It seems like most people are set to always angry mode. The stress of our modern world and all that goes with being a responsible adult weighs heavily on us. It makes us act in ways that at some level we know are unhealthy, but cannot seem to stop. Emotions have a snowball effect. Sending a little bit of anger or bitterness out tends to create more of that feeling in your personal world. Our habitual feelings create emotional grooves, eventually making it so that we are living in a constant state of negative emotionality.
Anger and bitterness wear at our health. Chronically living in those states burns out the nervous system, depresses the immune system, interferes with digestion, and even starts to alter brain chemistry. You dont want that, trust us. Whatever might cause you to feel resentful or frustrated is not worth throwing your health away. Here are a few ways to release those detrimental emotions and shift into beneficial emotional states.
Learn to Let Go
Anger often comes wanting reality to be different than it is, or that a person or life itself has wronged us in some way. At a certain level, anger serves a purpose. It tells us that something is wrong; something is out of alignment with health and truth. Appropriate anger is what helps mothers protect their children and people leave abusive relationships.
But when anger becomes the default state, or when we are angry without taking an appropriate action to channel that anger, it turns into poison. People who suffer from chronic anger and disappointment tend to experience more disease and dissatisfaction in their lives overall.
There are some things in life that we can change, but many that we cannot. And we can never change other people. We can inspire them, champion them, and support them. We can state our boundaries and needs, and how we would like to interrelate. We can be examples, invitations, or guides. But we cannot force change in others. A lot of frustration comes from wanting people to be different than they are.
It all comes down to letting go. Making the conscious choice every day to let go of trying to control or change other people. Let go of wishing the past were different than it is. Let go of needing to feel like you are right, and someone else is wrong. And let go of playing the victim, making other people responsible for your happiness or lack thereof.
Forgiveness is the Key to Presence
Intentionally or not, sometimes we hurt each other. We are a flawed and complicated species. We make mistakes and we let each other down. It is important to hold each other accountable, and protect ourselves when necessary from possible future harm. But holding onto hurts and grudges just leads to more pain. You cannot a fix a problem by just being bitter about it. If you are in a dangerous or soul-sucking situation, change it, get out of it. And then practice letting go.
Forgiveness is not something earned; it is given. Ultimately, it is not for the other person. You are not excusing his or her actions. You are letting go of the anger, blame, righteousness, and other detrimental emotions associated with holding on to hurt. Forgiveness does set people free the people who forgive.
Choosing to forgive releases the energy that was caught up in the anger. This allows more space, more love, kindness, joy, and other supportive emotions to arise.
A Mile In Anothers Shoes
A potent way to release anger and open to compassion is to empathize with other people. When you allow yourself to feel all that other people go through, it becomes a lot easier to forgive, accept, and love them. Kindness becomes second nature when you really consider how tough life is for nearly everyone alive right now. Over time, cultivating empathy and compassion can help you shift from self-righteous what about me? thinking, to selfless what about we? thinking.
When you feel anger or bitterness towards someone, pause, take a deep breath, and think about why you are actually angry. Are you in a situation that needs to change? Are you actually in danger? If not, then look for the other persons humanity. Release the anger on your exhalations, and breathe in light as you inhale. Send positive thoughts to this person or situation, imagining happiness, health, and a harmonious resolution for all.
We cannot always change our worlds, but we can change how we perceive them. Detrimental emotions may always arise, but we can choose to feed them or let them go. You may not be able to alter the things that challenge and upset you, but you can transform how you relate to them. Your health is in your hands. The kindness and love you invite and radiate will have a profound affect on your body and environment. They might even help to transform the very situations that triggered your challenging emotions in the first place.