How to handle Guilt and Anxiety

01 Aug How to handle Guilt and Anxiety

Guilt is a common emotion when a marriage breaks down. Many of my clients tell me they feel guilty that it didn’t work out and wonder if they had made different decisions would the relationship have lasted.

Guilt is a natural emotion to experience after a break-up. If you decided to leave you may feel bad for your ex and the emotional pain you have caused them. If you have children you may feel guilt about breaking up their family unit. If you had an affair then you may feel bad about the betrayal and even regret your actions.

Once the marriage is over however there is little point hanging on to negative emotions. They will eat away at you and slow down your healing process. It may not be easy to let go but here are some ways to get rid of guilt:

1. Apologise sincerely to the people you hurt if your actions are causing you to feel guilt. Find a way to communicate that you appreciate your actions have caused pain and that you are sorry. If you are not on speaking terms then a hand written letter is a more personal approach than an email. Remember this step is about them and not you.

2. Make peace with yourself. You only live once and whilst it’s important to keep other people’s feelings in mind you also cannot sacrifice your happiness for someone else. This does not excuse selfish behaviour and it is always best to be upfront about issues rather than betray the trust of your family. However what is done is done. You cannot change the past and you will not be free of your past until you accept you made mistakes and forgive yourself for them. Talking it through with a good friend or coach can help with this process.

3. Identify what you have learnt so you do not make the same mistakes again. Write them down so you can refer to them in the future and remind yourself not to go off track.

Another natural emotion to experience during a break up is Anxiety. So many things will be changing in your life that it is normal to worry about what the future holds. You will be facing many life style changes including:

– Where you will live
– Your financial situation
– Life as a single parent

There are several steps you can take to manage your anxiety:

1. Take some exercise as this will help release some of your stress. A strong body will strengthen your mind and ability to cope.

2. Write a plan of things you need to do. Putting things on paper will help declutter your mind. Come up with a few steps to achieve each of the things you need to do.

3. Write up a budget for your outgoings so you know exactly how much money you need to live on. This way you will know precisely how much you have and any short falls you need to cover. Even if you don’t have all the answers at this stage the clarity will reduce your anxiety.

4. Set up a Break-Up Support Team to cover those areas that cause you the most anxiety. A financial advisor, a Divorce Coach or a lawyer may be able to help remove some worries for you.

The end of a relationship will trigger an emotional roller coaster. But this will pass and get easier with time and also by implementing the coping strategies listed above. Your healing process will be determined by how to manage your negative emotions.

Focus on designing a future you are excited to live rather than the past. Worrying about things that “might” happen will not help you either. Visualise a happy and bright future for you and your children. Focusing on these positive outcomes will speed up your healing process.

For more help and support download the free app “7 Steps to a Better Break-Up”.

Sara Davison
Sara@saradavison.com