How to deal with anger
Time to be honest.
There’s probably something in your life that you’re still angry about, that still gnaws on your bones to this day whenever you think about it.
Then again, it doesn’t even have to be something from the far-removed past. If you’re a living and breathing human being, then chances are you face triggers every single day:
- that oh so annoying co-worker who drives you mad
- the car in front of you at the intersection whose driver hasn’t noticed the light’s turned green
- your overbearing and controlling mother who wants to run your life
- your darling significant other whose forgetfulness has worn your patience thin
- that friend of yours who doesn’t act the way you wish they would
- the way people misjudge or misread your situation and make assumptions that are so far away from the truth
- a wrong that was never righted, leaving you to feel ‘unavenged’
Sound familiar yet?
We all experience moments in our day-to-day lives that trigger something in us, that seem to rub us the wrong way and stir up a cauldron of strong emotions in the fiery hearth of our hearts.
I read something on a blog the other day that really resonated with me. The author said this:
“Anger is a fascinating emotion. It often is an energy that is asking you to assert a Truth, whether to yourself or another.”
When I think back on moments when anger expanded inside of me like a wildfire (and did so in just seconds), it’s true: it was because I wanted to assert a truth.
I remember in a previous place of employment, I had a co-worker with whom I constantly clashed. I didn’t feel as if she was pulling her weight in the office and I also felt as if she was often piling her own tasks onto my own already towering pile of to-do’s. It was infuriating, and over the years, I kept getting angrier and angrier with her. I thought of so many things I wanted to say to her.
It started with: “I wish I could help you but I already have too much on my plate so unfortunately I can’t! I’m so sorry!”
But after so many years of silence, the response in my head was more along the lines of: “No! For God’s sake, no! Don’t you see how busy I am? I already have tons to do without you adding onto it. Can’t you do that for yourself? It’s not even that hard! Do you do anything around here???”
Hardly saintly, I know. But because I didn’t speak my truth in the beginning and instead swallowed it, I created a prison and then locked myself inside of it. As time went by, I paced the small confines of my prison until it drove me crazy…and all the while my anger was growing hotter and hotter.
So many of us make the same mistake. Instead of asserting our truths, expressing our feelings, and speaking up for ourselves, we instead choose to just keep our mouths shut. We do this for any number of reasons:
- we don’t want to make a big deal out of the situation and be seen as overly-sensitive so decide to let it go (but we never really do let it go, do we?)
- we feel like we shouldn’t have to say anything at all -shouldn’t the person already know that they’re upsetting us?
- we want to avoid confrontation and fear what might happen if we confront someone (maybe they’ll be offended, maybe it’ll lead to a break up, maybe it’ll make things awkward from now on)
- we don’t want to be vulnerable (it’s not easy to be transparent and openly share how someone’s words or actions hurt you, or put you at a disadvantage, or upset you, etc. – it takes courage, and a lot of humility)
All of these reasons have kept me from speaking my truth in the past but I’m learning that remaining silent instead of speaking up for yourself is a tragic disservice to your worth as an individual. Worst, it will only lead to festering anger that robs you of your peace of mind as well as of your capacity to feel more love and joy in your life.
I put this to the test not too long ago. I needed to have a conversation with a friend about something she was doing that was bothering (and hurting) me. I’d kept quiet about it for so long that the anger was causing me to resent her. The funny thing is, I expected her to just know; to realize her error and understand what it was doing to me. And because she didn’t, that got me angrier!
But I was done with passive-aggressiveness and waiting for her to ‘make the first move’. In the name of my own peace, I realized I was going to have to be vulnerable (scary as it was) and just confess what I was feeling. And in a heartfelt letter, that’s exactly what I did.
And you know what? It was the most exhilarating feeling! My spirit soared. I felt liberated from my own self-made prison because I’d finally spoken my truth. And the best part? Me and this friend grew closer in that moment and reached a new level of friendship because of that vulnerability and transparency. It was like knocking down a wall that had been between us all this time.
So…who needs to hear your truth? What have you been holding on to? Who have you started to resent because you’ve allowed anger to grow inside of you instead of openly expressing to this person your pains?
My challenge to you is simple: speak your truth. Get vulnerable. Be transparent. Be open. Free yourself from anger’s prison. It doesn’t matter if it happens in an email, a text, a handwritten letter, a phone-call, or a face-to-face conversation. Use whatever form of communication is most comfortable to you.
And remember, this isn’t about attacking someone or condemning them. You must come from a place of love. For instance, use phrases like “When you do/did ______, it makes/made me feel ______.” (Example: instead of ‘you never call me because you obviously don’t care’, say ‘when I always have to be the one to call, I feel overwhelmed and not receiving a call from you really makes me feel unloved’). This will vacuum all the drama and high-charged emotions out of the situation so that the foundation of the conversation is one built on understanding, mutual respect, and a desire to reach a resolution together.
Life’s just too short to hold on to dead weights like anger. I think it’s about time we start dropping those weights one by one, don’t you think? Let’s create a more open, peaceful world where we freely communicate with each other. Let’s start speaking our truths.