Use NEGATIVE ENERGY as Rocket Fuel (But Do It Sparingly)

Negative Energy, such as anger, can be a highly effective motivator….

but only in the short term.  In the long term, it will cost you dearly.

I was dumpster diving.  I admit it.  I was in the middle of a move. It was late. I was out of boxes and couldn’t buy any.  As I victoriously leaned over the dumpster and pulled out just the right-size box, pieces of an 8 x 10 photo fell onto the concrete below.  The picture captured a smiling, young, happy family:  a husband and wife, one son, one daughter—all smiles.  Their faces glowed.  The picture, however, was ripped into four jagged pieces and had been thrown into the trash.

Negative Energy After a Split:  All I Felt Was ……

It didn’t take much to fill in the story behind the shredded picture. A wave of sadness hit me.  I imagined one of the partners ripping the picture up as one of them was throwing things into boxes as he or she moved out.  All my haste-driven activity stopped and I stood very still and quiet.  What stared back at me were four broken lives.  I leaned over and gingerly picked it up and placed the photo back together.

Negative Energy:  This Isn’t the Way It’s Supposed to Be

At one time, I knew every person in that photo had wanted to place the pieces back together of their relationships just like I had done with the photo….putting it all back together again.  This incident happened many years ago, but I can still vividly see each one of those smiling faces.

I don’t know which partner threw the picture away, but I do know that at one time they were a happy, smiling family and probably all wanted to be together.  Now, the little boy and the little girl just wanted Mommy and Daddy back together and I’m guessing the Mommy and Daddy both just felt very angry and confused.

Negative Energy:  80% of Divorces are Unilateral [1]

That statistic is astounding.  That means that in the great majority of divorces, only one person wanted the divorce.  If the divorce rate is around fifty percent, most of those divorces were one person leaving when the other person did not want the divorce.  Statistics are just numbers, but in between those numbers are a lot of hurting people.

Sometimes after a split, all a person feels is broken.  The “we” is gone.  The future doesn’t exist.  All that exists is the past and the present pain.  Parties are reorienting themselves to a life without the person they thought they would be with always.  There is confusion, hurt, and lots of anger.

As Joseph said about the time after his divorce, “All I felt was anger.  And it wouldn’t go away.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t stop feeling angry.”

Negative Energy:  Anger is Like Rocket Fuel

rocket fuel










Anger after a loss is normal.  In fact, it is one of the necessary stages of grieving.  I think of anger like rocket fuel.  When a rocket thrusts off, it takes enormous amounts of fuel to get past the gravitational pull of Earth.  Just like rocket fuel, you can use that anger to move on to another place.

In that sense, the anger can be constructive.

I have known many people who have used their anger after a split to say, “Never Again!” and they go on to make major changes in their lives. The anger fuels their productivity.

Since anger is felt as a more powerful emotion than sadness,

sometimes men will be angry longer, while women will allow their anger to turn to sorrow and hurt.  Interestingly, it is okay for men to be angry and for women to be hurt [2]. It is not okay to be a “hurt” man or an “angry” woman.  For that reason, sometimes men will stay in the “angry” place longer—trying to avoid the sad place.

Negative Energy:  Don’t Let Your Insides Boil

The danger, of course, for both genders is that the “fuel” turns inward and starts to boil your insides.  Have you ever met someone and the first “hit” you had about them was that they were very angry?  Oftentimes, this is years after a split or a difficult circumstance in their life.

Anger held on to for too long turns to resentment and bitterness.  And bitterness will poison every future relationship and every part of your soul and life.  It is a dangerous time.  Anger can get you past the present pain.  It can also guarantee you much future pain.  Manage it wisely.

Four Tips to Wisely Manage the Negative Energy & Anger After a Loss

Part of the difficulty of loss is the feeling of powerlessness it creates (especially if the decision was unilateral).  Use these 4 strategies to counteract that:

1. Forgive without reservation.

Two wrongs don’t equal a right.  It’s bad enough that you are going through what you are going through.  Stewing in unforgiveness doubles the pain and the problem.

2. Don’t wait for an apology from the other person.

Nothing puts your recovery in the hands of the other person like putting a condition on him/her that must be fulfilled before you do what you need to do.  Hint: If the other person was big enough to apologize and recognize his/her part, he/she probably wouldn’t have put you in this position in the first place.

3. Don’t rehearse the hurts.

When animals are hurt, they lick the wound to clean it.  It facilitates the healing.  Then they rest.  Then they ignore it.  And let nature do the rest.

4. Time does not heal automatically.

It only heals a wound that is NOT continually reopened.  Time only heals a hurt that is not rehearsed.

And finally, the best revenge is doing well.  Losses are rarely your choice, but it is your choice about how you will handle it.   Channeling your anger toward the other person is a waste of energy.  Channel your anger into productive activities that will result in a positive outcome later.

If you have to use your anger as negative energy to “propel” you to another place, so be it.  But it is a very costly lifelong fuel.


1. What Are Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey? – Toms River Divorce Lawyer

2. Shu-Tsen, K. (2019, Jan. 8). Gendered Emotions: Raging Men and Weeping Women.  Retrieved from


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