Anger is a powerful emotion. While not a disorder itself, it can be a symptom of other disorders like depression, anxiety, addiction, and mood disorders. Underlying emotions like sadness, shame, fear, or disappointment play a significant role in how anger develops. Take a look at the following image:
Think about the last time you got angry. How did you respond? Was it the tip of the iceberg?
In fact, we may me developing a few different icebergs simultaneously. One might be created throughout the day or the week, with feelings of exhaustion, stress, overwhelm, or worry beneath the surface. Others may take years to develop, and holding in it’s weight are feelings of shame, grief, rejection, distrust, envy, or regret.
Sometimes it’s easier to express anger than it is to express the underlying complex and painful emotions.
Anger management techniques such as changing your thoughts, relaxation exercises, and using assertive communication are helpful tools to deal with anger effectively. Practicing strategies that work for you is prudent. However, using these tools and not ever diving beneath the surface to get to the root of the anger is like a snake eating it’s own tail. True anger management is the ongoing process of recognizing and working through painful feelings, so the iceberg never gets too big.
Anger comes from a lot of sources. People harbor anger toward themselves, toward others, and toward the world. This may stem from traumatic experiences, unmet expectations, or unresolved resentments.
Retaliation for wrongs done to us is an anger induced fantasy of many. Buddha tells us that “holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. Any energy is energy. So whether you are directing love or hate toward someone or something, you are using up your energy on it regardless. Like a poison, this will make you sick.
Forgiveness is not saying “It’s ok”. It’s more like saying, “It’s not ok, and I wont tolerate it, but I am not going to let it affect me anymore”.
Let go of what does not serve you and practice forgiveness for your own benefit. To forgive and to let go is to give yourself one of the greatest liberties of all. It means you’re taking your power back. This is no easy feat, often involving counsel and a good amount of self-awareness, but don’t we climb the steepest mountains for the most beautiful views?
© Kelsey Galer 2020