You Don’t Have to Hang on to Your Anger
By Dr. Katy
It has been a recurring theme appearing in recent weeks that people are having trouble with anger and frustration. I have heard a lot about how pissed off people are with others or with situations, and have been asked a lot lately “how does one hold boundaries and self respect without holding onto anger?”. Here’s my best response:
Moving through life we inherently get hurt and hurt others. I like to believe that for the most part, these hurts are unintentional. That’s a choice that I make to help me feel happier in my daily living. I agree that it may be naïve, but I really like Dr. Phil’s philosophy in times like this: “would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?”. I prefer to choose happiness.
Anger sits in your body and does a lot of damage. As Andrew likes to quote from Buddha “holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. You can continue poisoning yourself and I promise that nine times out of ten, the person who triggered your anger has no clue or care about your rage. It isn’t affecting them at all.
“But that A-hole cut me off, and that person said “____” to me, or wasted my time, or didn’t respect or listen to me!”…
Yep – that happened. And it’s important to acknowledge your hurt and anger. It’s even more important to express it! The trick is to do it in a private and socially acceptable way, and to actually DO it. Scream in your car, yell into a pillow or underwater, journal out how you’re feeling, write that A-hole a letter that they’ll never see (and burn it safely outside when you’re done), punch pillows or a punching bag, go for a run, dance, paint, sculpt, etc. Do whatever your body needs to do to clear that emotional energy. Get it all out of you.
Once you’ve cleared that, then the rest of this article will be doable. If you don’t, it won’t. You’ll be faking zen happiness, not actually attaining it. I want you to be HAPPY! So seriously – go vent!!
So now let’s take a look at how we let go. Step one is realizing that everyone is doing the best that they can in this moment with the tools they have in their toolbox.
Every. Single. Person.
Sometimes people have shitty toolboxes. Our toolboxes are a product of our upbringing and life experiences. Your parents can’t pass you tools that they don’t have, and all of us have picked up the skills that got us what we wanted and needed in each moment. Not all of these skills are socially acceptable or kind. All of us will always use our “better” skills first, but if you push us far enough, we’ll slip into our crappier habits. Can you think of a time where this applies about yourself in your own life? Yep – I thought so…
“But they did ___ and I would NEVER do that!! “
Very true. You have your own crappy coping skills that are different from theirs. You wouldn’t do what they did. They probably wouldn’t do some of the things that you do when pushed far enough. We’re all unique in our shittiness. Where you place them on the scale of crappy is all about your perspective and life view. The only thing I can promise you? They were doing the very best that they could with what they had to work with in that moment.
They were doing the very best that they could. Really let that sink in.
If you can allow for that, you can start to see each person as the struggling child-trapped-in-an-adult-body that they truly are. They’re not some wise, vindictive A-hole who struck out that day hoping to damage as many people as possible. They’re a scared little kid just trying to fulfill their basic needs, and to feel important and loved. Seeing people from that perspective can help you love them despite their dick behaviour. Just like you don’t hate a small child for having a tantrum. It may annoy the crap out of you, but you get it, and you still love them. That’s a level of forgiveness that you can apply to every human being you ever meet.
“So I have to just accept everyone’s crap treatment of me and “love them anyways”?”
Hell no! You are more than welcome to respectfully inform someone when their behaviour isn’t something you can tolerate in your life, and then give them a chance to change it. Draw any boundaries that you need to. You can even cut that person out of your life if that is what you need to do to protect yourself and your loved ones. I just want you to do it with loving self respect, not anger and hatred.
You can lighten your load and ease your tension. Releasing anger is a gift that you can give yourself. It doesn’t undo what the person did, and it sure as heck isn’t the same thing as agreeing with what they did.
It has nothing to do with them. It’s all inside of you.