ONE OF THE GREATEST LESSONS I’ve learned in life is about letting go of anger. When I was a young person, certain people around me were very free with their anger. I could have copied their style, but I took a different path. This does not mean I don’t get angry—it means anger doesn’t control me.
Neale Donald Walsch once said, “Anger expressed is never about the person it’s directed towards. It’s always about the person who is angry.” I heard this wise man’s words at the right time; they went in deep and forced me to reflect.
Since then, any time I find myself moving into a place of anger towards someone, instead I ask myself whether I was really angry at that person or simply projecting my own frustrations or angst onto them.
I’d ask myself, for example, “Am I angry with my children, or deflecting my frustration of mothering onto them? Am I angry with my husband, or directing all of my pent-up angst about everything onto him?”
Catching and questioning yourself when you feel angry needs to be a continual and conscious practice. It will help you dig deep into your self-awareness and understand where the anger is really coming from. And it will improve and make more joyous your relationships with the people you tend to project that anger onto.
If you’ve got a bigger problem with your anger than the occasional frustration-driven flare-up, maybe you’ve got some deeper issues that you could try to get to the bottom of. There are some amazing professionals out there who can help with that kind of work. Whatever its source, your anger is toxic to you, your life, and your relationships. Face it. Sort it out.
For the average person, when you feel your anger rising, ask yourself if it is really about someone else and their actions, or if it may be a frustration deep inside of you being projected onto them? If you’re completely honest, you’ll find that the vast majority of the time, your anger comes from your own feelings of frustration misdirected towards someone else.
Now I’m still human, so yes—anger impacts me too. I get angry when I see unkindness or injustice directed toward people who are helpless, downtrodden, or not in a position to stand up for themselves, socially or economically. That definitely gets me going. But this is not the kind of anger that leaves me feeling poisoned, and it has no consequences for my relationships.
I will also defend myself and the people closest to me, but I’ve always found this can be done without losing dignity or resorting to anger for anger’s sake. Standing up for yourself or someone else is absolutely important, but again, I don’t hold onto it. It is released quickly and easily.
My husband often gets frustrated that I don’t get angry or stay angry. But he also knows I just don’t want it in my body—it doesn’t serve me. However, when someone does make me really mad, and I actually feel that way for a week or two, Steve feels relieved. He tells me it makes me more human. Personally, I detest feeling that way and can’t wait to get rid of it.
The important thing is, any time you feel anger, go inside and ask: is it them? Or is it me? The latter will be your answer most of the time, if you can be fully honest with yourself. Acknowledging this changed my life and I hope it changes yours.
- What are your frustrations with someone or something in your life? Think deep and list it down, all of it. Be completely honest with yourself—what’s getting your goat?
- Take a minute or two to go within and work out what it is that you are projecting onto others in your life.
- Every time you can, when you feel anger rise in you, stop, think, reflect and ask yourself: am I angry towards them, or is it something deeper? This is a wonderful muscle to develop.
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