How to Claim Back Our Power from People Who Piss Us Off: The Aftermath.

Via Kara-Leah Grant
on Mar 27, 2014
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Warning: naughty language ahead.

Three years ago I wrote an article detailing how I’d used a frustrating situation with my ex-partner to claim back my power.

In a nutshell, he didn’t keep contact arrangements, which threw my entire day out and disappointed our son. Instead of focusing my energy in my ex and what he’d done and not done, I shifted my awareness to my internal state.

I discovered that by completely accepting the situation as it was, I could move out of anger and frustration and just deal with the day as it was.

This felt enormously liberating to me at the time. it felt like I was no longer a victim of my ex’s behaviour, but standing back in my power.

What I didn’t write about in this article was what happens after we take control of our internal state. What happens after we completely accept a situation as it is, or a person as they are? Do we just keep covering for them, or accepting them the way they are as being all cool with us?

No, you don’t.

You accept the situation as it is but you also have a clear idea of what it is that you want to experience—you just stop relying on the other person to make that happen for you.

You realise that they are not going to change (in this moment). They are who they are. They will keep doing what they’ve always done (until they don’t anymore).

Given this, given the reality of the situation, what are you going to do? Because in tricky and difficult situations that continually repeat in our lives, it is we who are being asked to change. Not the other, but us. 

In my situation, (without giving too many details to respect the privacy of my son and his father), I learned that I needed to set clearer and stronger boundaries.

I learned that I needed to ask for support and help in enforcing those boundaries.

It was really difficult to do this because I was afraid of upsetting my ex. I was afraid of creating a difficult situation. I was afraid full stop. But I realised that until I stepped into my power fully and took action, I would keep experiencing the same situation over and over and over again.

So I took action, and I took it all the way. I made the boundaries as strong and as clear as they needed to be and in the process fully stepped into my power.

That’s the second part of claiming back your power from people who piss you off—you have to take action.

It’s not all about you and what you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing, although that it a huge part of it. The other question is, what needs to change in this situation to create the experience you want? And how can you facilitate that change? What action do you need to take?

We usually know what we have to do—but we’re afraid. We also know that taking that strong action is going to lead to more difficulties. We have to be strong enough to face into those difficulties. But that’s the whole point—as a result of taking action, we are forced to change and grow as a person. I certainly was.

The danger is in only doing the internal work—and not taking external action. This is like a spiritual bypass: we internally come to terms with a difficult situation but then let it continue, because we’re now okay with it.

In my particular situation, this would have meant that I continued to allow my ex-partner to constantly change contact arrangements at the drop of a hat regardless of the impact on his son and me. And my internal work would have meant I didn’t mind, because I was all accepting and peace’d out.

No—that’s bullshit.

In reality, what happened was that once I fully accepted the situation and took my power back by not letting him piss me off anymore—that’s just who he is—I found myself asking, okay, if that’s who he is, what am I going to do about it.

And I did something. My deep acceptance of the situation goaded me into taking strong action.

Previously, because I was hung up on blaming him for what was happening, and trying to get him to change, I’d completely given my power away. Now I had my power back, and I had to do something with it.

Those are the two pieces of the puzzle. In any difficult situation where you’re angry and frustrated about how the other person if behaving—how can they keep doing this to me?—here’s what I suggest you do.

1. Completely accept the situation as it is, and let go of the need to control the other person.

Work on this first—and trust me, this takes time. It’s not an intellectual idea of acceptance, it’s a deep embodied sense that this is the situation and the person. I used meditation and pranayama to help me work my way into this one.

2. Once you’ve fully accepted the situation and the person as they are, ask yourself, what do I want to experience?

Get really clear on what the ideal experience would be for you. Don’t focus on the other person’s behaviour, but on what you experience, regardless of their behaviour. What do you want?

3. Once you know what you want, ask yourself what steps you have to take to get what you want.

This is the really hard part. Usually the steps we have to take ask us to step way out of our comfort zone. We usually have to let go of something—maybe a relationship, or a job, or security in some way. This is when our fears come up.

And this is the reason that we often keep blaming the other person, or the circumstance and wanting them or it to change. Because we don’t want to have to go here, to #3. We don’t want to get out of our comfort zone. We don’t want to change. We don’t want to let go. But once you know what you want, and you know what steps you need to get what you want… you can see clearly where you’re afraid, where you’re holding on and what work you’ve got to do.

Now you know the way forward. Now you can take that deep acceptance and turn it into empowered action, but first…

4. Write down all the reasons that come up about why you can’t take these steps to create what you want.

And there will be reasons—lots of them. Write them all down and ask yourself for each one: is this really true?

Discard all the reasons that aren’t true. Now you’ve got just the reasons why you can’t take those steps that are true—these will likely be reasons like I don’t have enough money, I’ve got no where to go.

5. Look at those reasons and find solutions or workarounds.

Because there are always solutions and there are always workarounds. No matter what the reason is that you can’t create what you want, there’s a solution, if you’re willing to find it and implement it.

This is how you really step into your power. This is how you leave an abusive relationship with the father of your four children who says he will kill you if you ever go. You change. You get smart. You get strong. And you get strategic. You accept he’s not going to change. And you ask yourself what you want and then you go after it.

All those reasons: no money, no where to go, no one to help—there’s always a way around them. You know that in your heart you’re strong enough to deal with whatever comes your way. And if you’re not, that’s okay too.

You stay and you work with what you’ve got and you keep looking for those solutions and opportunities until you are strong enough to go, because one day you will be.

That’s claiming back your power, and fully stepping into it.

Full acceptance. Empowered action. Finding the solutions and workarounds. Creating the experience you want.

Anybody can do it. Even you.



Dealing with Real Life Mean Girls (& Boys).

How to Deal with Toxic Relationships. ~ Sara Courter

My (Non) New Year’s Resolution: 8 Ways to Not be a Jerk.


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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.


25 Responses to “How to Claim Back Our Power from People Who Piss Us Off: The Aftermath.”

  1. Amber says:

    This is beautifully written. I appreciate this very much. It will help someone for sure.
    Thank you for showing up to your own life. It is an inspiration!

  2. Alexsandra7 says:

    Thank you, I needed this as am going through a difficult situation of a similar nature myself. 🙂

  3. Shakti says:

    Excellent, too true: The danger is in only doing the internal work—and not taking external action. I really enjoy your voice, the post about being a 'spiritual' person too. arrggghhh. I've shared you on my Fb (joyful mind).

  4. Thanks Shakti – much appreciated.

  5. buddy says:

    If you accept that the other person cant change, then how can you justify taking action? How can you ask for any action on the part of the other person if you have already accepted the situation "as is"?

  6. You don't ask for any action on the part of the other person – you take the action. You do something different from what you've been doing to date. You leave, when you've been staying. Or you stay when you've been leaving. You speak up, when you've been staying quiet. Or you stay quiet when you've been speaking up. The exact course of action will depend on the situation but instead of being "other focused" – this situation will improve when he or she changes, you take responsibility for what you can do. And you don't just accept the situation internally either… you do something.

  7. buddy says:

    Thats an interesting spin and perspective. I like it. Thanks for the insight.

  8. FranceAnne says:

    Thank you, this is all so true. I needed to read this today. Very much appreciated.

  9. Gilbert Bo says:

    Good article, but seems that your scenario, the poor divorced mom with kids and why dad doesn't perform as agreed to related to you and your son's needs being met. Right? OK, I understand, I feel that pain. But what about my neighbors, two gay men, divorced after 14 years together, and mature adults, they worked out their differences and they moved on, lovely and mature. Healthy people can separate without any toxicity, YES THEY CAN. Rule no 2, if one person in the relationship is not grounded and also psychologically damaged (like childhood trauma – unresolved, etc), the other person has to have some pathology, too and dysfunction, too. Healthy people tend select and attract healthy people for mates, yes?
    So, if you had no kids in your story, could you have picked up the pieces and move on with some gained wisdom.
    Me, I really like my life, I try be helpful to others, I maintain impeccable integrity and I live by myself and I love it. Marriage – why? Peace

  10. tosha says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. If only it weren’t so hard…. but I deeply appreciate the last bit- “You stay and you work with what you’ve got and you keep looking for those solutions and opportunities until you are strong enough to go, because one day you will be.” I’m getting there… albeit slowly. You’re right in that meditation & pranyama help. They do. A lot.

  11. Amy Maricle says:


    I so appreciate your ability to share not only your methodology, but your personal story. It's so much more motivating to know that this has worked for a real person. I am an art therapist, and I do a lot of work with people on setting boundaries, self-care, self-love, and self-respect. You speak so directly to how you did all these things, while also not putting someone else down. I think your suggestion about writing down the roadblocks and then identifying solutions on paper is so useful. So often what I find gets in my way is that all of the negative, doubting voices swirl around in my head, and it's hard to make sense of a next step in that state. I recently blogged about this, using negative thoughts to drive positive action, and ways to use those negative thoughts to your advantage. I really like your take on this topic. Thanks so much for sharing it and doing so from the heart!

  12. Sheila says:

    A wise quote says, ” When the student is ready to learn the lesson the teacher will appear.” Thank you for appearing. I am ready to learn.

  13. kentuckykaren says:

    Excellent article and it applies perfectly to an ex. However, what does one do when the person who tries to control us is an adult child of 39? I have three grandchildren I would love to be able to see. I cannot walk away or exit myself from her life. It breaks my heart that we have wasted so many years of not getting along and not being able to have a normal family relationship. I realize we both have faults in this dance, but I don't know what to do to make it better for us both.

  14. ozgeburcaka says:

    Great article!

  15. dosouth says:

    Thank you for this, it is an eye opener for me. I am wife #3. There have always been 3 people in this marriage…my husband, his ex-wife and me, in that exact order. In time she will destroy what we have, of that I am sure. I have read this to him, I wish it could be shared by email, as he needs his own visual copy. Time will tell…

  16. Rhonda Sayers says:

    This was a very helpful article to me, especially point #3. Once you know what you want, ask yourself what steps you have to take to get what you want. Namaste.

  17. iwonderphotographystudio says:

    It's incredible how we find what we need at the right times in our lives. I have a new son, 10 weeks, and am going through the patterns with his father. I needed to hear this at this time in my life. Thank you.

  18. Rodney says:

    Hey Kara
    Good article

    Can you offer what specifics things you did relevant to your situation. Especially when you said "I fully accepted the situation and took my power back by not letting him piss me off anymore—that’s just who he is—I found myself asking, okay, if that’s who he is, what am I going to do about it."


  19. Briget says:

    This is just excellent. It's taken me two years and much pain to go through all of the above (in different circumstances) and reach the same point. I'm copying this into my journal because it's such a clear, concise statement. Thank you!

  20. cheryl says:

    I found this article at the perfect time. This was extremely helpful to me, thank you for your insight!

  21. been there says:

    Lame. No amount of self introspection EVER changes a situation with the self absorbed jerk who punishes and controls by stonewalling and silent treatment.

  22. kayla says:

    this article is right on for me and I thank you so much for writing it. It has confirmed some things for me,

  23. Tracy says:

    Kara Leah, THANK YOU. I stumbled on this article about 5 months ago and I have read it so many times since then, I even saved it to my phone’s home screen so I can access it easily. I have put the main points on paper and copied them for all my girlfriends (hope you don’t mind!) and directed about a million people to it in other ways too. I have spent 7 years trying to get over a relationship that sounds similar to yours and I did not have the skills to do so. No friend, counsellor or book has helped me in all that time like your article has done. So now I’ve done it: Goodbye, and I am freeeeeee!
    Thank you, you wise woman! xxx

  24. JRose says:

    Thank you Kara Leah. I'm with the previous commenter, except I just discovered this article today. I will be reading this article to start my day for a long while I suspect. Thank you for your emotional intelligence. I am a huge fan.

    I am finally. strong enough to GO.

  25. Tina says:

    You are still focusing on the other person by wanting the situation with them to change. It may. It most likely will not. I think what she is saying is, forget about what they are or are not doing and do something for yourself. Something to bring you and yours some peace.