Divorce often feels like you're on an emotional rollercoaster. Listen in to find out how to create emotional detachment after divorce so you can step off that rollercoaster.
Divorce often feels like you're on an emotional rollercoaster. It's common to feel like you can't move on after divorce because of the emotional baggage you're carrying around created by your ex. The negative emotions can feel heavy and overwhelming.
Listen in to discover two new concepts you can implement to help you create emotional detachment after divorce and step off that emotional rollercoaster.
If you want to start living a life where you feel in control of your emotions, without feeling overwhelmed or that your ex is still emotionally manipulating you, then you need to schedule your free consult call with me. Click here to schedule.
What you'll learn from this episode:
What's actually causing your emotions.
How to take back control over your emotions.
Why awareness is the key to change.
How to process through any emotion.
List to the full episode:
Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome back to Becoming You Again. I am Karin Nelson and I am your host for today’s episode. Well for all of the episodes really. If we want to be real about it, I’m the host of all of the episodes but I am so glad that you are back for another podcast because today I’m going to be talking about emotional detachment after divorce.
Many people come to me struggling with the emotional rollercoaster they are on during and after their divorce. It’s very common to feel really like your life is on a rollercoaster because the highs are so high and the lows are so low and it is always up and down or at least that is what it feels like when you are going through a divorce and often for months and months after the divorce. And they find that what they’ve been doing to emotionally detach is to just try and cope with their divorce. This often happens by blaming their feelings on everything that’s happening outside of them or by avoiding any and all negative emotion because they’re too heavy, too hard and exhausting. Often times I hear, “I’m just so tired of feeling all of the emotions, that I just want them all to go away.”
We think it’s going to be impossible to emotionally detach after divorce but this is only because we haven’t learned to take responsibility for our own emotional life. This usually happens for two main reasons. The first reason is because most of the time we think that we are feeling a “negative” feeling like sad, lonely, angry, frustrated. I mean really just insert any other negative emotion that you can think of, right? And we think it is happening because of something outside of us. We are giving all of the power and all of the blame to all of the things outside of us that we have no control over. So we’ll say things like, “My divorce made me so sad and bitter.” Or “My ex makes me so frustrated.” Or “COVID is causing me so much anxiety.” Right? It’s not just things in our divorce that make us feel like our emotions are because of outside things. It is literally so much of our life we base off of how we feel because of what’s happening outside of us. When we attribute what we’re feeling to things out of our control it leaves us feeling powerless to change those feelings because unless everything outside of us changes, we kind of lose hope that we’ll ever be able to feel better.
And the second reason that you haven’t been able to emotionally detach from your divorce is because you think that these emotions hurt really, really bad. That feels so true often, right? The sadness, the depression, the loneliness, the frustration, the anger, the heat; it can feel so all-consuming. In fact it feels so bad that we believe that it is too big, too raw, too heavy and just overwhelmingly exhausting. We don’t think we can handle them. We have all of this evidence that it has been too hard so far. So we do not want to feel them anymore. What we want to do is get rid of them because we just want to feel better. This shows up in many different ways but it can look like finding something to help distract us from the painful emotions. Sometimes we’ll overeat or maybe we’ll binge watch Netflix for hours and hours on end. Or maybe we’ll play video games or maybe even we’ll go to the gym a lot and over exercise. Anything that is going to help distract us in the moment to maybe make us feel a little bit better. It could also look like jumping into a new relationship so that you’re distracted by the excitement and thrill of meeting new people, hoping they’ll make you happy and hoping they’ll fill the void you feel inside. Or it can also look like becoming apathetic and disconnecting from as many people in your life as possible because then you can’t be hurt. If you’re not close enough to anyone they can’t hurt you. The problem with this one is you also disconnect from yourself.
So in today’s podcast episode I’m going to teach you some new concepts that will help you emotionally detach from your divorce in a healthy way and you don’t have to have the world to change for you and you don’t have to disconnect from yourself or your life or even check out of your life to be able to do it.
The first thing you need to do is you need to stop attributing your feelings to things outside of you. Another way of saying this is to stop telling yourself that you’re feeling something because of something else. You’re feeling something because you’re thinking something.
Let me break it down. We all have situations in our lives that happen. Circumstances, right? They are all around us. They are going on all around us. For the most part we can’t control those situations; those circumstances. We give those situations meaning and once we give it meaning that is what creates a feeling inside of our body. The meaning comes from how we’re thinking. It comes from so many different aspects of our lives. It comes from how we were raised. What our parents taught us. Maybe something that we saw or read or have seen in a TV show or a movie or grew up with that we’ve just kind of adopted to be true. Maybe it came from our culture or society around us. There are so many things that inform us to help us give meaning to things. The thoughts we’re thinking about each situation is what causes us to feel something inside our body. It causes those sensations that we are labeling as feelings. Whatever we’re feeling is going to drive us to act or not act in certain ways and those actions ultimately create our life experience.
So let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re having a conversation with your ex about Thanksgiving and he has the kids for the day. He says, “We’re going to my parents and we won’t be back until 8 pm so I’ll need them for two extra hours.” You become very angry but you don’t want to yell in front of the kids because they’re on the speaker phone and so you quickly end the conversation and just say, “I’m going to talk to you about this later.” And then you hang up.
So, this is what you do. You go on social media to your divorce groups and you post about what just happened and you’re saying how you have to vent about this and you talk about it and you’re seething inside. You just want validation that you’re right and he’s wrong. You’re so sick of him making you so angry that you wish that you two could just work things out and coparent in a way where you get along. You then go the cupboard and grab some Oreos to take the edge off the anger for a moment. Then you continue to spin about it in your head the rest of the day thinking about how he’s wrong, he’s doing it wrong, he never should have asked for the extra hours. You’re going to missing your kids terribly on Thanksgiving and how could he possibly even disrespect you in the way that he should ask for two extra hours. Right? We all can relate to a story like this.
In this scenario you are attributing your anger to what your ex said. Now I just want to break the news to you here. This sucks for you because it means that you need him to change in order for you to feel better. It means that he needs to stop saying things, and asking for requests, and telling you that he’s going to bring the kids home two hours late. And he needs to stop doing all of the things that are not meeting your expectation of who you think he should be. Now, we know that’s not likely going to happen. You lived with him for however many years you were married and did he ever change to meet your expectations? My guess is probably not. So we can just probably guess that he’s still not going to meet that expectation. But here’s the really great news for you. We don’t need him to change in order for you to feel better. When you give away your responsibility of your emotional life to things outside of you what it also does it it makes you a victim of an emotion because it makes you think that you can’t control it. But that’s just not true. You are always in charge of your emotions. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t feel these things. Of course, feel whatever you’re feeling, but take ownership of them. Lynn Robbins was teaching the principle on this and he said this, “No one makes us mad. Others don’t make us angry. There is no force involved. Becoming angry is a conscious choice, a decision. Therefore we can make the choice not to become angry. We choose.”
So again, I don’t want you to hear me wrong here. I’m not saying don’t get angry. I am not saying don’t feel negative emotion. Of course, feel those. That is part of the human experience. It is a beautiful thing to feel any and all emotion and to allow those to be there. What I am saying is stop giving the responsibility of you feeling that way to something outside of you. To someone else. To a circumstance in your life. Take ownership of your own emotions because that will give you all of your power back.
Let me go back to this example and explain it in a different way. Your ex says, “We’re going to my parents and won’t be back until 8 pm so I’m going to need them for two extra hours.”
You think, “He shouldn’t be asking for two extra hours. I can’t believe he’s doing this. It’s my holiday with the kids too. He always does this. He is trying to walk all over me. I wish he would just follow the plan and stop asking me for extra time. I always have to bend over backwards and give him what he wants.”
Those are all of the thoughts rolling around in your head and probably more, right? Then you feel, angry and you feel frustrated and you feel powerless. Then you get off the phone quickly. You have lots of thoughts about how he’s the worst, he always does this. Then you go get support and validation from other divorced people, continue to tell the story and feel angry and you try to cope with the anger with Oreos to try to make yourself feel better. The experience is that you continue to feel angry even after the conversation has ended. It continues on throughout your day maybe even weeks at a time. Do you see how you are the creator of the angry feeling? Not your ex. You, by what you’re thinking.
If you want to get to the place of being able to emotionally detach from your divorce, then you have to be willing to take responsibility for everything that you’re feeling. Once you do that, you’ll be able to intentionally choose how you want to feel and what kind of a life you want to create. But this can only happen as you become aware that you are the creator of your feelings.
Awareness is where change begins. Awareness is the opening of your life that let’s light in. Accepting full responsibility for your emotional life is how you emotionally detach from your divorce. It is how you can stop feeling emotionally controlled by your ex, by your divorce, by all of the situations and circumstances outside of you. Awareness is the first step to being able to bring about healing and change inside of you.
You can start today by acknowledging when you notice a negative emotion and that you are the creator of it. It might sound scary or difficult or you don’t really want to believe that you are in charge of your emotions but I promise you if you will be willing to just take ownership and responsibility for it you will start to notice that things don’t feel as heavy and you can start really easy just by accepting responsibility for your own emotional life by saying, “I am feeling this way because of what I am thinking.” It is a simple beginning that will open you up to feeling empowered in your own life.
The second thing you need to do is be willing to feel and process through the negative emotions. In episode 2 I talk about your emotional life and why it’s so important for you to allow yourself to feel all of the emotions, not just the positive ones. And this definitely goes hand in hand with that concept. The more willing you are to process through your emotions, the less scary they become when they show up.
Because the worst thing that can happen to you is you feel a negative emotion. When you feel an emotion you have two things going on simultaneously – you have the thoughts that are happening in your head and you have the sensations that are going on in your body. No one ever really teaches how to process through and allow our negative emotions to be present. We don’t really have to be taught how to allow positive emotions. That is pretty easy because they feel so good. We don’t really ever want to push those ones away when they are there. We enjoy them. But when the negative emotions present themselves we’re taught to change them quickly because negative emotions are bad. We’re taught to act out of them by releasing the emotion in some way; whether it’s by throwing, hitting, punching and even crying is a release of the emotion and not an actual processing of the emotion. Or we’re taught to pretend that everything is fine and push those emotions down and hope that they’ll just go away. But none of these methods are effective in allowing us to really process and move through the emotion.
So the problem then becomes that when we are confronted with something challenging in our life where we have lots of thoughts that are creating excessive negative emotions we feel overwhelmed because we don’t know what to do.
But here’s the key. When you’re feeling a negative emotion you need to get out of your head, away from all the spinning thoughts. You take a deep breath and slow everything down and start to look inward to your body and figure out what’s happening inside your body. What sensations do you feel? Where do you feel them? What’s actually going on inside of you? Not inside your head. Not the thoughts that are spinning but inside your body. Once you practice this and learn to do it effectively your negative emotions won’t be such a problem.
You’ll be able to allow them to be part of your life and really know that nothing has gone wrong when they show up.
When you can combine these two concepts that I talked about today and apply them in your life you will be able to easily emotionally detach from your divorce and begin to live a life that is intentional after divorce. This is what I want for all of you so I hope that you will go throughout this next week or this next month and really practice these two concepts taking ownership over your own emotions and figuring out what they feel like in your body.
If you like what you hear and you want to know more about working 1:1 with me to change your life, you can go to www.karinnelsoncoaching.com and schedule your free consult to learn more. That is www dot Karin Nelson Coaching dot com.
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