Manage Your Emotions: Don’t Let Emotions Manage You


Several years after my divorce, I explained to a friend of mine that I wanted to move past the pain of my divorce but the memories were holding me back. Something would trigger a memory of what happened and I would become overwhelmed by emotion. My entire day (and sometimes my entire weekend) would be shot. I didn’t want to live that way, but I couldn’t figure out how to change that phenomena.

My friend replied, “Lisa, I guarantee you that one day ten years from now when you are remarried and very happy, you will hear a song, or see a movie, or find something in a box that brings back a painful memory from your divorce and you will cry.”
Well thanks for those extra special words of encouragement, friend.
He continued, “Yes, even though you are happy and content in your new life, the pain of that memory will still effect you. But how it affects you is up to you. If you start managing your emotions instead of allowing them to manage you, then when you are confronted with a painful memory, you will feel it, react to it, and move on.
And you know what… he was absolutely right. I’m remarried, I’m happy, and from time to time, I come face-to-face with a painful memory that brings back all that sadness I used to feel. But, its okay. Time has helped the memory fade somewhat but because I know how to control my emotions now, the memory has no power over me.
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
Managing your memories and emotions after divorce can be a quite a challenge. It can be a constant battle, especially if you have to have direct contact with your ex-spouse on a frequent basis. But this is a critical step in the healing process and is not only an indispensable tool for your future, but also helps to bring back your self-confidence.
If you have a vice grip on bad memories and are not letting go of them, you obviously need to release them. It’s part of the forgiveness process. The key to making this happen is praying for God’s grace to help you let go and praying for the ones who have hurt you. This is not easy to do at times, but the old adage is true; it’s difficult to remain angry at someone when you are praying for them. God’s grace can soften any heart and heal all wounds. That takes the sting out of the bad memories.
But you can also use your bad memories for the good. Everything in your life could (and should) bear fruit, even reminiscing. Instead of daydreaming with no purpose or dwelling on the negative memories, simply put the memories to good use and learn from your past.
Learn from the good and the bad. Learn from the arguments, the surprises, the poor choices, the trials, etc. Learn through reflecting on the decisions you’ve made, how they have affected you and the people around you. Reflection with good intention and the help of God’ grace is a great way to turn a negative into a positive. Oftentimes you must dig through a lot of garbage to find what’s hidden. But when you unearth that treasure, you can experience a new level of faith in recognizing that “God works all things for the good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).” 
It doesn’t mean that suffering doesn’t hurt and life challenges aren’t complicated. But you can take a supernatural attitude toward it all and use it for personal growth. Then, you can use it to serve. So many people are suffering, and you can use your suffering to help someone else.
Fulton Sheen said, “Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.” I hope you can use your memories of your Good Friday as a way to experience a resurrection to new life for yourself and hopefully, pass it on to others.



  1. Michelle-1078361 June 12, 2014 Reply

    I definitely feel the post divorce is an emotional rollercoaster. I realized he has always been the same person and that I just took the “rosy” glasses off. You cannot force a person to be in a relationship, they have to want to be in the relationship. I could not look the other way with his addictions, infidelity, and believe he is depressed. I see this saying where” being in a relationship and feeling alone is worse than being alone”. In a way it is a form of abuse. I can be the instrument of change and believe God will be there to guide me. I have told him I forgive him but I had to move on for my own well being. I have started my annulment and feel while difficult helps you to revisit the mistakes you made in your marriage and give closure.

  2. Meg-920823 May 11, 2013 Reply

    A very good article, Lisa. Thanks!

  3. Katherine-868943 July 3, 2012 Reply

    Thank you for writing this. It’s sometimes very difficult to get people to understand that sometimes the circumstances surrounding a divorce are beyond one person’s control, and that the emotions are difficult to manage.

    I personally vacillate between wanting to post the long form for the annulment on the internet and hiding anything I can find that even remotely reminds me that I was married in a big box and throwing it in the ocean. I have found relief by working on several levels with charities, and have to stop and say a prayer when I start finding things overwhelming. I have also had to recognize that I was quite young and, let’s face it, being very young I had a tendency to ignore good advice. It is a very difficult task to forgive yourself.

    • Katherine-868943 July 3, 2012 Reply

      I just reread what I wrote. Let me note that the theoretical box would definitely not include my son. He is a blessing and my joy.

  4. Jeanne-854760 June 20, 2012 Reply

    Another example of God working in my life. Why else would I be reading this at 4 in the morning?

  5. Adel-818653 June 2, 2012 Reply

    This is a wonderful article and thank you for writing it. NOW, it is time for me to follow your instructions. I am going slowly with healing, forgiving, etc. but I am MOVING forward with God’s help. God Bless! Adel

  6. Stacey-101742 May 29, 2012 Reply

    I find this true but sad that there is no mention of dealing with those emotions to begin with so you can heal so when triggers do come , you can manage oneself .
    I think by practicing our faith , and staying true to the virtues we are suppose to be growing into , humility, meekness , charity, etc. I have found if I take responsibility for my faults in the first place , in how I contribute in life , then when the triggers come , it helps me maintain my humanity and humility and forgiveness , understanding , compassion , and charity . I have had to learn me and what I found from the holy spirit that needed polishing , I have had to work on , and its a life long process , but being honest with myself , helps me in the long run .

    • Lisa Duffy
      Lisa Duffy May 29, 2012 Reply

      Hi, Stacey,

      Thanks for your comments and beautiful example of how you’ve been dealing with your healing process.

      The difficult thing about blogging is the word count – it’s difficult to analyze and comment on the full scope of the healing issue in one article, because I’m limited to 750 words or less, so I try to take the issues in chunks. If you look at some of my earlier posts, particularly the 5 Keys to Healing, you will find more about dealing with emotions.

      But, in the future, I’ll try to do better in weaving points together. Thank you!

      – Lisa

  7. Lois-765906 May 29, 2012 Reply

    Thanks so much for this article and for sharing your friend’s comments. I have begun applying the “change how I react” principle to those moments when an old memory arises and old feelings resurface. It is so helpful to understand that this is a process and that it is okay to still have feelings over memories from the past – but also that I can process them and move forward. I am so happy to no longer be a prisoner of my past. God still has a plan for me – the best is yet to come!

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