What I’ve found in my own journey & in guiding others is that many people struggle with a win/lose dynamic in divorce. And specifically, when a person is feeling angry or resentful, they often inhabit the felt sense of the “loser”. How you deal with that speaks to your personality, integrity, & healing. Read on for tips to manage yourself in these instances.
There will be moments or seasons of your divorce process that trigger irritation, anger, and/or resentment. Your self-talk or inner thoughts might sound like:
- This isn’t fair.
- It’s not right!
- How is this happening to me?
- Is it ALWAYS going to be like this?
Or you might notice different physical sensations like:
- Heart rate changes
- Breathing changes
- Muscle constriction
- Trouble concentrating
Anger is sometimes necessary & mobilizing AND it is easy to get “stuck” in it too. Both anger & resentment are “alerts” that more vulnerable feelings & needs are not being met. “Feel it to heal it” is common mental health advice for good reason as what you ignore, stuff, or distract from has a way of leaking out!
Here are some suggestions to “deal”:
To “deal”, first notice your reaction – where & how “IT” is showing up. Second, practice radical self-compassion about feeling/thinking the way you do. (Note, this is especially difficult for women who have been socialized to be good, minimize conflict, and to be “sweet”.) Third, get curious about what your anger or resentment wants you to know. For instance:
- What would happen (or NOT happen) if you weren’t angry? There is usually a need or feeling “underneath” the anger/resentment.
- What has happened in the past that is contributing to your anger now? Anger can often be a cue that you relaxed your boundaries too much & now feel taken advantage of.
- Is there a wound or something vulnerable that needs tending to? Others can fail to meet our needs & we can too. What self-repair is needed to tend that wound? Your anger may lessen or resolve when the true need/wound is tended to.
As you consider these questions now & in the future, get to know your pattern of internal triggering & decide how to best take care of your needs. For instance, do you need to:
- Claim more personal power?
- Be more assertive?
- Take the pressure off & extend yourself grace?
Know it’s ok to feel angry or resentment. Again, the goal is to not stuff/deny/minimize your feelings or to distract/act out your “big energy” feelings to your detriment.
It’s said that a person’s “true colors” show up at the end of a relationships. There is a nugget of truth to that, for sure. The way I think about it, you are likely to see how each person responds to change, loss, & power differentials. You see, the divorce process can trigger a power struggle or worsen an existing power struggle. Add in financial fear, legal jockeying, major change, grief…. the variables are endless. Someone is very likely to feel like a victim & how the person in the disempowered position deals with that experience can be predictable or shocking.
Self-check time: Do you or your ex move from a place of being:
- disempowered/ineffective (“victim”)
- overpowering/harmful (“perpetrator”)
Learning how to de-escalate conflict & power struggles is often a necessary skill for the divorce process as well as co-parenting beyond the decree. If power & control struggles existed before the divorce, they are likely to get escalated during & after. For support with the process, please contact me for an appointment.
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