You know that feeling during divorce—the one where your heartbeat quickens and your head starts to pound. Your throat starts to close and it takes all the strength you have to keep from screaming at something that your ex said or did.
Divorce anger. Being ticked off. Feeling rage.
While danger is a natural emotion, learning how to manage it as you navigate your midlife divorce is crucial to moving on and taking your life back. Although it takes time, the following advice will get you started on the road to recovery.
Anger is a thief, especially during divorce at midlife. Don’t let it rob you of your chance to move on and be the person you have always wanted to be.
You work hard to maintain the things you love. You keep your house nice and cozy, and you probably have homeowner’s insurance. Your beloved heirlooms and mementos 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?
So, why on earth are you leaving the door to your life and the door to your happiness, 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. It is time to protect one of the most precious things that anger will rob you of: your happiness and chance to heal.
Divorce Anger = your reaction to other people’s silliness trying to control you. Why let it?
When you are angry at something, your body lets you know. 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 and will only keep you from moving on.
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 shit is just that. They are only facts, but they are not indicators of how you must react.
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 pissed off at something that you cannot control in the first place. It’s time to focus on the things you actually can control.
If it does not serve you, then let it go.
Some years ago, I was sweating my tail off in a hot yoga class, frustrated that I could not get into a back bend, I heard the yoga teacher say, “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, those words stuck.
It wasn’t about being upset about not being flexible enough during that moment in time.
But it was about not letting the fact we were inflexible cloud our ability to just be and move on.
And 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.
Beating the Anger Exercise
The next time you start to get angry about the divorce drama, do the following.
- Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths.
- Remember that whatever BS is coming your way does not have the power to make you made.
- Remember that if the anger is not contributing to your well-being, then breathe that negativity out.
- Inhale in the fresh air and focus on the beautiful life and calm that will be your guide.
- Carry on, because you have way too many awesome things going on to waste your precious emotional energy on anything toxic.
Learning to let go of anger after divorce can be a long process. But with patience and being kind to yourself and mindful, you will navigate it and take your life back in no time.
Martha Bodyfelt is the founder of Surviving Your Split. She is a divorce coach who offers words of wisdom to get you through this trying time with less stress, struggle and frustration.