In the moment, I feel like I’m having an anxiety attack that has come on quickly. My arms and legs feel numb, my heart rate increases, I feel like I can’t breathe deeply. I have trouble speaking, and I usually get tears in my eyes.
Later, when I’m reliving the moment, I feel agitated and hyper, and my mind fills with the words I wish I’d thought of saying.
I keep reliving the moment, day after day, and sometimes, month after month, year after year.
That’s what anger does to me.
I don’t handle anger very well. I tend to feel guilty about feeling angry.
I also don’t like conflict and avoid it when the better choice might be to face it. When I avoid it, I sometimes end up angry over situations that I could have attended to sooner, if not for my fear of conflict.
I’m holding on to a lot of anger, some from years ago.
My goal this year is to let go of what I don’t need in my life, and that includes harmful emotions. Anger that I hold onto, that turns into grudges and resentment, is something that I want to let go of.
From a health standpoint, I know anger that I keep stuffed down inside can aggravate my OCD and other anxiety.
It affects my depression, too. I tend to feel helpless in my anger, and the helpless feelings are directly related to chronic depression.
But I want to let go of anger for a bigger reason. From a moral standpoint, I don’t want anger and resentment to ever get in the way of having compassion for others.
So how do you let go of anger?
I talked with my therapist about this recently, and he told me it’s not really a matter of letting it go.
It’s a matter of working through it.
It’s a matter of being assertive and friendly and expressing myself honestly and completely so that I don’t feel helpless.
Because when I tell myself I’m helpless in the face of conflict, my brain shuts down and I stay mired in the chronic depression.
I’m practicing this friendly assertiveness in therapy, reviewing situations that have come up in my interpersonal relationships, thinking about and talking about what actually happened and what would have been the best outcome.
I’m not going to wake up one morning and not feel any anger anymore. But I will gradually get better at working out anger and conflict so that I don’t feel helpless. And with that, I will get better at not carrying around anger.
How do you work through anger so that it doesn’t interfere with your peace of mind?