Anger might feel exhilarating in the moment. But you might also find that after a while of being inflamed by anger, you’re exhausted, jittery, and remorseful. The feeling is too much for your fragile human body to carry. It’s all-consuming, draining you of life force. Sure, you had cause to be angry, but this can’t go on forever, right? At some point, you have to give your body and mind a break. Unfortunately, you may not have a single clue how to understand your anger and leave it behind. It’s definitely not easy, but there are some ways you can reframe your thoughts around anger and lead yourself toward peace.
Sit with Your Anger for a Moment
In life, you’re going to get angry sometimes. That’s a given. You’ll be involved in a lot of scenarios that don’t make sense and frustrate you to no end. Other people can be unnecessarily eager about choosing themselves over others and running other people into the ground. It’s natural to feel bitter when you’re not being treated with fair consideration. The anger itself is a perfectly normal response to an abnormal situation. What leads to trouble, though, is believing your anger warrants an explosive reaction. It may be tempting to burn the village down when you’re mad, but that’s not your call to make. Your responsibility is to understand your anger and keep it at bay. This hardly means telling yourself you have no right to be angry. You do. However, instead of acting on your outrage, all you need to do is acknowledge you’re angry and allow yourself to feel the emotion long enough for it to pass. Take a few deep breaths, validate your anger, explore why you were triggered, and let the feeling dissipate. Don’t blow up, but don’t bury your anger either. Neither response is healthy.
Accept Anger Hurts You More Than It Hurts Them
Anger might seem like a productive emotion. After all, spite can be credited as an “excellent motivator,” pumping you up to improve your circumstances (as you aim to convince someone else of your worth). However, the reality is…anger doesn’t accomplish as much as we believe when all is said and done. Think of the common saying “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Your anger won’t change anyone’s mind about you. Whoever abused you or scoffed at you didn’t mind doing it, and that’s the truth. Even if you hadn’t possessed qualities they leveraged against you when they attacked you, they’d find another excuse to degrade you. That’s because their cruelty has nothing to do with you; it ultimately circles back to them—and when you start to believe you’ll change them by stewing in anger, all you do is internalize their own misguided approach to life and slowly become another version of them, which is probably not what you want.
Realize People Are People
It’s easy to make a note of some perceived dark-sided quality in another person and point a finger, condemning them in a burst of rage. The tragic part is nobody comes out the hero in this situation. You, though you feel justified in your anger, end up looking like a belligerent jerk. The condemned, though able to [perhaps rightfully] play the victim card, will end up taking a hit to their self-esteem, especially if the angry rallying cry has others nodding along in agreement. Nobody looks great from either side of the conflict—and that was completely avoidable and pointless. Truthfully, the finger-pointer likely just wasted everyone’s time including their own. Unless someone is a murderer or an egotistical tyrant, you don’t genuinely ever have much of a case against anyone. Traits you’ve determined are faults based on arbitrary evidence, self-righteousness, or “because you just don’t like it” don’t define someone’s personhood. People are more than one thing. People are more than the qualities you wish they didn’t have. And remembering that can bring you a level of peace and help you to avoid a handful of fights.
Understand You’re Not in Control
There isn’t much you can control in this world. The only thing you can really control is yourself and the fruits of your labour—and it’s even debatable how much agency you have over your own mind and hands. If you were a master of yourself, you probably wouldn’t need an article about letting go of anger, correct? It really is hard enough to control yourself, so imagine how much agony you’ll go through trying to control everyone else in the world. You can’t do it. If someone else’s fate matters to you, all you can do is gently offer your perspectives and leave them to decide if they want to cooperate with you. Whether they listen depends on whether or not they’re inclined to listen. And if they don’t listen, that’s because we’re not in what we’d consider a perfect world where we’re the centre of the universe and we’re sovereign over everything. Focusing on what we can, in theory, control is an easier road to peace than fretting about how other people are living.
Jacob Carmichael | Staff Writer