal with all this, as if our kids were watching and taking notes.

Dr. Bill Crawford (7m 28s):
So they saw how two people who once loved each other and still loved them more than life itself, deal with really difficult situations. I think what that would do is would have them saying, okay then what would that look like if we're talking to each other in a way where our kids were taking notes, what do we want them to see? How do we want them to be? And what I also tell people is, if you're getting into a conversation and you get triggered, you get angry, you get frustrated, you get resentful, which is totally understandable, that's the time to pause the conversation. Now you can pause it for five minutes, you can pause it for 30 minutes, you can pause it till the next afternoon. But you wanna pause the conversation and actually shift from this kind of angry, resentful, frustrated part of who you are to this clear, confident, creative, loving part of who you are and the model that I showed you in the Vistage that actually spells brain is one way to do that.

Dr. Bill Crawford (8m 22s):
But there's a lot of ways to do it. But it's that willingness to stop and go, okay, I am not in a frame of mind, I'm not in a mindset where I'm thinking clearly nor am I being a way that I would want my kids to emulate right now. Or maybe this conversation isn't one that I would want our kids to emulate right now. So the more we're willing to step back from dysfunctional conversations and only we'd be willing to engage each other when we can do it in a way that is a solution focus, which good divorced attorneys are really helpful in cuz they can mediate that a lot of the time. Yeah. We just, just don't wanna become the the referee where we're blowing a whistle and saying penalty, you're right, you're wrong. That kind of stuff cuz they have to look at us for that.

Dr. Bill Crawford (9m 4s):
But it's that willingness to be more purposeful in the qualities and characteristics I'm bringing to conversations with my ex.

Amy Goscha (9m 13s):
Yeah, and I, what I found really fascinating about your work is, I mean you've done a lot of like research, you know, on the, just how the brain works and I think when you're going through a Divorce or even as a Divorce attorney, there's a lot of I guess information out there Can you explain for our Listeners, kind of your, your research.

Dr. Bill Crawford (9m 32s):
So the brain's very complex. you know, people spend their life studying their brains. But if every begin in all the parts of the brain, we'd be here for an hour and it would be overwhelming and I really wouldn't even understand it. So what I've done is I've kind of looked upon a theory that came about in the early fifties. It's called the triune brain Theory. Back then it was just a theory, but now it has been validated with MRIs. Basically we have three basic parts of the brain, the lower brains called the brain step. This is the fight or flight part of the brain. It's the part of the brain that regulates certain systems like blood pressure, muscle tension, heart rate breathing, et cetera. Upper 80% is in neocortex, what I call the top of the mind. This is where we make our best decisions, especially from the kind of prefrontal lobes.

Dr. Bill Crawford (10m 12s):
This is where we're more purposeful, this is where we're choosing qualities or characteristics that we wanna bring to life. The middle brain is the most interesting one. It's called the limbic system and it is the scanner, processor, router part of the brain. And it's been alive and and on guard for as long as we've been on the planet. And so it has a negative bias, it has a tendency to pay more attention to negative information then positive information because negative information contains potentially a threat. So it's not very smart and it's working with old software. So it has a tendency to misinterpret negative situations as physically dangerous and throw us into the part of the brain that's brainstem, the lower brain that's designed to deal with danger.

Dr. Bill Crawford (10m 56s):
But when people can get, okay, wait a minute, the reason I am so angry and so frustrated and can't think straight in, just, just kind of consumed with all this, this anger and this fear or this shame or whatever, the guilt or whatever the negative feeling is, is cuz my middle brain is misinterpreting this situation as physically dangerous and not physically dangerous, it's just negative. Throwing me into this lower brain triggering chemicals that are basically fight or flight like adrenaline, nordine and cortisol. When they can start seeing, okay, this is what's happening versus this person is making me mad whenever it's this person or what this person did or didn't do or whatever. That's making me feel this way. We're putting way more power in external people and situations than we want them to have.

Dr. Bill Crawford (11m 40s):
We want to be able to influence how we're thinking and feeling in a way we would recommend to someone we love. So what I like to help people do is understand is, okay, the reason I'm feeling this so bad, it's not, nobody feels good in Divorce, right? The reason it gets so deep and destructive is because it's a middle brain keeps feeding and feeding and feeding and feeding. And, we get trapped in this fight or flight, like anger is fight depression, withdrawal is flight, And, we just get into that cycle. And, we think it's this other person or situation making me feel that way. So I've gotta change them before I can change how I feel. So this understanding of how the brain works helps people go, oh, okay, well that makes sense.

Dr. Bill Crawford (12m 23s):
And there's a system where you can do something about it, where you can shift from the angry, resentful brain to the clear, confident creative brain, which actually helps you become more influential in any discussions that you have with your ex.

Amy Goscha (12m 37s):
Yeah. One thing I found really interesting is a lot of times people, and there's research about breathing and I know that that's just the first step. Can, you talk a little bit about that.

Dr. Bill Crawford (12m 48s):
Yeah. The first thing we wanna do is break the cycle of trigger reaction, trigger reaction, trigger reaction point where we're caught in a cycle and the more people understand it that it's a cycle. It's not just a reaction. Cuz if we just got a little stressed And, we could automatically flip up to clarity, confidence and creativity. Where's the problem? But it's getting caught because when we get stressed, angry, frustrated, resentful, it makes the original trigger seem worse. And, we get caught in a cycle. So the first thing we've gotta do is break the cycle by having the upper 80% of the brain, the clear, confident, creative, what I call the top of the mind, literally regain control from the old, angry, frustrated, guilty, resentful brain. So given that the lower brain normally controls breathing and it normally controls muscle tension, if we will breathe, and I use what's called the 4 44 method, I didn't RI back that up.

Dr. Bill Crawford (13m 38s):
The Navy Seals use this. You basically inhale for a count of four, you hold it for a count of four, you exhale for a count of four, and you actually say the word relax. On the exhale, what you're doing is you're having the top of the mind literally regain control by literally taking over two functions, breathing and muscle tension normally controlled by the lower brain. This isn't designed to calm you down, it's designed to put you in a more purposeful state of mind so that whatever you do next is more purposeful. Now, most people have heard about breathing, but I go farther than that. I say once we're in the top of the mind, that does pause the cycle. It interrupts the cycle, but it won't break the cycle.

Dr. Bill Crawford (14m 19s):
In order to break the cycle, we've gotta shift from a focus on the problem to the solution. So the first two steps in my models are B and R, which is breathe and relax. The A is asked, we need to ask very purposeful questions. And the questions I like to ask is, okay, is this anger, this stress, this frustration, this resentment? Is this how I wanna be defined right now? And am I defining who I am or am I being defined by this situation? So most people say, no, I don't wanna be defined that way. And then the really powerful one, especially if there's kids, would I recommend this anger, stress, resentment, frustration, guilt to someone I love? So for more, most people they go, Nope, it's not how I wanna be defined.

Dr. Bill Crawford (15m 1s):
And no, I would never recommend this to someone I love. I say, okay, so if you were choosing qualities or characteristics that defined who you are in a way you would recommend to someone you love, how would you like to be able to respond to this situation versus react to this situation? And so most people choose confident and they might choose loving, especially for their kids. They might choose centered, they might choose influential, they might choose kind, they might choose confident, they might choose flexible, but those are all purposeful choices. So it's not about not feeling bad, it's about saying, this is how I wanna be. And I say, okay, now that you know how you want to be, what does that look like?

Dr. Bill Crawford (15m 42s):
What does that feel like? If you were imagining being that way, what would be different? Who are you when you are centered and focused and loving and confident versus stress, frustrated, angry and annoyed? How, what's your tone of voice? Like what's your body language like? And the reason that imagine part is important because the brain does not know the difference between a real and an imagined experience.

Amy Goscha (16m 5s):
Yeah, that's key.

Dr. Bill Crawford (16m 6s):
Yeah. In the seminar, I take people through the experience abiding into an imaginary limit and everybody in the room is going, even though they know there's no limit, right? But that's chemical change in our brain and body because the brain doesn't know the difference. So as we begin to imagine being the way we want to be, the way we would recommend to someone we love, if our kids were watching, what would they like to see? The brain thinks you're actually being that way. And it triune starts to trigger serotonin and endorphins instead of adrenaline, nordin and cortisol. Then the last step in the model is to notice a change. How do I feel differently at the end of the model than I did when I got triggered in the first place? So it's breathe, relax, ask imagine.

Dr. Bill Crawford (16m 48s):
Notice, B r a i n. It spells brain, which is all about understanding how the brain works and then shifting to the top of the mind.

Amy Goscha (16m 55s):
Yeah, no, that's fabulous.

Ryan Kalamaya (16m 59s):
This episode is brought to you by our law firm, Kalamaya. Goscha. Amy and I describe our law firm as an innovative and ambitious trial team that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries and criminal defense. in Colorado. We currently have offices in Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Edwards, Denver, and Boulder. If you wanna find out more, visit our website Kalamaya dot law. Now back to the show.

Amy Goscha (17m 29s):
I've been introduced to that concept, it's, it's great in practice, how do you see people actually make that shift? So it becomes, I guess, more automatic?

Dr. Bill Crawford (17m 38s):
Yes. So what we wanna do as much as possible is not wait until we're triggered to practice this. Certainly that's a great time to practice when we're triggered, but we don't wanna have to get triggered and and say, wait a minute, I got to breathe and relax and ask myself four questions. That's hard to do in the middle of a conversation. So the next part of my model is a three step model. The second part of the model is, okay, now that we know how to get to the top of the mind, how do we rewire the brain? So that becomes our new habit. We get triggered less in the first place. And that's where I talk about going into life already in the top of the mind. So you're not going in worried, you're not going in anxious, you're not going frustrated, you're not even going in neutral.

Dr. Bill Crawford (18m 19s):
You are waking up in the morning saying, okay, what is my highest purpose this morning? What are the qualities or characteristics I wanna bring to the morning? Who do I wanna be with my kids? Who do I wanna be when I'm driving to work? So, you wanna get, imagine the qualities you wanna bring, two or three of them and So, you go into the morning practicing being that way, which means you're going into life already in the top of the mind with clarity about how you want to define yourself as if your kids were watching, you would want them to teach them how to be this way. Right? And around lunchtime, I encourage people to stop, reboot, do some deep breathing, take a walk around the house, do something where you create a moment of serenity, moment of clarity and say, okay, how do I wanna be this afternoon?

Dr. Bill Crawford (19m 0s):
What is my highest purpose this afternoon? And you choose two or three qualities or characteristics and you go into the afternoon being that way. Then on the drive home, before you get home, you stop and you say, okay, what are my, what's my highest purpose this evening? Do I wanna be with the people that I love the most and who love me the most? So, you go into the morning and the top of the mind, you go into the afternoon and the top of the mind, you go into the evening and the top of the mind that begins to rewire the brain that has the brain anticipating going into life already in this clear, confident, creative, compassionate, flexible way of being. And if you'll do that for about 21 days or say two months, it makes it a habit.

Dr. Bill Crawford (19m 41s):
So it's this process getting to the top of the mind and then going into life from the top of the mind you, you're rewiring the brain. So that starts to become kind of automatic.

Amy Goscha (19m 50s):
Yeah, that was gonna be my next question because you've have worked with a lot of people, you know, you've spoken to a lot of people, you've met a lot of people. Do you usually find it pretty more automatic after that 21 days To

Dr. Bill Crawford (20m 3s):
A few. Matter of fact, sometimes I'll do a workshop with a group and we'll do a like a 21 day practice period and they'll have a little chart that says morning, afternoon, and evening. And they'll check it off if they, if they did it and nobody does it a hundred percent right, 75 to 80% report huge changes because you can't decide how you want to be and practice it without that becoming more automatic. Anything we practice, we get good at, you know, learning a new language, learning a musical instrument, learning a new piece of software, it's just about a willingness to get through that awkward, first uncomfortable and familiar part to the point where it starts becoming easier and easier and easier. And those are new neuro pathways that we're building between the middle brain and the top of the mind.

Dr. Bill Crawford (20m 46s):
So it's not just being a certain way, it's actually reshaping and rewiring the brain.

Amy Goscha (20m 51s):
Yeah. So that's something that, you know, our Listeners can do on their own. How do you start, I guess, being very effective with, you know, a co-parent if they're in a different space or even your children. So that I think would be really helpful to kind of talk about that layer as

Dr. Bill Crawford (21m 7s):
Well. Sure. Yeah. And you know, that's part three of the system. Once we know how to get to the top of the mind and stay in the top of the mind, then how do we talk to people who, who are stuck in this lower brain? Sometimes it's our ex, sometimes it's our kids. But what we wanna be careful about is not being a way that triggers deeper, that deeper resentment or frustration or anger in them. So just like you go into the morning, into the top of the mind in the afternoon and the top of the mind in the evening and the top of the mind, it's really important to go into a conversation that you wanna be more effective with, especially that has maybe been difficult in the past, in the top of the mind. So the first thing you want to do before you talk to your ex or deal with your kids is say, okay, what are the qualities or characteristics I wanna bring to this conversation?

Dr. Bill Crawford (21m 50s):
How do I wanna be? Am I willing to be 100% accountable for that? And if I get triggered, am I willing to stop and pause the conversation and kind of come back at another time? Once we Can, you can say, okay, now I know how I wanna be. Now the question is, alright, when I'm wanting to engage someone, I don't wanna be pointing out their worst because they will hear that as criticism and it will drive them in the defensive part of the brain. I wanna make sure I'm holding an image at least of them at their best cuz that's the part of them that I'm gonna be able to communicate with them a little bit later in the model. But our middle brain only wants to see their worst and it'll have a tendency to paint their entire being with this negative data.

Dr. Bill Crawford (22m 34s):
But if we'll go, okay, wait a minute, that's who they are. When they're frightened, that's who they are when they're coming from this lower brain, but that's not the best of who they are. Who are my kids at their best, who's my ex and his or her best? Then the next step is once I have a sense of who I wanna be and who they are at their best, just an image of that, then I say, okay, I wanna make sure that I understand what's important to them and if there's been a history of conflict, which there often is, right, of course I encourage people to reset that relationship. Cuz unfortunately the history now starts to color in a future interaction. Yeah. So encourage people to go to their ex or whatever and say, you know, I've been thinking about some of our conversations in the past, especially where we kind of got into it and really upset with each other.

Dr. Bill Crawford (23m 20s):
Would it be fair to say that there were times when I probably wasn't doing a really good job of understanding what's important to you? Yeah. And I bet that other person's gonna say yes. Yep. And you say, okay, so I tell you what I'm gonna do going forward, I'm gonna take more responsibility for understanding what's important to you. Do you think that'll help our conversations? You might say, well yeah, but you hadn't done it yet. So I don't know if you're ever ever gonna just let that go by. Don't get triggered by that. Okay, that's still them in their lower brain, not able to trust this new way of being cuz it's different than the past So. you just let it go. Okay, So you then you say, okay, if I do that, if I work really hard at understanding what's important to you, would you be willing to do that with me?

Dr. Bill Crawford (24m 4s):
And then you say, because I know we both love our kids more than we resent each other. So what you're doing there is beginning to reset a relationship where you're not getting into a who's right. Debate over every little detail of who's who has the kids or who does this or who ticks picks them up. That's, that's a, that's a kind of a crucible for, for, for fighting unfortunately you're willing to do it in a way if your kids were watching and if you're willing to kinda reset that engagement with them. So you're really more doing more problem solving than debating who's right. There's the potential for those conversations to get better and better and better.

Amy Goscha (24m 42s):
Yeah. One question I have for you, Dr. Bill, and this is more from probably the attorney perspective, is sometimes people come to us and their communication has just broken down so much to the point where they're either only texting, it's like written communication and that kind of a circumstance, like how do you kind of reset that baseline?

Dr. Bill Crawford (25m 2s):
Well, if I were an attorney and someone came to me and said, Hey man, this is what's going on. I'd say okay, so help me understand, is this method of texting effective? Are you able to solve problems with that? And they'll probably say no, we just get into a fight on text. You say, okay, so let's make sure that we're not continuing to do what doesn't work. And I all might also might say it fair to say, would it be fair to say that sometimes when you're texting you're trying to get that other person to change in some way? They, well yeah, because babababababa babababababa say, I get it. And have you noticed that the more you try to get them to change, the deeper they dig in their heels, right? So what it sounds like is the way you guys are talking right now isn't working, it's not solving any problems.

Dr. Bill Crawford (25m 44s):
It, it may be actually making the situation worse. Nobody's fault, everybody does it. So would you like me to help you reset this relationship So, you can actually have more solution focused conversations and you think, well yeah that'd be great. Then this whole thing, you know, over text, you could write the text saying, you know, I've been thinking about a lot of our conversations in the past. Would it be fair to say that there's been a lot of times when I wasn't doing a really good job of understanding what's important to you. So that begins a conversation that is different than you're wrong and I'm right and you know, all this kind of stuff that people get into.

Amy Goscha (26m 20s):
Yeah, I see what you're saying. That's really helpful. Another question I have for you Dr. Bill is, you know, as a Divorce attorney I see very, you know, I see the divorces from the beginning. I see them maybe they were able to settle things but then issues come up down the road. My question is, is how from your perspective, can I help people set up so communication is like free flowing and is best so they don't come upon these issues because there's certain things that happen where maybe someone gets remarried and so there's like these changes that happen. So any advice,

Dr. Bill Crawford (26m 56s):
Again, anytime they have kids, you can always say, Hey, would it be fair to say that your kids are gonna be going through some changes in life? There's things gonna happen that they're not used to or not prepared for and it's gonna potentially throw them for a loop. Why don't we do deal with changes in our relationship in a way that could, can help our kids deal with changes in their life? Number one. Number two, anytime you're wanting to solve a problem, in my humble opinion, you almost never talk about the past. You almost always frame a solution in the future.

Amy Goscha (27m 28s):
Oh that's

Dr. Bill Crawford (27m 28s):
Good. So rather than saying what you didn't do it and then this last time you didn't pick 'em up, you say, I'm just curious in the future can we find a way where this is working for both of us where we can make an agreement and really are able to because the, there's shame almost and blame going on in the past and people will feel it and they'll start to get defensive. But if you're talking about some sort of solution and it's in the future, there's a much higher potential than some sort of agreement can be reached.

Amy Goscha (27m 55s):
Yeah, that's helpful. And I think as a Divorce attorney, sometimes people are having issues with communication. The first thing we think of is, well maybe we need a parenting coach or maybe we need to, you know, put these people on like a app, like a talking parents application, you know, and I think it's easy to kind of just think that we just need this third party, maybe we do. Is that always the answer? I think sometimes when people don't communicate, the first thing they think about is, let's get someone to help them with that. Is that, I don't know if the right answer is the right,

Dr. Bill Crawford (28m 27s):
Well no, it's a great cuz you're framing it really, really well. Let's get someone to help them with that. See that's a different thing than them saying, you know, we would really like someone to help us with this. So we're almost wanting to fix them by getting, get them to talk. Right? But they're not necessarily into it. So all of a sudden the parenting coach just come to one more judge that they're gonna sit in front of and tell 'em how I'm right and they're wrong. So, you wanna make sure that if you bring a third party in, that this is something that the people want. Right? And if it is, it can be really helpful because the third party isn't engaged in involved in all the vitriol and the old stuff and the shame and the shattered dream and the fear and the, all the stuff.

Dr. Bill Crawford (29m 10s):
So that third party can probably do a really good job of helping people who are wanting that to, to get better at it. You just wanna make sure you as a, as a Divorce attorney or as someone that you're not prescribing that without them really buying into it.

Amy Goscha (29m 25s):
Well what I say sometimes is maybe one person wants it or one person doesn't. Or maybe they're just blaming, like how do you guide someone to wanting that or there's a meeting of the minds to kind of move them forward is what

Dr. Bill Crawford (29m 40s):
I would do is I would start with a person who wants it and said, so I'm number one, I'm really impressed that you're open to this. Congratulations. I'm sure you would recommend that to someone you love. Why don't you start and get better at engaging this person in a way that has the potential to minimize conflict so that way the person who wants it can begin a process of getting better at Communicating in a way that minimizes conflict. And it, it's very possible that it will actually minimize conflict and if it starts to minimize conflict, the other person might go, Hey, this is actually better. Maybe I could join you in this process. Or maybe we could find a, a third party that, you know, that isn't already connected to someone.

Dr. Bill Crawford (30m 21s):
So it's really hard to get someone who doesn't wanna do this, to do this. Right. It's almost dragging them in kicking and screaming with their, and you know, I think it's really kind of stupid. I don't really wanna be here, but I guess I'm supposed to cuz you know, the judge told me I had to you, you know, that kind of stuff. So Right.

Amy Goscha (30m 39s):
Yeah. Kind of switching gears, and I'm sure you get this a lot, clients will ask me, you know, like what can I, what kind of skills can I help my children with to get through this? you know, how can parents talk to their kids about your brain model?

Dr. Bill Crawford (30m 53s):
Yeah, I've got a book on parenting called How to Get Kids to Do What You Want. And what it's really about is how to engage your kids so they grow up to be the adults that you would love them to be. Cuz one of the things I always talk about when I'm doing a parenting conference is, would it be fair to say that we're, you know, whenever we're engaging with our kids, we're always teaching them something and all the parents go, well yeah, absolutely. And then, then I say, and would it be fair to say then we're not raising kids? And they go, huh? I say, well yeah, we're not raising kids anymore than a chicken farmer is raising chicks or a cattle farmer is raising calves. We're raising people, we're raising people and we're teaching them every time we interact with them.

Dr. Bill Crawford (31m 34s):
We wanna be very clear when I'm interacting with my child, what's the quality of your characteristic I wanna teach right now that I want them to have when they become an adult. So it's a way of engaging kids where you're not getting into the do it because you better or bad things will happen or because I said so, but it's engaging them in a way where they feel loved and respected. you know, I always talk about we can't teach respect by being disrespectful, And, we can't teach cooperation by being uncooperative. So if respect and co and cooperation or cooperative is one of the qualities you want them to have, they've gotta feel that we not only love them, but respect them when we're engaging with them.

Dr. Bill Crawford (32m 15s):
So that book about how to get kids to do what you want has to do with really how do you access the cooperative brain of your child versus driving them into the lower resentful, angry, frustrated, shame-based brain of the child. And it's a way of engaging a child, especially when there is some sort of issue, something's not going well, bedtime, homework, all the things that come up in a way that actually teaches a child a quality or characteristic that we want them to have when they become an adult and makes the the parent-child relationship more, more solid and more love-based versus versus fear-based.

Amy Goscha (32m 54s):
Yeah, and this is probably extreme, but you know, I sometimes see a parent who is more of like the authoritarian do it because I say, so what's like one thing that you tell that type of a parent?

Dr. Bill Crawford (33m 5s):
Would you like your child to grow up and do anything anybody tells them? Even if it's wrong, if somebody, and they will be told to do things that are wrong, do you want them to be okay because I'm so accustomed to doing whatever any authority figure says? Or do you want them to say, I'm sorry that's, that's incongruent with my, my values. So if you want them to be confident enough to hold onto their values, then they have to see us engaging them in a way where they see our confidence in them. One of the things I always tell parents, especially parents of teenagers, that anytime we're giving advice to our teenagers, it comes across as if we have no confidence in them.

Dr. Bill Crawford (33m 47s):
And it's one of the reasons they push back so far because they're trying to, they're trying to create some sort of self-confidence for themselves because soon, pretty soon they're gonna be on their own. So they're shifting from kind of being connected to us to, to not being connected to us, more connected to their friends so that when they get in their early twenties, mid twenties, they have this sense of self-confidence they can be on their own. But as parents we have a tendency to take that teenage pushing back as disrespectful and then we push back and they push back. And now here we are. And that's unfortunately how so many parents and teenagers get caught in that cycle of anger and resistance and frustration.

Amy Goscha (34m 24s):
Right? Yeah. And then on the opposite side of it, you know, sometimes you see parents who just let their kids do whatever, like there's no structure, they're, they're the kid's best friend. What do you say to that type of a parent?

Dr. Bill Crawford (34m 36s):
I say A kid is not old enough to understand the world and so when they don't have kind of healthy guardrails, healthy boundaries, it frightens them. So loving healthy boundaries will help a kid feel safe enough to then explore the area within that where you do kind of maybe let them do this and this. But when they cross that particular line, you know, there's agreement in place that if if that, Hey, I'm gonna be totally fine with you doing this and this and this. Here's the reason that crossing that line is not a good idea and I want you to know if that happens, certain consequences will happen. I don't want it to happen. You don't want it to happen. So let's, let's kind of stay within these and if you ever want to me to expand those, those boundaries come to me and let's talk about it that way.

Dr. Bill Crawford (35m 25s):
A kid knows, okay, within this area I can do this and I can do that and I can do that and I don't have to check in with anybody when it gets to this. If I'm gonna cross that line, I know something's gonna happen. And so when it happens and they go, well that's not fair, you go, absolutely, I know how frustrated you are, I don't wanna do it as well. How about in the future we do it differently. So, you don't have to experience these consequences. So it's all about really teaching our kids consequences, but making sure they're natural consequences, not artificial consequences. Being grounded is not a natural consequence to a kid. Right? A good example is when, when my 16 year old snuck out of the house and got picked up by the police and the police called me and said, we have your son in the back of our police car, would you like to come and get him?

Dr. Bill Crawford (36m 15s):
I went, well, okay. But he crossed that boundary cuz he snuck out of the house. I said, okay, so here's what we're gonna do in the future. This never happens again. We will wipe it off the slate. We'll continue to trust you and continue to let you do the things with your friends. If it does happen again, we're gonna have to install an alarm system in our house where we have a panel in our bedroom that shows us if any particular door or window is open, you will pay for the installation of that alarm system and you will pay for the maintenance of that alarm system. And unfortunately we won't be able to trust you as much and you won't be able to do as much with your friends. Right? Set up those natural consequences.

Dr. Bill Crawford (36m 55s):
And it never happened again. Not because it couldn't, he actually could have snuck out, but he had chosen that he didn't want these consequences and he felt, you know, respected that we were willing to kind of set a future experience, not shame him and blaming for the past. And it was a pretty good way of teaching that particular lesson. I,

Amy Goscha (37m 14s):
Yeah, no, that's a great example. Well, Dr. Bell, thank you. What I would like to wrap up with is just any of our Listeners, what are some of the resources that you have available for people and then if you could just let people know how they can contact you or your website.

Dr. Bill Crawford (37m 31s):
Well the good news is the book life from the top of the mind is a manual for how to do this. It starts off with the, the cycle. It shows you how to break the cycle with the brain model, shows you how to rewire the brain. And then part three of the book is all about how do you talk to people, your kids, your exes, your parents, anybody who's kind of stuck in that lower brain. So it's all about step one, part one, part two, and part three. That's the way I work with people when they say, Hey Bill, do you work with people on an individual basis? Say yes. I say yes and I just want you to know we're gonna be using the system. So I'm gonna show you the system, I'm gonna show you how to fine tune it and cuz I want to talk myself out of a job. My goal is to, to help you become self-sufficient.

Dr. Bill Crawford (38m 11s):
So, you don't really need me anymore. I do have a YouTube channel, it's got about 500 short videos on there. So I have post one almost every week and I got a website and it's a good idea to google Bill Crawford phd.com or just Bill Crawford PhD. I'll come up on the first page, check out the website and it'll show you my system and my philosophy and how I work with people. And if that's something you wanna do, I'll be more than happy to give you my best

Amy Goscha (38m 38s):
Thoughts. Oh, thank you Dr. Bill, I know you've helped a lot of people, so thank you for your time today. Great stuff, And. we appreciate having you on our episode today.

Dr. Bill Crawford (38m 47s):
Thanks for the opportunity to do this and, and congratulations for taking the time to put this kind of information out there. Do people I, I'm sure they're appreciative

Amy Goscha (38m 54s):
Of it. Oh, thank you. I really appreciate that.

Ryan Kalamaya (38m 57s):
Hey, Everyone, this is Ryan again. Thank you for joining us on Divorce at Altitude. If you found our tips, Insight or discussion helpful, please tell a friend about this podcast. For show notes, additional resources or links mentioned on today's episode, visit Divorce at Altitude dot com. Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen in. Many of our episodes are also posted on YouTube. You can also find Amy and me at Kalamaya.law or 970-315-2365. That's K A L A M A Y A.law