To say I've had a lot of feedback from my memoir, Too Relieved To Grieve | The Alternative Heartbreak Handbook, along the lines of "How the hell didn't you want to kill them - or at least seek vengeance?!" is an understatement. In fact, almost everyone who discusses the book with me asks me this question, and I always smile wryly.
You see the thing is this, I'm not a saint and I did! In the first month or so post-Bomb Drop, I spent an inordinate amount of cognitive energy coming up with all kinds of devilish plans and schemes; until my Auntie Eve got hold of me that is. At this point she shared a particularly salient chapter concerning her friends', Mark and Jane, marriage difficulties, which I detail in Too Relieved for you to learn from too. Eve explained how Mark had been suddenly and unexpectedly gripped by an apparent midlife crisis, by engaging in a tawdry affair, whilst otherwise doing his best to blow up his once stellar reputation, legacy and beloved family in one fell swoop. Jane, and the couple's adult children, were put through every level of Hell for nine brutal weeks until, just as suddenly and unexpectedly, Mark snapped back to his former self; bewilderingly rueful for every wrong-footed step he'd taken. My Auntie Eve happened to bear close witness to these events and so was able to counsel me sagely.
Her first and largest chunk of guidance was to never, ever submit to the temptation of unleashing my inner Psycho-Bitch, because a) it's a waste of time, energy and resources, and b) I'd be more likely to end up in trouble than my adversaries. Furthermore, hadn't my Mum (and her sister) always taught me to maintain my dignity? So, self-mastery was clearly the secret sauce here and, for the avoidance of doubt, the definition of self-mastery is knowing that you can, but deciding you won't.
Now, partly because I had been quick to volcanic temper in my younger days, neither Steve nor Helen would be expecting a calm and surgically precise response from me. I'm sure they were expecting, and therefore more than ready for, the activation of my inner Psycho-Bitch. Then, I guessed, they would probably have pointed to those extreme choices and behaviours as the very reason Steve left me in the first place, thus cementing his sympathetic 'Golden Balls' status in the eyes of many and all. Yeah... no... sorry, that just wasn't going to happen.
Look out for the example I give you in Too Relieved, where we consider the efficacy of swinging a single, large and unwieldy tree branch (e.g.: your uncontrolled, lashing out anger), as opposed to deploying the comparatively controlled precision of multiple arrows, whittled down from that unwieldy branch (e.g.: your controlled and strictly outcome-focused response). Wildly swinging a heavy, cumbersome tree branch might indeed inflict some significant damage, but you'd exhaust yourself in the up-close-and-personal process. Better the distance, agility and accuracy that multiple arrows would afford you, where multiple strikes against your adversaries' defense systems is now possible.
It is for these exact reasons that my inner Psycho-Bitch couldn't be allowed to express herself in an uncontrolled manner. Instead, I had to tame her wildest instincts, harness her immense power and channel that formidable energy into a plan Steve and Helen would never see coming. Oh, they'd surely get what they deserved, but not in a tired and clichéd slashed tyres and shouting in the street kind of way. No, dignity must be maintained at all costs and for reasons I'll get to in a moment, so please keep reading. The plan I devised was far more devastating and permanent than anything they could have predicted from the old version of me. My change game is strong. Through the grief and immense stress of their affair and our marriage collapse, Beta Karan had given way and Alpha Karan had been born of the fire. It wouldn't be long before Steve and Helen would regret their parts in my transformation.
So, would you like to know some of my cardinal rules for taming and harnessing the energy of your inner Psycho-Bitch, or Psycho-Butch if you identify as male? Whilst I may be a she/her cis woman, Too Relieved has been written specifically to help anyone with a broken heart: male, female, gay, straight, bi, trans, queer, all religions, all nationalities - anyone basically who's loved someone else. Anyone who's had their hearts and minds smashed and splattered by the callous misdeeds of others; those others who had once promised to love them forever.
When your inner Psycho-Bitch is roiled you need to slow down the angering process quickly, otherwise you're more likely to start saying and doing things you'll regret later. You do this by simply breathing slowly and deeply, because it short circuits your Fight or Flight response and keeps the blood and oxygen flowing to your brain, rather than diverting it away to some other essential extremities (e.g.: your arms, legs, heart and lungs in the event you should fight or run away).
You must be mindful here and acknowledge that your mind is turbulent. Think of a boiling pan of water on a stove; can you see to the bottom of the pan with the water bubbling? No, you cannot see clearly, your vision is compromised. Once the heat is taken away the water settles and you can see clearly, yes? Well, you are that pan and your thoughts and emotions are the boiling water. You must cool down. You must settle before all else. You must not make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings, ever. Breath and press pause. There's time enough to get everything done in the right way, at the right time.
2. IMAGINARY JUDGE
Next, I want you to imagine you have a tiny little Imaginary Judge sitting on your shoulder. The broader concept here is this: if you had to explain your choices, actions and behaviours to a real judge, in a real court one day in the future, could you defend what you're about to do? If yes, go ahead, but if not, then stop. Never do anything you wouldn't want to explain on live TV. When you put it like that it really focuses the mind, doesn't it? This one point alone has kept me out of so much trouble, whilst also helping to deny my adversaries the ammunition to fire back at me; in court or otherwise.
Two other quick points here. Keep your powder dry: there will likely be times when your adversaries try and goad you into being less than your best self, because they need the ammunition this will generate for them, to help their cause. Do not, under any circumstances, engage in a battle on their terms, you must rise above and keep your powder dry for when you need it. The whole 'keep your powder dry' thing harks back to the days of manually loaded muskets, where a single bullet would be packed down tight with gunpowder, and then fired at the enemy. If the gunpowder got wet, or otherwise compromised, it wouldn't fire; there'd be no firepower, no defense, therefore no attack possible, so be careful.
My second point is this: never wrestle with a pig, because you both get dirty and the pig likes it. Let's face it, some people just love the faux reality TV drama and tension. Perhaps it's because it's all they've ever known, and the only way they know who to be, but you're better than that, so don't accept every hog roast invitation you're invited to. When you fail to engage on their terms, it's possible their antics will become more extreme, which simply stacks up as more evidence supporting your case. If they insist on more metaphorical rope to metaphorically hang themselves, give it to them. What they choose to do with it is their decision and karma to live with.
3. WALK SOFTLY & CARRY A BIG STICK
Abraham Lincoln once said: "I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards", so I encourage you to walk and talk softly. The more you charge forwards, the less time there is catch any unforced errors in your words and deeds, so slow down. If you speak and act more slowly, you can actually positively influence the people and unfolding situations around you. Frenetic is not a pace you want to live your life by; things get missed, mistakes more easily made, unthinking, hurtful words blurted out; you get the gist. There is a time and a place to power through, and you will know when you get there, but it cannot and should not be your default setting.
I wrote a blog a few years ago entitled It Pays To Engage With Charm, and you may find that helpful now. Think back to the pan of boiling water and remember how much more clearly you can see through things when calm and settled is the prevailing condition.
Oh, and please consider the big stick there for your ongoing support and defense, not as hostile weaponry for launching unprovoked attacks. Always endeavour to get through your travails with as few casualties as possible, because karma is real.
4. ONLY SPEAK IF IT IMPROVES ON SILENCE
This one is pretty self-explanatory I feel, but people continue to openly telegraph their next moves in advance. Let me give you this very basic and pugilistic example.
Let's say I want to slap your face. I really want to slap your face. Now, if I text you and tell you that at noon on Wednesday I'm going to slap your face, you now have all the information you need to avoid my slap, and/or to slap me first. So, if my intent is to slap you, I'm just going to do it without warning, so you can't defend or prevent it from happening. This, as Sun Tzu teaches us, is the art of war: "In conflict, direct confrontation will lead to engagement and surprise will lead to victory".
This principle is transferable to what you do, or don't say. Another of my guiding principles is this, no one can decode or misquote silence, but again, some people cannot resist the temptation to have their say, or to have the last word. Why is that? Ego. Their ego needs to be right, needs to be heard, needs to be validated. Ugh. I'll tell you now, ego should have no place in your reasoning, because it is poisonous and self-destructive. Ego is nothing more than a spoilt, ill-tempered toddler demanding it's own way all of the time, or else. Yeah, well we don't negotiate with terrorists. Unless you're going to say something that'll improve on divine silence, don't bother arguing with fools. Don't wrestle with pigs, remember?
My ex-mother-in-law (Mallie in the book) behaves like she's the font of all knowledge, and when I was younger I wasted so much time and energy trying to set her straight, but her ignorance never improved. Unbeknownst to me until years later, when I learnt more and began to know better, I had slammed into the Dunning-Kruger Effect whilst trying to argue that black was black and white was white with the ex-mother-in-law. Simply put, the Dunning Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability. Regrettably, my ex's family is riddled with the DKE which is, in part, why I'm Too Relieved To Grieve now that I've escaped.
If you slam up against the DKE in others, let them live in their fantasy world. You are not General Manager of the Universe, you are not responsible for them making colossal arses of themselves, so let them have at it! Your responsibility is for yourself (and your children), so don't waste your words and energy on those determined to misunderstand or misrepresent you. Wave them on with love and blessings, whilst you concentrate on you and yours. Mark Twain put it best when he said: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt". Silence is golden, friends.
5. BEST SELF FORWARD ONLY
In Too Relieved I recount my fight for the equity in our former family home, following Steve's despicable choices and actions. Initial counsel suggested I should have applied for 75% of the equity, for reasons I outline in the book. However, 75% could only have been awarded with a long and acrimonious court battle, which I may or may not have won; my chances were certainly slimmer. Alternatively, a claim for 50% would almost certainly have been cleared quickly, based on the strength of the evidence I was presenting, but would obviously have secured less Sterling for the children and I to live off.
I thought long and hard about this and came to the following conclusion. Obviously there was a gamble in play, and one in which Steve would have played hard and nasty to win. At this point in his new persona he did everything hard and nasty, so this was not an unjustified stretch of my imagination. Sure, I had a voluminous collection of hard and nasty facts myself, which I duly presented to The Royal Courts of Justice, but did I want spend money I didn't have at that point to air this evidence for all to see, when my primary focus was still on repairing the shattered hearts and minds of my two young children? The answer was no. I did not want to become the person I would have had to become, to further destroy Steve in court, for an added 25% stake in equity. Of course the extra money would have been nice, but the 50% I was going for was more than enough to help us live our new lives.
Never be less than you are. Hey, I'm not saying it was easy, but I deliberately chose who I wanted to be, time and time again, and I (eventually) opted to be the best version of myself whenever I had the choice. When you think about the various natural laws, and the Law of Attraction specifically, I had to be the kind of person I wanted to be surrounded by. I had to be the kind of person I wanted to further attract into my world. If I had opted for the low roads, to let my contemptible traits breathe life into my pursuits, then this is the darkness I'd be drawing towards myself going forwards. No thanks! For me, the opposite became true. The higher caliber person I became (and am still becoming because I'm still a huge work-in-progress), has gifted me the most beautiful new friends and loved ones in my world. So you see, you must first be what you seek to find in others.
6. WALK AWAY
Now this one really is self-explanatory! There is little on this Earth worth your peace of mind. If a thing, or a circumstance or a person's behaviour is outside of your control or influence, walk the hell away! Guard your peace of mind and inner peace like gold, because it promotes happiness, fun, sound sleep, good health, joyous relationships, deep friendships, gratitude and abundance. We're back to wrestling with pigs again. If you're prepared to get that low and dirty, don't be surprised when you find yourself low and dirty. Instead, why not keep your powder dry, decline those invitations to arguments, stay quiet unless you can improve on silence and be your best self, always?
The central wisdom running through Too Relieved is this quote from Oprah Winfrey, which I repeat so often to my children that their eyes roll right back round to the backs of their heads: "If you always do your best in every situation, it'll put you in the best possible position in the next situation". And believe me, it's true!
So what do you think? Do you think these nuggets, in conjunction with the other bits and pieces I outline in the book, will help you tame and harness the energy of your inner Psycho-Bitch, or Psycho-Butch, to win? If you're still struggling with this, I am available for 1-2-1 coaching sessions, so look me up on my day job at KaranScott.com and we'll sort something out, but for now go out there and be your best self!