Divorce Recovery: Releasing the Toxic Emotions

There are ways for a divorced woman to let go of negative thoughts and feelings.

By Shelley Stile
May 06, 2008

The way to recover and thrive after divorce is simple: Until you can release the toxic emotions surrounding your divorce, it is impossible for you to move forward in life and be happy. It takes enormous commitment and effort, but it can be achieved. If you want to lead a new life that is both fulfilling and happy, you must let go of the negative emotions and thoughts that hold you back from creating a life you love. And guess what else? Who do you suppose pays the biggest price when it comes to toxic emotions? You.

Women and Divorce

During the divorce process, the negative emotions that you were already experiencing in your marriage go haywire. During times of crisis, our world appears to crumble, and with it, our concept of who we are. Our mind chatter turns up the volume to deafening levels. We question everything. We feel emotions so intense that we often wonder if we will survive them. Anger, sadness, depression, rage, grief, resentment, bitterness, and confusion are some of the feelings that hit us.

Once a divorce is finalized, we find ourselves attempting to adjust to a new way of life that is often lonely and frightening. The negative emotions are still there, and perhaps worse, as we face the harsh reality that we are indeed divorced and on our own. Even if we are the one who initiated the divorce, it is still a brave new world. If we spend our days tied up in thoughts and feelings that disempower us, there is no clear path to the future.

We may find ourselves ruminating about our situation throughout the day. That time spent on the mind chatter based in negative feelings eats up time that we could be spent working on a new life. Think about it. If I spend hours during the day consumed with thoughts of resentment and hatred toward my ex, I don't have time for other more productive thoughts and actions to arise. There is only so much room up there in the head. If we use up all our space with negativity, we have no room for the much needed positive thoughts.

The destructive mind chatter will permeate every aspect of our being. When we are residing in a perspective or attitude that life is not fair, then everything that goes on during the day will support that perspective. If we are living in the perspective that our ex is a terrible person, then everything that he or she says and does will support that idea. It spreads throughout our lives like a cancer.

Trust me, you are the one who pays the biggest price. You suffer the most. It is you who is giving up on life, who is consumed with thoughts that cause stress, sadness, depression, and paralysis. It is you who becomes a person that few want to be around. It is you who is setting a poor example for the children. It is you who cannot move forward and is mired in the past, a past that is destined to repeat itself under the present conditions.

How then do we learn to let go of these toxic emotions and thoughts? Here is a way to begin the journey to a future filled with all that you want:

  1. Understand that you are the sacrificial lamb on the altar of life. You have this one precious life to live, and you have the choice to make it great or miserable. What will it be?
  2. No one other than yourself is responsible for your life, your divorce or your marriage for that matter. This is one of the most difficult things to get your mind around, but it is true. Unless you accept responsibility for yourself and everything you see in your life, then you will continue to blame others and give away your power.

    If you were to be totally honest with yourself, you would probably see how you played an equal part in the collapse of your marriage. Even if you are the so-called dumpee, there were two people in this marriage and no one person is solely at fault. You may believe that your ex was a bully and a tyrant and you were an innocent victim, but guess what? You allowed it. You were co-dependent; you empowered your ex in ways you may not even recognize at this point in time.

    And if you are really honest and willing to do the inner work necessary to move on, you will see that who you were in the marriage is who you have been all along. Unresolved emotional issues from your past colored your marriage. If you had a bad relationship with your father and he made you feel worthless, you may go looking for a Father as a mate, which is not the basis for a successful marriage.

  3. To see outer change, you must first do the inner work. In order to rid yourself of the same reactive, ingrained responses from your past, you have to do the inner work of personal growth. You must conquer the demons of mind chatter that run you. You must learn what has been holding you back from living your best life, being happy and successful. Whether you work with a therapist or a life coach doesn't matter. Just do it!

  4. It is during the times of the most intense pain and transition that we learn the lessons we need to learn and grow as a human being. When we are challenged is when we learn deep lessons. When we learn deep lessons, we grow as a human being. It is easy to handle life in good times, but it is when things get rough that our true character has the chance to emerge if we allow it. Again, it becomes your choice and your choice alone as to how you will handle this life transition. You alone will choose to go forward or live in the past. Once again I ask you... what will you do with this one precious life you have?
  5. Everything that has happened to you has happened for a reason. If you believe that there are no reasons for what happens in life, then you will see no reasons for this divorce and you may stay stuck where you are right now. If, on the other hand, you believe that everything in our lives happens for a reason; that life is not random; that all the events we have experienced have moved us forward and in turn force us to evolve as a human being; that our purpose will reveal itself to us through these life lessons, then you can see that this divorce is a tremendous opportunity to go inside and do the inner work that will cause you to transform as a human being. You will also have a much easier time of letting go.
  6. It is not so much what happens to us in life; it is how we handle what happens that counts. Things will always happen in life, some good and some bad. That's just life. Accepting that fact shows you that you have a choice to choose how you will handle things. You can choose to sit in resentment and bitterness and suffer as a result, or you can choose to call upon your higher self that resides within and leap into the future as a better person.
  7. Learn acceptance of what is versus what you think should be. Very important point. Have you truly accepted reality for what it truly is, or are you still walking around in a world of should-be's? You know -- I should be married, I should have more support, I shouldn't be suffering, life should be fair, etc., etc., etc. The sooner you learn to accept things as they are, the sooner you will be able to make real choices on how you want to live your life.
  8. The meanings we add to what happens to us are not the facts. Our interpretations of life dictate our future. There are the facts of life and our personal interpretations of those facts. We add meaning where often there is no other meaning than the fact itself. For example, my husband is cold and heartless. That means that I have failed to elicit his warmth and therefore I am a failure in this marriage. That is just your interpretation. The fact remains that your husband is a cold person, which is based on his past and not yours and over which you have no control. Watch carefully how you choose to interpret reality. It will make all the difference in the world for you.
  9. Try separating the facts from the drama. Oh, the drama of it all. He left me for no reason, he is a cad, I have suffered such abuse, he is causing me such unhappiness, and this marriage was so destructive to me. Facts? He left because the marriage was not working and no one was happy, I am not an overly happy person to begin with, the destructive marriage is over and the future is available to me if I am willing to let go of the past. Do yourself a big favor and separate fact from drama.
  10. Don't let the mind chatter run the show, because you will forever stay stuck. Learn to disempower the mind chatter by not responding to it. Hear it, notice it, and thank it for sharing and them move on. Don't argue with it or attempt a logical conversation. Mind chatter loves the status quo and abhors change so when change is in the air it will get very loud.
  11. Learn to forgive. Forgiveness is not condoning bad behavior, it is simply forgiving it. If you're capable of forgiveness, then you are capable of letting go of toxic emotions. Look at the other person and see their inner child, much like your own. Separate their behavior from that inner child, and it is much easier to forgive.
  12. Fall in love with yourself, warts and all. Honor everything about you. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself. Get your friends to tell you what they love about you. Now look at the things that you think are not so hot about yourself. Have they allowed you to do certain things that enhance you? Can you simply see that they are all a part of you? Can you see that you can also work to soften the edges? You are a totally unique individual who will never be around again. You have a gift to give the world that is yours and yours alone.
  13. You have control over one thing and one thing alone in this life... yourself. Did you try to change your ex during your marriage? Did it work? The only person you can change is yourself. The only thing you can control in life is yourself. It is who you are being that will impact those around you most intensely and that is when you may see some changes. Work on yourself and forget about working on the ex. People change because they want to, not because you want them to. You will change because you want a better life.

So what will it be? Are you willing to do the work that needs to be done in order to live a great life? Are you willing to learn to let go of the past so you can live in the present and create the future? The best way to predict the future is to invent it, you know!


Shelley Stile is a Divorce Recovery Life Coach who specializes in working with women looking to let go of the pain of their divorce and create new and vibrant lives. Shelley works with clients on the telephone, so you can be anywhere and get coaching. She also holds tele-seminars and publishes powerful e-books on life after divorce. She is a member of the International Coaches Federation, the governing body for Life Coaching. Shelley trained with the Coaches Training Institute and the Ford Institute for Integrative Coaching's Spiritual Divorce Recovery. Sign up today for her free e-book, The 10 Secrets to Coping with Divorce, and also to receive her monthly "Take Back Your Life After Divorce" newsletter by going to www.changecoachshelley.com.

Begin the journey of letting go and moving forward in life after your divorce. Don't waste another day suffering. You can and will lead a new and better life. Receive Stile's free e-book, The 10 Secrets to Coping with Divorce, by going to www.freedivorcesupportbook.com. For more information on Divorce Recovery Coaching, visit www.changecoachshelley.com and sign up for a free sample session of divorce coaching.

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May 06, 2008

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