Have you ever felt so angry that you could scream or punch something?
The worst thing about anger is that it is very difficult to let go of, it seems to take over and constantly simmer beneath the surface. It isn’t like you are angry one minute and calm the next. It sits there inside of you, feeding off your negative thoughts refusing to dissipate.
We are taught from a young age that anger is bad and so for the most part we try and bottle it, hoping it will just go away. Unfortunately anger doesn’t work like that. When you don’t address anger it just builds up inside of you until you eventually blow.
An unhealthy state of being
Anger can consume you and suck all the joy out of life. Often the events that led to your anger stay with you. Your thoughts are constantly pulled back to them, fueling your anger and keeping you stuck in that moment. This creates a very negative state of being. Instead of being able to shake yourself off and move past it, your bad mood lingers and it starts to impact other areas of your life.
Have you ever noticed that when you are angry, everything seems to go wrong?
Anger doesn’t solve problems. It creates problems.
This is because your mind is flooded with negative thoughts and these thoughts drive your behaviour. Where normally you would laugh off silly comments others make, suddenly they become a big deal and you retort sarcastically, or snap at them. Little things like burning the toast can set you off and everything becomes one big struggle.
Staying angry is very unhealthy. It leads to higher stress and anxiety levels, making it difficult to cope with everyday situations. It also has physical impacts such as headaches, increased blood pressure, insomnia and it can even cause skin conditions like eczema.
Letting go of anger
Anger is a surface emotion, masking the real reason for your emotional distress. It is far easier to shout and scream, then to be vulnerable and tell someone that they have hurt you. Most of the time it is easier to ignore your own vulnerability never mind showing it to someone else.
Step 1: Identify the real cause
If you want to let go of your anger you need to identify the underlying emotion. You could feel hurt or betrayed, you could feel powerless or threatened, or you could feel vulnerable. Your anger will stay with you, simmering just beneath the surface, until you address the real reason behind it.
Ask yourself “Why am I angry?” Instead of looking to blame someone else, or the situation become aware of your feelings. When you ask this question begin your response with “Because I feel….hopeless/scared/hurt etc.” Then ask yourself “Why do I feel…?” Get to the root cause, be completely honest with yourself.
Remember your anger is about you and not the situation or the other person. Your anger is a response to your own beliefs, thoughts and feelings.
Step 2: Acceptance
Accept the way you feel, give yourself permission to feel hurt, scared, or vulnerable. You have a right to your emotions. Experiencing these types of emotions doesn’t make you less of a person. They don’t make you weaker. By acknowledging your own emotions, you can begin to find ways of addressing them. For instance if fear caused your anger, accept that you are afraid and then identify the steps you can take to overcome that fear.
When you accept your emotions you can move more easily into a logical and problem-solving mode. This creates an opportunity to deal with the situation proactively and instead of staying negative, you can think more positively. Being in problem-solving mode lessens anger as you are focussed on a solution and not on the trigger event.
Step 3: Forgiveness
Forgiveness is only possible once you have worked through your own emotions. Once you have identified the root cause of why you are feeling the way you do, you can assess the situation more rationally. Remember that everyone is different, and everyone has reasons for behaving the way that they do – just like you.
To forgive someone, you need to understand their possible behaviour motives. Think about why your boss was nasty to you. Perhaps he has things going on in his life that he isn’t dealing with very well and that led him to snap at you. Perhaps your partner lied because she was afraid of upsetting you. Perhaps your friend betrayed your trust because of her own insecurities. By reminding yourself that everyone is dealing with something helps to make forgiveness possible.
When you open your mind to possibilities, you can start to see the anger trigger event in a new light. Doing this makes it possible to let go of your anger. Forgive the person or people because they are just human too, dealing with life the best way they can. You don’t have to actually confront the person and say “I forgive you” if the situation makes it impossible to do so, however sit quietly by yourself. Close your eyes, clear your mind and picture the person. Then say “I forgive you” and let the feeling of forgiveness wash over you. This will enable you to let go of your anger.