How Divorce Can Trigger Your Pain-Body

Going through a divorce is one of the most emotionally painful things you can ever experience. It can trigger deep feelings of sadness, anger, and confusion, just to name a few. It can even cause some divorcees to experience panic attacks, anxiety, and depression.

In some cases, divorce can trigger your pain-body. Pain-body is a philosophy put forth by spiritual teacher and best-selling self-help author, Eckhart Tolle. His book, “The Power of Now” details how the hurt and sorrow we experience throughout our life– including during our childhood and in major traumas like divorce- build up in layers, creating a pain-body. The pain-body is like a parasite, getting further strengthened each time we experience emotional pain unless we learn how to identify and stop it.

What happens when your pain-body is in control?

When your pain-body is allowed to take hold, you can inflict emotional pain on anyone around you, including yourself. As that negative energy flows out of you, it creates a vicious cycle, strengthening the power of your pain-body. Sometimes, there is a clear trigger, like in a hostile conversation with your ex, while other times, it doesn’t make much sense why it appears. It may be over a seemingly small issue, but if it’s triggering a deep pain from your past, it can end up turning into a much bigger problem.

There’s also the issue of a dormant pain-body versus a very active one. A dormant pain-body just shows up on occasion, only becoming a problem when something triggers it. A very active pain-body can exist practically all the time. Those with a very active pain-body are the type who get upset over virtually everything. Their highly-emotional reactions to the smallest things often don’t make sense to those around them.

The pain-body can show up in many ways, from minor irritability to yelling at those around you or even becoming physically violent. A pain-body that’s allowed to fester can lead to deep depression, and for some, suicidal thoughts. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to identify when the pain-body appears and how to handle it.

Identifying and Stopping Your Pain-Body

It can be difficult to start separating yourself from your pain-body, but it’s not impossible. It takes a lot of intentionality, starting with recognizing when your emotions are taking a negative turn. As soon as you start to feel yourself getting irritated, angry, or even sad, take a step back and observe what is happening. What triggered you and what negative emotions are you experiencing? The more you do this, the more you will start to recognize the patterns of your pain-body.

When you essentially start “calling out” your pain-body, you begin taking away its power. You learn what triggers you and how to avoid those triggers. For the triggers you can’t avoid (i.e. co-parenting with a narcissistic ex), you’ll learn better ways to handle those emotions instead of acting out in a way that is harmful both to yourself and to others. You essentially become an outsider looking in on your pain-body, and when your pain-body knows you’re aware of it, it begins to retreat.

Your pain-body may not be something you can handle all on your own. Very deep, emotional pain from your past or from a major trauma like a divorce may require the help of an experienced professional, like a therapist. It’s important not to blame yourself or your pain-body if you aren’t able to take away its power so easily. Remember that you are working through layers of hurt, sadness, anger, and a whole host of other emotions, and that takes time to do.

More Resources:

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Essential Resources

If you’re facing legal/custody battles, a mental health crisis, an urgent medical issue, serious emotional problems, including suicidal thoughts, please seek help from the appropriate professionals near you.

Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Crisis line: 1-800-356-5395
Crisis text line: Text “help” to 741741
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) Resources Marital Life Inventory
Divorce Lifecycle Document
Divorce Process Overview


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