When we are experiencing or recovering from divorce, remembering to find joy in everyday things during any season can be difficult. One of the reasons that, despite our best efforts, we can find it almost impossible to move on is when we are prisoner to one of the ugliest feelings of all.

Being Bitter.

Bitterness is nasty. Unlike feelings of guilt and shame, what makes bitterness so ugly is that it has a tendency to turn you, an otherwise kind and reasoned person, into someone who is so pissed off at their own life situation and so pissed off at their ex and their ex’s new life, that it is impossible to plan for the future and move on.

Bitterness makes it hard even for the people who love you to be around you. Bitterness makes it hard for you to focus on all the good stuff you have going on in your life. And bitterness keeps you from moving the hell on. Definitely not what you want or deserve.

Today, we are going to focus on beating that bitterness back (say that five time in a row!). Because what you need to remember is you don’t need to live with it, it doesn’t need to become a part of you, and you certainly don’t have to resign yourself to a life of feeling like shit when you deserve to focus on a future of being happy instead.

Remaining bitter means that you are a prisoner to your past, when you should be focusing on your future instead.

Bitterness is a combination of anger, disappointment, and resentment at being treated unfairly. Did you notice that? The verb treated is in the past tense, and it deals with things that happened that you cannot change and cannot control.

The more you continue to look in the past, the harder and harder it becomes to plan for the things you can control. Such as your future. And your happiness. And the rest of your life, which I’m pretty sure you don’t want to live with the weight of feeling screwed over still resting on your shoulders.

So, knock it off. You need to spend that emotional energy on planning your future. Every time you feel yourself getting bitter for something that happened in your marriage, nip that thought in the bud. And instead start channeling those feelings and that energy into planning your future and your new life.

Being bitter means that you are letting your ex continue to hurt you, and you deserve better than that craziness.

Feeling resentful because of being treated unfairly during your marriage sucks. It’s completely not fair and not right that your ex did not treat you with the love and respect that you deserved.

But remember, that the longer you allow yourself to feel pissed off because of the harm this person did to you during your marriage, the longer and easier it is for them to have control over you.

Keep in mind that your marriage with this person has ended, and you do not owe them ANY of your emotional energy.

There is most likely a reason that you are no longer with that person, and being divorced has given you the chance to start over and do things on your own terms. So why let your ex have any more control over you? This is your chance to define who you are, what it is that you want, and where it is that you want to be. And that sure as hell has nothing to do with your ex being able to dictate how you feel, which is exactly what happens when you’re bitter.

You can let it go. You deserve to let it go. Because it sure as hell does not serve you.

Exercise: Kick the bitterness to the curb

Okay, okay, I get it. You may be saying, “Martha, that’s easy for you to say! You’re a divorce coach who’s trained in this stuff. But how am I, just a divorcee who’s trying to get my life back, supposed to get a handle on getting out of the bitter mindset?”

Well, I am sooooo glad you asked. And it should come as no surprise that….TA-DA!! I have a starter exercise for you to help you do away with that bitterness.

1. Write down—and be specific—about the things that are exactly making you bitter. But I don’t want you spending a whole lot of time reflecting on that type of stuff for a number of reasons. One, because the factors leading up to you feeling that way are in your past, which you can’t change. Two, because the only way you can overcome those feeling is to reframe how you think of it and focus on the future instead. Need some examples? Take a look below!

•I feel bitter because I got screwed over with money in the settlement.

•I feel bitter because I see my ex moved on with their new relationship and I’m still here with nothing.

2. After you have written down what you feel bitter about, now is the time to reframe that state of mind. The problem with being bitter is that it forces us to look at something in the negative light, when, in fact, what we feel to be something negative may actually be a blessing in disguise. See what I mean below.

•I’m feeling like I got screwed over. What does that mean exactly? Screwed over with my finances? Well, doesn’t that actually mean that I now have the freedom to watch my own budget and prioritize what’s important for me, instead of having to ask for their permission or having someone watch what I’m doing all the time? Heck yes! Now I get to manage my own finances—it may be difficult because I may not be as comfortable as I once was, but what I have and what I control is mine and mine alone.

•I’m bitter because my ex has moved on and I’m still here. Okay, so I’m not with my ex anymore, but that means that I don’t have to put up with all their craziness. Oh, so he/she has a new partner? Well, let them deal with my ex—I am better off without them and now I am free and my life is now my own. They actually did me a favor. I am better off without my partner, and if anything, I can actually feel happy and relieved that such toxicity is no longer in my life, dragging me down.

If the bitterness is still holding you prisoner, you do not have to fight the battle alone.

It’s normal to have some residual hard feelings after a split. However, if you find yourself not being able to shake it after time has passed, and even by changing your mindset, remember that you have options for reaching out for a little assistance. Depending on your needs, you may find that working with a divorce coach or a therapist can help you pinpoint what is holding you back and can help you move on.

You should not have to be a prisoner to feeling bitter, and there is no reason that it needs to control your life.

Remember that you are better than that, and that you deserve a hell of a lot more for yourself and your future than letting those feelings of resentment and unjust treatment weigh you down. You have an awesome future ahead of you and deserve to be happy.

Author's Bio: 

Martha Bodyfelt is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach® whose website “Surviving Your Split” helps readers navigate their divorce with less stress and drama, so they can move on with their lives. For your Free Divorce Warrior Survival Kit, stop by Surviving Your Split or drop Martha a line at martha@survivingyoursplit.com. You can also visit her on Facebook.