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We all get angry. It’s a completely natural reaction to certain circumstances that upset us. But what happens when the angry feelings linger? What happens when we desire to hold on to that anger and not let it go? When anger consumes us, how can we figure out how to let go of anger when we really don’t want to?
I’ve had my share of hurt and anger. I could fill volumes. I think most of us can.
The older I get, the less likely I am to want to stay in that angry place. I’ve come to realize it doesn’t suit me, and I frankly don’t like feeling pissed off all the time.
Maybe you can relate?
We’ve all had instances where we have a fight with a friend or loved one and we’re left feeling really pissed off and angry. Maybe your friend or loved one wasn’t there for you when you really needed them. Possibly someone betrayed you and now you’re left feeling scared, empty and furious.
I remember vividly like it was yesterday, my first and only fight I ever had with my best friend. Another dear friend had suffered a massive stroke and was on the brink of life and death. My sadness was all consuming as I waited and prayed for my friend to turn the corner and come out the other side. My best friend, who knew what happened wasn’t there for me. She hadn’t called to see how I was handling the devastating news, and I was angry at her selfishness and inconsiderate behavior. After more than a week, when she finally did pick up the phone and call, I blindsided her with an angry outburst.
Funny thing, after I spewed my venom, I felt much better.
And then I didn’t.
For several days, I wrestled with my conflicting feelings of being justified in my anger and sorry for my angry outburst. It got me thinking. How do you let go of anger when you’re not sure you want to?
How To Let Go Of Anger When You Really Don’t Want To
1. Look At Both Sides
I’ve been blessed to be able to step out of situations and evaluate it as an outsider. This took years of practice of course; it wasn’t something I learned to do overnight, but it has been a valuable tool throughout my life when confronted with painful situations.
Once my initial anger subsided, I started to look at the situation from my friends perspective. What I realized left some unanswered questions, but created an excellent platform from which we could discuss how our relationship had gotten off track. When we did sit down and talk, those questions opened the door to a productive conversation that allowed me to test my assumptions and instead learn the truth of the situation.
By allowing compassion to soften my heart the forgiveness process was activated.
This doesn’t mean I condone what she did, but I can better understand where she was coming from.
2. Find Inspiration In Others
My friend Peggy Nolan has written extensively about forgiveness, so I dropped in on her website to re-read some of her inspirational stories. Lots can be gained by looking at someone’s story and seeing how they came around to forgiving someone who wronged them.
If you’re not lucky enough to have a friend like Peggy to learn from, they’re countless others who you can turn to like Jesus, Nelson Mandela, and the Dali Lama to name a few.
As Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
3. Ask For Help
I know I’m not perfect. So I called upon two trusted friends, explained what happened, and asked for their honest assessment of what occurred. I asked them point blank to help me see how I had contributed to this breakdown in communication.
A word of caution here: pick people you know will be brutally honest with you, or they may just blow smoke up your skirt, leaving you feeling more justified in your anger. The goal is to gain clarity and move away from the anger, not towards it.
If you don’t have any friends like that, see a therapist, counselor or your pastor to help you navigate your anger and help you move past it. At some point, we all need to let go of the blame and take responsibility for our behavior and the role it plays in making or breaking the relationship.
4. Cut The Cords
There are two ways to cut cords: literally or energetically.
Sometimes when we are hurt by someone it’s a repeating pattern that never seems to end. In this instance, it might be in your best interest to consider cutting ties with the person and removing them from your life.
Sometimes we can cut cords with people energetically. Energetically cutting the cords between you and another person releases the energetic attachments you have with that person. When you remove the energetic attachments you are clearing your energy space and it’s almost like the weight of the situation is lifted from your shoulders.
I’ve had several energy sessions where I’ve cut the energetic cords between me and another person with wonderful results. I know this won’t be for everyone, but if you’re willing to be open to it and give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.
5. Let Go Of The Fear
Having a difficult conversation with someone who’s hurt you can be scary. But pushing past the fear and standing up for yourself and position is empowering.
To help alleviate the fear, ask yourself a few important questions before going into the conversation:
- What is your purpose for having the conversation?
- What do you hope to accomplish?
- What would be an ideal outcome?
You may think you have noble goals, like increasing connection with your teen, only to notice that your language is excessively critical or condescending. You’re trying to be supportive but find in the end that you’re punishing.
Some purposes are more useful than others. Make sure that the purpose is valuable and will deepen the relationship not make it worse. Work on yourself so that you enter the conversation with a support plan.
Fear is just an emotion, don’t let it hold you back.
Just because you’re afraid doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the conversation. When we’re uncomfortable, and we move towards what scares us, we usually have the biggest opportunities for our personal growth.
6. Seek Out Resources That Will Help
I’ve been a long time student of personal growth and development and have read countless books on all sorts of subject matter. These couple of books are some of my particular favorites when it comes to dealing with anger. Hopefully, they will help you as well:
Next time you find yourself angry and hurt, use these approaches and see if it helps you move past the anger towards forgiveness.
Post Note ** I had the conversation with my friend, and it helped to repair the damage that occurred. We’re both willing to work on our relationship because deep down we value the friendship that we’ve been built over the years. I was able to forgive her, and she was able to forgive me.