Heal, Grow and Thrive Beyond Divorce

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On this episode of We Chat Divorce we welcomed Dr. Elizabeth Cohen, Ph.D. a/k/a The Divorce Doctor. Dr. Cohen is the CEO and founder of the online divorce course and membership called Afterglow: The Light at the Other Side of Divorce. Her online course teaches women how to heal, grow and thrive after divorce no matter how difficult the process has been. She offers a monthly membership program to provide 1:1 coaching, expert support from divorce professionals and an engaged community of like-minded people.

Dr. Cohen received her PhD in clinical psychology from Boston University. She was the recipient of the prestigious American Psychological Foundation Research Award for her research on the emotional effects of 9/11. She has been featured on the Tamron Hall Show, the Wall Street Journal, NBC News, Women’s Health, Huff Post, Thrive Global, Daily Beast and Good Housekeeping. Dr. Cohen is a weekly contributor to Psychology Today with her “Divorce Course” column. Dr. Cohen hosts the Divorce Doctor podcast where she interviews people about their divorce experiences. Dr. Cohen’s book based on her Afterglow program entitled, - Light on the Other Side of Divorce: Discovering the New You was published on April 20, 2021! Congratulations Dr. Cohen!

Hosts, Karen, and Catherine sit down with Dr. Cohen to discuss how to Heal, Grow and Thrive Beyond Divorce.

Learn More >> https://drelizabethcohen.com/afterglow/

Purchase Dr. Cohen’s new book! - Light on the Other Side of Divorce: Discovering the New You

Find The Divorce Doctor – Elizabeth Cohen, Ph.D. on Facebook >>

Follow Dr. Cohen on Instagram >> @thedivorcedoctor

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The We Chat Divorce podcast (hereinafter referred to as the “WCD”) represents the opinions of Catherine Shanahan, Karen Chellew, and their guests to the show. WCD should not be considered professional or legal advice. The content here is for informational purposes only. Views and opinions expressed on WCD are our own and do not represent that of our places of work.

WCD should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever. Listeners should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No listener should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on WCD without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on WCD.

Unless specifically stated otherwise, Catherine Shanahan and Karen Chellew do not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned on WCD, and information from this podcast should not be referenced in any way to imply such approval or endorsement. The third-party materials or content of any third-party site referenced on WCD do not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of Catherine Shanahan or Karen Chellew.

WCD, CATHERINE SHANAHAN, AND KAREN CHELLEW EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, OR OTHER DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF ANY INDIVIDUAL'S USE OF, REFERENCE TO, RELIANCE ON, OR INABILITY TO USE, THIS PODCAST OR THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS PODCAST

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Karen Chellew:

Welcome to We Chat Divorce. Catherine and I are honored to welcome Dr. Elizabeth Cohen to our podcast today. In this episode we're going to introduce you, our listeners, to discuss how to heal, grow, and thrive beyond divorce. Dr. Cohen has been there. She really, truly knows how it feels to have your life derailed by divorce. She's a leading expert and I love this, is known as the divorce whisperer and the divorce doctor. Clearly, she knows what she's talking about. As a therapist, who has worked with hundreds of divorcing clients, she has developed the Afterglow Method, which teaches clients how to rediscover a life of growth, change, and abundance post breakup.

Karen Chellew:

We're going to have some great conversation today. Let me just tell you a little bit more about her. Dr. Cohen is a clinical psychologist based out of New York, but helps people across the nation through telehealth. Dr. Cohen is the CEO of the Center For CBT in New York City. She has been featured on the Tamron Hall Show, the Wall Street Journal, NBC News, Women's Health Huff Post, Thrive Global, Daily Beast, and Good Housekeeping. Wow. Dr. Cohen is a weekly contributor to Psychology Today with her Divorce Course column. She's the CEO and founder of the Online Divorce Course and Membership Afterglow, The Light at the Other Side of Divorce. And we're going to talk about that during our program today because Dr. Cohen's new book Light on the Other Side of Divorce, Discovering the New You, will be published soon, April 2021, just a week or so away. Congratulations, Dr. Cohen, and thanks so much for being here.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Thanks so much. I'm so happy to be with both of you and to be with your audience.

Catherine Shanahan:

I'm exhausted listening to that intro. How do you do it? I also wish our listeners were on our conversation before. I will say, you're just a joy to talk to already and we haven't even begun. So this will be a great conversation. Fun for everyone to listen to.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah, I'm really excited.

Karen Chellew:

Yeah. So your book is patterned after your Afterglow Program from what I can see, right?

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah.

Karen Chellew:

Talk to us a little bit about that.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah, it is. And actually, Catherine, when you say like, oh my gosh, you're so tired with reading what I'm doing. I mean, I have to say, me too. Hearing that, I felt a little tired. But I have to say, I wrote the book and I created the online program for the people who were going through what I went through. When I was going through a divorce 11 years ago, I was one night, finally put my young, young kids to bed. I don't even know if I had showered that day. I opened my laptop in bed and looked and Googled divorce recovery program. And I really couldn't find anything. That was a moment where, I didn't realize this until later, that it sent me a message that it's kind of shameful to get divorced. We don't offer suggestions of how to move through because you're not going to. That was like the implicit message that I got.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

And I wanted to create the program, the online program, to reach people and to create the book, so that no one ever had to feel like they had to piece together a program the way I did. And I have the privilege of having the education that I knew where to look, but most people don't. And you know, you're dealing with finances, you're dealing with lawyers. So I wanted it a comprehensive program for people. And there's two modalities, right? You can read it in the book and you can work with the worksheets in the book, or you can have more interaction with me through the videos and through the online community online. So it's really for wherever you are, I want this information to be accessible. Not everyone going through a divorce can afford therapy, can find the time for therapy. So I really wanted to make it, as I said, accessible for everybody.

Karen Chellew:

I love that.

Catherine Shanahan:

Yeah. I found that really interesting because 11 years ago, when I got divorced and then after meeting Karen, we realized that there was no place to go to get financial knowledge, to look at the documents and access them. And then to get some recommendations and consideration, unless you went through this whole legal battle somehow, where do you go? Because I had the gift of having a financial background, I was able to piece it all together and put it all together.

Catherine Shanahan:

And then I afterwards had the gift of meeting Karen, who knows how to get all the documents organized and ready for court, if you need to go that route, or to even just validate what we have. But it's so nice to partner up with you here because having all of our experiences, for everybody else going out there, that's the benefit, we've already gone through it. And now we can organize a financial life and an emotional life. What better way to move forward through something that you should not be ashamed of and that's being divorced.

Karen Chellew:

That's so true.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Absolutely. Absolutely and I think if tomorrow morning I woke up and suddenly I had to file my taxes, I would be screwed. I am not a CPA, right? But for some reason, I don't know if it's the shame of divorce, we get divorced and suddenly we think we're supposed to do everything. We're supposed to know exactly how to manage our finances and have a perfect budget. We're supposed to know how to date again.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

We're supposed to know how to step through our emotions. Absolutely not, you need a team. And that's what I love about the work that you both do, is that, I mean, if I had had the gift of women like you guiding me, lovingly, compassionately showing me what I can and can't do, financially, I would have had so much less guilt and shame. And the process would have been so much smoother. So I think having a team approach is so important and saying, when you don't know what you don't know.

Karen Chellew:

Absolutely. We said that together.

Catherine Shanahan:

None of us know everything. Nobody out there knows everything.

Karen Chellew:

Right and when we first started our company, it was a three phase model then, and now we just do the financial portrait. But we still have the same conversation with our clients when they first come to us. That look, there's three areas, financial, emotional, and physical aspects of divorce, that pretty much need alignment for you to be able to navigate through the best way. So having those three areas in alignment really does help. And so you may be more supported in one area than another. But finding the resources you need to bring the balance to all three, I think, is so important.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

It's so important. And you have to remember, I mean, the people that I work with are still, especially before they're divorced, getting texts, getting emails from their previous partner, and are very triggered by the mention of money, or the mention of co-parenting, or the mention of emotional... anything. And so if you have a team, I can call up Catherine and Karen say, "Oh my God, I just got this call and now they want to move this to here. What do you think?" You don't have to be alone with it. That was the most difficult thing, was having to manage the actual logistics and my emotions. So to have someone be able to help with that, is just a gift.

Karen Chellew:

I so agree.

Catherine Shanahan:

And also, knowing what your talent is. When we're able to work with our clients on their financial piece, they get to leave it right there. They get to work on their financial piece with us. That's the role with us. And then when they go to you, they don't have to spend all their time with you talking about the financial piece. They really get to work on themselves and what you're gifted to do with them. So it really helps them take full benefit of the resources available to them, which is really uplifting to a lot of people.

Karen Chellew:

I agree. And when I'm going to do a budget, so many people are so nervous about facing the budget, it's such a dirty word. But when they come to you then and say, "Karen wants me to do a budget." Just to get that emotional support, to say, "Just take one step," and supporting them emotionally, because it is a huge transition to start to take ownership of your finances. And that budget is the first step and it's the scariest step. But being able to take one step at a time is hugely important.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah and I think also, Karen and Catherine, I think that one of the things that I can really help people look at, also, is what is coming up when you have the fear of budgeting? Because everyone's fear is different. Maybe in my family, when I had to do it, I had a parent who was a gambler. So that was a whole history that I had to work through, that I think I brought to many accountants and many financial planners, they don't know what to do with me because I am so emotional, right? That was something for my therapist. And so everyone has a reason why, a different flavor of their anxiety to budgeting. And so if you're working with someone like me, right, we can really tease it apart and understand it and heal that part. So you can show up fully for both of you and your work.

Catherine Shanahan:

Well, that really speaks so loudly about a lifestyle analysis, because we don't only just do a budget. We do a lifestyle analysis because if you're a wealthy person and you've been a stay-at-home mom and you've just been living with a credit card and you really haven't been in charge of the marital estate at all, you don't really know how to transform your lifestyle into a budget. So in doing a lifestyle analysis, it's so great to be able to say, "Go to Dr. Cohen and she'll talk through why your lifestyle is like that."

Catherine Shanahan:

Because even myself, I used to buy things just to buy things that I was missing in my marriage, right? And then of course you have the buyer's remorse later. I know it's nice I was able to buy those things and I thought that our marriage was all about that. We finally got to a point that I could do that, but the loneliness was still there. But us, as financials, can't work through that loneliness piece. We may have to tell you that your lifestyle is going to change. It may go for the better, it may go for the worst, it may stay indifferent. But then to send them to you to work on why those needs are there. It's such a really powerful piece for somebody to take control of themselves again.

Karen Chellew:

Yeah. I agree.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

I just thought of something, which is, I have a chapter in the book called Living Life By Design, Not By Default. And I'm thinking that if you're doing this, let's say you do this lifestyle plan with them and they realize that they have to shift things. Then they come to me and we really talk about, Life By Design, Not By Default is all about what do you really want and what do you really need, right?

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

And small things like, "Do you want a space where you have candles? Do you want to paint the wall blue or pink?" I had no idea when I first got divorced, I don't know if this was your experience, what I wanted or what I liked, right? That was a process. So they can take what you have and the numbers and what they can actually afford. And then we can talk about, "Oh, what do you want to do with that? What feels right? What lights you up?" I know for me, that was the hardest and exciting part of divorce.

Catherine Shanahan:

For me it was, I wanted a bedroom. I wanted my master bedroom to be all warm and cozy, and I walked in, and I set a goal. So I got divorced when I was 44, I started at 45. And at 50, I said, "When I turn 50, I want my dream bedroom." I just want it to look... I have a chandelier, I saved for that. And that was so rewarding to me, to be able to take the pictures of that room. I love my room every day that I walk into it.

Catherine Shanahan:

I just feel so at peace there. Anyone that comes to my home loves my bedroom and my master bathroom. And now that I'm remarried, my husband even likes it because I did it in the grays and the neutrals [crosstalk 00:12:17]. So it's still acceptable on both levels. But it is so true, to add that into your future. And it's something really to look forward to, and then to talk through. Pity I didn't know you then, Elizabeth, because we would have been on the phone all the time.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

All the time, oh my God. All the time.

Karen Chellew:

Oh, that's great. Well, let's highlight a couple of more chapters in your book. I love the one, Divorce Is Not So Bad, Attacking Assumptions About Divorce. What's that all about?

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah. So it still shocks me, it's 2021 and people will come into my office and will say, "My son just started dating someone. They're really lovely, except that they come from a divorced home or they come from a broken family." This is 2021 and we still have a stigma of divorce, that there's something wrong with it. It is deeply ingrained in us, we marinate in it. So I start the book and I start my program really where, I think, you have to start, which is looking at your thoughts and assumptions about divorce, and about marriage.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

So what are the messages that people in your family have taught you? What are the messages we've learned, I mean, hello, Disney movies, from every pop culture about what happens after marriage, right? The movie stops happily ever after. What do we learn about divorced families and really challenging it. I have this suggestion in there and I have practices about practicing this every day. What if you were to say, "My relationship has come to its perfect and absolute best closure. I've gotten everything I needed and that's all there is," just think about how different-

Catherine Shanahan:

I love it.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

... that would be.

Catherine Shanahan:

Yeah. I always say my marriage was never a failure. It lasted as long as it was supposed to last.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Exactly. But I think you're unique in that, Catherine. I think most people either take the other person's inventory or are afraid of it, blame someone, themselves, or the other person for why it ended. Instead of saying like it did this beautiful thing, I have on my website, divorce is an opportunity, divorce is growth, right? Divorce is an opportunity to shift.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

I sometimes joke that it's graduate school for relationships. If you decide to face the divorce in the way that I encourage, and I know you both do too, of not focusing on the other and focusing on yourself. Then it's an opportunity to learn so much about yourself. It's such a gift. So that chapter is all about really looking at what your assumptions are, where they're coming from, and how to challenge them.

Karen Chellew:

Wow. That's great, because then that cycles down to your ability to communicate with your children in a healthier way, so that they're not carrying that burden and assumption. I know my children were five and seven when I went through my divorce. And we were from a religious background, the kids went to a private school.

Karen Chellew:

So by default, some children were not even allowed to sit next to them at the lunch table. I guess they thought divorce was contagious. Some of my married friends who were no longer... So I think in a lot of settings, that is some people's experience and some children's experience. So to your point of kind of reframing that for yourself and your family allows a more healthier journey through the process. So I love that.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Absolutely. Absolutely, and I recommend that people really write down three things they gained from their divorce. Like for example, one small example I gave in the book is I was able to watch whatever TV show I wanted in bed. Again, not a huge thing, but that was a little gain I got.

Catherine Shanahan:

That is huge.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

That's huge.

Karen Chellew:

It is huge.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Right? Catherine got the bedroom she wanted, right? That's what she got. And for me, if I had had the gift and opportunity to work with you both, I would have thought, "Oh my God, my divorce allowed me to get clear on my money. What a gift." I would have just stayed in-

Catherine Shanahan:

Start over.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Right. To be clear and supported. And so I think you're absolutely right about really watching the words we use around our children and around other people. We set the tone when we talk to people. So when people started asking me about how I was doing with my divorce, I would always use a positive word. Like very often people say, "I'm so sorry." And I'd say, "Oh no, no, please say congratulations. I'm very," [crosstalk 00:17:09]. Did you say that too?

Catherine Shanahan:

Yes.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah, right. Like please and so-

Catherine Shanahan:

Why are you sorry that I'm finally finding some happiness. Don't be sorry for me.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Exactly and I thought that was a way to kind of slowly, one person at a time, change the stigma. I had this experience where people said to one of two things to me. "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry," or, "How did you do it?" And I realized, I mean, as a therapist, we call it projection. Everyone just responds based on their own stuff. It has nothing to do with me. So just know that you can totally set the tone when people come to you and ask you about it, think about the words you use.

Catherine Shanahan:

And think about the words you use when you're talking to somebody going through this. It doesn't have to be, "You should get them or you should get her for everything that she's got or oh my God, tell me what went wrong or, oh my God, were they cheating? Or who were they cheating with, or where are they going?" Immediately when you are approaching somebody who's gone through a divorce, you want to hear the dramatic story. [crosstalk 00:18:13] be about that, try to change the dialogue that you're setting off to people going through the process. That would be so rewarding.

Catherine Shanahan:

Everybody says, "What can we do for my friend, who's going through this? Or what can I do for my sister?" How about changing the way that you speak to them? And don't look at others going through a divorce when they're sitting at the bar, "Oh, here she is, a divorcee looking to pick somebody up." No, maybe she's just going to have a drink by herself, just wants to get out of the house because they don't say that to men. They just say, "There he is at the bar." If a woman's sitting there, it's almost like taboo. She's not allowed to be there by herself.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Really good point.

Catherine Shanahan:

Change the way that we look at other women going through the process. It would be really helpful to the divorcee, to help them feel not shamed or not frowned upon, actually.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah. I think that's such a good point. And I think if we shift, I tell this story in the book about sitting in the playground and one of the parents from my kid's school said, "Oh, we don't see your ex-husband a lot. What's the deal with him?" I mean, I just told like every terrible, terrible story. And as I was telling it, I felt vindicated and I mean, their jaws were dropped. They couldn't believe it because there were some really intense stories.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

And after I walked away, I'll tell you both, I felt like crap. I felt terrible. And in that moment I said, "I can't keep doing this. I can't define my divorce on his bad behavior." I mean, I could and I could have a lot of stories. But that is not going to help me. So that was the moment when I said, "I'm the one who ended up here, how did I get here? Let me focus on me. The only person I can control is me." And that's really where I thought of it as like, we call it post-traumatic growth versus post-traumatic stress. And you're saying like-

Catherine Shanahan:

Yeah, I love that.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Right? So for, Catherine, you're saying like, if you see someone going through a divorce, ask them first, "Oh, tell me what you've learned? Or what's going better for you? Or what are you enjoying now?" Really shifting it because we do really set the tone. I have a chapter in my book too, about how to get the best support from friends. And honestly, it's-

Catherine Shanahan:

Oh yes, we highlighted that.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Good, if someone isn't supportive, forget it. You don't have time for that. You just don't have time for that, right?

Catherine Shanahan:

Right, got-

Karen Chellew:

And that's okay. Totally okay.

Catherine Shanahan:

You said a couple of things I really want to comment on. My gosh, I could talk to you forever. We have such a parallel story, for one.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

I know, and I love what you suggested about people really watching the words when they support their friend and about sitting at the bar. You're so right. It's so gendered.

Catherine Shanahan:

Yes, it's crazy. So you talked about post-traumatic growth, right?

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yes.

Catherine Shanahan:

And Karen and I say this all the time, and we talk about possibilities. I always said, through my divorce, "There's endless possibilities out there," right? But what we get to see, from our work, what we're doing, is individuals and typically it's the women, I have to say still, that are redefining their stories with money. So first they come apologizing, "Oh my gosh. I'm so embarrassed. I didn't take control of our finances. I feel like such a failure. My husband did all this work. I don't understand anything. I feel so stupid." And none of those are the case. Women are very savvy. They just weren't given the opportunity to play that role in their marriage.

Catherine Shanahan:

But when we shift gears with them and Karen starts with their budgeting and making them comfortable with that. You start working with them, analyzing why their lifestyle is that for their budget. And then we give them the tools that they need to understand their finances, to move on with their financial planners or whoever they have to move on, after us. They start redefining a new story for themselves. This is a clean slate. I now get to sign my tax return and understand what I'm signing. I now get to make these financial decisions because I'm making them. Good, bad, or indifferent, I'm making that decision for the rest of my life. It's really rewarding and so powerful, what financial clarity gives somebody. I just love what we do because of that.

Karen Chellew:

Yeah. And we hear a lot of this as well, pivoting from, "Well, he's told me that this is the truth, or he said, this is the way it is, or he said this, or he said that," to, "I'm going to make a decision too. This is my best decision. This is what I want to do." So it's not a negative that he said, but so many women frame their opinion or their conclusions based on what he said. So right or wrong, it's not their opinion or their conclusion. So to help people get to that place of making their own decisions and feeling comfortable because sometimes they don't even trust their own gut to make a good decision.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Exactly. I mean, I think also many people, who have been in relationships where maybe they have given over the decision-making or they have tried a lot of people pleasing, right? It's going to be really hard to trust yourself. And as you were talking, Karen, I'm thinking trust yourself to make a decision and trust yourself to make a mistake.

Karen Chellew:

Oh, that's so good.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Right?

Karen Chellew:

Yeah.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Like I have chills, right? We learn from mistakes, you know? and we're constantly shifting and I really want to make this clear, what you needed at one time, might not be you need now. We are amazing beings, that we shift and change. And that's the affirmation about the relationship, like that relationship worked for me back then. I have so many friendships and so many relationships that worked for me at a time. They say a reason people come into your life, a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Have you heard that?

Catherine Shanahan:

Yeah. I say it all the time, mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Right and so this is, that person is here to teach you something. And maybe what you're learning is like, I can make a mistake and bounce back from that. Doesn't have to be perfect.

Catherine Shanahan:

Right, I actually think my daughter said this to me. She said really two powerful things to me. Well, she said a lot of powerful things. One of them was, "Mom, I think you're sad because you thought you had something that you didn't." And I thought, "That's exactly right." Some of us think we have this relationship that we wanted to have, but we didn't really have. And so that's where a lot of the guilt comes, or the regret, or what have you.

Catherine Shanahan:

But another thing I want to ask you, how do you handle this with your clients? Because another dialogue that I think the outsider says to the person going through divorce is, "Your spouse is a idiot. Just get over it. You should be so happy. Move on. Why are you crying? This is ridiculous. Move on with your life." Everybody has to move at their own pace, right? It was two and a half before I truly healed and was ready to walk again. So everybody's different. Everyone moves at their own pace. And how do you work with your clients to say, "Hey, let's just take this one step at a time. Don't listen to all the others out there, who love you, but may be guiding you on a path you're not ready for,"?

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah. So in the chapter called Friends Or Foes, about how to get the best support, I talk about a taxonomy of four different types of people in your life. I have an exercise where you really kind of list all the people in your life and figure out what category they're in, and they could be one of many. So the first category is what we call a cheerleader. This is your person who, no matter what you do, is like, "You are amazing."

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

You're like, "Oh my God, I got a flat tire and hit this other car." They're like, "Oh my gosh, you're such a good problem solver. You already have the tow truck there," right? They just always upride you, is how I think of it. Then there's the confidants, those people you can talk to all hours of the night. I feel like you could be both of these for me, just talk, and talk, and talk, and they'll listen, and they'll support you.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

But then there are people who are what I call wayshowers. So in writing the book, I'm one of those, Catherine and Karen, with your experience, we're people who've gone through what you've gone through and we can show you the way. We might not be the people you're calling every night, we might not be your cheerleaders, right? Or your confidants, but we've shown you the way and you want to learn from us.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

And then the other one, I like to think of them as like the fairies. They're the ones who kind of network you. So you're sitting on the train, at least when we used to take trains, and you just start chatting with someone. And they tell you about a new condo complex that's coming up and you're looking for a place, or someone who mentions a fun dating site and how they had coaching around it. Those are people who you just meet for the network.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

And I bring these up, these are the four supports, we'll get to the next one, because at least for me, I, at times, wanted everyone to be all of those. I got them really confused. And the more who you can go to for what, the better you are. And the last group are what I call the naysayers. And we all have them. There's something in psychology, I think it's the confirmation bias, where, I did this, we go to the naysayers, even though we know what they're going to say. I think we think if we convince them that we've won, right? And I just say, don't do that. Stop going to the naysayers.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

The person who said, "He's terrible break up with him." Don't talk to her so much about the divorce. And if you do, I have this exercise where you try to use these other words of opportunity, you kind of shift the conversation. So I want to let people know, you are in control of who you talk to, and what you share, and how much of it you share. You could say to someone, I explain this in the book too, "Hey, I know you're really trying to help me and it sounds like this is something that would be helpful for you. The way you're talking about my ex is just getting me more riled up. So why don't we just go and talk about this cool TV show on Netflix?" Right?

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

You can set that boundary, but you have to really be aware. Just like the ex is not who we should focus on. We are in control of who we talk to. What we share as our divine, special secret. And we don't have to share that with anybody. So I really had to learn that the hard way.

Catherine Shanahan:

I love that chapter and I love that exercise. I think that is fabulous. That was so good.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah. So glad.

Karen Chellew:

I love it. And we cannot end this podcast without talking a little bit about righteous anger. I heard you talking on other podcasts about this and it's fabulous. Can you please touch on that?

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Of course, everyone loves to talk about this. I love to talk about it too. In the book I wrote, I get giddy when I think about it, because it's an emotion that we've just been told, especially for women, to disavow it completely. So I have to start this conversation by saying that all emotions are excitations in the brain. That's what they are. Joy, excitement, pride, those are the same excitations as sadness, grief, and anger. It's the judgment we put on it that really taints it.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

The brain has no valence for these different emotions. It's us who give it power, positive or negative. So I describe righteous anger, and usually people think about righteous anger is you're being politically active or socially active. And I use the word righteous because you all have a right to be super pissed off. If you're going through a divorce, I'm sure there are things that you have absolute understandable need to be angry about.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

I think anger is a beautiful emotion, just like all emotions. The problem is, most of us are told not to be angry. Get over it, how many of us heard like, "You're fine," right? Or this one kills me the most, "It could be so much worse, at least you have fill in the blank," right? Or for women, "Pipe down, whoa." All of these messages-

Catherine Shanahan:

You're getting aggressive.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

You're getting aggressive, right? Using the B word, right? Instead of like, "No, I'm just being assertive, saying how I'm actually feeling. And I'm frustrated." We're allowed to be irritable. We're allowed to be frustrated, but we're allowed to be angry. So I really want to let people know, if you've gone through a divorce, totally able to have righteous anger. Problem is we push it down and it comes out sideways. So we snap at our kids, we have road rage. It comes out in a different way, at our lawyer, at our financial planner, right? It comes out other ways. And we know this, right? As people working through a divorce, right?

Catherine Shanahan:

At your business partner.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Exactly. At your business partner, at your partner partner. All the time, right?

Karen Chellew:

The next person who walks in the room person.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Exactly, exactly. So let's do them all a favor and allow you to actually feel your anger. And because we think about emotions, but they live in our body. I suggest that we work on anger through our bodies. So I always suggest, everyone has their own song, but you find a song and you find music that just gets you feeling all the feelings of anger. For me, it's Rage Against The Machine. You put it on and you just let your body move in whatever way it wants to, because your body knows how it needs to release.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

The first time I did this, I had no idea what I was going to do. And the next thing I knew my elbows were moving backwards like this. And every time I do it, I do that. I think it's this feeling of like, get off me. I don't know what it is, but it's just, my body knows what it wants to do. Sometimes I like to pound on the floor. There's all these movements that I want to do, that the music helps me move through. And then when I'm done, I'm done. It really moves through.

Catherine Shanahan:

It's kind of like what I used to do with my son, when he got into his little cranky moods, I had to go up in your room. Sometimes I had to hold the door closed because he was trying to come out and he'd start banging, what have you. And then after a while he settled down because I always said, "Come down when you're feeling better, or you want to talk to mommy differently. That's when you come back downstairs."

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah.

Catherine Shanahan:

I really loved it.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah, because-

Catherine Shanahan:

What's the name of that song? I don't have that many songs.

Karen Chellew:

I don't either.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

So the song that I like is, it's called Killing In The Name Of. It's called Killing In The Name Of, and it just goes like... And I bang my head. It's just the most amazing thing. Not on anything, but in the air. And it's interesting because I have a teenager and I was driving in the car with her the other day and she put on a song she liked.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

And she started doing this thing with her head and I thought, "Yeah, I know, you need to move all of it." And being a teenage girl, it's like the rage is constant. I was like, "Yes, move your head, dance, move, move." Because we really, we need to move this natural fight, flight, or freeze response through our body. So I have a lot more exercises and suggestions for that in the book.

Karen Chellew:

That's fantastic.

Catherine Shanahan:

Maybe we do a podcast of just all this, like...

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah. Well, I have been in groups of women where they will rent out a studio and have lots of different music and people just move their bodies how they need to.

Catherine Shanahan:

Oh fun, that's so fun.

Karen Chellew:

That's amazing. That's amazing.

Catherine Shanahan:

So our next person who's not understanding their 401k, I'm going to say, "Call Dr. Cohen and tell her to play Kill in the-"

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Kill In The Name Of, and take some good punches, exactly. Yes.

Karen Chellew:

Oh, that's great. Oh, that's great.

Catherine Shanahan:

Yeah, this is awesome.

Karen Chellew:

Well, we barely touched on all of the chapters in your book, so this is just a snapshot of all of the-

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Yeah, I'll have to come back.

Karen Chellew:

... nuggets. Absolutely, absolutely. But for now, we're going to go ahead and conclude. Time is nearing. So this does conclude our episode on healing, growing, and thriving beyond divorce. Thank you so much, Dr. Cohen, for being here today. Thank you for the excellent conversation. We're so appreciative. And for all-

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Oh, thanks so much.

Karen Chellew:

Oh, we're just so happy.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Me too.

Karen Chellew:

Not angry, in this moment.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Which would also be okay, we're-

Karen Chellew:

Totally, that's totally great. So for those of you who are listening, this podcast will have already aired by the time your book comes out. So you can get your book on her website, www.drelizabethcohen.com/book. You can order it on Amazon. It will already have been out a month by now. But until then, congratulations to you.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Thank you.

Karen Chellew:

And thank you for the wonderful resources you provide to people who really need you. Thank you.

Dr. Elizabeth Cohen:

Thank you and thanks for what you provide to people too. It's such a gift and thanks for having me.

Karen Chellew:

Thank you.

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