How to Claim Power Back from People Who Piss You Off.

Via Kara-Leah Grant
on Aug 23, 2013
get elephant's newsletter


This article was written nearly two years ago, and never published, so it’s not a current situation in my life.

This morning had the potential to get messy.

The plan was simple: my son’s Dad was taking him to playgroup, and then to childcare. This meant I could work solid from 8:30am—4pm, a luxury. I had Skype interviews arranged, meetings set up and workshop preparation to do.

But my son’s Dad has a history of unreliability.

I sent two texts at around 8am to determine best meeting spots. They went unanswered.

8:30am came and went with no sign of a pick-up, or communications.


My son was meant to be at playgroup at 9am; I was meant to be working—we were relying on his father.

Inside, my belly was churning. All types of feelings and thoughts were arising—the same kind of thoughts and feelings I’d been having for years now in relationship with this person.

Anger and frustration mostly, at my ex-partner’s difficulty at sticking to set arrangements. I’m always cautious about setting up anything for me when he’s meant to have our son, because of the likelihood of last minute changes. It pisses me off that he can’t be more linear, more definite, more fixed, more understanding of his actions or non-action on other people.

Why does he always do this to me? Doesn’t he know I have a life too? How can he be so inconsiderate? He’s just doing this to piss me off.

8:50am and in the midst of this drama, this angst, and these swirling thoughts and feelings as I changed up all my plans while hustling myself and my child out of the house to get him to playgroup, I had a different kind of thought.

Where’s the intimate inquiry in this?

And then another thought.

What if this was a video game?

That led to my next thought.

I’ve been here before, many times over. Maybe it’s time to finally conquer this level.

With that interruption into the swirl of anger and frustration and cycling thought patterns blaming the other for my experience, I caught my breath and surveyed what was happening from the place of the witness.

Instant shift in consciousness.

Hmmm… if this was a video game, what would I do? The set arrangements have fallen through. What’s my priority?

Suddenly I was a game player, rising to the challenge; the other was forgotten.

First up was to feed myself before leaving for playgroup; I’d planned to eat after Samuel left, but now faced with taking him to playgroup (which requires I stay there with him), I needed food.

Part of taking responsibility for myself is making sure I eat nourishing food when I’m hungry, rather than ignoring my hunger pains so I can just get on and get done. I’ve learned that ignoring the signals of my body, be they physical, emotional or energetic, takes me out of the moment and out of presence. And at the extreme, out of mind.

Second priority was to rearrange work commitments, shifting Skype interviews and meetings to fit my now shortened work hours. (Playgroup takes up three hours in the AM, my son is in care in the PM for three hours.)

This simple act of taking care of my needs meant I was no longer focused on my ex-partner and what he had or hadn’t done. I was back in the present, dealing with was actually happening. I was exercising my power over my life.

Lastly, I went to playgroup, texting my ex to let him know he didn’t need to come any longer.

At playgroup, in between play-doughing and shape-making, train-sets and storybooks, I contemplated the morning.

I could feel that the simple act of accepting what had happened without getting swept away in anger, frustration and blame had maintained my empowered energetic state of being.

In the past, dealing with my ex-partner has often thrown me into disempowered states of being as I blame him for how I’m feeling.

I realized that this ability to stay in my power means I’m beginning to master my emotions and thoughts in trying circumstances. I’m noticing them and acknowledging them, but not acting them out. I’m letting go of directing energy at what I don’t want to be, and instead focusing on what I do want to create—in this case, a smooth easy morning blending my son’s playgroup with work.


But this wasn’t the great gift of this particular intimate inquiry. That arose later, spontaneously. Sitting on the floor, putting together a jigsaw puzzle, a piece of the puzzle dropped for me. I’ve had difficulty understanding why my ex behaves the way he does, and without that understanding of the true motivators for his behaviour, I’ve struggled to know how to respond to what the situation truly needs.

Sitting on the mat, I suddenly got it, in a big way.

It wasn’t about trying to figure out what to do so that he would act the way I wanted him to… it was about accepting the way he was and acting the way I wanted to regardless of how he made me feel.

As I had this ‘A-ha!’ moment, I realized that the reason I was finally about to see clearly into the situation was because I had let go of my anger and frustration. I had let go of the desire for my ex to be different. I’d let go of my desire to control him so I wouldn’t get messed around.

All that strong emotion, desire, attachment and control had been clouding my vision.


It was yet another reminder that acceptance opens up life in magical ways.

The gifts continued, though.

In the opening to what was, and through finally understanding what was motivating my ex on an unconscious level, I felt a flood of compassion for him. The acceptance of him as he is meant I was able to feel the challenges that he faces.

Double wow!

It’s bothered me for awhile—not being able to understand my ex, and also finding it difficult to feel compassion for him. If I’m such a wonderful yoga teacher, shouldn’t I be able to do this? I know, I know… shouldn’t/smoudn’t. But…

This shift into acceptance, understanding and compassion meant that when I was later able to sit and talk to my ex, I had no unexpressed emotions subconsciously tainting our exchange. I was able to clearly state why it was important to me that he keep his commitments, and without my emotionally-charged subconscious need to control him tugging at my words, he was able to hear me.

It felt like dropping my attachment or desire for him to be a certain way changed the energetic nature of our engagement.

Mostly though, it was such a relief for me to finally break a pattern of interaction that had been driving me crazy for years. And it had nothing to do with the other person changing. It had everything to do with me changing. No longer the victim, firmly in control. Mastering myself, and my life.

I’d claimed back my power from someone who’d been pissing me off for years. Sorted!

Gotta love that.



Like elephant love on Facebook.

Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Kara-Leah Grant

Kara-Leah Grant is an internationally renowned retreat leader, yoga teacher and writer. Along with fellow Elephant Journal writer, Ben Ralston, she runs Heart of Tribe, pouring her love into growing a world-wide tribe of courageous, committed, and empowered individuals through leading retreats in New Zealand, Mexico and Sri Lanka. Kara-Leah is also the founder of New Zealand’s own awesome yoga website, The Yoga Lunchbox, and author of Forty Days of Yoga—Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice and The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. A born & bred Kiwi who spent her twenties wandering the world and living large, Kara-Leah has spent time in Canada, the USA, France, England, Mexico, and a handful of other luscious locations. She now lives and travels internationally with her son, a ninja-in-training. You can find Kara-Leah on her website, or on Facebook.


32 Responses to “How to Claim Power Back from People Who Piss You Off.”

  1. chang says:


  2. gracepayge says:

    Thank you Kara Leah. Loved the article, don't personally have a child or ex husband but I witnessed a friend acting like this. Slowly slowly she claimed her power back, some days it would really get under her skin and I witnessed her suffering. I salute those who truly get to practice there spirituality and compassion and power in situations like this. Namaste Sweetness. Grace x

  3. monika says:

    Yes, nice letting go and being present and all that comes with it. Thank you for sharing, cheers and many blessings!!!

  4. KristinSLuce says:

    Beautiful read! Claiming our simple power back from where we give it away is huge, and you nailed it! Thank you.

  5. Mrs_d says:

    I loved this. I could relate so much. I've even had the opportunity to feel that shift and be able to detach from the "passion" of a situation and take ownership of my experience of it. Not to say that the next day I might not be blind again, but I'm practicing!

  6. Jbird says:

    Thanks so much for writing. There truly is something energetic that changes when we release the strangle hold on our end that often cause a shift in it all. I hope to get there wi my neighbor and landlord….moving might only be me drinking poison hoping someone else dies!

  7. Judy says:

    My live in bf is not a dog person. to the contrary, i am a huge dog person. He ignores my dog and alternately expresses disgust. I had been trying to change him. And I made myself physically ill by harboring anger and resentment toward my partner when my dog died suddenly. My health issues leave me immuno compromised, and I am here to tell you that holding on to negative emotions makes our bodies ill. Thank you for this story, it really hit home with me!

  8. clarityNC says:

    I like the overall message, and I have been through a similar experience (with similar outcome). Still, I hesitate to call him "ex" so much. He has a name, and he is a person outside of our breakup, the same as I am not defined by the end of our relationship. He is my ex, yes, but he is also many other things, including my daughter's father. I just use his name when I refer to him. It feels more respectful, which is how I want my daughter to treat him, and I how I want to be treated.

  9. Rebecca says:

    'I salute those who truly get to practice there spirituality and compassion and power in situations like this.

    I needed to hear that

    Your words just struck a chord with me…thank you…..

  10. Jblau says:

    I'm in the same position- I really needed this! Thank you for sharing!

  11. Azure Rose says:

    This article is great when it comes to personal relationships such as an ex, but what if you are dealing with an abusive parent and they are making your life a living hell and you are trapped in a situation where you can't just pick up and leave and disappear and never see them again

  12. Nikki says:

    That was so amazing. This is EXACTLY what I am going through. Thank you, Leila for sharing!!

  13. Susie says:

    Azure Rose: I was in a abusive relationship, with lots of cheating, lying manipulating etc. but in the end, it all comes back down to taking back your own power. Atleast I started to behave very not like myself while he had "control" over me, all kinds of negative ways of behave. So just have to make a clear notice of what kind of behavior is not accepted from yourself neither, that´s only thing you can control. Building your boundaries, get people to help you and actually talking out load of the abusive behavior. Still it doensn´t necessary need to end up super nasty, but we somehow are managing one time a week visitation for my son at his dad´s place. Of course everyone´s individual and levels of abusiveness vary, but i don´t think there´s any other way around than changing your own behavior, gaining your power back and firmly stand behind your own words! Good luck, you can do it, coz Im doing that too!!! <3

  14. Sue Babcock says:

    Thank you for this. It is also about respect not only for ourselves,
    but for other person, as well.

  15. Mary says:

    Thank you for the missing jigsaw piece I've been searching and praying for. Your aha resounded and rebounded in every cell of my being .next week I'll be taking this and conquering the level I've been stuck on for years in a really important meeting with my ex. Deepest gratitude for sharing your wisdom.

  16. Yes, don’t let ego take over and respond to yourself with love and nurture. Don’t beat yourself up with negative thoughts as a result of some else.

  17. Robin M. says:

    So…funny story on the full circle of this…I have spent the last six years lowering my expectations of my ex to avoid being pissed. Me expectation of him is less than a stranger on the street…I just hope he won’t commit a crime that will hurt my children…and that’s iffy.

    So, someone asked me on his behalf, “Can you entertain the possibility that he could grow and change?”

    See how this gets dicey? Entertain a possibility, but not an expectation…give him an “opportunity” but never one that involves you giving up control of the situation, right?

    You maintain full control, and 100% responsibility, and always have to cover for the ex…

    Even though you have control of your internal state, really not sure it’s ultimately that “empowered”.

  18. Hey Robin,

    Out of control of the internal state arises empowered action. Once you let go and accept the situation as it is, then you can focus on how you're going to respond – what action you're going to take. I haven't covered that in the article, as that's the next step really. And another article.

  19. Hey ClarityNC,

    True – I was using that instead of the name for privacy reasons.

  20. sarahtheaquarian says:

    WOW, absolutely love this. need to read it again! thank you 🙂

  21. Barbra says:

    Really great, I loved this story, but for one point…

    "Lastly, I went to playgroup, texting my ex to let him know he didn’t need to come any longer."

    Why did you text him? Wasn't necessary or appropriate under the circumstances. What had he done to earn your respect on that level?

  22. Very nice. Very timely. Thank you so very much for sharing this with us.

  23. Jackie says:

    Exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you!

  24. ECA says:

    I am having a hard time letting go of my partner and our dysfunctional relationship. This post gives me courage and hope.

  25. Hannah Morden says:

    It is lovely to hear you talk about how you have changed and how that has impacted on other people’s behavior. You are right – it is a game we feed – of feeling let down, anxious frustrated and then channeling that at someone.

    And then we are further let down because that person does not feel the responsibility when we come at anything with emotions.

    But you accepting your ex, and accepting your patterns with your ex, allowed you to do things differently and without all the crazy emotions that we can so easily call in. That is self- love 🙂 , and love towards your ex and your child.

  26. Tracey A.Gridley says:

    Wow…to say this resonates put it mildly!! On every level. I really thought that I took my power back a while ago but clearly i have some work to do so THANK YOU for the timely reminder :))

    It too is the work I do with folks so I of the think I "should" get it…even thought I too try not to put those should on myself. We are all human after all :))

    persona trainer/health coach

  27. Jenn says:

    I read this article some time ago and really enjoyed it, this read however I am struck with a question. I don't really see how you understand your ex any better. I understand taking back YOUR power but I see a need to set some very clear boundaries with an ex who is not only affecting you but has the potential to really hurt your child. This isn't just about you and your ex. Maybe at this point the child is too young to understand or remember but this type of behavior can be very damaging to a young mind. I hope your ex comes around to understand what his responsibilities are but if he doesn't I would recommend shielding your child from disappointment of him not "showing up".

  28. Heidi says:

    “It wasn’t about trying to figure out what to do so that he would act the way I wanted him to… it was about accepting the way he was and acting the way I wanted to regardless of how he made me feel.”

    The timing of this article was spot on. I needed to read this today. Thank you! I appreciate you sharing your wisdom. Hugs!

  29. genia says:

    This article spoke to me. Thank you: -)

  30. I really love this. Thank you for sharing it, the idea of the “video game” clrsses my mind often- as we navigate our avatars and forget the truth- behind the intention to be happy and to give and welcome others…Seeing everything like a test and an opportunity to play really does create so much more joy and mindful action, especially in the most “imperfect” circumstances.
    Love to you

  31. I really love this. Thank you for sharing it, the idea of the “video game” crosses my mind often- as we navigate our avatars and forget the truth- behind the intention to be happy and to give and welcome others…Seeing everything like a test and an opportunity to play really does create so much more joy and mindful action, especially in the most “imperfect” circumstances. Thnak you fro such a lovely and encouraging text.

    Love to you


  32. Carly says:

    So true! I’ve been realizing this now and feel soo much lighter and free. I cannot control other peoples feelings, emotions, or attitude. Acceptance is a wonderful, free feeling.