Letting Go of Anger (a “How To?” question, not a “How To” guide)steemCreated with Sketch.

in anger •  16 days ago

If you were to meet me in person, you would probably think I was one of the most easy-going and laid-back people you’ve met. I’m quick with a joke and a laugh, generally friendly and courteous, and I rarely get emotional or angry, either in public or private.

The Reality

Below the surface, like a bubbling lake of lava, lies the truth. I have carried a rage with me since I was about 12 years old. I’ve suppressed it, squelched it, and tamed it over the years, but it is still there today. It’s like the accelerator on your car: available at any time, just press down on the pedal and enjoy the rush.

I’ve let my rage come out physically only a small handful of times over the course of my life. Mine is not typically a violent anger. Arguably, it is something worse. My anger smolders for years and turns to hatred, scorn, and disdain. It is a caustic acid that eats away at my insides. It gnaws on me over the course of weeks, months, or even years. And when it finally breaches the barriers I try to maintain, it manifests itself in destructive words intended to inflict the maximum amount of pain on their recipient.

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I have loosed the arrows of my tongue at many people over the years, both deserving and undeserving. My poor wife has arguably been the most frequent recipient. I’ve never laid a finger on her, but I’ve hurt her more than any husband ever should. She has the grace to forgive me, but she will never forget some of the hurtful things I have said. I know this because she’s brought some of them up again years after the day I spoke them and long after I’ve forgotten that I ever said that hurtful thing.

But this isn’t about a relationship with my wife. She gets hurt the most for the same reason that the spouse of an alcoholic gets hurt the most: proximity. Things that have no right to set me off on her sometimes do simply because they are the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back, and she is the closest outlet to unleash my anger against. It is not fair to her, and I realize this. She is not the source of my anger. So, like an alcoholic on their first day of sobriety, I am trying to begin the process of letting go of my anger.

This post is many things: request for help, quest for self-discovery, resource for fellow sufferers, documentation of fact. At the end of the day, I am writing this for me. But if you have anything to offer, I'd be happy to hear it.

Family History

I have heard stories about both my grandfather and my father and their infamous tempers. My grandfather’s was a violent tempter. My father’s, a loud temper. Everyone in my family says that each generation improved on the one before, which makes me grateful that I never met my great-grandfather. I suspect my grandfather’s anger came from feelings of inferiority, although I may never know. He has long since passed.

My father and I have had several conversations about his own former struggles. He actually conquered his anger, and can even point to the date on a calendar when it happened. I remember a hot-tempered man growing up. Today he is a mellow, calm, and gentle grandfather. When we talk about what used to fuel his own wrath, he points to a feeling like he was owed something that he never got. That life was treating him unfairly. Things like that. His epiphany came during a Basic Life Principles seminar by Bill Gothard. That was the key moment in his journey of letting go of his anger.

Talk to my mom, his sisters, anyone else who knew him, and they will all agree that the 50 year old version of my father looks tremendously different from the 30 year old version of my father. And it’s not a change that can be attributed to the stereotypical dulling of age, either. He was able to conquer his anger, and he’s a better man for it today: husband, father, grandfather, worker… it improved every relationship in his life.

Angry About What?

I don’t feel inferior like my grandfather, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on something owed to me like my dad did. In fact, I actually think I’m better than most people (another character flaw I’ll save for a separate post), and I think I’ve been given way more in life than I ever deserved. So if I don’t share the same root causes, what drives my own rage?

To be honest, I’m not sure, but I have a few ideas. First off, I am a “water carrier”. I am the kind of person who loves to hold a grudge – for someone else. If I see an injustice done to another person, I will take offense to it like it was directed at me instead. Even if the person on the receiving end is not particularly bothered by how they were slighted, I will ramp up my own sense of righteous indignation to Crusade-worthy levels. Two examples:

My aunt and uncle divorced, and my uncle moved on with his life. I got so angry at my aunt about this that it culminated in one of my infamous word storms and completely burned our previously close relationship to the ground. We have not talked in 8 years.

I see the way my sister treats my mother and it fills me with rage to my core. My mother has learned to deal with her marginalized position in my sister’s life, but I will never let that anger go at how terribly I feel she has treated our mom. We are siblings, yet have no meaningful relationship to this day. We have a puddle-deep conversation with each other a few times a year, and that’s about it.

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There are many more examples of people whom I harbor a grudge against, and with very few exceptions, they are all people who have done nothing to me personally, or at least not to the extent that it would warrant such anger. Beyond individuals, I have an incredible disgust for many Republicans and Evangelicals who adamantly defend our current president (note: not who simply voted for, I mean those who actively defend his actions today). I see it as a reversal of everything I was told these people stood for when I grew up as a member of their tribes. The party of family values, the denomination of morality… I feel like I was sold a lie and betrayed and this burns inside and feeds my rage monster.

When I feel taken advantage of, I am quick to anger as well. Whether it’s a business, an individual, or society as a whole, if I feel I am unfairly getting the short end of the stick, I will latch onto that anger and seethe for weeks over it.

The Past

How did I get to be this way? I wasn’t always a wrath-filled mask of civility. I think it all goes back to Middle School, around the time I was 12. I had an incredibly difficult time from 6th to 8th grade. I never contemplated suicide, but I considered a lot of other things. It was a ride that I wanted so badly to get off of, but it lasted for three full years. I firmly believe I am the way I am today as a result of the deep emotional wounds I suffered during that time.

I was bullied. I was an outcast. I did not fit in. I did not have my own identity and desperately searched for one. I did not feel like anyone was there for me. I did not feel like I had any real friends. I did not feel like anyone understood what I was going through. Some days, I did not feel loved by anybody.

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Typical whiny teenage angst, right? Boo hoo, it gets better, suck it up. Well you know what? You’re absolutely right. It did get better. But I am now in my 30’s and I still carry a rage inside me, and try as I might I cannot find another reason for why I am the way I am besides this.

That on a subconscious level I lash out at people and systems which do not demonstrate loyalty.
That I rage against anyone who attempts to take advantage of me for their own gain.
That I have decided I will punish those who hurt other people and fight for them the way that I felt no one ever fought for me.

The Future

So, back to the title of this post. Where do I go from here? How do I let go of all this anger inside of me? How do I douse the rage that burns week after week, year after year? Maybe I should try the same thing that worked for my own father. Maybe I should pray more. Maybe I should “just let it go.” All easier said than done. Someone recommended "mindfulness meditation" and I gave that a go, but alas, it didn't help a thing.

The scary part is, I’ve lived with this anger for so long that I feel like it’s a part of me now. In a sick way, I enjoy having it there. It’s like the Dark Side of the Force from Star Wars. Anger, fear, aggression… a source of power. A source of passion. A focused sense of purpose. A fountain of righteous indignation. An adrenaline rush to indulge. The seduction of the powerful daggers of hateful words.

Sometimes I think I actually enjoy it, but then I go and hurt somebody when it boils over onto an innocent bystander. So it’s got to end. But how?

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I was bullied in school and everywhere else until I learned how to run fast; took a while to get rid of the anger though...

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Guessing you just went the “time heals all wounds” approach?

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What else could I do...

I get it, I'll post the podcast. Geez.

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I can and will make you cry.

Or according to my mom, I'll just irritate you slightly and you'll move on with your life and I'll be stuck with my own debilitating rage for the next 5 years while you forget all about me.

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Hah, joke's on you. I cry very easily, regardless.

Well i can say that i feel you on some of this, i was bullied really badly all through primary school (from around 6-12yrs old), chased home from school most days of the week, beat up, drinks poured over me, food rubbed in my face, taunted made fun of. they would wait at the end of the street for me when i would walk to school.... it was pretty horrible stuff. And way too much to delve into at the moment.

For me , i spent quite a lot of time pondering the reasons for this happening to me and what drove these children to act this way... there was a gamut of emotions felt going through this situation and afterwards.

i vowed if i was ever given power of any kind i would be responsible with it, i would help those who i see suffering the same or similar situations. i would be the force that deals with those doing harm to others. I was fortunate enough to be able to do this, as i grew older and wiser i managed to make an impact , not through violence but psychology, well maybe a little threat of violence thrown in when needed.

I am now 38 and while i understand what the driving factors were behind these kinds of behavior i cant say i agree with any of it. But searching for the answers has given me a greater perspective on life , people, society and much more. When we cant change the situation (like our past) we can change how we perceive it.

Its not about digging a hole to throw the emotion into, deleting it from the mind, these actions just make it come out more fierce for me. it is about learning to accept it as part of who i am and knowing that it shaped me into the person i am today, every experience has let to this very moment, and all i can do is be the best version of myself i can be. i recently wrote an article regarding this available here if you are interested.

The truth is there is no one way to overcome this, we are all individuals, we can research different methods, read many books , try different ways, etc. but ultimately we must take the elements which work for us and design a program which is custom to our individual needs. There is no one size fits all.

I have managed to tame the beast, but to be honest.... im always angry

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Most times that’s how I feel too - it’s been tamed but it’s there and I’m always angry.

Good advice to think about why people acted the way they acted - maybe that will help me understand it if not accept it.

I will check out your link now. Thanks again for the thoughtful comment!

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All we can do is the best we can, as long as we are trying we are improving. Like i said we are all individuals, so we must find our own path, but if we are open and honest with ourselves and others we can share our experience sand help one another find our own best ways :)

Much love, hope it helped out a bit :)

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It did, thank you very much for taking the time to reach out with your thoughtful words 🙂

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no probs mate, much love in your direction :)

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Anger is part of being human.

BTW: Getting angry at one's self for getting angry is one of those odd paradoxes that defines life.

I am so mad at myself that I got angry. harummmppphhhh!

I rarely get angry when bad things are done to me, but I get angry when I see the same thing done to others. What really ticks me off is when people engage in activities which undermine the people around them.

The big anger I have at the moment is that Conservative Movement appears to have undermined the Tea Party. The Tea Party was right. There was something wrong with both the corporate bailout and ObamaCare. Conservative pundits undermined the debate around these issues. The result is that the movement failed to come up with alternatives. Conservatives got people to hate ObamaCare, but they do not have an alternative. It is infuriating because we could have a better health care bill if we had a decent health care debate.

Since you've started writing; you've probably figured out that anger is useful.

A writer can analyze their anger and come up with interesting insights.

A writer can quickly realized how misdirected anger hurts people.

I think it is possible, as a writer, to focus anger on an issue to highlight an injustice. This technique rarely works. The anger creates an echo chamber.

The subject of how anger creates an echo chamber would be an interesting topic. It wouldn't work well on SteemIt as SteemIt favors short articles that focus on a single topic.

I've been trying to figure out how to expose the dangers of partisanship. Partisans gain power by creating anger against their partisan opposition.

That is difficult to expose in a SteemIt post, but can be exposed in longer format writing.

Anyway, I think it is great to analyze the things that makes one angry. As a writer one can explore the direction that expressions of anger take. It usually leads people down dark paths.

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Thanks for the feedback and the thoughtful comment, @yintercept. Sounds like you and I share some "triggers". It was helpful for me to write about this, and I do intend to continue.

Sometimes thinking about what makes me angry and trying to analyze it just makes me... angrier, heh. But I suppose you have to tackle it sooner or later.

Thanks again for the reply!

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When I write about things that anger me I get depressed.

Those culture war articles I put in my feed really make me depressed.

I keep feeling that if I can just figure out how to express to people who get too caught up in the left/right split that it is the false dichotomy of the split which is destroying us and not the opposition on the other side of the divide.

The war is the thing that is causing the misery ... not the soldiers in the other army.

So, what I am hoping to create a set of arguments I could use to help people diffuse the political tension that is creeping into their lives ... but if I do it wrong, I will just increase the tension.

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Yeah it’s certainly a dilemma. I have had to make choices on whether or not I would engage a friend or family member on certain topics. The advice I was given was to only say something if I could say it out of love. I am not there yet. Anything I say would be out of anger. So I stay silent while I work on myself.

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Anger is our worst enemy .

I am much like you, with a lot of anger right below the surface. And like you, I've put a lot of thought into how to handle this, but even most importantly why to handle this. It NEEDS to be handled, because in one way or another it will end up coming out and burning the people who are in closest proximity. Your reason should be to make sure that it is not your immediate family members. That is my reason, and why I go to private counseling sessions each week despite hating them ever so much. But counseling is mostly just a conversation with someone who is skilled enough to look out for warning signs in what you are saying and point them out for you. A good friend who is patient and invested in your well being might do the same. I have one of those as well, a combat buddy, and we call each other every couple weeks even though we never have anything to say of any substance: but what we do is vent a lot about our personal struggles to each other. I do the same thing with my sister. I probably talk with her the most frequently, and being lifelong best friends we know that there is no topic that is off the table, and neither of us is ever worried about saying too much or sharing any opinion. TALK MORE TO PEOPLE I guess is what this boils down to.
Next, stay away from all substances. This sounds very Mormon, but hear me out. I smoked and drank coffee and would tell myself I couldn't even begin to handle the day until I had my stimulants. In reality, the stimulants were just a distraction that kept me from focusing on things that I needed to focus on. I am a markedly calmer person when I am not smoking just because there is not that part of my brain always saying "this is getting pretty stressful don't you need a cigarette right now?" I know that my wife was a much calmer person before I started drinking coffee regularly with her, but I don't think she remembers that, and is now convinced that life is 100% not feasible without coffee, which if that's not an addiction I don't know what is. I've never been a drinker but I think this has mostly to do with not hanging out around people who drink. And I am sure it could have immense effects on temper regulation if I did drink.

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This is great advice, thanks buddy. I have actually cut out alcohol as of a month or so ago. I thought it would make a difference but it doesn’t feel like it did... but I didn’t write this post a month ago so maybe it actually provides the clarity and space needed to tackle the tough issues.

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Also where is @lordvader when we need him =p We need the dark side to weigh in on anger.

Hi, dollarsandsense. Considering your last words: "...So it’s got to end. But how?" I say to myself. "¿Why didn't he include the tag 'psychology' as first option? There you could get interesting opinions and perhaps some guidance. I thinks there is a happy but slow solution to your situation. While I was reading I was comparing your case with something happening to me in opposite position. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, I know you can get the change you want, why? because you are conscius of your situation and you have been trying to make that change. I wish you success and please, never give up for you and your wife deserve the best but don't let pesimism invade your minds. . --
Thanks you.

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Great recommendation, thanks! I fixed it and added the tag 🙂

Thank you for the encouragement and kind words. 😊

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My friend, I have one hyphenated word for you: jiu-jitsu.

It's hard to describe how much of what you wrote here could have been written by me. It's also hard to describe how many like-minded people I've encountered that have similarly gravitated toward jiu-jitsu. And we all have the same thing to say. It's changed our lives.

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Heh, I figured it would resonate with at least a few people.

I tell you what: I'll give it a shot. At the very least it'll make another good Steemit post :P

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With your story telling skills, I'm certain it will make for one hell of an entertaining post. My advice, protect your neck!

howdy sir dollarsandsense! wow talk about being honest! kudos for that courage. I wonder if people will be extra careful not to anger you on here? They wouldn't want you to blow up at them!

Hey one of the things that I can identify with, and Mrs. J, is the total hypocrisy and denial of the Republicans and religious leaders who refuse to stand for what is right and what is unacceptable behavior. They refuse to acknowledge the truth and end up defending what should be antithetical to their values.

It's infuriating and frustrating and wrong. Plus, it feeds into the exact narrative that the left always accuses conservatives and Christians as being..which is mean, evil,nasty, cold-hearted etc. And now they just confirm all those negatives to the world.

I'm so disgusted with them that if they get slaughtered in the Mid-terms they will deserve it because they've turned their back on the values which they are supposed to stand for.

wonderful comments sir! it would have been interesting to have that psychology tag in first place. I guess you'll have to do another version of this post!

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Thank you for the very kind and thoughtful reply.

It does me an incredible amount of good to hear that I am not alone in how I feel. Sometimes I feel adrift and alone ideologically. I used to fancy mysef somewhat of a libertarian, but seeing the purists on here has convinced me that I don’t have a home there either.

But back to the anger thing, I’ll probably keep posting more about it (or other personal stuff). I’ll be sure to use the right tag next time 😁

Thanks again for your feedback. You are a good friend.

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oh you are so not alone but we have felt that way because you can't breath a word of any of this to either Trump supporters or Christians it seems. The one's we are around turn a blind eye to the horrible behavior and defend it and that makes all conservatives and Christians look terrible.

Mrs. J rants about this every single day, and has been since the Preliminaries began, I kid you not! But if we couldn't talk about it we'd probably be in a silent rage mode also!
hey you can't pass me in rep number! how'd you do that?
hey that would be a good post, how to succeed on steemit part time.. or something like that.
I just heard that they were doing away with the rep numbers in a few weeks with the new hardfork changes but then I don't know how we gauge anyone's experience or status level unless that's the point.

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4 Curies is how 😆 plus several small ones.

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4 curies!! hahhaha..oh man, curie wouldn't touch my posts with a ten foot pole I don't think! ha!
however, it's kinda who the curators like because they keep coming back and I saw one last night, and I've seen alot of them where I'm like.."really??" lol. nothing at all special. one last night was just a photo, that's all, not a single word written!
Now I KNOW some of mine are better than that!

but anyway yeah there ya go..write about how to do posts which get curied!

I recommend reading Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus. It really helped me manage my anger when I was young.

Solid Post.

Namaste, JaiChai

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Thank you for the recommendation! I will definitely look that up! Appreciate you stopping by and offering advice.

Knowing the cause of your anger is the first step to letting it go. So often we are set off by trivial things, when the underlying reason is it reminds us of a time when we felt vulnerable and/or alone. My therapist recommends recognizing the reason I am angry and channeling it into a healthier way of releasing the energy... whether it be journaling or writing, or exercise, or a hobby such as music, etc. You writing this article is a perfect example and a great first step.

I identify with this post a lot. Middle school was also extremely difficult for me for the same reasons, but also because I was struggling with the loss of my parent at the same time and I didn’t have the support I needed to cope. I, too, was bullied by people who I thought were my friends. A very specific time was when my clique of girl friends all decided to write me a very detailed letter, to which they all contributed in their own handwriting, about how much they despised me because I was different and they didn’t want me in their circle anymore. My best friend was the only one who didn’t contribute... but to this day, I still wonder if she stood up for me or just passively didn’t sign the letter. I wish I could say it got better in high school, but it didn’t. I just decided not to care what people thought of me anymore... and that turned me into a bit of a heartless b. But I kind of liked it that way. It put up a wall so I could deal with all the other stuff. Even my own family members have taken the opportunity to bully me and try to make me feel worthless... all of which have been the result of alcohol-induced Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome. You could go so far as to say that the most influential family members were verbally abusive to me... and the words they told me I struggle with in my head every time I feel down. I channeled my anger back then into throwing things across the room and getting satisfaction when it hit the wall and broke into a million pieces. Why? Because that’s how I felt on the inside... like I was in a million little pieces and I would never be able to be put back together. So it made me feel good to do it to someone/something else. To this day, I struggle with anger from abandonment issues and feeling like I am never good enough. Just like you, I lash out at anyone who treats me or someone I love the way I have been treated... & it results in bridges burned at both ends.

I think you already know the reason why people treated you this way in the past... it’s because they were broken inside, themselves, and needed someone else to be broken with them...usually directed at the person who seemingly has the things they wish they had- a loving family, intelligence, beauty, etc. It’s a vicious cycle... because we turn around and do the same in an effort to make ourselves feel better... and it manifests as anger with the ones we love the most. The ones who have so much forgiveness inside of them when we are so full of grudges.

My husband also bears the brunt of my anger spells and I feel guilty knowing that while I may be angry with him on the surface for something trivial, it’s not his fault I feel abandoned to begin with,... that the trivial things like not helping me around the house or not spending enough time with me reminds me of that abandonment feeling I had as a child... it’s not his fault I feel the need for more nurturing in my life because a piece of me is missing, and it’s a role he will never be able to fill no matter how hard he tries. It’s not his fault I feel abandoned when my computer fails to work when I need it to do something, but yet he witnesses my rage and lack of control, and when he tries to calm me down I lash out at him. I lash out because I wish I had the patience he has for trivial things like a computer freezing. My biggest fear is that my children will see that side of me and be forever impacted by what they witness... which has driven me to seek therapy. Going to therapy has taught me how to piece together how everything in my life is related and how what I experienced back then still impacts my life now. I am doing a lot better than I was a few months ago... I don’t feel the rage bubble up inside of me like it used to because I try to recognize the source of my anger and channel it in other directions.

At the end of the day, No one is perfect. Learning to forgive yourself is part of the journey. Talk to your wife. She may understand you way more than you realize... that’s why she is so forgiving of your faults. Channel your anger into building a bond with her by opening up to her rather than fighting with her. Channel it in healthy ways like how you already are beginning to do with your writing and exercise to release the tension and produce endorphins.

But most of all, stop holding a grudge against yourself. You are good enough. You are not alone. You are so loved. More than you even know.

Holding onto grudges is like throwing a hot stone... you’re the one who gets burned. -Buddha

You'll be fine! Anger management classes might help. I was bullied too when I was 13. Everyday the bully will either pull my hair or kick then shake my chair (in a way simulating him shagging me from behind). It lasted a year. Then, I had a plan, I joined Taekwondo. When I was ready to put up a fight without fearing the consequences, I slapped him hard across the face. I'd kill him if I had to. It worked so I earned the madwoman reputation in school. However, it could have taken a wrong turn and I could have ended up as a major news. Please read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Junko_Furuta
The good outcomes were I earned a black belt by 16 and my grades improved significantly because I dreaded being in the same classroom as the bully.

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Murder of Junko Furuta
Junko Furuta (古田 順子 Furuta Junko) was a Japanese high school student who was abducted, tortured, raped, and murdered in the late 1980s. Her murder case was named "Concrete-encased high school girl murder case" (女子高生コンクリート詰め殺人事件, Joshikōsei konkurīto-zume satsujin-jiken), due to her body being discovered in a concrete drum. The murder was mainly perpetrated by four teenage boys, Hiroshi Miyano (now Hiroshi Yokoyama), Jō Ogura (now Jō Kamisaku), Shinji Minato and Yasushi Watanabe.
Approximately 100 people knew about Junko Furuta's captivity, but either did nothing about it or themselves participated in the torture and murder.

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Thanks for the comment and for sharing your story! It does help to know that others are out there who have been through this already and come out the other side.

That's a crazy story you linked to! What a sad tragedy.