Anger is a very normal and helpful emotion. It stops us from continuing dysfunctional behaviours and assists us when our self assurance is being compromised. But anger is a brief emotion. It is not meant to stay with us for a long time. Have you ever held onto anger about something because you just didn’t know what else to do with it? That sort of anger becomes dysfunctional. It destroys you from the inside out. It sits deep down in your stomach and it festers there, making you sick, emotionally, mentally and physically. It alters your relationships and it affects all of your interactions with others. Prolonged anger is insidious and toxic. As I have shared with you previously, I’ve spent a great deal of time learning about and experiencing both anger and forgiveness. I won’t lie, it’s a difficult process and it takes a lot to get your head around. It has to be the right time and you have to be willing in order to let of anger. So I have put together my tips for letting go of anger. Here they are:
1. Make a conscious choice not to hang onto the anger any longer. This does not mean that you are absolving the other party of their responsibility. It simply means that you are choosing not to let them control your feelings any longer. The focus is no longer them but you and how you are feeling. You are choosing to feel differently. Say it out loud so that you believe it,
“I choose not to feel angry about this situation any longer.”
Say it often if you have to. Write it down. Put it on your phone as your screen saver. Stick it to the fridge. All of these things will help you to really feel ready to let go.
2. Explore how you contributed to the situation. Have you let yourself down? What are you really mad about? Did you expect too much of another person? Did you expect them to treat you how you would treat them? Not everyone shares the same expectations and standards of behaviour. Sometimes we become angry because people don’t live up to our expectations of them. Sometimes we are so busy being angry at someone else that we neglect to look at ourselves. Are we actually angry that we allowed them to hurt us? Are we masking our hurt feelings as feelings of anger towards them. Sometimes it is so much easier to be angry than admit to being vulnerable and hurt. Often when we explore our own feelings and find that we are hurt, and we sit with that hurt, we can begin to heal ourselves. Letting go of anger is all about healing ourselves. It has nothing at all to do with the person we are angry at. This is about our journey, not theirs.
3. Accept that letting go doesn’t mean that you condone the behaviour of others. Letting go is all about you. It has nothing to do with them. When we get stuck in prolonged intense anger, we focus so much of our time and energy on the other person. We talk about them, we think about them, we complain about them. None of that helps you heal. Letting go of anger is about looking inward and making a choice to feel differently regardless of what the other person has said and done. It doesn’t matter who was right. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t apologised. It matters how you feel and how you behave every day. Letting go of anger frees you from the control the person and situation has over you.
4. Write them a thank you letter. Thank them for the lessons they’ve taught you, both good and bad. Thank them for showing you how not to behave. And thank them for giving you the opportunity to grow and prosper. This can be a hard one to get your head around at first. It’s all about changing your perspective. We have so many lessons to learn in life. And sometimes our greatest teachers are those that do the worst to us. Can you find a way to thank them for the lesson you’ve learned? Even the most difficult situation has something you can learn from it. It may be the tiniest littlest thing, but it will be something. Work hard at finding what that is. And be grateful that you’ve paid attention to it and have grown from it. There is no need to send the letter. You can keep it or burn it or throw it in the bin. Whatever feels good for you.
Letting go of anger is not an easy process. But it’s not easy to stay in a place of toxicity and dysfunction either. Start by making a choice to change the way you feel. Then explore your deepest, innermost feelings. So often it is hurt that’s deep inside manifesting as anger. That hurt needs healing and only you can do that. Not someone else. Allow yourself to look at the world differently. Be curious about how things could be different, if you just made the choice to let go. And be grateful for the lesson. None of these things are a quick fix. It takes time and effort and commitment to let go of anger. But it is possible. And it is incredibly freeing and empowering. Take back control of your life and your emotions. Let that anger go and see where life takes you. Imagine what your life would look like if nothing was holding you back. As Buddha so eloquently taught:
Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
Choose to let go and see what happens.