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Is Resentment Keeping You Stuck After Divorce?

By Donna McGoff November 16, 2022 Family

There is a five-phase cycle to divorce recovery of feelings and emotions that you may experience after your transition through divorce. It’s called the Road Through Recovery. Some women feel “stuck” or “in pain” in one of the phases, go back and forth in between them, or skip over one or two.

How Can Learning About the Road Through Recovery Benefit You?

Firstly, it can help you to get more in touch with your feelings and emotions. By that I mean, it guides you to begin noticing your thoughts. When you begin to notice your thoughts, you can then become aware of what “triggers” them.

Once aware of what triggers your thoughts, you can start observing them instead of getting all wrapped up within them. You get less involved in the self-talk conversation that you have in your head. You know, the one that continues to remind you about your dissatisfaction or misery at the present moment.

Why is it important to notice and be the observer of your thoughts? You’ll experience a less contracted feeling inside because you’re not all consumed with the thought.

Instead, you start to step into your power. Your healing gets underway. It’s the first step. It’s not that feelings aren’t still there, but you are in control of them; and most of all, your feelings aren’t in control of you.

Secondly, by creating a higher level of awareness of what you are thinking, you begin to notice dominating thoughts of longing and discontent that repeatedly come up. Equally important and with confidence, you can pinpoint exactly where you are “stuck.”

Thirdly, when you know exactly where you’re stuck, according to your present feelings and emotions, you have the starting point to create a plan of action to move past it.

(I’ll be giving you some questions, suggestions, and ideas to help you form a plan of action.)

What Will You Learn?

This article will teach you about the second phase on the Road Through Recovery called the Resentment phase. If you missed the article about the first phase, Rejection, you can read about it here.

Next, I’ll give you a real-life example of someone who is stuck in the Resentment phase. Then, you’ll see how she overcomes challenges and beliefs holding her back.

Finally, as a bonus, I include the RESENTMENT Phase Survey which gives ideas and suggestions of action steps you can take.

How Will You Know If You’re Stuck Here?

In the Resentment Phase, you begin to allow the intense feelings that you reject in the first phase (Rejection) to finally hit. It could be fear, anger, pain or hurt that rushes in and fills your senses. For some, it can take a while as in this phase, you are allowing what you feel and the emotions you are experiencing to come in.

The feelings are usually extremely uncomfortable. When you first release the emotions related to loss, resentment is usually the first feeling to show up. This can display in the form of anger which may mask or hide many of the emotions and pain you are experiencing.

What Can Alert You to This Situation?

When you start to notice your thoughts, you learn to become aware of situations, conditions, circumstances, and people that push your emotional buttons. Additionally, it can help you to take a step back, and choose a better way of handling emotions and feelings.

It is important to express and let out those feelings in a healthy way; otherwise, you may find yourself blaming others, lashing out, or reacting in other damaging or ineffective ways.

With this in mind, feeling resentment and allowing it to wash over you can be very productive. The intensity of the feeling will begin to lessen.

The good news about being stuck in the Resentment phase is these feelings can also help to motivate and empower you to start to cut the cord. If they are channeled in the right direction, you will have the power to make the difficult emotional break that needs to happen in order to move forward.

Holding on to resentment can keep you in a self-imposed prison and is a risk if you make it your final destination. Deciding to change your mindset and behavior means that you are willing to start to think positively and accept responsibility for your own personal accountability.

Meet Joan

Joan has come to terms with the fact that this is a transition in life that she is now in, has no control over, and has to adapt to this change.

She married her college sweetheart, Henry. They were married for 42 years. Henry had been cheating on her for years with one of his co-workers. Not only that, but once she went digging around, more dirt surfaced about other infidelities.

Joan is so humiliated and hurt that once she works through the Rejection phase on her own, she needs help with the deep resentment and betrayal she feels after all those years of thinking she has a good marriage and trustworthy spouse.

She experiences anger and fear of the unknown that lays ahead. The pain starts to set in. It manifests itself with intense emotions of fury and rage. The good news is that experiencing the anger and other strong emotions is a necessary part of the healing process.

The more she allows herself to feel the anger and let it pass through her, the more the intensity of the emotion will dissolve.

Here Are Some Steps Joan Can Take

Joan becomes “unstuck” and moves past the Road through Recovery when she begins looking at her situation differently. It is “key” that she start to look at the same situation from a different, unfamiliar perspective.

Why? If she continues to look at the situation from the same perspective, she continues to feel the same feelings and emotions. Joan reacts the same way over and over and continues to get the same results.

Using the free RESENTMENT PHASE SURVEY, here are some action steps she creates to move out of the Resentment phase on The Road Through Recovery:

  • Find ways to manage resentment so she can stop playing the “victim.”
  • Create change for constructive decision-making moving forward.
  • Learn to control overreacting to situations and blaming others for her behavior.

What Are the Positive Takeaways?

Joan admits to playing the “victim” and that she had adopted this behavior through her own choice. Although it’s the choice she makes up until now, she can change her attitude, perspective, and way of thinking right in this moment!

She learns to control her impulses so that she no longer gives up the power over her emotions. Although she can’t control the way others act, she has control over how she responds to situations that might “trigger” victim behavior.

Joan realizes that her anger and lashing out were detrimental to herself and those around her. She takes responsibility for her actions. She makes a plan to use that anger and channel its energy into something positive and creative. Joan also has to work through taking some responsibility for her own choices that didn’t leave her totally blameless.

She rises up after divorce, and so can you.

If you feel you may be stuck in the Resentment phase, I encourage you to take the RESENTMENT PHASE SURVEY. It’s the bonus I include for you as my gift. It has questions, suggestions, and ideas for action steps going forward. You can learn more about the whole process, Rise Up After Divorce, and how to create a new, purposeful life you would love living.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you feel stuck in the Resentment phase after divorce? Does the expression of anger at your former spouse or others who will listen, really do any good? Does it serve any constructive purpose? Is it going to change the circumstances as they are now? Is it wreaking havoc with your physical well-being?

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The Author

Donna McGoff is the founder of Living Above The Ordinary. She holds a Master’s degree in human development, counseling, and family studies and is a certified life coach specializing in divorce recovery. Donna’s passion is helping women move beyond divorce empowering them to embrace a new beginning creating a new, purposeful life.

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