Developing Our Internal Power

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

After a really rough morning getting the littles to school – I trudged toward home in the snow and truly believed that it was only me and no other mother in the neighborhood that struggled so much to make life happen and it wasn’t even 8:15am yet!  (I hate it when I start to believe those lies that simply aren’t true!)

I sat down and put pen to paper and naturally started to figure out how to “fix” my woes.  I’m a one on the Enneagram (love this book if you want to look more into it!) so looking at things and trying to improve upon them – well, that’s my specialty!

I started with my little that was giving me so much trouble – crying and whining all morning long.  Then I moved onto Jason.  Then someone or something else.  Before I knew it – I realized that my “problems” had so much less to do with them and so much more to do with me.

I couldn’t fix anyone but me.  I held the power, not them.

(I hate it when I realize this!)

So often we give others power in our lives that only belong to us.  Sure – other people’s actions affect us.  We experience a lot of emotions – all across the board – based on our interactions with others.  This is a given.

But when we start to operate from a mentality that everyone around us needs to change in order for us to be okay – that’s when the slope can get slippery.

* To Be Clear *

Because most of you reading this have a similar story to mine – one of betrayal, lies, deception and manipulation from the one that was intended to protect you the most – I need to insert a caveat.  I am NOT saying that you should just ignore or move on or only work on yourself in the midst of your husband’s betrayal.  Not even close.

The absolute best way to work through betrayal is when he goes first and leads the way on doing the *hard* work of repairing the marriage.  You are working hard, too.  Grieving, finding your voice, grieving some more.  He is the one working on fixing the damage done.  His choices are not your fault and you don’t need to even begin to look into yourself for why he did what he did.  Absolutely ridiculous.  He can look into himself for those answers.  You are an innocent bystander to his choices.  (Don’t even get me started, I feel my heart pumping just typing this out.)  This is the way we have done things at Redemptive Living for the past 13 years and we stand behind the methods we use.

– Back to the Story –

What I am speaking to is more from a 30,000 foot view in the way we operate with others.  In our day to day interactions.

As I continued to journal – I realized that it was me and only me that could enforce what time my boys go to bed.  Clearly part of the morning melt down was lack of sleep and the boys going to bed too late the night before.  It was me that needed to change the bedtime routines and push them up by about 60 minutes.

I realized that I couldn’t change Jason’s demeanor and the heaviness he brought into our house this week (did I mention he is a four on the Enneagram?!).  Can I care about his heart and where he is at?  Absolutely, I can and I do.  But at what point do I need to separate myself from the heaviness and weight that he is carrying and not allow it to take me down?

These are the questions I have been pondering this week, my friends.

If you are into psychology – there is a word for this – it’s called internal locus of control (versus external locus of control). It’s something that I talk about ever so often in my groups and it’s a great way to conceptualize figuring out what we can own and have agency to change.

With that said – here are three practical tips to help cultivate and strengthen our internal power (or internal locus of control):

Get Grounded

First and foremost when I start to circle the drain in this way (think:  me freaking out in my head and thinking I am the only mom that ever struggles in the morning) – the first thing I have to do is get grounded and get some perspective.

This oftentimes mean wading through the situation and then stepping away from it to breathe a bit.  Getting outside and walking can help, expressing my feelings by getting them out of me (writing them out or processing out loud to a friend or to Jason) is also super helpful.

Vision Casting + Implementation

Don’t let this scare you.  We can set a vision for the small things just as much as the big things in life!

Once I am grounded mentally – it’s important to think through where I want to be.  For myself – I realized that I really needed to set myself up for success in the mornings.  While I can’t control if one of my boys spins out – I can control managing my time better.  I can either get up earlier to give myself more time for the hiccups or I can take a couple of tasks off my plate by making lunches the night before, having the boys set out their clothes, etc.

It’s important to note that tweaking just one or two things can often make a big difference.  I’d encourage you to start there (with just one or two tweaks) else you might risk becoming incredibly overwhelmed and aborting the entire mission – then you’ll be back where you started.  No bueno.

Detachment + Visualization

I talk a lot about detachment as it pertains to setting boundaries and also in regards to self-care in the healing process.  Think of detachment as an intentional buffer or space between you and someone or something else.  It doesn’t mean you don’t care but rather that you’re going to need (for your sake) to move forward with your day even in the midst of the crazy (with your husband, someone else, or even the crazy you might feel in your head).

Lately, I have used visualization to help myself detach.  Case in point – as I was starting to lose my internal power because of Jason’s heaviness – I imagined myself walking down a road.  There were beautiful old oak trees on either side of the road reaching their arms over the road like a canopy shielding and protecting me (I like my visualizations to be pretty, ladies) and there is also a yellow painted line on either edge of the road (not so pretty but important).  As I am walking down the road – taking the next step in my day and in my journey – there are all these distractions and things that keep crossing the yellow line.  I then mentally and visually push those things back to the other side of the line with my hands to make way for me to move forward with my day.  I then I take a bunch of deep breaths.

What About You?

I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts as to how you help develop your internal power.  I would also love for you to join me at Restore which is in just two weeks in sunny California.  You can get more details here.

xo – Shelley

Photo credits here and here

4 thoughts on “Developing Our Internal Power

  1. caroline

    February 17, 2020  |  06:11 pm

    This exercise reminded me a bit of two resiliency skills called causal analysis and self efficacy.
    My health has been doing some disturbing things for the last year or two, and a lot of it seems to be stress related. My body is ready and waiting to respond to EVERYTHING as a crisis, which is okay if it really is a crisis, but you can’t live that way forever. There is not much I can just drop from my life right now without causing a lot of harm to people I love, so I started looking into growing my own personal resilience, which is maybe a similar thing you mean here with “internal power”.

    Living through relational betrayal turns the world upside down and makes you doubt every truth you ever held dear. Every former way you had of evaluating the world is now suspect. This accentuates other losses and turns “normal”challenging details into potential traumas because your framework for dealing with life’s natural ups and downs has been shattered.

    There are a few basic life skills that essentially determine who will bounce back after hard stuff and who won’t, but they are things anyone can learn and practice and that’s the good news (bad news is it’s more work and more time) .

    Stopping to ask myself how much influence do I really have in a given situation is probably the most important missing skill for me because I seem to have a talent for falling off horses from both directions. Either I think I’m the grand weaver and I have TOTAL control and it’s all up to me to figure out the best way for everything to be, or I take the other extreme and live like I’ve been chained to a powerful motor boat and all I can do is survive while being ripped through the water at breakneck speed.

    Neither view is correct or helpful! There is a lot of work in sorting through all the competing ideas, but it’s worth it. It could even save your life.


    • Shelley Martinkus

      February 17, 2020  |  07:45 pm

      I LOOOOVE it when you impart your wisdom on this blog!!!! Thank you Caroline!!! Which by the way – I have someone that needs your community – I will be in touch on that. xo


  2. Amanda H

    February 18, 2020  |  04:31 pm

    I can really identify with this today. I’m struggling to accept power over my emotions in regards to my husband’s defensiveness. We are a year post disclosure and in therapy today I was encouraged to be less angry in my approach to my husband bc my husband tends to get flooded and struggles to love me vs defend himself.

    Giving my husband the power to make or break our conversation is so hard not to do. I feel so unauthentic in trying to alter how I feel in order for him to be vulnerable. I know there is some truth to it, but it is also one of the very problems that has caused infidelity! I want to believe and trust in God and not my husband to be “okay.” But this is much harder than it sounds in moments where I’M flooded with overwhelming emotions. I need him to love me especially when it’s not pretty. I just feel like this is his problem and not mine. However, I don’t want him to have all the power over my heart.

    Authenticity vs Self-sacrifice ?!?…grace. idk.


  3. Shelley Martinkus

    February 23, 2020  |  04:42 pm

    Amanda – I hear what you are saying and this is SO hard. It sounds like the therapist is working on trying to give you both the best outcome but it feels (to me) like it’s coming at your expense. That doesn’t feel good when so much has already come at your expense. In addition – it’s so important that your husband is able to see you in the pain and anger. And come sit with you IN it. yes, so so important and I hear that that is your hearts desire.

    And you are right that this is SO much harder than it seems. And it’s not black and white. There is gray here and when we are hurting and someone comes and tries to work on the emotions WITH us – it can be so helpful. That is what you are needing from your husband.

    Question for you – Is your husband working on strategies to hear you and not flood so easily?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. So appreciate where you are at and putting them out there for other ladies to read. xo – Shelley


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