You are angry. You want to let go of the anger but it seems impossible to do so.
Anger is an emotion everyone feels from time to time. You may get angry if you feel threatened or that someone has harmed you in some way.
Anger serves us when it causes us to notice a bad or dangerous situation. And yet, holding on to anger is destructive to our lives and to the people we love.
What To Do
You can learn to let go of your anger. The following are key points to consider and practices to can master.
Take a Time Out
One the best things you can do is to take a break or time out for yourself. This is immediate self-care. You do not need anyone’s permission to do what you want to do to keep the situation from escalating. It’s incredibly easy when we are upset to say words that cannot be unsaid.
Give yourself and everyone else a break – if it’s a hot, ongoing situation, disengage and give yourself time and space to make good decisions.
Don’t Make Movies in Your Head
When we are angry or embarrassed or hurt, it’s really easy to start making movies (fantasies) in our heads as to what we wish we had said or done, or stories about how horribly someone else acted, they are out to get us, etc. In other words, we get stuck ruminating about the situation.
These stories are always wrong – and usually, by a wide margin. Further, by making and replaying these movies in your head, you’re doing more damage to yourself. Give yourself a break – notice when you start thinking about what happened and shut off the movie camera.
This will help you to break the repetitive negative thoughts that are keeping you angry.
Practice When You Are Calm
The time to install smoke detectors in your home is when your home is free of smoke and not on fire. The time to change the oil in your car is before the engine overheats and seizes up due to a lack of oil. It’s exactly the same with learning to let go of anger. Learning to let go of anger begins when you are calm and relaxed.
As you become more aware you will shift your practice. You’ll start to notice when you feel some irritation. You will continue to improve. Over time, you will find that even when something makes you angry, you get over it quickly and without acting in ways that are harmful. Your self-esteem will also improve and others will feel safer and happier around you.
So the first step in learning to let go of anger is to act before you are angry. You can even start to work on it right now!
Practice Mindfulness Meditation
If you are angry and also lost in your thoughts, you won’t be able to “let it go.” You will replay the same thoughts over and over again and they will keep you angry. This cycle will keep going until something forces it to end. It is much better when you can decide to simply quit being angry.
If you practice mindfulness meditation regularly you can avoid becoming lost in thought. When you no longer become captured by your thoughts, you are better able to let go of thoughts that make you and keep you angry.
Get Help If You Need It
Talk to a mental health professional if you notice that you get angry a lot, or if other people suggest that you may have an anger problem.
Situations sometimes develop so slowly that we don’t notice them. Yet our anger may be clearly visible to others. This is especially true when it comes to skilled therapists who really understand the root causes of anger. A skilled therapist can help clients to recognize and break the patterns, thoughts and emotions that cause them to become angry and remain stuck in a state of anger.
Ask others for help if you need it. There is no need to go it alone. You would not ignore a mole on your nose that you thought might easily be skin cancer. In like manner, if you suspect you may have an anger problem you should talk to a skilled mental health professional and get the benefit of their experience.
If you are frequently angry it is damaging your life and the lives of your friends and loved ones. Anger always shows through our attempts to hide it and your friends and loved ones know when you are angry – and they want you to be happy.
You can change your relationship with anger. You will have to invest some time and effort to free yourself from it, but in so doing you will greatly improve your life and all of your relationships.