The Buddha said, “Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else; you are the one that gets burned!”
A few years ago, I was angry with an old friend of mine. I ended up writing a very angry email to her, stating all the reasons I was upset with her.
Of course, I received an answer filled with judgment on how my anger was uncalled for and statements like, “Where is all this anger coming from?”
A few friends questioned my anger and for some reason, it felt like nobody understood why I was so upset and instead went straight to judging me for being angry. The question for me is, “Is it acceptable to be angry?”
The truth is, I felt good after writing and sending that email. I was experiencing anger towards this person for awhile and had never expressed it. So I let it build up over time and one day, there was an explosion. By writing down how I felt, I was able to release that negative energy.
Plus, the energy was directed where it belonged. So instead of me getting irritated at my assistant at work (who is a doll), I recognized the need to direct it towards the person who was causing it.
Since then, I have been on a spiritual journey of self-exploration of what is the best way to deal with my anger.
The truth is that society does not want us to be angry—we’re supposed to live in a happy bubble all the time. But stuffing it down doesn’t help anyone.
Here are 10 things we all need to know about anger in order to release it:
1) Anger is a normal human emotion.
2) Now that you know you are normal, accept that you get angry from time to time. Accept that the neighbor’s dog that occasionally poops in your back yard irritates you even though you love animals. Maybe the kids’ not eating their dinner is annoying, or a best friend who never calls on your birthday is upsetting. (Yes, it is ok to be angry at this stuff.)
3) Do not listen to people who pass judgment for being angry. These people are following what society has told them is normal. If we start listening to them, we start doubting our own emotions. We will start telling ourselves, “I should not have felt this way”, “I know I over reacted” etc. Just listen to their feedback with compassion and gently say, “I honor my feelings, too. Right now, I am feeling angry at this situation and you just have to accept that about me even if you do not understand it.”
4) Now that we know that it is okay to feel anger, do not use this as an excuse to always be pissed off. Learn to understand anger. What triggers anger? What kind of situations make us angry? How do we deal with it? How would we like to deal with it instead?
5) Set some solid boundaries. If there are situations and people that trigger anger, then sit and talk to them with love and compassion about it. For instance, if your best friend always forgets to call you on your birthday and this upsets you, talk to her about it. Let her know how you feel when that happens and that you do expect a call from her. Chances are when you have an open heart-to-heart conversation with her, she will put you on her priority list.
6) Anger is mostly triggered by not being able to accept life as it is. Sometimes, if we face a life situation that is not appealing to us, e.g. losing a job, developing a health problem or having a financial loss, it can cause a lot of anger. In this situation, it is important to accept things as they are. Trusting that life is always pushing you to be the highest expression of you is key. Know that the universe is always on our side and that things will become better soon.
7) Learn to express anger in a constructive way. When I get angry, I stay aware of the fact that I am angry and I do not question this emotion anymore. But I do punch my pillow! Letting it out is important. Some of you might go for a walk or run. Some may even want to chop up some fire wood in their back yard. Whatever it is, have some kind of exercise that you can do when you are feeling angry. This will get that initial burst of energy out that can be destructive and prevents logical thinking.
8) Do not make any decisions when you are feeling angry. Our logical thinking brain closes up when we are feeling emotional—whether its fear, anger or extreme sadness. It is best not to make any major life decisions at this time. Wait until the energy has been washed from your body and you are feeling calmer.
9) Sit in your anger. Where do you feel anger in your body? Is it tightness in your chest? Or is it a tremor across your whole body? Whatever it is, learn to recognize it and sit silently and pay attention to it. Take deep breaths while doing this. The deep breaths will take you from the fight or flight reflex response to a more relaxed state easily.
10) Be loving and compassionate with yourself. It is okay that you are angry. Remember point number 1? This is a normal human emotion. Anger is always hiding behind some form of deep rooted pain. Let yourself feel it but be loving towards yourself while doing so. Your energy needs love at this time. When you give it to yourself, you will find the energy of anger leaving you easily. So forgive yourself for having any judgments of yourself for being angry, breathe it out, and let it go!
A good affirmation for starting to dissolve anger is, “It is easy for me to embrace my anger and love and accept myself completely.”
It never hurts to talk to a good therapist who can work with you in helping you release past anger issues. So be open to that possibility, too.
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Assistant Editor: Melissa Horton/Editor: Bryonie Wise
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