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How to Deal With The Emotions We Experience Following Our Separation Or Divorce

31st May 2011
By James Richardson in Divorce
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Anger is a natural, healthy, protecting emotion.It can be a very positive emotion when it motivates you to turn your life around , to suit you better. Its a powerful tool to let people know your wishes- hopefully in a non aggressive, assertive way. The anger caused by the end of a relationship is different from everyday anger. Our divorce recovery and divorce support groups have great trouble negotiating these strong emotions which can be so destructive

Julie ,a participant in one of our Divorce Support Groups comments on her experience of anger , following her relationship breakdown: ‘ I realised early on after my separation that what was happening was that the anger was actually directing my life. That the only emotion i was feeling was this anger , as if it was driving every other feeling and emotion out of my head and body and anger was the only thing that was there. I was becoming insensitive to other things and unable to feel any sense of happiness at all , even to the extent where i would go the theatre to see a play, which normally i would enjoy and come out feeling ‘well that was silly’ or ‘that doesn’t really happen’ or the like. So it became one of my first priorities to learn to deal with this and again , i found it very difficult that i would learn coping techniques for a while and then something would happen and i would forget (those techniques) and then i would realise i was back with anger , filling my life , almost. One of the most useful things i learned and am mindful to try and act on, is to ‘take a step back, have a look at the way i am behaving, ask myself is this behaviour benefiting me at all , and if it isn’t - stop it . Initially , of course, the feeling is that you can’t stop it , it was overwhelming my life . But , i did learn, slowly, probably, that you can, in fact, control your behaviour and you can let it go and you can stop it. It was scary, initially , when i learned that i was in charge of the way i was behaving and that i was behaving in certain ways because i wanted to, even though i would say ‘but i don’t like this, i feel uncomfortable, i feel unhappy’. When the answer came back ‘well ,then stop doing it , change it’, it was very difficult to accept, but ultimately,this was very helpful!’

By the time you are reading this, your relationship will probably be over. Blame is an awful drain on your energy -its a wasted energy. If you are feeling angry after your divorce and you want to get rid of it, try the following:

-Hit a tennis racket onto a mattress, yelling and screaming
-Find a close friend and make jokes about your anger . This may sound strange , but it works surprisingly well for some people!
-Play a hard game of squash or tennis and imagine the ball is the subject of your anger.
-Scream loudly and swear, alone in the countryside or in your car (windows up and radio on for this one!)
-Bang saucepans with a wooden spoon or simply tear up paper
-Draw wildly or scribble on large sheets of paper

Remember, you are responsible for your anger. No one makes you angry, but you may be very, very angry about the situation. But you have the ability to recognise that anger and end it. Set a ‘time limit’ on your anger, otherwise it can preoccupy your thoughts.

Take a few minutes now , to think of ways to defuse your anger......

We thank Julie for her insights. Julie was one of a group of people ,who have attended our Divorce Recovery Groups and very kindly agreed to appear on our “Recovery” 3 DVD Set ,which was designed to offer support , healing and growth to people struggling with strong emotions following their divorce, separation or relationship breakdown .

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