Some take their divorce or break up so hard that they turn into absolute monsters. They exact their revenge on their ex by any means available: online, social media or face to face. Where does the deep anger towards an ex stem from? And how can you free yourself for good from the overwhelming feelings of hatred towards your ex? Or if not for good, at least for now? Pent-up anger can be safely defused. This article tells you how you can let go of hatred. Letting go of anger and hatred starts from understanding what causes your anger and learning more about yourself. Anger management is a skill. We learn skill through practice, right?
Don’t let your ex’s behaviour or words control you and make your life more difficult. It is time you understand your anger and learn to let go of it! This article is about anger management, and once you have read this, I suggest you also read my other blog posts related to this theme:
Letting go of anger is not easy – is it always even necessary?
Anger management does not mean forcing yourself or denying “negative” emotions. All emotions and natural and we have them for a reason. Anger is a highly useful emotion. Positive aggression gives us the energy to make a necessary change that your entire being is screaming for.
Anger has a biological basis and it is not, as such, any more dangerous than any other emotion. However, the idea is that we allow our emotions ebb and flow, to change. The purpose is not to cling on to our emotions, especially those that sap our strength. If you are running around in circles tangled up in your anger, you are harming yourself more than your ex ever could.
This article discusses the subconscious and unconscious drivers that cause anger, because the even the most apoplectic rage is not created by your ex, even if it would seem so! As an experienced clinical hypnotherapist and NLP coach, I will also share some of the methods you can use to let go of your anger and finally feel free and calm when facing your ex.
What if your anger is really a camouflage for some other strong emotion?
Did you know that some cultures do not even have a concept or word such as “anger”? Emotions are born within us and the way we interpret them are culture bound. Read more about this fascinating topic in the article published in Guardian: ‘I’m extremely controversial’: the psychologist rethinking human emotion.
This piece of information alone should be liberating to us all. It gives us hope that we can be free of anger. Including the anger we feel towards our obnoxious ex and their annoying new partner. Since there are cultural differences in how people feel anger and express anger, it means that you have the ability in you to find ways to control your anger.
One method could be the NLP technique known as reframing. My book, (R)evolution for Love has several exercises on this method. Remember, however, that awareness alone does not free you from your anger. Anger management is a skill that you can practice in various ways so that eventually you are not consumed by rage even in the most challenging of encounters with your ex.
But how to free ourselves from anger if that feeling becomes all-consuming?
Pent-up anger towards your ex hurts you, your children and everyone close to you but rarely the object of the anger – your ex
All-consuming anger eats you up more than anyone else. For the sake of your own wellbeing, practicing ridding yourself of anger is important. Letting go of anger frees up energy that you can spend on things that matter to you. Anger management is a skill that benefits yourself but it also helps make your other relationships more rewarding.
If you and your ex share children, your children will be affected by your anger. If you are not doing well yourself, your potential new relationship and life in general will suffer. Children are affected if their parents are hostile towards each other. The unhappiness of your children will determine the happiness of your future blended family. Parents who manage their anger are looking after the best interests of their children.
Expressing anger does not support your wellbeing – it only chains you to a vicious circle of hatred
Anger hurts the person who feels it – not the object of the anger. Even if your aim was to hurt your ex by showing your anger, that strategy is doomed to fail. No matter how visceral your rage, your ex will never feel that anger as a sensation of pain in their own body.
Even if you showed your anger towards your ex in no uncertain terms during your encounter, they might still remain cool as a cucumber. What could be more irritating?
So, do yourself a favour and don’t waste your energy on hating and showing anger by any available means, at every encounter. Instead of wasting your energy, learn how to boost your wellbeing and build resilience so that you can stay calm when meeting your ex, instead of letting your irritation show. Even if it might seem possible to be friends with your ex, believe me: it is possible.
Where does the deep anger towards an ex come from and how to free yourself from it?
Parissa muussakin artikkelissa kirjoitin ex-puolison arvostamisesta ja siitä, miksi exän kunnioittaminen on välillä niin vaikeaa:
- How to learn to appreciate an ex who keeps being difficult?
- VALUING YOUR EX: Why is it so difficult to respect your ex?
They say that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. That would explain why it we may harbour thoughts of revenge against our ex until we come to accept that the relationship is over.
You can’t heal yourself by hurting another. One of the interviewees in my book (R)evolution for Love put it like this:
“Of course, I wanted to pay back all the hurt my partner caused me. I could think of several ways. Time does not really heal anything, but we can actively work on our grief so that the pain does not make us vengeful. Sometimes you just have to learn to let go.”
Kati Niemi: (R)evolution for Love – A Better Relationship or a Brillian Break Up?
Understanding where the feelings of anger come from helps you geto over anger towards your ex
Sometimes knowing more means you hurt more. However, knowing the roots of your anger could alleviate the pain it causes. With improved self-awareness, the worst of your anger can subside, so that you can handle it and analyse it and then try and find a way our of your gridlock. Freeing yourself from difficult emotions – such as anger – follows a reverse logic. To get rid of them you must embrace them and allow yourself to feel those feelings first. Trying to run away from unpleasant feelings only makes matter worse.
We feel angry when we or someone else – such as an ex – has broken our secret “rules” and in this way toppled our confidence. An angry person might accuse themselves for somehow making their partner to cheat on them or causing the painful divorce, that they were not able to stop these things from happening.
Are you allowing your ex to control your emotional life or would it be better to free yourself from the anger?
Feeling threatened is not pleasant, which is why we want to avoid that feeling at any cost. It is easy to see ex as the source of that unpleasant feeling, when in reality all they did was to trigger that feeling the source of which is in ourselves. None of has the power or ability to create feelings in another person – be it love, fear or anger. It is us who create those feelings in ourselves. It is us who build the foundation for the emotions and cause the internal chain reaction to take place.
Self-awareness is about learning the logic of the chain reaction that causes your emotions. Better self-awareness helps build better self-confidence and gives us a peace of mind. Self-awareness leads to more confidence. Confidence, in turn, is essential in dealing with anxiety, depression and grief that follow life events such as divorce.
If you feel good in yourself, you will feel calm and in peace with yourself even if your ex is making your life difficult and tries to make you rise to the bate. Don’t let your ex rain on your parade and control your emotions. Take responsibility for yourself. Find the peace and love that exist within you, no matter how hard your ex is trying to make you act otherwise.
Perhaps you have been temperamental and argumentative all your life. This does not mean that you can’t learn to let your ex’s negativity and hurtful words go like water off a duck’s back. You can grow a thicker skin as well as genuine self-confidence.
We are responsible for our own feelings. We are responsible even for the anger we feel towards our ex
Cognitively, it is vital that we realise that every emotional state we have is our own. Nobody put that anger in us, we are responsible for it. We are the ones who sowed the seeds for that anger and let it grow with every thought we had and action we took.
Our feelings of anger are not born out of an external stimulus. It is the result of our own automatic analysis of the events and our experience in it that takes place faster than a lightning in our minds. For example, if your ex says something that does not feel nice, you have the choice of pausing and listening to ourselves and the emotion that they give rise to.
The biology of anger: deep anger towards an ex is usually caused by misinterpretation
You can probably remember a situation where your ex misinterpreted what you said, either deliberately or quite innocently. Even if you think that you are listening to your ex carefully in good faith and using your rational logic, you too are naturally prone to misinterpretation. This tendency is hardwired in our brain. Our brain has worked since early infancy to arrive at the best possible assumptions and interpretations based on what we observe or think we know.
Our brain makes assumptions one thought at a time, based on a “roadmap” it has developed. This roadmap usually takes us in the right direction. Imagine the overload if we had to negotiate every situation in life as if it happened to us for the first time! Our brain strives for economy: it wants to save as much energy and burden the nervous system as little as possible by making automatic assumptions and interpretations so fast that our conscious minds can’t keep up. Registering and processes every detail all the time is simply redundant. These details include the gestures, expressions and words and actions of an ex.
Assumptions can be correct but the ones that make you hate your ex probably aren’t
Since many of the assumptions, interpretations and beliefs you have been making since infancy have served you well, you have learnt to trust your assumptions and interpretations. After all, you have survived so far thanks to the very schemas, beliefs and behaviours you have adopted as a result of your life experience! However, you brain is not always right, although they would like you to think so. Letting your ex get under your skin and annoy you during a face-to-face or text argument may be all about your brain leading you astray 🙂
As soon as you realise that you always interpret everything your ex says or does, you will also realise that you may have been misinterpreting them. At least that one fateful occasion, after which you brain automatically chose the path of anger and laid down the foundation for every interaction to come. Every emotion that you have is an outcome of your interpretation of a situation and your interpretation is based on your earlier interpretations.
How to free yourself of the anger towards your ex after he hurt you so much during your relationship?
A relationship will hardly come to an end unless there were first some difficulties. You felt pain during your relationship, and perhaps you forced yourself to put up with that pain for too long. Perhaps you taught yourself to become irritated by your partner’s words, time after time. So how could you suddenly act differently towards your ex when they are at their worst. They are not just a rude waiter, a jobsworth official or a builder making crude comments, who you forget the next minute. A stranger can’t bring you quite to the same level of fury as your ex can, right?
So what is it in your ex that makes you lose your cool and hold on to that bitter emotion for some time? Letting go can be painful but holding on to the past – such as a painful divorce – is not productive.
While your assumptions and beliefs may have served you well in the past, it is worth revisiting and recalibrating them if they keep on bringing painful emotions to the surface.
The only person that your anger towards an ex hurts is you
Anger can be a useful emotion but only if lasts a short time and is channelled through decisive action. Anger can act as the driver that helps you in the short term to carry through a difficult task, such as divorce. However, sustained anger only eats us alive.
If you hurt another person physically or mentally – even in your imagination – it will probably make you feel guilty for a long period of time. Read more about the destructiveness of guilt: GUILT AND FORGIVENESS AFTER BREAK UP.
Your anger towards your ex can’t be greater than you love for your children
Even if your ex or their new partner drives you mad at every encounter, for your children’s sake you need to be able to face them neutrally and without retaliating their breaches of your boundaries.
This does not mean becoming a doormat
or turning the other cheek time after time. It only means that you walk away from the situation with your head held up high. Do not reward anyone’s attempts to provoke you by reacting to them. Keep a safe distance and don’t let anyone’s attacks against your person touch you.
If both of you want what’s best for your children, a compromise and a good solution can be found regardless of bitterly you initially fought. Your anger towards your ex can never be as great as your love for your children.
How to let go of anger: Freeing yourself from all-consuming anger by strengthening your own resources and allowing yourself to griev
Building your personal resources helps you navigate those tricky situations where you have to be in the same space with your ex because of your children. Genuine resilience is not the same thing as toxic positivity and killing your anger with sheer willpower. Read more about this topic in these articles:
Managing your anger starts from allowing yourself to momentarily feel angry. If this does not make sense, you can practice first by accepting “negative” emotions that you find easier to handle. Few of us enjoy grieving, although grief is an important message to ourselves that we should listen to. Usually anger hides great sorrow for losing your relationship. Even if it was you who initiated the break up, because your partner was an absolutely idiot, you may still feel incredibly sad that you did not manage to build a good, lasting relationship, which is what you both wished at the beginning of your relationship.
Anger management takes practice – seek professional help
If the relationship between you and your ex is still strained and hostile after years of your break up, it could be wise to see a professional together with your ex to reach a happier balance. This is particularly important if you share children.
A professional or coach sees your dynamic from then outside and may be able to help you find a happy medium at least in matters concerning your children. Coaches can teach you practical skills that help you accept even the more difficult emotions and to regulate your emotions so that you feel better in yourself and let go of unpleasant feelings.
Anger management can be difficult. Don’t make it too difficult for yourself to seek help.
Pent-up anger can be defused
Deep anger towards your ex can be a sign of your own sense of guilt and shame for a “failed” relationship. Sometimes the anger is simply a sign that you have not yet fully processed the break up.
If you find it impossible to control your anger in your dealings with your ex, start by working through your break up with a professional counsellor or coach. I also warmly recommend that you read my book (R)evolution for Love and the blog articles under the To break up or not to break up? and After a break up blog categories.
How to let go of anger?
The purpose of this blog article was to help you find a way of letting go of anger. I also wanted to explain why freeing yourself from anger is so important to yourself as well as your children.
If you have questions or problems with anger management or regulating your emotions in general be in touch – I can be of help. I’m right here for you, right now, just a click away 🙂 You can contact me via Instagram or Facebook (R)evolution for Love pages.
And thank you for following (R)evolution for Love social media accounts, such as Instagram (revolutionforlove).
How to let go of anger – further reading:
Anger management is a skill that can be improved through practical exercises. In addition, it is also helpful to be aware of the cognitive tools that can help you address the subconscious and unconscious factors behind anger or stress. That’s why I warmly recommend further reading on this topic : -)