No one in their right mind would ever knowingly give away their power, their energy, or their ability to control their own future at the one time in life when they need it the most – when they are getting a divorce. Yet, thousands of people do it every day. Here are 7 surprising ways you may be giving away your power in divorce.
7 Ways You Are Giving Away Your Power in Divorce
1. Going to court. There is no quicker or surer way to give away your power in divorce than to let a judge, who doesn’t know you or your family, decide what is going to happen to you and your children. Think about it. At what other time in your life would you let a total stranger decide when you could see your kids, what kind of parenting rules you must use, and what you will do with your money?
2. You let your attorney handle everything, without question. It doesn’t matter if you hire the best attorney since Abraham Lincoln. This is your life. No one cares about it more than you. No one has more at stake than you. No one will have to live with the decisions that are made in your divorce more than you. Turning over everything to your lawyer and just hoping for the best is the epitome of giving away your power in divorce.
… By the way, even Abraham Lincoln famously said to lawyers:
3. You don’t talk to an attorney because you don’t have much money, and you don’t think it will help anyway. If you think you don’t have enough money to talk to a lawyer before your divorce, you ought to see how little money you will have afterwards! You may not be able to afford to hire the most expensive lawyer in town to represent you throughout your entire case, but you can at least afford to hire a lawyer or trusted advisor for an hour or two and educate yourself about divorce. No one should go through their divorce without getting the education and advice they need. Ever.
4. You listen to the crazy things your spouse tells you. Yes, if its possible, you want to keep the lines of communication open with your spouse, especially if you have kids. But, when your spouse starts trash-talking you, telling you that you are going to end up with nothing in this divorce, or that your kids are going to hate you forever: stop listening! You don’t have to read every word of those five page, single-spaced email rants! You don’t have to engage in text (or live) conversations that don’t convey any real information, but make your blood pressure shoot out of the top of your head! When your spouse starts going off on you, end the conversation!
5. You stop taking care of your physical body. Divorce is not just hard on you emotionally. It is hard on you physically. Most people gain or lose weight during a divorce. They get depressed. They age immeasurably. But you don’t have to do that. Yes, when you are going through a divorce there are a thousand extra demands on your time. But getting sick won’t help you deal with those demands. Pay attention to what you eat. Get some exercise. Try to sleep. Take the time to do something for yourself once in awhile. Remember: divorce is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to take care of yourself if you want to make it through.
6. You put yourself in social situations that are beyond your coping ability while you are an emotional wreck. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we play the saddest music we can find when we are feeling down? Why do we force ourselves to go out when we just want to curl up in bed and cry? Yes, if your spouse left three years ago and you are still in a fetal position on the floor all the time, that’s a problem. But you also need time to grieve. You need time to heal. If you don’t feel social for awhile, stay home! Nothing will make you feel like a loser more than surrounding yourself with people who look so “whole” when you feel so “broken.” (By the way, many of them are not really all that “whole” … but that’s a different discussion.)
7. You give up on things that are really important to you just because you don’t want to fight, or don’t think you will win. Your divorce is not an excuse to make yourself into a doormat! If anything, it is a wake up call for you to start being the amazing person you really are and stop letting your spouse do whatever s/he wants! Of course, you don’t want to be unreasonable, and you don’t want to fight so much that your divorce ends up being way worse than it needs to be. But if something is really, truly important to you, don’t force yourself to be a victim and just give it up. Give up something else. But get those few things that really matter.
How Can You Reclaim Your Power?
The first step to reclaiming your power is to realize that you are giving it away. Remember that you, and only you, have the ability to control yourself. You can control what you think, how you feel, and what you do. It’s not easy. But you can do it. Figuring out that you are giving up that control, and knowing that you can get it back, is your first step towards reclaiming your power.
Step two is to simply take you power back. (Ok. It’s not simple to do. But the idea is simple!) When your spouse asks (or tells) you to do something that doesn’t feel right to you, say no! Of course, the first few times you do this, especially if you have never done it before, you are likely to see fireworks. So what? Do it anyway.
Instead of letting others drive your life, drive it yourself. Yes, this is more work. Yes, it means you have to take the time to learn about things you never wanted to know. Yes, it means that you have to take responsibility for your actions and your life – which is far from easy. But the reward is real and beyond measure: you will finally be YOU again.
Divorce can be devastating, or it can be empowering. As Eleanor Roosevelt said:
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.