Holding onto Anger
Anger is a normal healthy emotion that everyone experiences several times in their life. We feel anger when boundaries are crossed, our expectations are not met, or when someone has done or said something that causes us pain. It is a natural emotional response to a perceived threat or unfairness. Anger ranges from mild irritation to annoyances, to wrath and full-blown rage. It evokes a response of one wanting to lash out or to be vengeful.
While anger is controlled or reflected upon, it can lead to positive outcomes, by determining what triggers your anger and recognising patterns and where they come from. However uncontrolled anger shows up in aggressive behaviour, constant outbursts, retaliation, consistent road rage and a constant negative outlook of the world.
There is also passive-aggressive behaviour, where anger is often repressed and not expressed or acknowledged. The person shows it in various unhealthy and indirect forms. Like passing snide remarks around or about a person who has angered you, or agreeing with a person on a subject and later dissing the person and their views, being cynical or sniggering towards a person.
I liken holding onto anger longer than it is needed to wearing a pair of sunglasses long after stepping out of the sun. Your world is coloured by anger and everything you see seems tainted. It even blocks the light that can come in. Light, being a metaphor for kindness and healing. We can hold onto anger for so long, that it becomes a part of who we are. We may have long forgotten or repressed the incident, but the anger becomes who we are. That changes our personality, our relationships and our view of the world. When we hold onto this unexpressed anger, it leads to staying in a victim mode, depression, anxiety, being offensive, addictions to numb our feelings and self-harm and harm to others.
A few ways to relieve yourself of anger is to :
Give yourself some time to digest the incident.
Acknowledge that you are angry.
Review the incident that has caused you anger. Look at the situation objectively, not as a victim. Look at the patterns of the things that make you angry. Ask where it comes from. Revisit childhood experiences, it often will go back to that.
Understand that everyone comes from a different place and carries their own baggage. As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, only hurt people give out hurt. “No one can make you feel small without your consent.”
Ask yourself what is the real reason you experienced anger. Were you being slighted, being put down, made to feel less than, ignored, unheard, disrespected, abused, violated? Identify the feeling you got that precipitated the feeling of anger. Allow yourself to sit with it and feel it. It may cause you to cry, to be emotional. Allow it and acknowledge it and then ask yourself what is the learning from the incident?
When you allow yourself to ask the right questions and to learn from a situation, your inner being will always let you know. Every moment is a teaching moment and sometimes the lessons are painful. And unless you learn from it, it will keep coming back bigger and bigger until you learn. Remember pain is the biggest teacher!
It reminds me of an incident in school. I was weak in Math. I tried my best one day to get some geometry sums correct and the teacher turned around and said, “someone must have done it for you.” I was so livid and upset because I had actually taken the trouble to get it right after many attempts, that I developed an aversion to it because of my anger towards the teacher. I just gave up trying. And the more I ignored and dodged it, the poorer my grades got. Finally, it was apparent to my parents that I needed help and they got me a tutor that was fabulous, patient and kind and he actually helped me understand the subject and take a liking to it. The key was actually getting help and with our emotional pain as well, it is okay to get help.
In cases of trauma, rape, abuse or consistent toxic environments, it is advisable to seek the help of a counsellor.
And lastly, forgive and let go! The only moment you have is the present moment, so don’t let the past dictate your present and ruin your future. Take charge and liberate yourself from the power that anger has had over you.