Divorce is a highly emotional process. Frequently, our ego gets bashed by the lawyers, the Ex, feelings of failure, and the dramatic changes we experience. If we don’t process the trauma of the experience, those emotions – like fear, anger, irritation, and frustration- will keep popping up over and over, coloring our lives and making it hard to create new, healthy relationships.
Here are things to remember to help process those hurtful feelings:
Just because the legal system is confusing doesn’t mean you’re stupid. The legal system has its own language and logic. Not only is it very confusing, often it doesn’t make sense. The process of divorce can be contentious enough from raw emotion, and then we feel like we’re getting swirled around in a blender! But that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. It means the system is confusing. Remind yourself of times when you’ve managed to navigate complex problems. Think about situations you’ve managed to handle before. Focus on finding solutions to problems, staying mindful, and monitoring your self-talk.
Rehashing the hurts your ex inflicted on you is counterproductive. You’re right – he shouldn’t have cheated on you, or he should have been kinder, or whatever he did or didn’t do was awful. But he did, it’s in the past, and we can’t change it. We can change how we react right now. So let go of the desire for revenge. Focus on the present, and face the future. Think about the path you want your life to take. You have the chance for a new beginning; why not make it a positive, healthy one?
Take apart the emotions, one by one. Keep the emotions from running your life. First, identify and label them. What are you feeling? Fear, anger, irritation?
Next, ask yourself why you’re feeling that way. What benefit are you getting from holding on to that feeling? Say to yourself, “This doesn’t make sense because…” and use logic to overcome irrational thoughts.
Then isolate the emotion. Where do you feel it – your stomach, chest, head? Observe it. Let it be there, but don’t let it drive.
Be a positive example for your children. What lessons do you want your children to learn from this? That marriage is awful and ends painfully? Or that sometimes adults need to go in different directions, and it can be done in a positive, healthy way? Consider what they’re seeing and feeling, too.
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