Anger. Fear. Choice.
Certainly anger is not the only form of emotional baggage, but anger like fear has the power to destroy more lives. Letting go of anger is a choice we are free to make. But before we let go, we need to understand why we choose to hold on.
Holding Anger is Easy.
For one thing, holding on to anger is easy. It takes work to move through a conflict and see another person’s side, more than most of us want to put out.
Second, anger makes you feel in control. When you’re mad at someone you think you are in control of the relationship; actually it is the other person who is really in command.
Third, you’d rather be right than happy. While it may be that you are correct, consider picking your battles carefully. Not every battle has to be fought and won. Battles, regardless of how small, take their toll on you emotionally. Ask yourself, is it worth it?
Fourth, we also hold on to anger because we’re encouraged to do so. Have you ever been in a situation where a friend said, “Don’t let that person get away with what they did to you?” Everyone comes to a situation with his or her own agenda; don’t let other people’s agendas influence your actions.
Fifth, we’re angry because we get permission to be that way. Feeling your feelings is one thing, but getting stuck in them is another. Oftentimes we’re encouraged to live in the blame rather than move on. I was once seeing a therapist who encouraged me to acknowledge my mother’s faults. I loved it! I got permission to bash my mother with absolute impunity.
“It was all her fault,” I’d say. “You’re right,” my therapist would say. And so it went, for years I lived in the blame, because I had permission to do so. Now I have permission to get past it by seeing my part and moving on. Today I feel my feelings, but I’m not stuck in them.
And finally, expectations, the high demands we place on others, lead us to anger. We judge based on what we think is right or wrong. Yet how often do we expect more of others than we do of ourselves? How often do we expect others to do what we’re unwilling to do?
Have you ever made a mistake, done something outrageously stupid, or disappointed yourself? Has anything silly, embarrassing, or inflammatory ever come out of your mouth that you wish you hadn’t said? Did you stop talking to yourself for days, weeks, months or even years because you made such a blunder? Of course not.
Yet, how often have you been disappointed or hurt by someone and you held a grudge – for days, weeks, months and years? Why do we expect people to be perfect, yet demand our right to be a human being who makes mistakes?
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