How to overcome anger after divorce

As you recover from your divorce and try to reclaim your life, there is something that you must remember. Anger is a thief. Don’t let it rob you of your chance to move on.

You work hard to maintain the things you love. You probably keep your house or apartment nice and cosy, and you probably have homeowner’s insurance to protect it in case something happens to it. Your heirlooms and the mementos you treasure are probably tucked away with the greatest of love and care.

You wouldn’t leave your door unlocked and invite a thief in to destroy those things in your home that you love, would you? Of course not! Those things are yours. You worked hard to safeguard the things that give you joy and comfort.

So, why on earth are you leaving the door to your life and the door to your happiness open, inviting Anger in on a daily basis? Just as a thief will break into your home, wreck it, and take away everything that is dear to you, so will Anger.

It’s time to lock the door and install a home security system. It is time to protect one of the most precious things that anger will rob you of: your happiness and chance to heal.

Anger is your reaction to other people’s stupid stuff trying to control you
When you are ticked off at something, your body is all too happy to let us know it. Your blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate increase because your adrenal glands are being set into “fight or flight” mode.

This physiological reaction may have served cavemen and cavewomen when it was time to fight off whatever prehistoric beast threatened their survival, but the same anger that disrupts your calm. Why let it control you like that?

The fact that your ex didn’t treat you right, the fact that the marriage is ending or has ended, and the fact that the ex and their lawyers may still be doing stupid stuff is just that. They are only facts, but they are not indicators of how you are obligated to react because of them.

Do you remember the delightful Pirates of the Caribbean movies with Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow? Of the many memorable quotes and tidbits of wisdom this swashbuckling pirate said, the one that stuck with me was the following: “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

The things that anger you are merely facts of things that are happening or have happened in your life. Think of them as “the problem” in the first sentence of the quotation.

“Your attitude about the problem” is your anger. The stupid stuff that you are reacting to doesn’t have to disrupt your peace of mind. How you choose to react to the problem—in this case how you choose to react to the facts (the events that are making you angry), is what makes the difference between navigating this process with less drama and stress for yourself, or letting all the madness drag you down and leave you exhausted.

You’re better than getting angry at something that you cannot control in the first place. It’s time to focus on the things you actually can control.

And the first step to leaving the anger behind you? It’s simple: if it does not serve you, then let it go.

Letting go
Some years ago, I was sweating my butt off in a hot yoga class, frustrated that I could not get into a back bend because my arthritis decided it didn’t want to play nice, my stomach churning because of the third argument I had had with my boss that week, and my heart sinking because a man who I had been seeing, and who I really liked, had called the night before to break up with me. I was a knot of rage that afternoon in the class when the teacher said, “If it does not serve you, then let it go”.

Although the yoga teacher probably meant it for the students to be kind and patient with themselves, reassuring them the back bend would happen when the body was ready for it, those words stuck. And I remember bursting into tears.

It wasn’t about being upset about not being flexible enough during that moment in time. It was about not letting the fact we were inflexible cloud our ability to just be and move on. It was about understanding that if a negative emotion was not going to improve our lives, then we needed to show it the door. There is no place for anger holding us hostage.

The next time you start to feel angry, do the following:

  1. When your pulse starts to quicken, take a step back.
  2. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths.
  3. Remember that whatever BS is coming your way does not have the power to piss you off.
  4. Remember that if the anger is not contributing to your wellbeing, then breathe that negativity out.
  5. Inhale in the fresh air and focus on the beautiful life and calm that will be your guide.
  6. Carry on, because you have way  too many awesome things going on to waste your precious emotional energy on anything toxic.

What struggles do you experience when it comes to dealing with divorce anger? What steps have you taken to kick it to the curb? 

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Feature image: © Paramount Pictures, The First Wives Club 1996