Is Anger Towards Your Ex Keeping You Stuck? Let Go, and Move On

Anger Towards Your Ex Can Keep You Stuck in Bitterness

It’s understandable that anger may dominate your feelings towards your ex. A lot has transpired between you two. Perhaps he cheated on you? Or, maybe he abused you? Or, he never spent time with you? Or he just wasn’t the right man for you? It’s understandable that you are angry. How do you deal with this anger can mean a lot in terms of your future life. Anger towards your ex can keep you stuck and not allow you to thrive.  Although it’s deemed as something ugly in our society, anger is actually very important for our survival, communication, and social functioning.

Anger Helps Us Navigate Social Interactions and Personal Relationships

What matters is to recognize that anger is a natural part of our being. It helps us realize when something is wrong. Then we know that we need to defend ourselves or set stronger boundaries in social interactions or personal relationships. When someone oversteps their boundaries, as your ex may have, it’s natural that we get angry. But, how you handle your anger can make a great impact on how your life continues and how you feel from now on.

Your Ex Has the Power to Stir Up Some Powerful Emotions

When your ex says or does something that you don’t like, you can feel attacked and feel the need to defend yourself. At this point, you can lash out, and you know what usually happens after that. Your anger brings out the worst in you. Sometimes we react on small provocations with extreme anger. This usually means that this anger is related to something deeper than this current trigger. Your ex probably has that power to stir up some old stuff.

Anger Is Not a Primary Emotion

What’s important is that you don’t let yourself lose control. You can manage this and take control over your reactions, emotions, and how you navigate the conversation and relationship with your ex or other people in general. You can do this by remembering that anger is not a primary emotion, but there is usually something underlying the anger. For instance, your anger may be covering hurt, vulnerability, fear, etc. This helps you switch focus from him to yourself. In this way, you acknowledge and honor your feelings instead of getting angry at him without being grounded. I don’t mean to say that you should never express your anger. Your anger can be much more powerful when you are able to know what your underlying emotions are. Are you hurt by his statement because of an old wound or because he really wanted to be mean?

Respond Instead of React to Anger

If you are more in touch with yourself and your emotions, you will be able to respond instead of reacting to anger. When you pause and explore what these triggers stirred up in you, you are able to slow down and make an informed decision.  This is very empowering. This kind of exploration takes some practice, but if you are able to do it, it’s very liberating. You may not be able to go so deep into your feelings right away while you are trying to respond to the person who triggered you. Instead, you can buy some time by asking the person to explain themselves. This will put the ball into their court and allow them to either apologize or explain themselves better.

Explore Your Anger and Feel Empowered Instead of Tied to Your Ex

When you are on your own, away from triggering situations, then you can work through these emotions. You can explore what made you angry when your ex did or said something. You can also ask yourself where the anger comes from. This allows you to explore deeper feelings that are not in your awareness. For instance, you may feel hurt, or scared, or betrayed, etc. You can go even deeper and explore where your anger comes from. By asking yourself questions such as, “What about his response makes me angry?” Going deeper into exploration is useful to discover what makes you insecure. In this way, you switch the focus on yourself instead of your ex. This work will empower you to be able to set effective boundaries from self-love rather than disdain for others.

 

Focusing on Yourself Helps You Move on

Focusing on yourself is empowering

Exploring your emotions is empowering.

When you stay stuck in anger towards your ex, then you are still unable to move on. Yes, he hurt you, and he may deserve all these names that you called him. But, this only keeps you away from moving on and enjoying your life. Do you need to be even more involved in his life helping him learn the karmic lesson? Wouldn’t it be better to let go and live your life? Find your joy?

Let him go. Let him deal with his karmic lessons on his own. Your disengagement will be the biggest frustration for him if he really means harm. If you dwell on how horrible he’s been, then you don’t put your energy into figuring out how you want your life to be. Basically, you give him power over your life.

By working through your feelings and figuring out what hurts you, you take ownership and power over your feelings. Rather than calling him names, you just go inside and see how his words or actions affected you. And, we can criticize him for hurting you, but what matters is how you are affected. Then, you will realize that a lot of your feelings triggered by your ex are not just related to him, but this has been affecting you for a long time through different people including your parents, other romantic partners, and so on.


 

About the Author

I’m a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist serving Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, Malibu, Oak Park, etc. I specialize helping divorced women transition from despair to a joyful life.

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