When you are angry, it’s hard to find ways to let go of anger. Life holds many frustrations to deal with. These ignite angry feelings and a desire to retaliate.
- Some inconsiderate driver cuts you off in traffic.
- The woman in front of you in line at the coffee shop gets the last pastry – the one you had your eye on.
- Your co-worker takes credit for the report you researched and wrote.
- Neighborhood kids smashed your car with rocks, causing extensive damage.
You’re angry. You want to lash out. But will this do anything to change what happened? Or will it only make you feel more miserable as you can’t escape the fire of your anger?
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” – Buddha
No one picks up burning hot coal with their unprotected hands. That’s foolish. Fire burns. Yet, that’s exactly what we sometimes do regarding powerful emotions like anger. We hold onto it. Expecting a different outcome than getting burned is the definition of insanity.
8 Proactive Ways to Let Go of Anger
If the best way to deal with anger is to let it go, how do we do that? Here are some suggestions:
Putting some distance between you and the situation or people that prompted the angry feelings, to begin with, is a logical first step. If you aren’t close to the source of your anger, you’re less likely to lash out and do or say something that will cause harm to another. In addition, by walking away, you’ll allow yourself time to cool off so that you can think about what happened in a more rational way.
Identify Why You’re Angry
Take the inconsiderate driver that cut you off. This happens all the time. Why is today any different than another day?
- What is it about being cut off that makes you so angry now?
- Is it that you’re already late for work?
- Is it just another string of things that went wrong today, and this is the last straw?
- Are you upset with yourself for failing to complete a task or due to an argument with your spouse, child, or co-worker?
By identifying what’s underneath your anger, you’ll be better able to get past it.
Let it Out to Let Go of Anger
Instead of bottling up your anger and holding it inside like a captive coal that continues to burn, find a place to let it out with a scream, a vigorous physical workout, or a good cry. Letting go of the anger before confronting the person that prompted the negative feelings will allow you to behave more constructively and proactively.
Figure Out What to Change
Realize that you have three options when dealing with anger: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it. Once you decide that there’s something you can do to change the situation, act on that. It will help you let go of the anger and move on.
Secretly, you might have prompted the situation that made you angry. Instead of trying to shift the blame and punish others, take responsibility for your part in what happened.
Even if you only acknowledge this to yourself, it’s a huge step. Then, focus on what you could have done differently so that the next time something like this occurs, you’ll act in a more responsible way.
Calmly Talk with the Offender to Let Go of Anger
You’ll need to use the walk-away technique before confronting the offender about what made you angry. When you’ve put some time and distance between you and the person and situation, you can better tell that person how you feel about what happened. It’s important to remember that you won’t be able to control how that person reacts. The only thing you can do is express your feelings kindly and calmly. This will help you let go of the anger.
See the Anger Melting Away
The anger you feel doesn’t affect the other person as much as it does you. Knowing this, why hold onto it? Instead, visualize the anger as ice that’s melting away in the heat. Feel the sense of coolness that replaces the anger. This will help you regain peace and kindness toward yourself.
See it From the Offender’s Perspective
The person who angered you wasn’t aware he or she was doing anything wrong. They could have inadvertently done something, not out of malicious intent, just without thinking of the potential consequences. Mistakes happen. People don’t necessarily intend to harm. Recognize that you’ve done the same thing to other people. Have a little compassion. This will go a long way toward your ability to let go of anger.
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