A couple divorcing is a couple experiencing anger. Generally, the role it plays is not positive. It’s worth a closer look because few will escape this feeling and many are at the mercy of the unexamined presence of anger. It takes significant tolls and leads to unnecessary suffering. The costs of anger range from the personal and emotional, to the work place in diminished job performance, and to the legal arena, where it is single handedly responsible for unnecessarily driving up legal costs.
Faces of Anger
The forms anger might take ranges from rage and violence, to mild resentment, and includes revenge, outrage, fury, jealousy, impatience, frustration, meanness, sarcasm, aggression, revulsion, agitation, smoldering, sullenness, pouting, and stubbornness.
Anger covers for fear of loss, for fear of emotions, response to betrayal, suppression of feelings, right/wrongness, belief in entitlement and more.
Upside of Anger
Anger, when used positively, enables a person drowning in sadness to light an internal fire and take action, thus drying up their watery sadness. Anger rallies to action the apathetic person who has reached the end of the rope of denial, or tolerance, of a difficult and unhealthy relationship. Used positively, anger fires up the ambitions for betterment. It can inspire us to improve communication skills, to renewed life goals, and to 20/20 clarity on a life of lived values. Anger can inspire us to be better and be more alive.
Downside of Anger
Anger has many sources, often connected with fears. We are reluctant to admit to being afraid. Whether or not we admit to fear, if fear drives your anger, then fear drives your life. Who or what is driving your life?
Over the years, countless fears have paraded through the lives of divorcing individuals, ranging from fear of what others will say, fear of judgment at being a divorced and single mother, fear of judgment by society and the ongoing stigma of divorce, the fears stemming from a trounced on pride, betrayal and the fear of loss of ability to read people, to trust people, fear of lost confidence, fear of years of life wasted, fear of nothing to show for years of self-sacrifice, and the list goes on.
To complicate matters, often we force ourselves out of binding agreements by making someone wrong. Divorcing couples often succumb to right and wrong perspectives to extract themselves from unsatisfactory relationships. If the other person is to blame, we are sanctioned by the church and God to break unbreakable vows, to hold our heads high in superiority, to gain the attention of sympathizers, to gain family, friend, and community approval, and to have a substantial following on “our side.” While this shortcuts some of the painful emotional terrain, and “lets us off the hook”, it also complicates the process of letting go of fear and anger. It even cements in those negative emotions so they become chronic manifestations, disrupting peace of mind, healthy new relationships, and robust physical health. They have an undercurrent of hostility, negativism, and chronic resentments, and prevent full experience of joy, peace and happiness.
“The price we pay for chronic anger and resentment is sickness and premature death. Anger is binding, not freeing. Is this worth the small satisfaction of being right?” -Dr. David Hawkins
Anger robs us of clear thinking and efficient problem solving. While hostility and intimidation may quickly get the issue off the table, or stalemate the process, it does nothing to satisfy the issue in the best possible manner for both sides. And it shuts down the whole brain thinking for both parties in the negotiation. Only the reptilian brain is engaged during anger. Few good results can be expected from divorce negotiations when either party is caught up in anger.
Post divorce anger costs emotionally as well. Take chronic resentments, for example, where emotional baggage is brought to the next relationship. Chronic resentments take many forms, including lack of trust, distorted clarity in assessing a potential partner, hesitant commitment, mild paranoia towards new partners, poor health and dissatisfaction with life. The many forms chronic resentment can take would fill a book and are beyond the scope of this article.
We cannot look to media, or to the masses, for support on relinquishing anger. Media churns out right and wrong judgments on a daily basis, often within every story. We are habituated to thinking in right and wrong concepts from our earliest academic experiences to the boardroom and to the newsroom. Countries are wrong, politicians are wrong, and anyone who disagrees with our opinions is wrong. Anger! Fear!
To release the grip of anger is an inside job. What is required of us is dogged determination to observe and dissipate each negative emotion or thought. With each observable, we notice the emotion and the feeling it creates in our bodies, and allow it to run its course. It’s as simple and as difficult as that. Simply allow the feeling to spend itself. It will pass just as the ocean tides go out, just as the sun rises and sets.
Benefits of Relinquishing Anger
Relinquishing anger brings many benefits. It opens us to greater compassion, to an appreciation for the gifts in our lives, to gratitude, to well being, to reduced stress, to improved health, and to an overall life satisfaction. Knowledge is the first step in releasing the grip on your life. Taking positive action is the next. Your happiness and joy await.