How can you prepare yourself for court situations as described in this long article in The Guardian?
Make sure that you feel comfortable in the court room.
You can do that by going to the court house – any court house – as often as you can. Enter the building, empty your pockets, go through the metal detector, and walk around in the building. Attend other people’s court hearings as a member of the public.
Pay a great deal of attention to how you feel and which things make you feel anxious. Or angry, or confused. Ask yourself why they make you feel that way and what you can do about it. Do not fight the feelings that well up in you. Most of the stress comes from trying to suppress feelings. That internal battle drains your energy and overwhelms you.
Go back into the court building time and time again, and teach yourself to look at your emotions from a distance, not seeing them as good or bad but as, heck, potted plants or tumbleweeds. Over time, they’ll probably disappear or show up briefly and then dissipate.
Teach yourself to stay calm in your court hearings.
This is the hard part. You can make sure that the people you will have to deal with in the court room, such as your ex, do not make you feel as panicked as one of the persons the article in The Guardian talks about.
You can do that by sitting in a room at home, with no one else around. Relax and picture yourself in the court room. Look around, and imagine seeing for example your ex there, and the other side’s barrister, and the judge, and everyone else.
Again, pay a great deal of attention to your feelings. Feel the panic and anger come up? The sorrow? The powerlessness? Let them be. Do not fight them.
If you do this over and over and over again, your feelings of panic and anger, powerlessness and pain may slowly start to disappear. It is hard work. Do it! It is worth it. Also, try not to look at your situation in terms of what you stand to lose, but in view of what you may gain, if that helps you.
Easy for me to say? Yeah! But I’ve been there. After my second court hearing, I walked into the ice-cold December sea because I felt terribly powerless. Useless. Later, I’ve stood in a court room’s toilet area, shaking, very nervous before yet another hearing.
I have also witnessed that lawyers themselves can get just as nervous and shaky and upset as you when they are the defendants in civil proceedings. It is a shocking sight. A moment of truth. The lawyers for the other side, too, are merely humans. They are not that different from you and me. They get tired and cranky and weepy, just like we do. But they don’t show it in the court room. Because they’ve taught themselves to remain as calm as possible in the court room.
It is not a matter of suppressing or fighting your feelings. It is a matter of acknowledging your feelings, accepting them and allowing them to come out – embracing them – when they don’t hamper your calm effectiveness. Particularly for Britons, who historically have been taught to abhor emotions, that can be very hard.