Most of us experience one or more of the following emotions when we have been through a divorce. However, holding on to these emotions can leave you bitter and unable to move on, so you need to work through them. The time when it is right for you to do this will vary from person to person.
It natural to have some anger towards your ex and/or about your situation. However, whether this is good or bad depends on how you express that anger. Venting your anger directly at your ex is not helpful – it won’t change the situation and it will cause you more stress. Equally, holding your anger in is unhelpful and can lead to depression.
You need to take responsibility for your anger and learn to express it in ways that will benefit you and help you grow stronger. Some of the things you can do are:
- Phone a good friend (but not too often)
- Do some physical exercise
- Scream and shout
- Have a good cry
- Write a long letter to your ex expressing all your feelings (but don’t send it)
Express your anger freely in ways that can’t hurt others. If you find that you can’t control your emotions ask for help. There are some NLP exercises that a Coach/NLP Practitioner can work through with you.
When you feel angry ask yourself (some of) the following questions:
- What does holding this anger give you?
- Will these thoughts change anything?
- What will happen if I just let the anger go?
- What will happen if I don’t let the anger go?
- Do I enjoy feeling like this?
- What benefit am I getting from these feelings?
- How could I choose to feel instead?
Rejection & Pain
When you let go of the anger you often experience pain. You feel that your life is over, you feel numb and you think you will never feel anything again. It’s OK to be sad and feel pain, this is part of being human. Just know that you will get over it in time and you will build a new life. There is no set time for these things, everyone is different, but you will survive.
The person who has been left often experiences feelings of rejection. This can lead to being over critical about yourself – ‘what did I do wrong?’ ‘What do I need to change?’ However, the fact that your relationship ended does not necessarily mean that you did anything wrong or need to change anything. Relationships end for all sorts of reasons. Whilst some introspection can be healthy, don’t over criticise. Take any lessons on board and then put it behind you. Remember you are a wonderful person capable of loving and being loved.
- Looking back, what would you change?
- Can you see a point when your relationship changed?
- What things were not working?
Feelings of rejection and jealousy are common when you see your ex with a new partner. This is natural and there is no easy way to deal with it. The best way to deal with it is with dignity. However, you have to accept that your ex is no longer part of your life and is free to move on.
If you chose to end the relationship the chances are you are feeling guilty about hurting the person you love or used to love. However, it is sometimes appropriate to end a relationship because it is destructive to one or both partners. If you feel guilty about not making the marriage work then think about why it didn’t work and learn any lessons you need to learn. Then put it behind you. Accept your guilt as being appropriate for the situation. Don’t try and comfort your ex — they need time to get over you and start to rebuild their life. Remember you have had more time to get used to the idea that your marriage was at an end — they need time to catch up. You left for a reason — be honest with them (but not hurtful).
- What would have happened if I had stayed?
- What wouldn’t have happened if I had stayed?
- What changed in your relationship that caused you to end it?
- If you had an affair, what led to it?
It is natural to have some fear about venturing out on your own after being part of a couple. The first step is to face those fears – make a list of them and tackle them one at a time. Fears such as being lonely, finances, where you will live, what the future will hold, coping with decision making, being a single parent, losing your children, losing your friends, not being in control, being hurt again, change. Does one or more of these sound familiar? Tackle them one at a time – when necessary consult and expert (i.e. financial advisor, lawyer, divorce coach). Fear is natural, everyone is afraid sometimes even if they don’t show it. Fear stops us from taking unnecessary risks but it can also motivate us.
Examine your fears:
- Is the fear realistic?
- What evidence do you have to support your fears?
- Is there anything you can do to lessen the problem?
- What resources do you need to solve the problem?
- What do you need to know?
The end of a long-term relationship can be cause for grief but this is often not understood by people who have not been through it. Common symptoms of grief are feeling emotionally drained, not sleeping, pushing friends away if they get too close, lack of appetite, rapid mood changes and frequently sighing. It is important to work through your grief. One way of doing this is to keep a journal of how you are feeling and noting down what triggers your symptoms and what enables you to forget them. Seek help if you need it, there is no shame in seeking coaching or counselling.
- What good things came out of the relationship?
- What will happen if I allow myself to let go of the grief?
- How would it feel to be happy for a whole day? What do I need to do to achieve this?
Mistakes are part of the game. It's how well you recover from them, that's the mark of a great player. ~ Alice Cooper
Once you have come to terms with these negative emotions you can start to move on. The only person you hurt by not letting go of these emotions is you, because the truth is that you can only really love someone else once you have learned to love yourself.
There is an NLP saying ‘You get what you focus on’. Ensure you focus on the future you want to build for yourself, not on what has happened in the past. When you focus on the past the only person you are hurting is you.