I have a problem. It’s an anger problem. I’ve had it all my life. My temper gets vicious, my pulse races, and my mind gets stuck on whatever the thing is that made me angry – and I can’t let it go.
The anger haunts my peaceful thoughts, disrupts my sleep, and makes me feel shaky, volatile, and upset all day. I’ll try and find a way to distract myself, or I’ll go to sleep at night thinking I’ve found closure, and then BOOM – the moment my thoughts drift back to the issue, or wake up, or am reminded of what I’m angry about, the feelings are there full force.
I once went to therapy (the single therapy session of my life, which shows you how much this issue weighs on me) to deal with anger and the therapist taught me deep breathing techniques, which I had also learned to do in yoga and do find very helpful and centering. Deep breathing can help me deal with anger in the moment, meaning it will stop me from acting, speaking, or lashing out in ways I will regret.
That said, no amount of breath can stop the anger I am talking about here. The resentful, righteous, insidious anger. The type that can only come from an unresolved argument, deep-seated insult, or lifelong feud. I am involved in an ugly situation right now and it has consumed my past few days; each day worse than the next; no resolution at all on the horizon.
My wonderful father, whose temper is much like my own but whose experience and demeanor helps him control it much more effectively than I can, told me yesterday to just let it go. He assured me that while I am fully entitled to my anger, it does not help this situation, and what we can do is fix the issue to the best of our ability – and in doing so, we will release our own stress, leaving the other party to their own nasty feelings, hateful words, and incompetence.
He’s right. I know it. So why do I struggle so much to do it?
As emotions go, I’m not a very showy person. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. I don’t give others the opportunity to know what I’m feeling most of the time, particularly if those feelings are negative. I tend toward putting on a happy face even if it betrays my heart. This strategy helps me stay optimistic and in control, both of which I need for my own sanity.
But in putting on this emotional mask, I surrender my mind to the resultant internal struggle – the fight to combat the angry feelings that still remain, regardless of how I’ve decided to proceed in action. Even if I let it go in practice, “it” still shuffles around my brain, deep in my lonely thoughts, poison to the productive parts of my life that demand my attention.
This week my goal is to let go of my anger, both at face value and deep inside. If I can give myself permission to forgive and forget, perhaps I will be stronger for it. I will retrain my brain to react not with that sharp and sudden pang of fury, but with a rooted and contented understanding that in situations like these, it is what it is, and only I can put my mind at ease.
How do you deal with anger? Do you have a temper – and how do you keep it under control?