There was a moment in time when I realized I was beginning a new chapter in my life. The next thing that occurred to me was that I did not want to carry any anger or resentment with me into this “new place”. Think of it like you’re moving into a new house and you only want to bring with you the things you love, the stuff that lights you up. You also want to get rid of the stuff that weighs you down.
The most powerful thing I ended up doing was adopting a new attitude. I decided I was going to refuse to allow anger into my life. I didn’t want to waste one more minute living with anger. So, I did something radical for me. I made a new choice to automatically let go of any anger as soon as I detected it. I deliberately release it so I don’t react in anger. I decided that no matter how unbelievable it may seem, we are all doing the best we can. Besides, being angry about something that has already happened started to seem like a huge waste of energy.
As I researched a way to ditch my anger constructively, I found many people who had already come up with their own solutions. In this blog I’d like to share with you some steps I used, bits and pieces of other people’s strategies, in case it may help your heart heal too. You can use it as often as necessary to free yourself from something mildly irritating or something that has a huge impact on your life.
- Find a quiet place or time when and where you can be alone, in your home or car, in nature etc. Somewhere you cannot be disturbed or heard. Allow about 30-60 minutes.
- Make a list of anyone, including yourself, that you have anger, resentment, hatred or negativity toward for ANY reason. It doesn’t matter if the people are dead or alive. Also include any situations that you are still upset about. It doesn’t have to make any sense. Write them all down without filtering your thoughts, with the intent that you are going to shred or destroy your writings later. (Afterwards, go ahead and do that if you choose).
- It can be helpful, but it’s not necessary, to pick a chair, a tree, a picture of a person or situation to be the “receiver” of your anger that is going to come out in a minute. This object is like a “stand in” for the person or situation you are angry about.
- Imagine yourself or that person or situation there with you, as represented by the object in #3 above. Blast away at them/it verbally and uncensored for all the hurt you have experienced because of what happened, and how what happened impacted your life (remember this has nothing to do with making sense or being reasonable right now). Do this with each person or situation, one at a time. Give a voice to all of your hurt feelings; irritation, anger, rage, hatred, and fear. Feel free to cry, curse, kick a chair, punch a pillow etc. The idea here is to get all of your hurt feelings out of you.
When you feel you are done, ask yourself one more time if there’s anything else you need to say. You may want to give yourself a quiet moment until you feel ready to continue.
- Create an image in your mind. Imagine that at some point (in life, or surrounding death), each person will be shown a life review. What (we or) they did, why, and the impact it had will all be made clear from this otherworldly perspective. From this new perspective, it would be unimaginable for someone to think, do or say anything that might cause harm to another.
- If you are ready, and there is no expectation that you are, see if you can look at the “stand-in” object, for yourself or this other person who caused you harm, with eyes of compassion. You now know that these types of hurtful choices toward ourselves or another come from a painful, hurt place inside (whether we know what it is or not). Holding onto the “wrong” we’ve done or experienced is a choice and only causes harm to our precious selves. Doing this only continues to hurt us, and is not kind or loving. It also keeps us stuck in a “victim” mentality.
- If you feel ready, you can now choose to let go, to release yourself from the past hurt and move forward into your future with a lighter spirit. Gently send these old, harmful memories away with a kind thought or prayer for your own improved sense of well-being. If you are able, and there is no expectation that you do this, extend the same thought or prayer for the person who harmed you. We do this as a gift to ourselves (see blog “Letting Go” Dec. 5, 2015) because we no longer choose to keep past pain alive. We are done with it.
I know this process could seem like a stretch or a welcome step. It’s completely up to you if you want to try it. No one will stop you from holding onto bitterness or resentment but how does that benefit you? How does it make you feel? You can choose to let go of it. Remember that the reason we hold onto the anger and bitterness is because we subconsciously think it keeps us from getting hurt again. I can tell you from my own experience, that’s just not true. Love, contentment or happiness cannot exist where anger and resentment reside. So, what’s your choice, to live with thoughts that continually keep anger alive or to let it go and make room for feeling at ease, delighted, happier or more loving?
With love, Jackie