Anger is a raw emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone you feel has deliberately done you wrong. Anger can be a good thing, in that it may give you a way to express negative feelings, or motivate you to find solutions to problems. However, excessive anger can not only harm your own physical and mental health but can harm others as well.
Anger in divorce can be aimed at your partner or even sometimes at oneself. When people are in conflict with each other, and certainly going through separation or divorce creates conflict, it is not unusual to feel anger. This feeling may sometimes get out of hand causing pain to all parties involved.
If one is angry at his/her partner, it may be because one feels hurt, betrayed, abandoned, misled. Sometimes, anger may be displaced, especially if one is unable to look at the situation objectively and recognize that one has also some responsibility for the failure of the marriage. By focusing on the other person, one thinks that he may avoid having any role in the breakdown and in doing that, will try to avoid feeling the pain. Unfortunately, avoidance is only avoidance, and not dealing with the issue at stake. Sooner or later, in one form or another, the pain will reappear forcing one to face it, and in so doing, hopefully start the healing process.
If one is angry at oneself, it may be because one realizes that he/she had a part in the breakdown and is feeling guilty or upset to have let the situation deteriorate to the point that it has reached. Here as well, one will need to start the healing process by recognizing the problem, deal with it and hopefully start to take care of one’s own needs.
Yes anger is painful. It affects your physical and emotional well being and unfortunately holding on to it prevents you from starting to heal.
I spoke with Eileen Lichtenstein, an Anger Management Specialist, who explains how she helps people going through divorce or other conflicts, deal with these very difficult emotions.
What signs may indicate that someone could benefit from your help?
- Frequently excessive shouting or cursing
- Others telling you that you need help
- Realizing that you need to calm yourself
- Physical symptoms of red face, shortness of breath, palpitations, tightness may be present
Do you see couples together or separately?
All combinations. Often one contacts me and brings in the other after the first session and then I see them both separately and together.
Can you explain in a few words what techniques you may use to help someone?
A section of core curriculum for anger management is mindfulness-based stress reduction which includes teaching/guiding the client through relaxation breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, simple meditation and gentle seated stretching. I include EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) and Tapping, which are recognized as effective stress relief by mental health care professionals. Additionally, regular exercise is highly recommended.
What is the stress-anger relationship?
Individual levels of “OK” stress/frustration are in the middle of a continuum. On the extreme right is violence. The extreme left looks like depression. Keeping your equilibrium is key. Practicing relaxation techniques when you are calmer is important since there is a spillover effect.
jennifer safian. divorce and family mediator divorce and family mediation upper east side of manhattan (nyc) new york, ny (212) 472-8626 firstname.lastname@example.org connect on