From Fear to Power: The Benefits of Mental Fitness during Divorce

Divorce is undoubtedly one of life's most challenging experiences, leaving us emotionally drained and mentally overwhelmed. As we navigate the journey of untangling a once-shared life, it becomes clear that the real battleground exists within our own minds. 

Meet the “Saboteurs” – relentless voices that fuel anxieties, doubts, and fears, thus magnifying our pain and clouding our judgment. But there is hope. By identifying and understanding these Saboteurs' behaviors and patterns, we can diminish their influence, regain our sense of calm, and make clearer decisions amidst the chaos.

What are Saboteurs?

Saboteurs are the internal voices that generate negative emotions during life's challenges. They contribute to feelings of stress, anxiety, self-doubt, anger, shame, guilt, and frustration. While these emotions can serve as valuable alerts, dwelling in them for prolonged periods hinders our ability to think clearly and make impactful choices.

Types of Saboteurs

There are nine subtypes of these inner critics who plant difficult emotions and can hinder our progress during and after divorce. Here are the accomplice Saboteurs and what their inner dialogue might sound like. 


Response to Divorce


“I just want to distance myself from the divorce emotionally. Ignoring it seems easier than facing the pain.”


"I won't let you get away with this. I'll fight tooth and nail to ensure I come out on top." 


“I'm afraid of being seen as a failure because of this divorce. I need to maintain my image of success.”


“Feelings and personal matters should be put aside. Let's just stick to the facts." 


“I can't relax or let my guard down. I'm always scanning for any signs of trouble."


“I can't handle being alone. I need someone to depend on. Please don't abandon me.” 


"I struggle to focus on necessary tasks and decisions related to divorce. My mind is always racing."


"I expect complete compliance with the agreed-upon schedule and deadlines." 


“You're doing this to hurt me. I'm always the one who suffers in our relationship.”

In addition to these accomplice Saboteurs, we all have the Universal Judge Saboteur who judges ourselves, others, and outcomes or circumstances. The Judge is the most powerful of all Saboteurs and recruits one to three accomplice Saboteurs to complicate matters.

Our Sage, or true self, can resolve challenges caused by Saboteurs

On the other hand, our Sage represents our true self and relies on five Sage powers to resolve life’s challenges: 

  • Empathy: Empathy has two targets: yourself and others. It's the antidote to the Judge's harassment. 
  • Explore: This power creates curiosity, openness, and fascination with what can be discovered through observation. 
  • Innovate: This includes separating from assumptions, and habits that hold us back. It's used when outside-the-box thinking is necessary.
  • Navigate: When you're at a crossroads, choosing the path aligned with your core values connects you to your purpose.
  • Activate: This power moves you into action, void of procrastination, or fear generated by Saboteurs.

We have a choice to believe and trust our Saboteurs or our Sage. But the problem is that our Saboteurs often grow stronger over time and are overused, while our Sage tends to atrophy in the process and during times of high stress – so our Saboteurs become our go-to coping mechanism.  

So, how do we silence the Saboteurs and rely more on our Sage?

Identify your Saboteurs

When we identify our own unique blend of Saboteurs and how they tend to try to protect us from danger and change, we can better understand how each Saboteur might approach divorce differently. Only then can we begin to see a different perspective and find common ground moving forward. This awareness lays the foundation for more productive and collaborative discussions, enabling us to work toward resolutions that benefit all parties involved. 

What is mental fitness and how can it help combat negative thoughts during divorce?

Mental fitness enables you to handle any of life’s challenges with a more positive mindset, and less stress. Once we become aware of our Saboteurs, the next step is to catch them in action and discredit their influence. In the practice of mental fitness, we refer to it as a 'hijacking' when our Saboteurs take control of our minds.  

We know our mind has been hijacked when we experience negative emotions such as stress, anger, guilt, resentment, or regret. These emotions serve as an alert that our Saboteurs are in control, manipulating our thoughts and feelings.  

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How to improve your mental fitness

Throughout the divorce process, cultivating mental fitness becomes crucial. By recognizing the presence of the Saboteurs, we can minimize their influence and gradually shift our focus toward activating our authentic Sage. This shift empowers us to make informed decisions and navigate the divorce journey with greater emotional stability. 

How to shift from fear to empowering thoughts 

To transition from fear to empowerment and cultivate calm, clear-headed focus, we can prioritize strengthening three core muscles in the brain: the Saboteur Interceptor, Self-Command, and Sage. These muscles play a vital role in countering the influence of our Saboteurs and fostering a more positive mindset. 

  1.  Saboteur Interceptor: The Saboteur Interceptor acts as our internal watchdog, vigilant in identifying and disarming the sabotaging thoughts and emotions generated by our Saboteurs. As soon as you sense you’ve been hijacked – STOP and LABEL it as a Saboteur. 
  2.  Self-Command: Self-Command involves commanding the mind to focus on the breath or one of the 5 senses for a minimum of 10 seconds. By strengthening this muscle, we enhance our capacity to redirect our focus, regulate our emotions, and choose empowered responses even in challenging situations.
  3.  Sage: The Sage represents our wise and compassionate self and is governed by the Sage Perspective: any challenge or circumstance can be converted into a gift and opportunity.  Strengthening the Sage muscle enables us to tap into our 5 Sage powers that allow us to navigate divorce with more empathy, curiosity, creativity, intuition, and calm, clear-headed action (instead of fear, regret, resentment, guilt, or other negative emotions.) 

Benefits of improved mental fitness

Mental fitness offers a powerful framework for navigating the complex and emotionally charged journey of divorce with greater ease and flow. By cultivating mental fitness, even if you are the only one embracing this practice, you gain the ability to orchestrate a calmer and more empowered approach that benefits all parties involved. 

You’ll make better decisions

Through mental fitness, you develop the awareness and tools to navigate the rollercoaster of emotions that accompany divorce. By identifying and discrediting your Saboteurs, those internal voices that generate stress and negativity, you gain greater control over your thoughts and emotions. This empowers you to respond consciously and choose actions rooted in calmness, empathy, and clarity. 

You’ll be better equipped to handle challenging situations

As you strengthen the core mental fitness muscles – the Saboteur Interceptor, Self-Command, and Sage – you become better equipped to handle the challenges of divorce. 

The Saboteur Interceptor helps you recognize and disarm the sabotaging thoughts and emotions that can hinder progress. Self-Command empowers you to take charge of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, enabling you to respond rather than react impulsively. The Sage guides you with wisdom, compassion, and a broader perspective, allowing you to approach the process with empathy and clarity. 

You’ll navigate ups and downs more easily

By cultivating mental fitness, you bring a sense of ease and flow to the emotions of divorce. You navigate the ups and downs with resilience, grace, and grounded intuition. You are better equipped to communicate effectively, make sound decisions, and find common ground, even if the other party involved is not on the same path. 

You’ll set a positive example for those around you

Through your own mental fitness journey, you become a role model for others involved in the divorce process. Your ability to orchestrate a calmer approach can positively influence the dynamics and outcomes for everyone involved, promoting a more constructive and peaceful experience. 

Final thoughts on mental fitness during divorce

Ultimately, mental fitness empowers you to navigate the emotional landscape of divorce with greater ease, resilience, and flow. It enables you to transcend the turmoil and make decisions from a place of clarity and compassion. By harnessing this power within yourself, you pave the way for a more harmonious and beneficial outcome for all parties involved in the divorce process. 

About the author
Barb Kornbrath is a dedicated Positive Intelligence Coach who empowers divorced individuals to navigate their journey with resilience, clarity, and compassion for themselves and their children. While her website primarily focuses on mental fitness for moms, Barb wants to emphasize that mental fitness is a universal operating system designed to support individuals through any life challenge, including divorce. 
Having personally untangled triggers and patterns from her parent's divorce, Barb understands the transformative power of mental fitness. She has witnessed its impact on her son, helping him cultivate forgiveness, acceptance, and focus during his own divorce. If you're currently navigating through divorce, take the free Saboteur Assessment and receive a complimentary debrief by emailing Barb.