Monday, March 9, 2009

Anger and Divorce

Divorce is a painful and difficult process that can provoke a wide array of emotions. Hurt, grief, relief, anger ? all of these can be present and it can take time to work through and resolve these feelings. One emotion that can become consuming before, during, and after the divorce is anger. Particularly if there has been a blatant betrayal like infidelity, or the process has been adversarial, anger may be present. It can be useful for a period of time, as anger can be energizing and motivate us to take actions to better our lives. However, when it becomes consuming and prevents us from finding peace and serenity over time, then it no longer serves us. Here are 4 steps for letting go of anger from a divorce, and clearing the deck for happiness, fulfillment, and joy moving forward:

1. Allow yourself to feel the full effects of the emotion. Note the sensations in your body, the clenched jaw, tight shoulders, or overall body stiffness. Notice the feelings and how they manifest, whether it be an ache in the chest or a sinking feeling in your stomach. Now, make a conscious decision that you no longer wish to carry around all the negative energy and allow it to hurt you. Commit to the idea that you deserve peace and joy, and this anger stands in the way of that goal.

2. Begin to look at your ex spouse with a different set of eyes. Allow for the possibility that he or she did the best they could with what they had to work with. Is he or she an addict? A cheater? A narcissist? Understand that some people develop coping mechanisms in life that damage other people they are close to. It is unfortunate, but collateral damage in these situations is all too common. Just know it is their coping strategy, not yours.

3. Accept the idea that you are exactly where you are meant to be, at this moment, in your skin, exactly as you are right now. So is your ex, so let go of any sense of responsibility to "punish" him or her, and visualize releasing your partner into the universe, to God and whatever may be in store for his or her future. Begin to imagine your future, and the possible benefits that could arise from the experience you went through. There are many different people with many different experiences, and you have just woven another level of experience and understanding into the tapestry of your life. What did you learn? Could your knowledge help others? Protect you from further harm in the future? Explore the possibilities.

4. If you have any anger that is self directed, repeat the above steps to forgive and accept yourself. Repeat the steps until you begin to feel some release and greater acceptance and objectivity. If negative thoughts persist and begin to cycle through your mind, imagine a large red "X" through the thought, and say "Stop" or "Cancel" out loud. Then proceed to another activity that will engage your mind.

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