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What Gwyneth Paltrow Really Means by ‘Conscious Uncoupling:’ A Goop-to-English Dictionary

3 minute read

Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t eat cereal, she eats quinoa granola with olive oil. She doesn’t go to the gym, she does “brain activated” Tracy Anderson Method dance cardio. And she doesn’t get divorced from the father of her two children, she “consciously uncouples” from him, as she explained in an announcement posted on her lifestyle website, Goop.com.

Apparently Paltrow wants to differentiate herself from all those people who get divorced while unconscious.

She and her website seem to hate messy emotions about as much as they hate gluten, cupcakes, and lying around on the couch like a normal person. That’s why she’s choosing to “consciously uncouple” from her musician husband Chris Martin instead of going through the painful and often enraging process of splitting up a family like the rest of us do when a marriage isn’t working.

The uncoupling announcement caused such a traffic hit to Goop.com that it crashed the site. This intense interest in how Goop would handle divorce seems to open up all kinds of new marketing possibilities to Paltrow. After all she’s already told us how she managed to uncouple herself from post-partem weight, processed foods, tasteless home decor and general sloth. Now she can tell us how to uncouple ourselves from all the awful parts of divorce so we can be happy, gluten-free single parents.

But before we get onboard with Paltrow’s latest bit of transformational lifestyle advice, we might want to learn a little more about this “conscious uncoupling” she speaks of.

Therapist “Transformational Teacher” Katherine Woodward Thomas spends almost an hour explaining “conscious uncoupling” with her soft-spoken bearded friend in this “Cutting Edge Consciousness” video for people who have nothing else to do. Thomas says “conscious uncoupling” is a five-week process (like a cleanse?) in which individuals “devote themselves to a conscious process” of getting over a relationship without bitterness so that you don’t turn your “soul-mate” into “soul-hate.” You have to “midwife” the “the energy of your emotions” in order to use the “energy of transformation” for a “constructive expression.” Dr. Thomas says Nelson Mandela is a perfect example of this kind of consciousness–because being in jail for 26 years is kind of like getting over a breakup.

If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Here’s a handy (made-up) Goop to English translator to help you understand other post-divorce life events that may one day befall Gwyneth Paltrow and her family.

Dictionary of 10 Goopy Terms:

“Time Managed Co-Parenting” = Joint custody

“Compassionate Post-Conscious-Uncoupling Resource Distribution” = Alimony

“Toxin” = Candy

“Youthful Journey-Finding” = When daughter Apple says “I want to go to Dad’s house where there’s candy!”

“Maintaining Post-Pleasure Tranquility” = Making sure new boyfriend sneaks out before kids wake up

“Embracing Joyous Change” = Introducing kids to new boyfriend

“Accepting a New Element” = Introducing kids to dad’s new girlfriend

“Intergenerational Quality Time for Love and Learning” = When Grandma comes to stay for two weeks so you can go to Fiji with new boyfriend

“Tolerating the Expansion of Horizons” = When dad’s new girlfriend gives Moses a pack of Twizzlers

“A Communal Tranquility Event” = When all four parents and step-parents are at the school play

Congratulations! Now you’re fluent in Goop.

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Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com