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.
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.
Full acceptance. Empowered action. Finding the solutions and workarounds. Creating the experience you want.
Anybody can do it. Even you.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Miren Etcheverry/Pixoto