Going through a breakup or separation is no cake-walk. Even the wisest minds and the strongest hearts often fail to sail through it.
In my case, being on a little emotionally-sensitive side, breakups have always been a bad deal to me. Not just they were always been extremely painful to get over, but when they started to take over other areas of my life, they became equally frustrating too.
Irrespective of the duration and intensity of relationships I had been into, if they ended against my wishes, they surely took a major toll on my life by negatively impacting me both mentally and physically. I had always been resilient to let go of people away from me. Especially the ones I was romantically involved with. Not always for the sake of love, but for a sense of importance and emotional support those relationships provided me. Because It’s something I found tough to achieve it for myself. For me, being in a relationship held more value than the person I was in a relationship with.
I hated to be on the receiving side of the breakup decisions. I hated to be left with no options but to survive through it. That wasn’t acceptable. Not to me at least.
Though It could have been a little easier if the breakups & separations were the only things I dealt with– what always shattered me were the rampant emotions that followed after each heartbreak. Out of those zillions of emotions, I suffered post-breakup, anger had always been the most intractable. I never accepted those breakups constructively. Digesting a sudden change in the behavior of a person never made any sense to me. And in those periods of mental discomfort, anger was the only way to express my pain and hurt that came naturally out of me.
It took me a lot of good years to realize that I was wrong. To realize that anger wasn’t the solution, but another problem in itself. I was too busy controlling and fixing the outer world outside that I never paid attention to the internal one. Not just it slowly hijacked my mental peace but also deprived me of all the happiness as if there’s no end to these sorrows.
Life appeared to be stuck in an unruly loop after each breakup. Then one day — I decided to break this loop for good. My own good.
I had two choices:
…One, to do nothing but to continue with my usual anger outbursts over things I had no control over and turn my emotions against me like I always did…
…Or to deal with the situation by taking control of my emotions and actions, and finally liberate myself from all the self-created negativity and move-on happily to explore other things I always underestimated about myself.
Sensibly, I chose the latter option. And that single decision changed everything.
Some realizations I had:
Even when the breakup happens for good, even mutual ones, it results in some extent of anger. This is a default emotion that resides in everybody and shows up every time when someone disrespects us, disempower us, or disappoint us against our will.
And when I decided to divert my attention inside, I realized a lot of things. Like these:
I suffered from low self-esteem
People with low self-esteem often tend to get angrier when their relationship ends. They deal with such a poor self-image and low-confidence that their whole focus shifts to keeping their partner happy rather than enjoying being in a relationship with them.
I always feared that my partner would stop loving me or get bore with me if I fail to keep them entertained and happy. I even went out of my comfort zone to make them feel special. Not out of love, but to bribe them with reasons that No-one could love them the way I do. Mine gestures originated out of the fear of losing them, not out of love. For me, my relationships were nothing but a tag to validate my own self-worth and self-importance. I wanted the approval of others to fuel my identity.
When things ended on a bad note I did try my best to force guilt on my ex-partners. I reminded them of everything I did for them, of all the gifts I bought, of all the ‘sacrifices’ I made, and of all the ‘love’ I showered them with.
I had to stop them from leaving me, I had to force them to change their decision because I couldn’t bear the tag of rejection. That could hurt my self-confidence. And when they didn’t reciprocate in the way I expected, that’s when anger made its entry. Disguised in the form of broken trust, emotional discomfort, and betrayal.
I held my ex-partners responsible for it.
Some people never bother to accept their part of their mistakes. Instead, they keep on finding opportunities and people to hold responsible for every problem they are facing in their lives.
Interestingly, when in a relationship, people want every bit of credit for even the tiniest of the efforts and moments. Everything revolves around “Us and We”. And the moment relationship goes off-track, people suddenly whitewash their role and start graying their partner’s. After that, all that remains is the war of ‘I Me and Myself’.
Even I take the blame for this one. I did possibly everything to hold my exes responsible for everything that happened bad to the relationship. And to me.
Not surprisingly, in doing so, I suffered inner conflicts between my actions and inner truths. And that unalignment further fueled the anger inside me. I knew that I am equally responsible too, but my anger blinded me to see anything beyond my ego.
I believed I didn’t deserve it
Then comes the genuine anger that results from a heartbreak. We have all the right to get angry. We are human, we believe in bonding with people, we survive on love and compassion, we build trust to grow. And, when a relationship ends, that’s so dear to you, getting angry is not an alien reaction.
However, victimizing yourself is no wise either.
A lot of things we face in life are not what we deserve, yet we have no option but to get off it n’ move on — not because we have a heart of gold, but simply because this makes perfect sense. Sadly, I never tried to make this perfect sense. I chose to call myself a victim. That’s where I lost my power to control my actions and reactions. I got myself stuck in limiting beliefs. That’s when anger took me over.
And here’s what my anger made me do…
Not everyone is mindfully aware to redirect their anger towards the better. Instead, they indulge themselves in negative outlook and actions that further create a more stressful environment around them.
When dealing with stressful situations like these, things like these should clearly be avoided. Sadly, I couldn’t do it myself.
Badmouth my ex in front of everyone
I found my solace after a breakup by slamming my ex in front of the whole world. I wanted everyone to know the degree of ‘emotional exploitation’ that I suffered in my relationships.
I slipped into the ‘victim’ zone by purposely pointing out my ex-partners’ mistakes by letting everyone know how I suffered wrongdoings of those ex-partners. Though this didn’t help me in controlling my anger. But it did satisfy my fake ego; at least that’s what I chose to believe.
Character assassination of my ex
Even after knowing that it’s the most unethical way to deal with anger after a breakup, I didn’t feel shy taking my anger to the next level by assassinating some of my exes’ character. I kept their core values and ethics aside and started spreading their secrets, false rumors, and fake links ups to intentionally gray their social image and to bring shame to them. Yes, I am guilty of it.
However, instead of finding the peace I ended up angrier than before and also faced criticism for my actions in return. I still regret this part.
Attracted bad things for my ex
I thought that the best way to bring peace in my life is to attract disturbance in my ex-partners’ lives. Day and night people I wished adversity for them just because they hurt me. I wished that they never find true love again. Not that mine was true love.
In the process, I completely forget the big picture. That by doing this I was inviting the same level of negativity in my life too. For every pain I was attracting for my ex, I was creating more pain for myself.
Only after I got a chance to read ‘The Secret’, I got to know that we all vibrate on some level of frequency, positive or negative. And that frequency depends on the quality of thoughts we choose to play in our minds. If we choose negative then negativity follows in life, and vice versa.
There’s no way anyone can bring positivity and peace in their life by attracting negativity in others’ lives. That wisdom came late to me.
Unsuccessfully attempts to make my ex realize her mistakes
I clearly remember that just after my breakup I used to call and text my ex continually, expecting her to realize her mistake and force her to come back to me again. I believed that certain misunderstanding or mood swings could be the reason she broke up. And I presumed it was my duty to make her realize those things.
However, I was wrong. She never reciprocated the same way I wanted her to. And that…Irritated me to the core. It took me a long time to understand a simple fact; you can’t force anyone to realize things that you expect. It only works when it’s natural.
Not everyone shares the same thinking and philosophy as ours. Unless realization arises out of sincere honesty, it’s useless.
And finally, that’s what I did get over anger after my breakups
It all changed when I decided to change. I finally choose to turn my attention on things I had control over. I changed myself, and then, everything changed.
1. Acceptance and expression
You won’t be rewarded for maintaining a happy face after an intense heartbreak. If you are dealing with anger issues after your breakup, it’s no wise in hiding it behind a dummy smile.
Every change you seek begins with a sincere acceptance that there’s something that’s bothering you and it needs to be changed. You can’t blind shut yourself from situations. Changes never happen on auto-mode.
I cried. I cried a lot. Even if It reflected my emotional weaknesses, even if it hurt a little, I chose not to control my natural reactions towards pain. I removed all emotional barriers and let all the emotions to flow outwards naturally. It allowed me to feel human. It allowed me to accept that it’s impossible to control everything. It helped my mind to work for me rather than working against me.
The key to lowering your pain is to accept it, feel it, and express it. Even if you feel like outbursting your anger once, just do it. Don’t overthink what people might judge you, how it may affect your relationships with them; because if you need to deal with it, accepting and expressing your anger is the first step towards recovery.
In my case, accepting four things helped me:
- That I have no control over the emotions and reactions of other people.
- That I shouldn’t be emotionally over-dependent on others.
- That I wasn’t a victim.
- That not everyone means to stay.
2. Reach out to the source
Now that you have wholeheartedly accepted your situation, proceed to the next step; reach out to the source that triggers your anger. Obviously, you can’t be mad at everything; there must be something that triggers and intensifies your anger.
In my case, it was a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. It was my need to seek validity that made me emotionally vulnerable. My anger aroused from the fear of being left alone and fear of rejection. I was nothing without relationships and my relationships made me something. My desperation to be that something and fear of not falling back to being nothing was the root cause of everything I faced after breakups.
Maybe in your case, it could be the thought of seeing your ex dating somebody else, thought of losing your ex forever, feeling of unworthiness, the humiliation of getting dumped, or something from your childhood past might be triggering it, there must be some source of your anger. And your job is to become aware of that source consciously.
For that to understand you need to be aware of the thoughts playing in your mind, and then figuring out the quality of emotions those thoughts are generating inside you. And then closely notice how your body is responding to those reactions.
For example, as you may have experienced, whenever we feel a sense of fear and discomfort, our muscles start to tighten and we feel shortness of breath. Those are nothing but the reactions of emotions generated by some thoughts. Likewise, different emotions can have different kinds of reactions. And your job is to pay attention to those reactions and to trace back to the source that’s generating them.
Now, whenever you get angry towards something, take a deep breath and try to figure out what were the last thoughts in your mind before anger took you over. And then keep connecting the dots backward.
3. Take responsibility
I don’t know if that was genetically infused into me or I created it for me due to issues of poor self-image, but I always withdrew myself from situations I found uncomfortable. Either I put blame on others for everything bad happening to me or crib endlessly for my bad luck. Neither of those worked for me.
My earlier belief was that if am good with someone, then the other person is also bound to reciprocate with the same feelings. If they don’t, then they became a negative character in my blame games. This way I allowed everyone to drive my life and emotions. I let everyone but just myself to decide the quality of my moods. Like I’m a puppet with his strings pulled by others.
I lost control of the situations, actions, and the reactions that followed after. That’s how I dig my own emotional grave.
Then arrive in my life a book that helped me change my perception of everything. It gave me a reflection of the mistakes that I was committing for a long time. The book was “How to get from where you are to where you want to be”. That was the first book I ever read in my life. Obviously except for the textbooks.
There was a chapter in that book that says — you can’t change anything unless you take responsibility to change it. For something to change outside, a lot has to change inside. And the first step is to take responsibility. If you are not happy with the way things are going on, take the responsibility to change it. If not, then at least don’t crib about it.
Then I realized that whatever I am feeling and experiencing right now it’s something that’s happening inside me. I can’t expect others to fix me. Only I can turn the right knob in the right direction. Surely others can provide temporary relief by consoling me, by motivating me, by making me see the sunny side, but they can’t fix it for me. That realization came to me slowly and gradually. And with that, I decided to fix myself.
You can’t direct or drive any car while sitting on the passenger seat, likewise, you can’t change any life situation or overcome any emotion, unless you get on the driver seat and take charge.
I took the responsibility for everything that has happened to me, be it the choice I made, the actions I took. I took full responsibility for my current situation even if I believe I made no mistakes. And I healed.
4. Write a letter to your ex (don’t post it)
We all have something in our hearts and mind that remains unsaid after a breakup. And, we continue to keep it inside as we believe it’s too late to express it now. By doing so we think we might be helping and protecting ourselves from the emotional outburst.
As time passes, those little unsaid things start mutating themselves into big things and one day when we fail to keep them inside, they outburst irrationally, especially in the form of extreme anger.
But on the other hand, expressing everything to your ex is no wise either. As it might arouse more complications and bitterness.
Deadlock situation, isn’t it? No! Surprisingly it’s not. There’s a way to deal with it.
This tip came from one of my maternal uncles. To be honest I found it silly at first. He asked me to grab a pen and paper, not digital means(go old-fashioned here) and asked me to write my heart out, without thinking and worrying about the grammar, etc. Even if words don’t make sense, he wanted me to continue writing till my finger hurts or I finally fall out of words.
He wanted me to pour my anger through words on that paper without judging those words, even when if they sound wrong and ill-mannered.
“Be transparent and don’t whitewash your thought, you have nothing to prove to anybody. So write everything that comes to your mind”, that’s what he said to me.
Followed with, “And when you finish with it the letter, take a deep breath. And just burn that letter. Then see your anger and negativity burning with that paper.”
Yes, you read it right. He asked me to burn it. And that’s exactly what I did after successfully finishing that letter. I am not sure if it makes sense scientifically, but I worked for me.
Can this work for you too?
I am not sure, why don’t you try it yourselves and let me know if it does?
5. Talk it out
Don’t let the anger bubble to build inside you, nobody can save it from bursting. Instead, talk it out. Find some person, among friends or family, and let them know about the issues you are struggling with. Don’t be afraid of being judged or misunderstood.
Luckily, my family has always been a great pillar of support to me. No matter what I faced in life, I always found them stand with me by my side. I remember sharing everything with my mother and gladly, she listened to all of it patiently. She helped me to understand a few things which I couldn’t have done it alone.
She was blunt and straightforward. She never whitewashed my wrongs acts that I did out of anger. She was never biased towards me. She never felt shy to tell me the right things even if it put me in discomfort. Sharing these issues with her work every time for me.
So whenever things get out of your range of control, sit down with someone you can trust and talk your heart out in front of them. Let them know how your emotions have turned against you and how they are stealing peace out of your life. Chances are they will understand and can also help you to see things with a different and wider perspective.
If in case, you find it difficult to open in front of known people, seek out professional help. Take anger management classes, consult some professionals. They are best in handling these issues, that’s why they are professionals, right? It’s their job to help you bring peace in your mind and show you the way to overcome mental hurdles that are bothering you.
If any minute you feel things are getting out of your hands and anger is taking over your life, don’t wait, just turn out for help.
6. Channel it to the right place
Anger is not bad for us altogether. Some kind of anger is indeed necessary for all of us. There are so many areas in life which demand a certain level of anger and aggression to accomplish them successfully.
For example, in some sports like boxing, football, wrestling, or rugby, players need a level of aggression in themselves to give their best performance. Of course, not everyone is not an athlete, however many areas in our life too demand some controlled level of aggression.
I found my channel of expression by working out in the gym. After my last serious breakup, I lost around 15 kg of weight. I completely neglected myself and indulged myself in acts that further affected my health adversely. I downgraded my health to the point where my father had to finally ask me if I am on some drugs or anything (trust me, I wasn’t though). And that’s when I decided to change. Change for good.
I joined a local gym that finally helped me bring my diet and routine on track. Gladly, my father never asked that question from me again. I changed my lifestyle for the better not by letting my anger to rule, but by diverting it on the productive channel.
The point is not to control aggression, but to channel that aggression towards the areas in which it is required. Rather than letting anger taking over your life and drain your energy, divert it towards where it’s necessary and beneficial.
Fire can both light up the dark and can bring down a house to ashes, likewise, your anger can both harm you or benefit you based on how you channel it.
Over to you
Do let me know if the above things worked out well for you. Even feel free to add any other useful tips you found helpful while overcoming anger after your breakup.
DON’T LET A BREAKUP BREAK YOU.
If you like it, I believe you will love my other stories too