"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
I couldn't sleep last night, with a head full of randomness and words that wouldn't stop dancing. A thought came to me. It swirled, swayed and swelled until it was a fully formed idea that was crying out to be written down. The thought was this... Anger is only useful as long as it is motivating us. Whether it motivates us to change something in our lives, to support a cause, to end a relationship that is toxic, to vote in an election or stand up for the little guy, as long as it's making you do something then anger is a useful tool. When anger is just a place you are staying, a permanent state of bitterness, continued resentment towards someone or something, then it serves no purpose but to harm you.
I used to feel angry quite often, never really sure about why. I was angry at the world to some extent but more than this I was angry at myself. I lacked belief in my own power and capabilities and didn't dare do anything to change my situation and so instead I'd sit and feel angry. The thing is anger is a message that something isn't right. Somebody or something has overstepped a boundary. I'm not sure if the anger was a symptom of my anxiety and depression or if the anxiety and depression was caused by the things that made me angry but this I do know.
Anger is s symptom of unacknowledged hurt and pain. Deal with the cause and watch it ebb away.
Action is better than anger. Do something to change the situation so that your anger can be transmuted into something useful and positive, no matter how insignificant you might feel. A single drop of water on it's own may seem powerless, but small steps and good intentions can soon start a flood of actions and produce real change.
Anger serves a purpose and tells you that something isn't right and needs to change, but holding on to that anger is only going to cause you more pain. Let it go because the only thing anger without action hurts, is you.
I read something once that really changed how I see things and it's helped so much with letting go of all kinds of negative emotions. We can choose how we react to things. We can choose to be offended if somebody is rude to us, or we can choose not to be. We can choose to be hurt when people let us down or we can choose not to be. We can choose to sit and stew when somebody does something completely unacceptable or we can try to change things for the better. We don't need to be slaves to our own emotions.
CBT was really helpful in learning to understand my feelings and acknowledge them and also learning what I could control or change and what I could not. I wont go into it all here but one of the biggest breakthroughs was realising you can't change somebody else's feelings or behaviours to you, all you can do is choose how you respond.
Nobody can force you to feel offended and with practice, you can chose not to.
After a large amount of CBT I came to know myself much better, much more deeply. I'm still very much a work in progress but aren't we all? My "Imposter Syndrome" is the next thing I'm challenging myself to overcome and I'm already some way towards this goal from having spent a year in my current job (in a much healthier environment with the greatest team and manager in the world) and being forced to realise I am much more capable than I ever dreamed before (more on that another day).
Anger isn't a nice feeling, it isn't pleasant. It can lead to overwhelm, sadness, pure rage, nowhere good. Don't let yourself get trapped there. Deal with the issue at hand and then let it go. Forgive others where you can, but even if you can't, try not to carry around that hot coal that burns you because it will hurt you more than them.
"Anger is the punishment we give ourselves for someone else's mistake" - Buddha