Getting divorced can evoke a sense of loss—not just a loss of your relationship but a loss of normalcy, control, and power within your relationship, surroundings, and life. While coping with separation or divorce can be difficult, you can regain your sense of control and power.
In a recent episode of our podcast, we sat down with Gail Rudolph, the best-selling author of “Power Up, Power Down: How to Reclaim Control and Make Every Situation a Win/Win”, to discuss how divorcing individuals can get through and deal with the effects of divorce or separation. Rudolph covers a host of important topics from setting healthy boundaries to understanding power dynamics to co-parenting consideration.
Divorce & Co-Parenting | Power & Control Issues
Below, we include highlights from our discussion with Gail Rudolph. To listen to Gail’s full interview, you can download it via our podcast page.
What Is Power?
To take back your power after a divorce, you must first understand what power is and what power you have. Rudolph defines power as “the capacity or the ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or a course of events. It's kind of an energy that ebbs and flows as we interact with others, and it's central to every one of our interactions that we have.”
Is Personal Power Something That You Can Gain or Lose?
Feeling a loss of control or power in divorce can be a direct result of failing to set boundaries and stand up for your wishes. While it may be difficult to express your needs, your power is rooted in your willingness to honor your own needs and desires.
“One of the key things to understand is that we can harness our personal power, but nobody takes our power away…we actually give it away,” explains Rudolph. “Sometimes [we give our power away] because we're being quiet, or we're trying to keep the peace, and we don't want to do that. Your personal power is yours, and it's there for you to access. It's about choosing the right way to do it.”
Why Is Utilizing Personal Power Important When Navigating Difficult Relationships?
If you are dealing with a difficult or narcissistic co-parent or ex-partner, you can recover your sense of power and control by remembering you are in control of your actions, words, and behavior. You can set the tone for how you interact with one another: “At the most basic level, power is channeled by our mindset, our body movements, our verbal interactions, and the way we use our tone of voice,” says Rudolph. “When we understand how to harness our innate personal power, we give off signals and indicators to our influence. When we decide to harness our power with the correct attitude, it gives us the capacity to overcome challenging circumstances, such as co-parenting with an uncooperative or hostile ex-spouse.”
Are There Different Ways That Personal Power Can Be Displayed?
“You can either power-up, or you can power down. It's about controlling yourself, and how you present yourself,” explains Rudolph. “When you power up, it’s a choice that you make to step into fuller presence. It’s taking up more space, using different tones of voice, using strategic pauses—that's powering up. When you talk about powering down, it's a choice to make a change or take a stance to kind of level the playing field. What we know about human behavior is that we have a tendency to butt up against each other; when we get pushed, we push back. And when you start that type of power struggle or that type of power dynamic, nothing gets done. Nothing gets accomplished.”
How Can Understanding Personal Power Make Communicating with an Ex Easier?
To avoid arguments and keep your conversations productive, you shouldn’t immediately respond or react. Take the time you need to process and then respond. Rudolph explains why you may be communicating from a place of fear or on autopilot instead of with intention: “When we're going through a divorce, our life is chaotic, right? There's a lot for us to process, and quickly. When we work in our fast-processing brain, what happens is that we automatically move to reactions. We’re working out of automatic mode. We're kind of sleepwalking, and it becomes blurred as to how we should react or respond. But when we think about power, then we can move into what we call our slow brain, and we actually make a choice, and that's when we can make a difference. What happens is that when we work in our fast brain, we move into fear. And our fast brain often perceives a threat, especially when we're talking about an ex, right? [When this happens], instead of trusting our intuition, we fall into this fear mode, which sometimes creates this environment where we react, and we get panicked. But intuition is a little different. Intuition is our subconscious ability to evaluate our prior knowledge and to gain on our experience with aspects of our past and our present. It allows us to kind of get a vibe of the situation, to stop and to think about it, and it guides us. Fear wants us to move and to react, and it's fast. Intuition, on the other hand, actually comes in softly. It's not something that has to be acted on immediately.”
How Is Practicing Forgiveness Towards an Ex a Form of Empowerment?
When you forgive your ex is entirely up to you, but moving towards forgiveness and releasing feelings of resentment or bitterness can help you get through and move on from this difficult season. “This is so hard to do when you're going through a divorce. A divorce is one of life's top five most stressful experiences; you're ending a relationship and dividing up a life that once was together, and it's painful, it is like a death. There are emotions involved--you're hurt, you're angry, and a lot of times that anger and that hurt can paralyze us,” relates Rudolph. “But holding on to that hurt actually consumes us, and it gives our power away. […] We need to stop pretending that our past doesn't affect our present, because it does. But when we decide to forgive, we can regain our sense of self and our personal power. It's incredibly difficult to forgive somebody who's inflicted harm or pain upon us, but we need to remember that forgiveness is about freedom. It's about our own freedom. It's about letting go of somebody else's hold over us, and moving forward and onto bigger and better things. When we think back on all the things that come into our life, good and bad, they will either make us stronger, or will cripple us. We have a choice to make. And the good news is we get to choose how we want to live our lives; we get to choose that path for ourselves.”
Get Help From Our Family Law Attorneys
At Pacific Cascade, our experienced attorneys can help families navigate legal matters, including:
- Divorces (contested or uncontested)
- Child custody & support
- Military divorces
- Property division
- Post-divorce modifications
For help reclaiming control and honest legal representation, contact our attorneys today by calling (888) 981-9511 or completing this online form. We want to hear your story and help you pursue solutions that honor your needs and goals.