Why anger is a wall we need to knock down
I don’t like to get angry, and I don’t like to be around angry people.
I’m also very slow to anger but, true to my Irish heritage, when I do, watch out!
And over the years as I’ve meditated more, and done more self-healing, I’ve been rather pleased with how calm I usually am.
So imagine my surprise at finding myself angry quite frequently over the past month.
Mind you, there have been things going on in my life that many people would say justify anger.
But that is not an excuse for someone like me who is trying to live her life at the highest vibration possible.
Healing from our anger can be one of the most powerful ways to move our lives forward.
Walls built of anger
Best-selling author Wayne Dyer, Ph.D., tells the story of holding onto anger toward the alcoholic, abusive father who abandoned him and his family when Dyer was just an infant.
His mother had three children under four years old at the time and struggled to make ends meet, as the father never paid any support.
For awhile, Dyer’s mother put the children into foster care until she could afford to support them.
Dyer spent his first ten years in foster care and orphanages, building up a powerful anger towards his father. He’d heard stories his whole life about his father being an alcoholic, womanizer, thief and spending time in prison.
Meanwhile, Dyer put himself through college, and earned a Ph.D.
When he learned of his father’s death in 1974, Dyer went to visit his grave with the intent to let out his anger, both physically and verbally.
He spent two hours cursing at his father’s grave.
He then went to his car intending to leave, but something called him back to the gravesite, where he found himself saying, “From this moment on, I send you love. Who am I to judge you? You did what you knew how to do, given the conditions of your life.”
Dyer’s life had been going nowhere up to that point in time, but his life changed when he got rid of the rage and anger he’d held towards his father.
Anger acts like a wall, keeping good out. Forgiving his father knocked down that wall.
Wayne Dyer went on to write a book in 14 days called “Your Erroneous Zones” – it became a best-seller and launched his career.
Dyer considers his father his greatest teacher because if he hadn’t gotten that rage out of himself, he wouldn’t have moved on with his life.
He attributes all his success to forgiveness: “If you have anything in your heart other than love, you have to get it out.”
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Nelson Mandela
What is anger?
The American Psychological Association says “anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems—problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. And it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion.
“Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival. But how long do you hold onto it? Release it and let it go.”
That losing control aspect is the reason the great Lakota warrior Crazy Horse wouldn’t let a warrior overcome by anger go into battle with him.
Strategies for dealing with anger
ONE: Use relaxation techniques:
- Breathe deeply
- Slowly repeat a calming word such as peace, relax or “serenity now” as you breathe deeply
- Use relaxing imagery
- Gentle yoga or stretching can relax your muscles and make you feel calmer.
Practice these things on a regular basis so you can call on them automatically when in a tense situation.
TWO: Don’t jump to conclusions about why the other person did what they did.
Walk a mile in their moccasins. Try to see the other person’s side of the story.
What is it in the other person’s makeup that caused them to act that way against you?
Any couple’s counselor will tell you there are three sides to every story: yours, their’s and the truth in between.
Most people are able to see very little objectively.
“If we could read the secret history of our enemies we would find in each man’s sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
THREE: Slow down and wait until you have all the facts before reacting.
When I’m upset about something, I try to follow the rule of not responding right away. I wait a day or two before sending that email.
That time may lead me to a calmer way to respond.
When I haven’t waited, I’ve usually regretted it.
FOUR: Change your environment
Go for a walk. Give yourself breaks.
I heard about a working mother who comes home from work with the rule “no one talks to mom for the next 15 minutes unless the house is on fire.”
FIVE: Use some releasing techniques
- Dig a hole and shout into it
- Beat the ground or a rock with a big stick
- Write a letter you don’t mail expressing all your anger and frustration
SIX: Try to see the situation differently
Leonard Sheff, co-author of “The Cow in the Parking Lot; A Zen Approach to Overcoming Anger,” summarizes his shift about anger with this analogy:
Imagine you are circling a crowded parking lot when, just as you spot a space, another driver races ahead and takes it.
Easy to imagine the rage.
But now imagine that instead of another driver, a cow has lumbered into that parking space and settled down. The anger dissolves into bemusement.
What really changed? You— and your perspective.
SEVEN: Work on forgiveness
Take a look at any relationship in which you hold anger or judgment towards the other person.
Replace those thoughts with compassion and understanding.
In the words of Wayne Dyer, your biggest enemy is your teacher, forcing you to dig deep to find that forgiveness and compassion.
When you hold on to resentments you’re allowing the other person to run your life.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Mark Twain
EIGHT: Seek counseling if your anger is really out of control.
You may not be able to eliminate anger, but it’s likely you can change the way you let it affect you.
Anger keeps you in a low vibration, and we don’t want to live there.
“If you’re going to pursue revenge, you’d better dig two graves.” Chinese proverb
Don’t let someone else take control of your energy and your thoughts.
The bottom line is that only you can make yourself angry.
What techniques have you found for dealing with anger? Please let me know in the comments section below.
Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller “The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman” and other books on health. She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, healing practice and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com