"Letting Go" Defined
According to nutritionist Dr. Lawrence Wilson,
"Letting go can be as simple as recycling or giving away old clothing. It can be as radical as leaving a long-standing marriage or friendship and changing one’s entire lifestyle. Whichever it is, it is always going to be somewhat painful. I mention this because the feeling of loss that accompanies any type of letting go is perfectly normal, and should not be confused. If one expects no pain, then when the pain of separation and letting go and abandonment hit, many people turn away rather than move forward boldly."
When in the throes of emotional pain, "letting go" can be an abstract concept that is hard to grasp. This article is an attempt to guide you through the process while also dealing with the negative emotions that accompany a divorce.
The goal should be to build a new path for your life not influenced by the pain of a broken marriage or the anger and resentment toward a departed spouse. Dreams, hopes and fears are led by trust and faith. We marry with the belief that it is going to last forever. We dream of a future with another person based on our belief that they will not let us down.
Moving forward and detaching during the divorce process means coming to terms with broken trust. People may recite such things as, "he should not have cheated" or, "she made a vow and promised to stay." These are thoughts or beliefs that keep you stuck the past, over a situation you no longer can control.
Letting go of those feelings during the divorce process not only helps keep the focus on protecting your legal rights, it also gets rid of those old dreams and hopes so you can start building new dreams and hopes for the future. We replace old beliefs with new beliefs!
Letting Go With Love
If you are the one who made the choice to leave the marriage it is important to remember the love you once felt for your spouse. Although you feel the marriage is over, you should strive to transition from married to single with compassion for the one you are leaving behind. Any transition is easier to make if it is done with compassion, kindness, and love.
If you are the spouse who has been left, letting go with love will be more of a challenge. It is okay to be angry and feel resentment, but it is not okay to hold those feelings indefinitely. If you need to set boundaries and exert your rights during the divorce process do so kindly and gently. It may seem impossible to show love toward someone who is, say, victimizing you through the Family Court System. This should not discourage you from setting boundaries; you should certainly remain cognizant of these triggers in your future relationships.
There will be times when you need to be proactive and assertive to ensure you are treated with respect. Regardless of your role in the divorce, the Golden Rule is always apt: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Keep this idea in mind throughout the emotional and legal process of divorce, and you may notice fewer conflicts and a higher sense of self-respect.
Letting Go of Toxic Anger
The key to being able to use anger productively depends on how we react to it. A healthy way to react to anger is to become assertive; however, it is unhealthy to become aggressive.
Being assertive means you are able to prioritize your needs and meet them without hurting others. These "needs" are events within your control; you cannot change anyone else's mind but you can control your own future. You don't have any control over whether or not your spouse leaves the marriage but you do have control over other issues such as how you will be treated by prospective suitors in the future, how marital assets will be split, and what your co-parenting relationship with your ex will be like.
Aggressive anger becomes pushy and demanding with no regard to the feelings of the other person. It will make you feel stuck, while assertive anger helps you to move forward with your life after divorce. If you use your anger to punish or get back at your ex, you will be the one to suffer in the end. If you use your anger to make sure you are taken care of emotionally and legally during the process of divorce, you will reap the rewards of behaving in a healthy manner.
Whether it is divorce, the loss of a job, or the behaviors of a friend, things are going to happen in life that cause us anger. You have no control over the behaviors of others but you do have control over the way you respond to their behaviors. Controlling your anger and responding in an assertive way is the difference between your pain lasting a few days or a few months (or worse).
Letting Go of Being the Victim
No one needs to play the role of the victim to get the love and attention they crave. In fact, playing the victim will often get in the way of the love you desire. Bad things happen to good people. Good people make choices that may be viewed by others as a bad choice. But other people are not privy to the situation like you are, so their opinion should not matter. Regardless of what happens or what mistakes that may have been made, you should be able to stand behind your actions.
Don't let life happen around you. Even the most passive person can remain proactive with their life after divorce. Being the "victim" of your spouse's infidelity or desire to leave the marriage is a surefire way of missing out on all of life's possibilities. After all, the true victim of circumstance is someone who waits until things happen to them. Take advantage of new opportunities and you will start to heal from the relationship.
Letting Go of Control
When in emotional pain you may struggle to retain control of the situation, in an attempt to reduce your pain. But when you are busy trying to control what is currently happening, you cannot see the possibilities of what could happen if you were more open to new things.
Are you trying to control what course your marriage is taking? Are you bent and determined to control how another person responds to or behaves toward you? Stop and think about what you would be doing differently with your life if you only let go of your need to control that person.
When you wake up tomorrow, let go of your need to be in control. Choose to do something that will bring enjoyment to your life. At the end of the day you won't be able to deny that you've had a better day, so much better than when you are trying to control and influence others.
Letting Go of What You Want
This is the biggest, the most difficult step you will take when dealing with negative emotions during the divorce process. Letting go of what you want means changing your own mind about an issue such as whether or not your marriage remains intact. You will need to let go of time with your children, marital assets, and much more.
There are times when a want is so desperate that it feels like a need. It is easy to confuse our wants with our needs, especially during the demise of a marriage. You will need to negotiate and compromise on the issues above, and generally throughout your life. If you can't let go of what you want, you won't be able to focus on what is in your best interest during divorce settlement negotiations.
A mother who has been left for another woman may cringe at the thought of giving up time with her children to a cheating husband. She will fight tooth and nail to keep him from gaining shared custody or even liberal visitation.
In her mind, her children are better off with her than a cheating scoundrel, but, of course, this ignores the fact that the father loves his children also, and will also fight to spend time with them. In this example, the mother put what she wants above what is best for her children—time with their father. The moral is that standing up for what you want may not always be in everyone else's best interest. Remember to keep in mind the Golden Rule, and you will find that life becomes easier as time eases your pain.