Sandra Wood: 5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Avoiding sorting through emotions and feelings can be very detrimental. It’s imperative for women to understand and be aware of their feelings and emotions post divorce. Getting off of the roller coaster and emotional chaos is important. The only way to do that is to build awareness, resiliency and connect with oneself. Over medicating with technology, television, alcohol or other relationships can contribute to mental health challenges and perpetuate unhealthy relationships.
As part of our series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Survive And Thrive After A Divorce Or Breakup” I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandra Wood.
Sandra Wood is a highly successful divorced coach. Having been through her own painful relationship breakups along with countless other challenges, Sandra now helps divorced women regain their identity and confidence, bring clarity on what they want moving forward and heal the patterns of their past, so they aren’t repeated.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Seventeen years ago, I was shopping with my daughters when my doctor called me and said, “Sandra, I am really sorry to tell you this over the phone, but you have cancer.” I was stunned. Something was tapping me on the shoulder and giving me notice-your life needs to change. Thankfully, my cancer was treatable. However, it did give me the opportunity to pause. Two years later and after several marriage counseling sessions, my marriage of 20 years ended. My life felt like a giant storm-alternating between calm seas and tsunami waters.
Communication was rough in the beginning with my ex. There was a lot of anger-on both sides. That spurred me on to learn about boundary management and I will admit, I learned through trial and error. I assumed full time parenting of my two teen daughters and grieved the loss of the life I had left. I worried about my daughters and struggled to take good care of myself. I read a ton of books, sought counseling and began to rebuild my life. I regained my confidence over time and became less a victim of my circumstance. I dug into the lessons that my marriage and divorce had given me and started creating a new identity that had more to do with my values, strengths, and purpose rather than the roles I had always assumed. My children watched me grow and create new boundaries while I demonstrated that even when life is hard, you can still blossom.
In 2006, I became certified as a Life Coach and started working with women helping them negotiate careers, life balance and self care. Having worked through my own divorce, single parenting, communication challenges and all that goes into rebuilding an identity, this led me to honing my experience into assisting women to use the challenges of divorce to manifest empowerment and positive life changes. Through my programs and coaching clients, I teach women how to navigate through relationship break ups and divorce so that they too can own their power to create a life of their own making.
Can you explain to our readers why you consider yourself an expert in “divorce?”
Leveraging and learning from my personal experience and fusing that with running a women’s divorce support group, I have learned the intricate challenges and issues that arise for women of all ages coming out of a divorce. I have spent seventeen years teaching the art of relationships and how to walk women through boundary management, non violent communication, recovering from trauma, rebuilding identity and confidence, and understanding and working through intense emotions. I am yoga certified and have been teaching women how to be embodied through yoga, mindfulness and meditation, important techniques to use when recovering from relationship loss. Currently I have been studying Dhogchen Buddhism with my second husband, which has expanded my wisdom and understanding about life and supporting women. I am always learning and expanding my expertise in the divorce arena and within our relationship with ourselves and others.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
The biggest surprises that have come my way during this career have been how many women have endured trauma and abuse in their childhoods and marriages. Women often come to coaching disconnected from their inner selves and with the desire to recover but having no idea how to get there. It is always interesting to me to see that regardless of the trauma, women heal, and lead remarkably stable and happy lives. The resiliency of their spirit always impresses me. One client in particular, was raised by a mother who suffered from schizophrenia and had abused her quite terribly. This client had only attracted abusive, mentally ill men in her life and was in a lot of pain as she came to coaching to learn how to disconnect from this dynamic. She dug into the work of healing and now has a healthy, loving, partner and has adopted a foster child after thinking she would never have children or create a happy healthy household of her own. She is remarkable and just one example of how women can truly overcome their past.
What are the most common mistakes people make after they go through a divorce? What can be done to avoid that?
- Not understanding why the marriage didn’t work or what went wrong. When women just want to move on and not unpack trauma or the dysfunction of what happened in their marriage, they end up recreating it in future relationships which just leads to the same issues again and again. It is a much better use of their time to understand these dynamics before moving on again. Going to therapy, joining a support group or working with a coach can be extremely helpful to understand what happened and be more intentional about future choices.
- Staying stuck in victim mode. It’s normal to feel disappointed, angry, frustrated, hurt and grieving after a divorce. If women stay perpetually in negative emotional states they can get stuck in a constant state of victimhood and perpetuate the story, not realizing that they can create a new narrative. Learn to own your story, gather what lessons you can and understand that life is filled with contrasting experiencinces. We can grow and change and help others through our story and our overcoming of difficult challenges. Find people who believe in you and don’t keep your victim story alive. Sometimes divorce gives us an opportunity to dump toxic relationships and in doing so, we can drop our victim mentality.
- Focusing too much on the ex and the problems of the marriage. It is very important to understand how to communicate more effectively, or not at all, with an ex-partner depending on whether you have children or not. Staying stuck in the cycle of communication or frustration with the ex can be a trap and keep positive momentum from happening. Learning to have boundaries and make requests that don’t lead to fighting is important for moving on healthfully and for future relationships. Counselors and coaches can help you learn non violent communication techniques and support you in learning how to change the dynamics with the ex and family members.
- Dating too soon. Most women have not been in the dating world for quite some time and things have changed since they last were single. Just loading a bunch of aps and putting yourself “out there” too soon after divorce can be disastrous. It’s far more grounding and effective to spend some time with yourself, get familiar with who you are now and not attach to another person too soon. Women might have patterns of co-dependency so it’s best to unpack that before choosing a new partner. Wait and learn more about what you DO want to attract next time round. It’s great to get out and meet new people, but don’t just make it be about finding another person to get attached to. Making yourself the most important thing is vital. Get to know yourself first! Once you do that you will attract the right partner.
- Avoiding sorting through emotions and feelings can be very detrimental. It’s imperative for women to understand and be aware of their feelings and emotions post divorce. Getting off of the roller coaster and emotional chaos is important. The only way to do that is to build awareness, resiliency and connect with oneself. Over medicating with technology, television, alcohol or other relationships can contribute to mental health challenges and perpetuate unhealthy relationships.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources related to this topic that you would recommend to our readers?
Favorite books: Untamed by Glennon Doyle, A Happy Pocket Full of Money by David Cameron Gikandi, Emotional Agility by Susan David, PhD, Super Attractor by Garbielle Bernstein and Playing Big by Tara Mohr are my favorite books these last few years.
Favorite podcasts- Conversations with Abraham Hicks, Unlocking Us by Brene Brown and Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris are podcasts I enjoy and learn from.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that helped you in this work? Can you share how that was relevant in your real life?
“If you don’t go within, you go without.” Victor Frankl
Nobody can understand you until you understand yourself. Deciding to go within can be quite terrifying but the most enlightened path one can take. I understood this concept as I was coming out of my divorce. I wasn’t sure who I was, what I wanted and had allowed others to inform my identity. Giving myself time to contemplate, I discovered that I was a co-dependent, a wonderful empath but had allowed others to dominate me in order to avoid conflict. When I started to realize that my inner environment was informing my external experiences, I started to shift many things about how I was ‘doing life’! I began to understand where I ended, and other people began. I stopped owning other people’s problems and started taking more responsibility for my life. When we take time to know ourselves inwardly, and explore our dreams, desires, patterns, beliefs, habits and emotions we expand and feel more deeply connected to life itself. When I am in doubt or unsure, I go within and find my truth, or at least the closest thing I can find that brings me back into alignment with my dreams and desires.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
My biggest project right now is growing my business and then bringing my family into the vision of changing the world, one person at a time. My husband is a Buddhist, Life Coach, and Mentor, as well as a meditation and mindfulness teacher. My oldest daughter is a health and business coach and loves to support young mothers and women entrepreneurs. My youngest daughter is passionate about changing the racial disparities in our culture and is a storyteller using her talents in photography and videography. My vision is for us all to intersect our passions and to create more impact in the world.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Give all young girls and women an education. Last time I checked there were at least 31 million primarily aged girls having no access to education. Secondary education for girls can transform communities, countries and our world. It is an investment in economic growth, a healthier workforce and lasting peace. My dream is to fund and support the movement to give young women in 3rd world countries access to an education and in doing this we empower young women to change the world.
I am with connecting and starting to contribute to a community in Agra, Uttra Pradesh India right now that is educating both young men and women and teaching girls self defense. They are part of the untouchable community, Dalit, those that are segregated and persecuted in India. Funds go towards educating and feeding these children and their families who have been greatly impacted by COVID-19.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
I have a lot of people that impress me! Right now I follow Ashley Gordon @quantumcoach and Dr. Ashurina Ream @psychedmommy on instagram.I would also love to connect with Dr. Donny Epstein a network chiropractor that has an interesting movement across the energetic world, as well as Tony Robbins who has built an empire within the self help movement. I am always loving Brene Brown’s work, Gabby Bernstein and Susan David-thought leaders changing how women show up in the world and embracing vulnerability and authenticity. I would gladly have a meal with any of these amazing humans.
Thank you for these great insights and for the time you spent with this interview. We wish you only continued success!