Five ways to take back your power
One of the most challenging parts of going through a divorce is that you can feel like you have lost your power, lost your control over what is happening to you. A break up is a time of transition, from an old life to a new one, and that means it is full of uncertainty and change – which can be painful and challenging. It’s no wonder divorce is often ranked as the second most traumatic life event after the death of a loved one.
Tony Robbins lists 6 basic human needs:
Love and connection
When you are in the middle of a break up or divorce, those needs are thrown up in the air. Your significance as a wife/husband has gone, life has very little certainty and you may not be sure about love any more.
Added to that the balance between certainty and variety/risk has been shot to pieces – too much risk and not enough certainty. If you’re feeling anything like I did in the middle of my separation, it’s likely that your top four basic human needs are not being met right now, and you feel all at sea.
The good news is that there are ways to meet some of those needs and increase the feeling of power you have over your life.
You can choose how you treat yourself, so choose to be kind
Do something kind for yourself every day. It doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming – but if you start to show yourself that you are worthy of your own kindness and compassion, it will help to soothe you, and shift your focus away from your ex, and onto you.
Do things that make you feel that little bit better. Write a list of at least 10 things that make you feel happy, and that make you smile. Keep a copy of the list on your fridge, in your bag, as a screensaver, and make plans to do them.
Take notice of how you talk to yourself. It’s difficult when someone is mean to you, and doubly difficult when the mean person is inside your own head. When you find yourself using your critical inner voice, ask yourself what your best friend would say to you right now. Would you talk to your best friend in the way that you talk to yourself?
Don’t subject yourself to “torture by social media”. Take a break from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Unfriend, unfollow, block. Shift your focus onto yourself and looking after you.
Find certainty in your daily routines
One way to increase the certainty in your life is to look at your daily routines. Do they work for you? If not, how can you change them?
If you find yourself upset in Tesco on Saturday morning because that is when you and your ex always used to shop, change it. Go to a different supermarket on a different day, or order online.
Can you change other things too – could you walk the dog in a different park? Try a new series on TV? Take up a new hobby, learn a new skill?
Your home environment will have a significant impact on how you feel. How could you make your home your own? Even if you are still living with your ex, is there a space that could be exclusively yours, where you can feel safe and secure? Fill it with colours you love, pictures that make you feel relaxed, and take down those wedding photos that make you cry whenever you see them.
Learn to use the remote control to your brain
You are the most important person in your life, and you have the remote control to your brain.
“Whenever I ‘d complain or was upset about something in my own life, my mother had the same advice – ‘darling, just change the channel. You are in control of the clicker. Don’t replay the bad, scary movie’ ” - Arianna Huffington
One way to do this is to change the questions you ask yourself. Your brain will try to answer whatever questions you ask of it. If you ask “why is this happening to me?”, it will come up with all kinds of answers that won’t help.
Instead, ask better questions, like:
How can I make this better for myself right now?
If there was one good thing about this, what would it be?
What don’t I miss about that relationship? Take off your rose-tinted glasses.
What can I do now that I couldn’t do before?
Although they may feel contrived at first, the more you practice asking better questions, the more you will find that it comes naturally. You will be creating new goat tracks in your mind, new connections in your brain, giving you more power and certainty over your thoughts and feelings.
Let go of what you can’t control
You are responsible for your own actions, and not those of others. Some people spend massive amounts of energy trying to make their ex do X, Y or Z. Once you realise that whilst you can’t control their actions, you CAN control your own, you increase your sense of self-power. And you stop wasting valuable energy that you could be channelling into yourself.
You can control your responses to others’ actions. For example, if your ex sends an angry email, you can choose when and how to respond. You don’t need to reply right now. I always advise clients not to respond immediately to anything said in anger, but to wait, sleep on it, and respond without a cloud of emotion in the way. By controlling your own responses, you may find that you get a different outcome.
You can control your breathing, so when you feel your emotions bubbling up and starting to overwhelm you, try this. Breathe in and out slowly, counting in for 4, holding for 7, and breathing out for 8. Repeat 5 times and see what happens to your heart rate. Notice also what happens to your thoughts when you concentrate on counting as you breathe. Your breathing is more powerful than your thoughts.
Get clarity around the things that scare you
Perhaps you feel scared, confused and overwhelmed? It is normal to feel frightened and nervous, and afraid of what the future might hold. Tempting as it might be, don’t stick your head in the sand about the things that scare you. The trick is to get clarity around your fears. Even if you don’t like what you find out, you will reduce the feeling of overwhelm, and you will be able to consider your options, take advice and make better, well informed decisions.
Remember that you don’t have to solve everything right now. You can take things at your own pace. Break things into chunks, with the help of your support team. Many baby steps taken over time add up to great leaps forward.
You have the power to make these choices, to decide to take back your power, and put yourself back in the driving seat of your life.
It is not what happens to you that matters; it is what you do with what happens to you
If you would like to know more about divorce coaching with me, and how I can help you to reclaim your power, please get in touch!