During a divorce, most people go through a myriad of emotions. Hurt, disappointment, and grief are some of the more easily recognized emotions, but underlying all of these may be anger, especially for most people going through a divorce. While so many things may feel out of your control, there are ways to learn how to deal with anger during divorce and use this tough emotion proactively to move forward. We compiled five strategies to help you understand your emotions and keep your anger together through the divorce process.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Anger is a legitimate emotion—it's your heart trying to tell you something hurts emotionally and keeping it locked up will only make you feel worse. That's why it's important to allow yourself to explore the reasons for your anger and to express your feelings in a proactive manner.
Learning to respond to emotional pain in a healthy way isn't always easy, but it's the first step you have to take if you are going to keep the anger you feel from becoming destructive. Many people's first response to being hurt or feeling powerless is to lash out or attempt to get revenge and regain a sense of control. When that's your response, you're feeding your anger instead of trying to understand it.
To lessen your anger and fully understand what you are feeling, you need to allow yourself to feel vulnerable and hurt. Anger often gives a false sense of empowerment and can trick you into not fully understanding what lies beneath the emotion, which is usually a lot of pain. Anger hardens your heart and, if fed, can keep you from ever getting in touch with what you are truly feeling.
Try to remember there is no shame in admitting you are hurt and feeling out of control. In fact, doing so softens your heart, leads to being in touch with your feelings, and helps you stay open to new relationships and a healthier life after divorce. Choosing pain over anger is difficult in the short-term, but healthy in the long run.
Vent About Your Emotions
Many people, especially women, may have been brought up to think that they should be nice and agreeable rather than get angry. However, everyone gets angry, and it's a healthy emotion, not something to be feared or ignored. That's why it can be helpful to journal or talk to a friend and vent your angry feelings so you can work through them.
If you're afraid of your anger, it can lead you to keep it bottled up. Of course, you'll eventually have to let it out, but the longer you wait, the worse it will be when you finally explode. Instead, get in touch with the feelings causing the anger and explore appropriate ways to express what you're feeling.
Let Go of Fear
One fear many people have is that if they let their anger out, they won’t be able to control their rage. However, this is rarely the case, so find a safe place to vent your anger and simply let it out without fear.
Punch a pillow, scream, or do whatever makes you feel the release you need (without harming anyone, of course). The key is to stop fearing your anger and to express it in a way that allows you to let go of some of it.
Put Yourself First
If you feel anger, you have a right to your feelings. Some people may think it’s acceptable to express grief or sadness, but anger can feel more embarrassing or shameful because it's generally frowned upon.
Anger can be an early warning sign that something is wrong. Is someone mistreating you? Is someone trying to take advantage of you? Use your anger to build healthy boundaries and distance yourself from anyone attempting to do you harm.
Get Regular Exercise
If you are having a hard time processing your anger, taking a walk, doing aerobics, finding stress-relieving yoga poses, or even kickboxing can help relieve your stress and frustrations.
In fact, exercise has been proven to reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and relieve anxiety, so instead of working out to burn calories, work out to burn off those feelings of anger. Do an exercise that you know is safe for you, and give it your all. (Just be sure to check with your physician before trying something entirely new if you have any medical concerns.)