It’s normal to feel angry after a breakup. It’s actually one of the key stages of grief after heartbreak so it’s usually pretty unavoidable – no matter what shape or size it comes in. The anger usually sets in once the denial has been released. You realise it’s over, there’s no going back, everything feels very real all of a sudden and there’s nothing you can do to change it. Sometimes the anger is a masking effect, in an attempt to hide the pain that will inevitably follow. Other times it’s just your brain trying to process the situation and the things that don’t feel right, or you wish were different. Either way, dealing with anger after a breakup is fundamental for your sanity!
How To Let Go Of Your Anger After a Breakup
So what do you do? How do you deal with your anger after a breakup? Well first off, I recommend following this simple three-step process.
1) Get Clear On What You’re Angry About
After a breakup, we can often try to avoid thinking about our ex. It hurts. It stirs up more of these ‘crappy’ feelings. And replaying the past isn’t productive – nor is longing for the person you’re no longer with.
Getting your ex out of the forefront of your mind is therefore beneficial, but you can’t block them out completely. There’s just a time and place for it.
If you want to get rid of them, you have to face them head on. You have to process your emotions properly and understand where they’re coming from. Only then can you work through them and find new, empowering ways to look at things.
So when you’re ready, I want you to ask yourself:
- What is it that I’m angry about here?
- Or more specifically, what is it about my past relationship that makes me feel so frustrated?
- Was it the way I was (mis)treated? Or the way it all panned out?
- What about the mistakes I made – are they eating away at me more?
- Are there certain situations that keep replaying over and over in my head?
- Or certain negative thoughts / beliefs that you have about yourself now?
Write everything down. Get clear on it. Then I want you to circle the three things that are getting to you the most. Think it through. What is playing on your mind the most here? What stirs up these emotions the most frequently and intensely? If there was one thing you could change or do, what would it be?
Got your top three? Okay good. If we can tackle these things first, you may find the rest start to disappear, or at the very least, ease with intensity. That’s right – we’re going straight in for the big boys!
2) Address The Things That Are Frustrating You The Most
Now you have your top three biggest frustrations, I want you to work through the following process with them, one by one. I want you to ask yourself…
– Why does this make me so angry?
And don’t just go for the immediate answer, the first thought, the obvious thing. Dig deeper. Identify as many thoughts and emotions as you can around it to see the full picture.
So for example, let’s say you were cheated on. You’re angry because that was a d*ckhead move, of course. You also know that you didn’t deserve it – you gave the relationship everything you could and would never have done that to him / her.
This also makes you feel angry, because you feel stupid. Stupid for not seeing it coming and stupid for ‘letting it happen.’ (Hey, I’m not saying it’s true. I’m just saying the irrational thoughts that can come to our mind.)
You’re also more than likely to feel angry at yourself – because you’ve let this knock your confidence, make you doubt yourself, and you know you’re better than that.
You want to be able to just let go and move on. You know this person isn’t worth anymore of your time. They’re not even trying to make up for what they’ve done. They’ve given up and it feels like they don’t even care. So there’s also a part of yourself that’s angry for not being as ‘resilient’ as you’d like to be.
You see? It’s not just one thing, so break down each element of your anger and get as clear as you possible can on all those thoughts and emotions running through your mind.
– Am I living the truth? By this I mean, is my anger justified?
So like the cheating example – your anger towards your ex is, of course, fully justified. He / she did you wrong. There was a betrayal. But the rest of it… The thoughts of thinking you had any control over it, doubting yourself – no.
That’s going into the territory of you beating yourself up for the actions of others and that, my friends, is what we won’t tolerate.
Understand where you are and aren’t being reasonable. Know when you’re being too hard on yourself and need to let things go. This second part is essential for helping you to see the situation and your thinking patterns clearly.
Now you’ve broken it all down a little more, you can then move onto the final step to let go of your anger after a breakup.
3) Choose To Change Your Outlook
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you can’t change the situation, change the way you see it. What’s happened has happened. You may not like it, you may not want it and – by the way – it would probably be a good idea to click on over to this article for how to come to terms with it.
The thing is, we’ve done all the groundwork now. We know why we feel the way we feel, we’ve gained more clarity on our thoughts around it all. So the final step to let go of that anger, is to change those thoughts.
And I know what you’re thinking, “Well damnnnn, why didn’t I think of that?!” But there’s no need for the sarcasm! I know it’s not easy. I know all too well. It takes consistent focus and commitment. Which sounds crazy right? But it’s true.
If you want to change the way you think about something:
- You need to understand the way you look at it now.
- You need to get clear on this new empowering way you’re choosing to look at it. This will replace the old belief.
- You have to keep repeating it, over and over to yourself.
You’re not kidding yourself. You have to see the truth in the new way you choose to think – otherwise it just won’t work. But it’s important you keep reminding yourself. Again and again. Until finally it sinks in.
“This wasn’t my fault. How he treated me was no reflection on me. I’m going to move on to be happier now – and what he does is no longer even important.”
Drill it in guys. Drill it in.
For every negative thought you identified in step two, I want you to challenge it and find a replacement statement. If it makes it easier, write it down on your phone. For example, you might have something like…
“I was angry at myself for staying in the relationship for too long, wasting time and tolerating all the crap that I did. BUT —> I’m not going to waste anymore time going over that. I needed to get that low, to fly as high as I will right now. That was one chapter, but it’s behind me now. It will only have shaped my future for the better, because I’ve learnt the lessons I needed to and will never make the same mistakes again.”
Okay, that was more long-winded that intended! That was actually part of a response I wrote back in an Ask Ell chat here. Short and snappy will be better because it’s easy to read and digest whenever you need. But you get my gist. And actually – if you need to get it all out in a ramble, do it. Whatever helps you. There’s no right or wrong here.
The most important thing is that you’re understanding where your anger is coming from, getting clear on how exactly you feel, and then challenging those negative thoughts or feelings, replacing them with more empowering beliefs. When you do this, and consistently do it, I promise, all that anger will start to fade.
Coping Strategies To Deal With Your Anger After a Breakup
What else can you do to deal with anger after a breakup? Oh, okay then, let’s run a few more ‘tools’…
1) Find An Outlet
What are you going to do in the moments you find your anger rising up? Lash out? I think not. Keep it bottled in? Also not recommended.
Some healthy outlets for your anger include: exercise, meditation, journalising or talking things through with a friend / coach. Try different things. Find different ways to respond.
2) Walk It Out
If you feel yourself getting worked up, get up and MOVE! The change of scenery, the removal of stagnation, the increased circulation – it helps in many ways that exercise does – except you don’t need to do a big thing to get the benefits.
Pace around, walk it out. In fact, walk and walk and walk until you finally feel like you can BREATH again. This is my go-to strategy when dealing with any overwhelming emotions, so you should certainly give it a go.
3) Use Relaxation Techniques
Time to breaaaaathe. To make things nice and easy with this tip, I’ve actually created a list of my top 10 relaxation strategies. Click on through here and start swatting up. Talking of which, it’s also invaluable to…
4) Learn More About How To Manage Your Emotions
Again, I’m not going to go into detail on this post. Instead, I want you to click on through to here and let me teach you. Learning how to better manage your emotions so that YOU can control them instead of them controlling you, well – quite simply – it’s going to change your life.
5) Try Visualisations
This is one of our relaxation techniques actually, but whenever you feel yourself getting worked up over your ex, tell your mind “no, no, no” and instead allow yourself to be taken to a place that calms you.
Uh huh, you don’t have to get yourself over to the beach to be able to feel the effects of it. It will shift your state and when you do then return to reality, you’ll be able to think far more clearly. This leads me onto my next suggestion.
6) Calm Yourself Down With Positive Mantras
“I won’t let him ruin my day. I won’t let him ruin my day.” Powerful, positive mantras can be great for diffusing anger after a breakup. It’s like having your own little cheerleader on your shoulder, pulling you back on track and reminding you of what’s important.
“Calm. Strong. Confident. I will remain calm, strong and confident.”
7) Defuse Your Anger With Humour
Finding the lighter side to a situation can also help you keep a balanced perspective – believe it or not! Now, this doesn’t mean you should simply laugh off your problems. Instead it’s more about taking away some of its intensity and power.
When you look back at this, what will you find ‘amusing’? Or, okay – try this – if you were looking to pull this into an open-mic script, how would you lighten it up, try to spin it? The distraction in itself will help to ease the anger, alongside encouraging you to see it in a different way.
8) Use Counting As a Calming Tool
Count down from 10, taking deep breaths as you do so. Think of nothing else but the numbers and count down slowly. One number, with each breath. If you’re really mad, start at 100 – gee, go for a frickin’ thousand if you have to!
But in the time it takes you to count, your heart rate will slow, and your anger will likely subside. This is great in the heat of the moment when you’re thinking about your ex, talking about the breakup, or are in a confronting situation following it.
9) Express How You Feel
Have a sing along to some heartfelt music, talk to a friend, write some poetry, create some artwork, write a letter (that you won’t send) or even just journal away in your diary – getting all your thoughts on paper until finally that after after the breakup starts to subside. Just like we spoke about finding an outlet above, I want you to think about how you can incorporate expressing how you feel as part of that.
10) Take Action
There’s going to be a lot of things out of your control here. That’s one of the things that makes you so angry. In fact, it’s probably these uncontrollable things that drive most of the anger after a breakup. But instead of getting worked up, look at what you CAN do.
- What would help right now?
- What could make a difference?
- What would be pretty positive for you and your mental wellbeing… or more accurately I suppose, for your sanity?!
Instead of focusing on your anger, focus on moving forward, driving change, doing something about it – even if all you can do is something small. Small steps forward are better than no steps, right?
This Anger After a Breakup Will Fade…
It’s okay to feel angry after a breakup. Gee – you’re allowed to feel a whole frickin’ wave of emotions because breakups are hard as hell!
Just know that you won’t feel like this forever. You will reach a point where none of this even really bothers you anymore. In the meantime, just do what you need to do to best manage your anger and I promise you – gradually – it will all start to get that little bit easier.
One final thing worth considering? Forgiveness. I know you might not be ready for it just yet, but forgiveness really helps to fade the anger after a breakup.
You forgive for your benefit, not for anyone else’s and you don’t even need to necessarily express that forgiveness to your ex (he doesn’t need to know!)
But what you will be doing is letting go of the things that once hurt you, gaining empathy for that person to replace the anger and choosing to not hold onto it anymore.
Take care. And remember – you don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared, or anxious. Having feelings doesn’t make you a negative person. It makes you human. Simply feel them, then choose to let go of them.