Control the controllables. I did not create this phrase – but it is a concept that I subscribe to when coaching my peeps through their divorce battles. I always phrased it as “stay in your lane”, but I kind of like Dwayne Johnson’s expression better. After all, he is the Rock.
Turns out, once I started a list of controllables in a divorce battle, I realized there is a lot that we actually do control.
The parts you do control
- your perspective – how you choose to think about anything that happens, especially your ex’s shenanigans
- your actions – how you show up for court, your kids, for litigation
- the thoughts you deliberately think (hint: yellow sticky notes throughout house)
- your words – what you say and how you say it
- the way you spend your money
- the strategy you choose
- the plans you make for you and the children
- the people that you choose as your inner sanctum (be discerning!)
The parts you don’t control
- the stuff other people do and say
- other people’s thoughts and opinions
- circumstances outside of you – think earthquake, flood etc
Choosing your thoughts is the ultimate control
Lots of stuff is going to happen during your battle including several things that you didn’t ask for. You get to decide what you think about it.
A perfect example is when I had a huge loss in court and my teenage son was forced to spend weekends with his dad against his will. My brain wanted to catastrophize and think this was the worst thing that could happen on the planet. I deliberately had to consider some other thoughts to get me out of my state of devastation.
Here’s what I did: After 24 hours of pulling out the shrapnel I took stock of what had been learned. My lawyer was inadequate in court and my stance on access was not strategic. Time for a change.
Next, I needed a thought to keep me sane and committed to what I needed to attain. Here is what I landed on: perhaps this (access schedule) will serve me in the long run. Turns out it did. The results of my Section 30 custody assessment were considered far more accurate because my child was seeing both parents.
Knowing that you can only control the controllables – primarily your thoughts, feelings, actions, decisions – will hopefully inspire you to double down on learning to manage your mind during your divorce battle. If you want to maximize your success and minimize the drama, you need to become the boss of your brain. That, means relinquishing the need to control other people’s behaviour and focusing on your own. That my friend, is your curriculum.