Do You Read The Signs

Why is there a red, with white letters, eight sided sign to “STOP” but there is no green circle, triangle, square or octagon shape sign to “GO”?

Technically, I guess, we need the physical sign to know when to stop and we are left to our own devices as to when it is time to go.

For the most part we live in a world of visual signs. The commercialization of hunger, love, happiness, illness, sadness, friendship, and family has permeated the very soul of our existence.

We are inundated, from the moment we are born, with symbols that are wired into our nervous system and our mind waves teaching us how and when to feel and respond to our life and life happening around us. Television commercials; Face Book ads and posts; highway and subway and airport billboards; shopping malls; on-line shopping; internet interface…they all present an image with a specific intended meaning and corresponding image.

Our brains are set and conditioned to see a physical sign and image, register it in our brain bank and then react accordingly.

If such an elaborate, comprehensive and exhaustive system has been created for us to navigate this world, why are so many people still having real and critical failure in reading the signs given by another person?

When a couple enters our Mediate for Life Divorce Mediation Center, the number one hurdle we anticipate is their ability to read the signs given by their spouse. Our goal is to bring both parties to a mutual understanding that there exists a key to the emotions and feelings that they have both brought to the table.

Ironically and interestingly, it is complicated discussing the word ‘key’.

  1. Usually a metal instrument by which the bolt of a lock is turned.

  2. Something that gives explanation or identification or provides a solution.

  3. An aid to interpret: Clue

  4. A map legend.

  5. A system of tones and harmonies.

  6. An encryption key.

  7. A free throw area in basketball.

  8. Extremely crucial and important.

  9. To make nervous, tense, excited: Keyed up.

  10. To be essential to; Play the most important part in.

  11. To vandalize by scratching.

One of the best tools that we have at our disposal as divorce mediators is to share with our clients the concept of mindfulness.

In essence it is a slowing down of the mind and body so that one is fully in the moment allowing one to engage with that which is directly before them rather than being distracted and encumbered by emotional baggage.

In the divorce mediation session there are no bill boards; you tube videos; demonstrative physical signs excruciatingly identifying and explaining how one should feel or think.

The signs that are present are in the tenor of the voice…the glistening behind the eye. The turning of the head or the shifting of the body…the downshifting of the words being used to characterize a feeling…the circling around of the same thoughts as it is drilled down further and tighter.

Our goal in exposing our clients to the theory of mindfulness is to ultimately make them vulnerable .

Vulnerability places the individual in a place where they can be ready to be open to a sign.

When the client is feeling vulnerable, light can penetrate their emotional fortress. The dynamics of the relationship and the history between the couple shifts enough so that opinions and change can be served as the key ingredient in mediation.

People say,” All you have to do is read the signs.” People look to the stars and into tea leaves. People read tarot and horoscopes. People listen to music and people meditate in their own silence.


steven bettman