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Hurting Feelings During a Divorce: To Respond or Not

No matter what your position you have in life, no matter what relationships you have, the actions of others can sometimes hurt you. This is no different during the divorce process especially when the involvement of divorce lawyers and the strain of the marriage itself can make your former partner unrecognizable to you. While, initially most people try to tough through these hurtful feelings, pretending they don’t matter and that the words or actions are rolling right off of them, over time this results in a negative belief system that can rattle us emotionally.

When facing the hurt and pain that is generated or triggered by the words or actions of another person, there are a few ways to address the pain absent bottling the emotion up only to lose it a later time. Ultimately, the longer we hold onto things the harder it is to release those beliefs and negative thoughts of ourselves and we begin a self-loathing mantra that can spiral out of control and into every relationship or interaction we have. However, in an effort to ensure this doesn’t occur to you, especially during the difficult process of divorce or ending a relationship with someone you held close and trusted, there are a few things you can do to help yourself.

First, consider the source of the hurtful actions or words including the circumstances surrounding it and be real about it. Divorce is tricky, sometimes messy, and almost always emotional at some point in time. If something is said out of anger is it worth raising or addressing? Will it result in a mountain of increased attacks? Or was something said or done that was simply not considering the impact it would have on you?

Second, evaluate the need to address what happened, i.e. what can come from it and will addressing it result in a better line of communication moving forward? Or in the case of intentionally hurtful actions, will you simply be giving the other party the attention they so desperately seek from your reaction? Before reacting, simply check in with yourself, to ensure a reaction will produce a positive result (internally and knowing we have no control over third parties), and only when this action will cause a positive result in you should you react at all. If not, addressing the issue is not only wasted energy, it is a rewarding someone’s bad behavior that was designed for that very purpose.

Third, leave fear behind you and out of the equation. Fear guides us almost daily in one or more aspects of our lives. Therefore, while we may hesitate to address the actions of others and fear their response, this is not protecting us rather it is keeping us helpless and with the feeling of not having a choice. You certainly always have a choice. What you don’t have is control over the reaction to you or in response to what you raise. Therefore, fear in these circumstances is not protecting you, instead, it is temporarily protecting your ego as ultimately those negative feelings and disappointment in yourself from not standing up for yourself will come back full force. While, hesitation to address someone’s poor behavior towards us is understandable, especially in a relationship where this became the normal, make sure the hesitation is because you see no positive outcome in addressing it versus hesitating to accept that it hurt and not addressing it out of fear of the response you will receive.
Fourth, know that most people, are fully aware of when they have said or acted in a way that crossed a line in your relationship experience together. Therefore, sometimes the gentle nudge to express what hurt and why it hurt will call their attention to something and once they step back they too can realize the counterproductive nature of acting that way.

In my own experience, waiting and letting everything go is a pattern which has reflected my own belief that I deserved to be treated that way and/or that I didn’t and then resentment builds up over time. I have learned to in sum, put it all in context and once you see or start to believe in yourself, know what you will tolerate and what you won’t, and are capable of recognizing when and what to address, you empower a healthier mindset. Some things that people do are absolutely without reason but for their own anger or hurt. Sometimes people act for reaction and out of their own fear that absent a reaction from you they no longer feel loved by you. Regardless of why someone acts a certain way towards us or treats us in a certain way, the key to it all is reviewing your internal dialogue and addressing it without fear whether that means letting it go or not. If it’s an issue that’s halting your growth, address it quickly after it happens, without emotion and without an expectation of being apologized to, validated or anything for that matter. Do it for yourself and let it go.

Last, recognize that it generally our own self-beliefs that permit things that others say or do to hurt us so much. Rarely, if even possible, is our self-belief system a result of one person or their actions. Instead, it is a cumulative effect of the relationships we have had, permitted, and the impact on our lives. In short- don’t give any one person that much power and see the pain caused as a means to evaluate the deeper issues you have and believe about yourself. Protect yourself as a person and your internal peace by 1) addressing statements and actions that hurt you only after you thought about why; 2) addressing the issue with the person directly that caused the pain absent accusatory language and with a focus on your responsive feelings (versus someone doing that to you); and 3) move on regardless of the response from the other person as once you address the issue internally or externally, you can release it without hesitation.

Divorce is a complex process overall and especially on our emotional response systems.https://www.martonelawgroup.com/blog/healing-from-heartbreak_2/. Making sure you are grounded as you can be during the process assists in the overall outcome of moving forward.    Sitting back and feeling helpless, unable to defend yourself and reacting with anger can result in many years of regrets after the divorce is over. https://www.martonelawgroup.com/blog/maintaining-mental-and-physical-health-during-a-divorce_2/ It is helpful to work on yourself during a divorce including your response to pain as there are very few experiences that can trigger these emotions as much as divorce can. Use the help of a therapist, self-help books that encourage freedom and conscious decision making, and utilize an experienced family law attorney to ensure your emotions don’t equate to a divorce that drains your financial assets.

Books often recommended to my clients are as follows:

  1.  Language of Letting Go   https://www.amazon.com/Language-Letting-Go-Hazelden-Meditation-ebook/dp/B00BS02CLG
  2.  Choices. https://www.amazon.com/Choices-Taking-Control-Making-Matter/dp/0060507225
  3.   The Four Agreements. https://www.amazon.com/Four-Agreements-Practical-Personal-Freedom/dp/1878424319


If you or someone you know is going through the difficult process of divorce, please feel free to call Kelli M. Martone, Esq., at 856-617-6700 to schedule a consultation and feel positive to your path towards a new life.