10 Life-Changing Facts About Anger

anger“Yes, I was angry. And I was a little afraid. After all I’ve not been free in so long. But, when I felt that anger well up inside of me, I realized that if I hated them after I got outside that gate, then they would still have me. I wanted to be free so I let it go.”
~Nelson Mandela upon leaving prison after 27 years of confinement

Frustrated, impatient, pissed off, raging…aaarrrrrrgh! Yes, it’s normal to feel angry – you are human, after all. But if anger causes problems in your life – if it interferes with your health and happiness – then consider these 10 life-changing facts. Get curious about anger, and you just might discover an untapped well of vital energy that improves your life circumstances and wakes you up to the whole of life.

1. It’s easier to feel anger than hurt.

Anger tends to be a surface emotion. But if you look at what is driving the anger, you will often find hurt, pain, or fear. Can you tell the truth to yourself about what you are actually feeling? Can you meet the depth of your experience with supreme kindness? You might be surprised at the freedom you discover.

2. Anger has a strong physical component.

Bring out the microscope when you are angry, and you will find strong physical sensations – tightness, contraction, burning. Anger is a fiery emotion full of energy. If you don’t want to be caught in anger, bring your attention right into these physical sensations.

Without running a story in your mind, fully allow yourself to feel what is present. It might be difficult, but you won’t actually combust, I promise you. Be real with your sensations, and eventually the anger will stop controlling you.

3. Perfectionists are angry.

Are you a perfectionist? Then take an honest look at what you are saying to yourself. You will undoubtedly find a repetitive loop playing in your mind that is harsher than you might imagine.

Don’t kid yourself – this is anger. If you don’t want to be a slave to your perfectionist tendencies, then go to the root of the problem and learn to meet your anger with love.

4. Stories sustain anger.

Angry stories barrel through our minds like an out-of-control train careening down the tracks. To find freedom from anger, you must recognize the story and see that repeating it doesn’t serve you. Yes, what happened happened. But how much longer are you going to let it be your ball and chain?

Here are some strategies to help you soften the story:

  • Open up with compassion to everyone involved, including yourself.
  • Recognize that you are bringing the past into the present by repeating the story endlessly.
  • Bring your full attention into the sensations you are experiencing in the moment.
  • Commit to bringing all your actions in alignment with what you really, really want.

5. Anger comes from an overblown sense of self-importance.

Often, what underlies anger are statements like, “I’m right” and “I want my way.” There is a huge attachment to “I” and the beliefs of that “I” that causes separation and disharmony.

Recognize these “I”-focused statements and know that they keep you locked into one way of thinking. Then inquire:

  • Am I really right?
  • Does this wanting to be right serve me – and others?
  • What does it mean to want my own way? What are the implications?

Exploration of these “I”-focused beliefs can lead you to untangle the deepest knots that block your happiness.

6. Anger causes separation.

Speaking of separation, what are the effects when you are angry? Anger pushes people away, scares them, makes them fight back or shut down. Relationships don’t have room to breathe when they are defined by anger. “How could you?” “You shouldn’t have…” Sound familiar?

Remember that anger – or any reaction – is not the fault of the other. If you are angry, look within yourself. Lovingly investigate what has been triggered in you, and your whole perspective on the situation will shift.

7. Anger gets attention.

Maybe you express anger because you want attention. Depending on the circumstance, this could be a useful strategy.

But consider this: there may be other ways for you to express yourself so that you are heard. Open up your mind and heart to all the possibilities.

8. Unexplored anger can mute your experience of life.

Are you sitting on a hotbed of anger, but keeping it so underground that you can hardly live? Some people are so intent on keeping peace that they minimize the truth of their experience.

Are you asleep at the wheel, attached to inner peace and pleasant living? Exploring the seeds of anger can enliven you to all of life.

9. Anger can transform into useful action.

Taking in all the problems in the world can bring about a sense of injustice. Yet, if you move from anger, you are missing out on the whole picture.

Meet your anger with love and let your heart break open. Then move forward with actions that are wise and skillful.

10. Anger traps you.

The arising of anger is not necessarily a problem, and is not even under your control. What matters is how you relate to anger once it is present. If you dwell in the energetic sensations and convince yourself that your thoughts are true, anger overtakes you.

But there is an alternative: feel the sensations and tell the truth about the story. Then anger is your ally – revealing more and more deeply the essence of you.

How does anger impact your life? What is your experience of dealing with it? We’d all love to hear…

Note: This post is part of the Life-Changing Facts series. Check out the others: fear, attachment, habits, healing the inner critic, happiness, and healing the pain of the past.

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Comments

  1. avatar says

    Aaahhh…anger. You have described my mother to perfection here in this post. Although, I too, was once a very angry person.

    It is hard to let go of…but keeps you from so much goodness. I’ve watched while people have received the exact thing (feeling) they have been screaming for…and miss it completely because they are so identified with the anger.

    Great post…The greatest gift I gave myself was to let go of the anger.
    My Profile

    • avatar says

      Can we all let our hearts break over this one, Dawn? To be so focused on reacting to the lack of a good feeling that we don’t even realize that it is already here. There are so many ways that we pretend we are damaged, lacking, not good enough. Then we rage about what we perceive we don’t have.

      All distortion. In the clarity of an unencumbered mind, everything we ever longed for is here in abundance.

  2. avatarJ. K. Rahn says

    Excellent insights as to hidden anger. Please elaborate on the Perfectionist and anger – I am not understanding the dynamics.

    AND, I love getting these in my email!

    Thanks you so much.

    • avatar says

      Hi JK! Great to see you.

      I think it was Freud who said that depression is anger turned inward. But in another sense, perfectionism is anger turned inward directly toward oneself. The self-talk of perfectionistic types is usually relentlessly harsh. There is no way they can live up to their own standards, leading to anger about not being able to always get it right.

      But, as always, don’t take my word for it. If perfectionism plagues you, investigate. Look at what is driving the thoughts and behavior. Discover the source of the unhappiness and find the place where peace seems to be missing. Allow whatever you find to be present in the great space of awareness. Then you will see the true gift of perfectionism.

  3. avatarBonnie Perry says

    I agree that under anger is often hurt. Particularly the seemingly prolonged anger, the anger that just seems to eat us up inside. I found those angry stories that didn’t seem to go away were hitting at my deepest fears and vulnerabilities and had more to say about my concerns and beliefs about myself than the circumstances and people involved that provoked the anger. They pointed out the places where I felt unworthiness about myself. Trying to get, or believing the people involved in the circumstances should behave differently was beside the point. I needed to address my own concerns about my own perceived inadequacies and as they were gradually addressed, with great self-compassion, the anger naturally subsided. It can be a blessing, but, boy oh boy, is it difficult to see in the middle of its fire.

    • avatar says

      Bonnie,

      You are unstoppable in your desire for the truth. So refreshing and inspiring. Thank you.

      When we are angry at others, we are missing the point. The best thing we can do is hold up the mirror and see what has been triggered inside us. The angry stories can be so convincing, and the anger itself is energizing. There needs to be a deep desire to be free. And in that the fire of anger, when allowed to burn without the story, is a cleansing, holy fire.

  4. avatar says

    Hi Gail,
    Well put together. Anger has so many facets. I get angry at myself when I don’t achieve what I set out to achieve. It gets me going though….I then have another attempt at getting a better result.
    be good to yourself
    David
    My Profile

    • avatar says

      Hi David,

      Every moment is a renewal, so there is always a chance to try again. Angry at ourselves for our failures – such a common form of suffering. In NLP, they say there is no failure, only feedback. So what seems like a failure can be a true learning opportunity.

  5. avatar says

    My shrink tells me, anger is but the surface emotion. There is something underlying, maybe sadness, frustration, hopelessness, etc..
    Every time I”m angry i try to take a step back and understand why I’m angry – was it because i felt abandoned or lonely that my fiance did not spend time with me. Those are the emotions I need to confront and deal with..
    Noch Noch
    My Profile

    • avatar says

      So clear, Noch, and so beautiful to see your willingness to know the truth. Anger is hardly ever the endpoint, and exploring what underlies it opens the gate to true knowledge and peace.

      • avatar says

        thanks Gail – yes it’s hard to dig beneath and out all the dirt. but it’s important to do so. we know ourselves much better after
        Anger is a good thing, if we know how to decipher it
        Noch Noch

        • avatar says

          Hi Noch,

          I’m a big fan of digging in and shining the light everywhere. Why not? Our feelings and contractions are there anyway – we either see them and deal with them consciously, or they fester and infiltrate behavior. We always have a choice – and seeing reality as it is is the freeing choice.

    • avatarDenise says

      Me as well after 25 years of marriage, I am angry
      because I want my husband to spend some time with me but he is a workaholic.

      • avatar says

        What I’ve come to know, Denise, is that you can’t change anyone else, but you can change how you relate to what is going on. So the ball is in your court. You’re being invited to meet and welcome the feelings that are arising, tell yourself the truth, then let the authentic, compassionate response emerge. If there is any way that you feel like a victim, that deserves your attention as well.

        Wishing you well on your journey…

  6. avatar says

    For a long time I was angry as all get out but I didn’t even know it, I repressed it so well. I must have started such foolish behavior when I was a young child and it was all I knew to do.

    Life in its wisdom finally helped me come out of my cocoon and then anger also came into the open. But now — at 80 — a middle way, shall I say. I may feel anger at times but something else is far, far more important to me. The truth of myself that does not change.

    Thanks Gail. Great post.
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    • avatar says

      Hi Chris,

      Hardly any of us have a clue when we are young, and we do our best with what we have. And thankfully – hopefully – we see the light.

      When you have the commitment to truth as you do, things fall into place, and the satisfaction gained from anger begins to fall away. Thanks for sharing the view from 80!

  7. avatar says

    Hi Gail,

    I can see anger in my perfectionism – in the past few years, particularly in the area of personal integrity where I can be unyielding in how I expect certain people to behave.

    As I relax into the space where conflict stems, I can see where I have been unyielding towards how I myself act.

    The stories that sustain my anger prevent me from looking at my own story about how I perceive I have let myself down in the past. Letting go of the external stories allows me to look at the deeper story and heal from it.

    Love what you write always.

    • avatar says

      This is so raw, Amyra, and oozes authenticity. We all learn from what you are sharing.

      Relaxing into the space where conflict stems takes courage, and when you are willing, as you are, you are faced with the clarity of what is really going on. We may not like what we see, but seeing the truth is what sets us free. In the end, there’s just love and compassion for all of it.

      Love to you…

    • avatarViv says

      Hi Gail
      Amyra is me, to a tee, if I was writing about myself this is spookily accurate.! But unlike Amyra I have no idea how or where to start helping myself. I’m 58 so need to get this sorted as I do not want to turn into my mother who is 82 and still very angry and unhappy.

      • avatar says

        Good for you to be so motivated, Viv. With any area where you are stuck, the way to get started is to be honest with yourself. Be very reflective about your inner experience so you can see what thoughts, stories, beliefs, and feelings you are feeding with your attention. This is what makes up your reality – it all comes from within.

        Recognize the false stories you tell yourself, don’t pay attention to their content, and lovingly welcome the feelings and physical sensations that remain. This way, you stop running from your own experience, and you stop the unhelpful stories in their tracks. Take a look at the archives here. There is much support for making your way through areas where you are stuck.

        May your journey be fruitful…

    • avatarKristina says

      Hello Gail,

      I’m hoping to teach myself a new way of living by realization. The information is so real here. I agree with Amyra Mah, I can also be unyielding where I see how others aught to act. In the end, I find myself judging myself harshly. The expectations I often feel other have of me, my version of common sense I expect others to understand and agree with.

      I have always felt judged. I have been uncomfortable around people because I don’t feel I can be myself. I have to be who they expect me to be.

      The result of these confused, focused, ridged feelings is hurt. I hurt myself and others without intention. Why do I judge? Why do I feel judged?

      A beautiful person is a happy person. A forever young person is a happy person. There is only one of each of us. Each of us are born original and beautiful with something to offer that is needed. Though I know this to the depth of my soul, the above judging is still happening.

      This needs to be resolved in me so that I can move forward, grow, and remain beautiful. I need to truly love the people that I love.

      I have identified a place in my life that needs work. Now I’d better get on it.

      Thank you all,
      I am very encouraged by your sharing.

      Kristina

      • avatar says

        A warm welcome to you, Kristina! I agree, this judging you’re describing is asking for your attention.

        I know the pain of judging. It separates us from others, creating division and disharmony. Here’s the healing: the judging thoughts might appear in your mind, but you don’t need to show interest in them. Don’t take their content as true, and don’t base any decisions on them. At the core of judging is fear, and instead ground yourself in an open heart and live there.

        You’re on such a lovely journey. In love and support…

      • avatarDee says

        I think I judge because I have to be right… I can not accept behaviors of others that I don’t like or agree with without judging because than I am accepting something that is unacceptable to me and it pisses me off, so I have to comment with attitude . yet after I always regret it and replay the scenario over an over in my head and regret how I responded and worry someone doesn’t like my opinion. I hate that I feel like this, I want to not care, yet it feels like I have to

        • avatar says

          If you’re willing, Dee, try this. Next time you feel like judging, just be still and let things be. Let the thoughts come along with the energy of accepting the unacceptable and the associated anger. Let your inner experience play itself out, however strong it might be, but see if you can not act on it. Just breathe and be. This is the way to start to get some control back.

          I know it doesn’t seem so now, but you are not these thoughts and you don’t have to do what they say. You don’t have to be a victim of them.

  8. avatarsara says

    Reading this, I feel relieved to realize that anger is not an emotion I tend to embody. When I do, I know it comes from hurt, and I only indulge the anger instead of the hurt in really extreme circumstances.

    Just the other day I was cursing myself for being oversensitive, needy, and emotional. But today I feel grateful that even if I can be those things, at least I’m not angry too!

    • avatar says

      Hi Sara,

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      It sounds like you don’t feel anger too often because you are able to see what underlies it. Opening to the whole of what is appearing in any moment is the path to freedom, as you are discovering. And I am wondering…what if you opened to that urge to curse yourself for feelings you are having. Maybe you will discover that you can meet the feelings, and the tendency to curse, with love and compassion. This is the end of the war with ourselves and the beginning of the peace we long for.

      Sending love to all parts of you…

  9. avatar says

    There is so much insight here. Anger rears it’s ugly head in so many ways and you did a great job of shedding light on some of the less noticeable manifestations of it. Perfectionism is definitely one that many people aren’t aware of. Another big one that I see a lot is anger turned inward, expressing itself as depression because it’s not being expressed in a healthy, assertive manner.

    As you said, anger is normal. It’s a part of life. However, we tend to be happier, more emotionally stable people when we know how to recognize anger, process it and let it go.

    • avatar says

      Hi Nea,

      Great to see you again! I appreciate you recognizing anger as a normal part of life. And yes, let’s use anger as an opportunity to free ourselves. We don’t have to be entangled in it. It can simply arise, be seen, and then we move on and let it go. What a lovely way to live!

    • avatarKim says

      Yes Nea, I didn’t realize till today that my anger comes from perfectionism. I think I set unreasonable goals for myself and set myself up for failure so I can keep confirming that I’m not good enough. I have this attraction to go there and not sure why. I’m so happy I found this sight! Thank you so much Gail, I will be writing with some specific perfectionist issues that are sabotaging my life.

  10. avatar says

    Gail,

    I’m fascinated by the idea that perfectionism is a form of anger. I don’t fully understand how this is and would love if you would write a little more about that.

    Then I’ll be able to understand perfectly. :)
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    • avatar says

      It’s anger toward oneself, Sandra. The thought process of perfectionism is often filled with anger and harsh judgment directed inward, rather than outward toward another. Recognizing it as such, and having great compassion, paves the way to freedom from it. It’s not an overt form of anger, but is often realized as anger when investigated thoroughly.

      That said, if the idea of perfectionism being anger turned toward oneself doesn’t resonate, then best to let that go, and simply recognize the energy and limited thinking that trying to be perfect perpetuates.

      Hope that is helpful!

  11. avatar says

    I always find that there’s an insane amount of power behind my anger. So what I will do is trying to use this power in a creative instead of a destructive way.

    • avatar says

      Welcome to you, Alice, and thank you for your comment.

      Anger can be very powerful. When we see through the story that keeps the anger going, we can realize that all that is present is physical sensation – energy. The key is to see through the story. Then you can let this energy express itself in creative ways.

  12. avatarAnne says

    How can I be free from anger if I don’t know where it comes from? I admit to having perfectionist tendancies for sure and have been dealing with the impact of those for some time now so generally I can stop and think about what is driving me – step away and find perspective. However, with my husband and kids often I am outragously angry (and hate myself for it). I don’t like this angry person and I’m not sure how to get free. Anger has become destructive to relationship – something I think I’ve carried all my life. Often I ask myself, “Why am I so angry?” or “Where is this anger coming from?” and there is no rational response…

  13. avatarAnne says

    I think I was an angry child (lots of out of control circumstances and hurts that I didn’t have help to understand) and now I am an angry adult. Although I can definately identify with the perfectionist anger (and have been dealing with that) I don’t know where other anger comes from since the patterns have been present for so long. Unfortunately, the cycles of anger are becoming detrimenatal to my relationships and I don’t know how to get free as I can’t identify what is making me angry. Often I’m already in a rage when I realise what I’m experiencing so stopping to pull myself back is not working. Is it possible to be conditioned to be angry eventhough you don’t want to be and realise it’s destructive? How can I get free if the roots of present day anger are a result of childhood hurts that I now logically understand but could still be suffering from?

    • avatar says

      Hi Anne,

      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. I appreciate the difficulties you describe. You asked, “Is it possible to be conditioned to be angry even though you don’t want to be and realise it’s destructive?” The answer is yes. This is the definition of conditioning – a pattern that gets played out that seems out of our control.

      My experience is that we don’t need to know where an emotion comes from to work on it. You seem to have a perspective that you need to identify the source before the anger can begin to dissolve. I invite you to experiment with a different perspective – that you can work on the anger in the here and now without untying all the knots from your childhood.

      You say that you find yourself in a rage before you realize it. This is normal – and it is a starting point. Whenever you realize that you are angry – even if you have already expressed it – stop, pause, breathe, and don’t let yourself move further into it. The more you do this – even if you realize it after the fact – the more you will begin to create a momentum that counteracts the conditioning. Eventually, you will realize it earlier and earlier, so you can begin to have some control over it.

      I would suggest making freedom from this anger a priority in your life. Orient all of your activities toward this freedom. Recognize that an emotion is made of physical sensations and thoughts that tell a story about what is happening. At the end of every day, reflect back on your day and see what triggered you. With great compassion, let the story of what happened go. Simply feel the physical sensations and let them move through you. With anger, there is often an inner burning, a fire. See this article for more. And read other supportive articles and books as often as you can.

      Develop the capability of being present in the moments of your life. When you are doing dishes, folding laundry, caring for your children, be aware of what you are doing. Recognize the thoughts and feelings that are present. Press your internal pause button as much as you need to and take a breath. The more you become aware of your inner world on a moment-by-moment basis, the more likely you will be to catch the troubles before they get away from you. But be patient with yourself and infinitely loving. You are taking on the sacred task of deconditioning patterns that have been around for decades.

      With love and oceans of support…

  14. avatarLoly says

    I feel a lot of anger when my boundaries are not respected. Guess it helps in that case to know what my bounadaries are. I think anger is helpful because it shows you things you have to be aware of,( you feel hurt, or ignored, unaprecciated, are not tolerant or impatient)) as a head ache shows that something is wrong in your body. But it isn´t always others fault that we get angry.This article tells perfectionism creates a lot of anger and I think that´s right. Because of anger and frustration and for my own sake, I have been working on lowering my expectations from others and from myself.
    Guess the game is not to be perfect or right, so others are wrong and the bad guys. I´m just trying to live in more balanced, peaceful and happy life. UFFFFF! lol

    • avatar says

      Hi Loly,

      Thank you so much for stopping by and for your comment.

      Oh, I know what you are talking about. I used to be so sensitive to disappointment and being ignored and unappreciated. For a long time I blamed others, until I was final able to see that the problem was mine. When I was able to be compassionate toward the hurting parts of me, things eventually changed, but it took a while. Now, I am completely free of this reaction, so know that that is possible for you.

      Good for you to experiment with lowering your expectations of others. If you are relying on others’ behavior for your peace, you will be disappointed for sure. We just don’t have control over what people do and say. So I would suggest going further and having no expectations at all. Take what is offered with grace and let the rest go. If you have a reaction inside, learn to let the hurt be there in a compassionate space. Eventually, you will be so good at recognizing it and letting it be, with compassion, that these feelings will subside.

      Big hug to you….

  15. avatarLoly says

    Thanks for your reply. I found your article good enough to translate it to my mother language. I cried a lot when I finished it. Anger has been a big issue in my life and much hurt is underneath. Not sure yet what of my anger is usefull, and which is not but I ask my Lord to help me find the way to be less angry.

    • avatar says

      Thanks so much for translating this article, Loly!

      It is so common that hurt is underneath anger. If you let yourself feel the hurt, without running a story in your mind, you will notice physical sensations. Bring your attention right to the core of them, and simply let them be. This is the way that emotions begin to lose their power. Love to you…

      • avatarDee says

        I have also learned that some of my anger comes from my fears. I worry so much about tragedies that when someone is not extremely cautious or tells me something that almost happened. My fear makes me lash out in anger.. I have to many anger triggers .It has to stop, I need some peace before it kills me.

  16. avatarRichard Burgess says

    Through out my life anger has been a real problem as a result i have really lost many relation ships and have had lost many friends there have been times when i have had brushes with the law and reading these 10changes helped but i need more help can you recommend a person or a place or a book i wear can get help with this probem.

    • avatar says

      I appreciate your wish to solve this problem, Richard, and your heartfelt request for help. I hope you can find an anger-management group in your local community or find a therapist to work with, either privately or at a public clinic or university. Reading helps, but having face to face contact is even better. It may take a while to find the right person, but stick with it – for your own peace of mind.

      Wishing you well…

  17. avatarPink Spider says

    This is a great article. I wish I could get my boyfriend (of 12 years) to read this and take something away from it. He is chronically angry with me, and has been for years. Angry over things I did, and at the time never intended any harm by, many many years ago. I know they must stem from hurt – from his childhood, from things I did or said that were insensitive; I just wish he could see and deal with the underlying issues, rather than lash out in anger all of the time, and direct it at me.

    Thanks for the article.

    • avatar says

      Hi Pink,

      A warm welcome to you. I’m glad this article resonated with you. I read your comment a few times, and what kept coming up in my mind and heart is the sadness of being with someone for years who is chronically angry at you. If he wanted to be different, he would be on the internet searching for articles like this one. You can’t fix him, but what you can do is take good care of yourself. What if you weren’t willing to be his target anymore? It takes two to tango, and things change when one stops dancing.

  18. avataravk kumar says

    i am have been facing tension or inner angry or much fear for last 1 year. i an thinking continuesouly abot one thing which happened to me it is gone when another tension(if sombody hurt me ) come…..

    i am frustated all the time ..i know for this situation only i am responsible..but my mind always choose this negative thought ..

    i am very affected from my fearfull past ..if sombody hurt me ,that time i am dont resond but after going room i will be thinking about that person and situation..and i will beat him and feeling very inner anger which will be never executed…i becom more confident when i talked yo my friends bt afetr some time again negative thought come and inner anger ,fear ,insecurity …..

    the summary is i wnat to show world i am not fearfull or innocent person…so that i have not been in present from last one year.

    i read all positve books but didnt effect…
    i am taking life too seriously and comparing myself to other…the problem is that with me i dont respond and feel anger when sombody hurt me (little phiscally ,verbally) but after going room or next day whole month untill another problem come.. i will be thinking about that person continou…feel anger next time i will show him who i am…..

    my energy negative ..feeling very lazy/..

    • avatar says

      Welcome to you, Avk. I feel the intensity in these experiences that you describe. It’s important to recognize that you can’t get rid of thoughts – that is not something you have control over. There is no way around this situation but to feel whatever you feel without acting on it. And when I say feel it, I mean the direct experience of the anger without paying attention to the story running in your head. Feel the burn of the sensations without the story, and they begin to move through.

      It’s easy to focus attention on negative thoughts, so don’t forget about the rest of you. Something in you is fearless and completely innocent. And that place in you is clear, wise and at peace. Find that within and live there as much as you can.

      You said something about your past, and I have a feeling this may be affecting you. If you can, talk to a professional counselor so you can begin to resolve it. You keep the past alive in the present by thinking about it, so see if you can move your attention away from those challenging thoughts. The past can be like a veil covering the brilliant reality of you. Look behind the veil of your past and you may find yourself there – so sweet and innocent.

      I appreciate your journey and offer limitless support…

  19. avatarLin says

    I was bullied for 3 years by my sister in-law and my own brother joined in. My dad has always heard me cry for help but he keeps saying that he didn’t see anything. Even though another 3 years have gone by now that I have not spoken to both my sis in law and brother i still can’t let go of the anger and hate i have towards the 3 of them. i am beginning to be worse in my expression.

    • avatar says

      Hi Lin,

      Thank you so much for stopping by and for your comment. You have held onto this anger for at least three years, and it sounds like it is sitting inside you like a cancer, eating away at you. At this point, you are the only one who has any control over this experience. You need to tell yourself that you want to be finished with this anger – for your own good and for your own happiness. Then every time it arises or the story about what happened starts consuming your thoughts, say, “No!” Bring your attention always to what is supportive, calming, and positive for you. Don’t worry about anyone else and what they did or didn’t do. That is now in the past. Focus on you – on your well being and on your happiness. Orient your whole life in that direction, and the anger from the past won’t have a place anymore.

      In love and support…

  20. avatarTristan says

    Very much with you on all of this, Gail! The only reason for me to keep such a high level of anger in store is in case I come under physical threat: I used to be completely non-violent in order to be consistently Loving to absolutely everyone I meet, but now I know that if eg. one of my family members would lay a hand on me, I have the fire in me to do what it takes to eliminate the threat. Because now I do care about myself. Of course, my first choice is to stay away from these and all aggressive people — I’ll even be glad to contribute positively to their lives from a reasonable distance tho I don’t want their animal nature in mine anymore. I feel a self-confidence now that I never had before.

    • avatar says

      Welcome to you, Tristan,

      There is an intelligence to staying open to all possibilities, no matter how remote. As odd as it may sound, there are times when the intelligent, loving response will be physical violence and other times when it’s best to avoid the situation. Without being trapped by any habitual feeling, including anger, there is the confidence that you describe that you can stay grounded within yourself.

  21. avatarAnita says

    This is a helpful post Gail. I am a pretty angry person and so there’s work to do. Which is fine – I can find a constructive-feeling place in me for almost everything in this post. But I have one challenge… the feeling compassion part for everyone part. I have worked with my anger before and this is the hardest part for me. In the midst of my (often prolonged) rage, the thought of being compassionate with respect to the target of my anger leaves me feeling physically sick. I realize that this is one of the key exit ramps in this process, and I know when I get there the whole structure of my rage crumbles. But until then we are all really stuck, and I have *no idea* how to find compassion on a faster timescale (and while there is a place for being compassionate with myself as I struggle – I do emotional harm to myself and others while we wait). I know from experience I will get there. Even with my biggest challenges. But it’s so slow and I do so much damage while I inch along the road. We’re talking somewhere on the order of 7+ years in the most recent case. Any advice for an even slightly faster track to finding compassion for people I feel harmed by?

    • avatar says

      Hi Anita,

      I appreciate your honesty and desire to have things flow more easily for you.

      You need to take a look at what is happening in your experience that keeps you locked into the anger. It sounds like you are having very strong thoughts, a story that runs about how you have been victimized by someone. Believing that story, that is fueled by physical sensations that you might call rage, is the source of the problem. In situations like this, you might consider picking apart the story – belief by belief – to see if it is actually true. Maybe there is some truth to it in the relative sense, but holding onto it, making it real, and repeating it for 7 years in your mind isn’t serving you.

      Have your happiness as the highest priority, then choose it in every moment. The mind will try to justify itself to throw you off, so your job is to stay committed to happiness/peace in your will and intention and in your actions.

      Anger and rage have a strong physical component. Get to know these sensations in your body and just be with them. This is where the story starts, but just feel the sensations without the story to distract you from them.

      There is no magic answer about how to make this better. It takes desire and diligence for you to choose what you actually want in the moments of your precious life.

      In love and support…

  22. avatarTristan says

    Anita, perhaps helpful is not to regard the offender as a single being. Most people are many personalities in one. Of course, it’s a joy to be around someone with full integrity; expectation of it tho is usually folly!

    This allows one to open one’s heart to the beautiful, childlike part of another and to bless him/her (and yourself) with your love.

    What’s so confusing tho is that there may be a savage, rabid predator-self inside the same person. Who regards your kindness as weakness and may readily bite you again, given the chance!

    Are we ready to deal with all these characters?!! In ourselves too? Can’t force ourselves to be compassionate. I hope you see someone beautiful in everyone, even while remaining utterly realistic about the savage ratbastard you may see therein too! :)

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  24. avatarElena says

    Hello,

    I’m 27 years old and I just joined a women’s support group for women who have been abused during their life. It was my reaction to my last meeting that brought me to this posting.

    We were sharing some feelings in group and a few people cried and it seemed like most everyone shared with deep heart emotion. But I felt nothing.

    Afterwards I wanted to call the leader and quit the group because I didn’t think that it was for me. I was moderately uncomfortable with all of the tears and I was very uncomfortable attempting to share from my heart. The whole experience made me want to flee and leave town.

    I spent the rest of the evening calming down. And then it dawned on me. I’ve spent so many years so angry that I don’t even know what lies inside me anymore. The anger has been empowering in that I’ve learned to value myself, work hard, and recognize my competence through all of my suffering. Yet, it has also destroyed my life in many ways too.

    As a child I was withdrawn, but still angry. My anger surfaced as a teenager. In adulthood it’s been a disruptive emotion because I have too much of it. I don’t act out violently and get into trouble but I am like fire and ice. I can’t truly read myself and I don’t know what I want in my heart and in my mind I have too much going on, some brilliance and some strangeness.

    So here I am. I’m finally ready to start to peel away the anger and put my life back together but I really don’t know how I’m going to do this. I’ve never truly been comfortable anywhere and anger keeps me safe or it’s a barrier to protect me from other people in my life who are angry, like my dad.

    Thanks for the post. I don’t suppose this is going to be an overnight journey. But I guess the first step is just to talk about it.

    • avatar says

      This comment brings tears to my eyes, Elena. You have had the moment of insight that has the potential to change everything for you. I am celebrating with you.

      You describe so clearly how anger has functioned in you – it has helped, but also hidden some other emotions that maybe now you are ready to peek into. You are used to being angry, but not feeling these other emotions or being open and undefended. This is new ground for you, so it is completely normal to not know, to be uncomfortable. So don’t shrink from the discomfort – it is actually the way forward for you.

      I had a similar experience years ago when I realized that anger I was holding was hurting me way more than it was hurting anyone I was angry at. It was a selfish, life-changing moment when I walked away from it for good, and ended up benefitting me and everyone around me.

      I love that you are now on the journey to real healing and wholeness. Sending oceans of love and support to you…

      • avatarelena says

        Thanks for your kind response, Gail.

        Since posting, I’ve identified that I have a “double edged sword in me.” One side is anger and the other side is pain. I say harsh things that harm other people and hurt myself. I’m judgmental. I bleed myself and others, metaphorically.

        I have been living life like this. All of my intimate relationships eventually end because of it. And my competencies are even a form of anger.

        I’m in this place now where I have quit my job. I attend a support group. I live with my mom and dad. (I moved back after a breakup with a serious boyfriend).

        As I have become aware of the pain in my heart I can no longer hold all these false pretenses that my anger allowed me to keep. I realize the cycle of abuse that exists in my family. They are wealthy intellectuals and were very self absorbed parents and remain so as people. I realize how my connection to this world creates my desperation for validation, for love, and for acceptance. It creates anger, restlessness, and avoidance of intimacy. I want off the cycle. I’m tired of trying to live out fantasies of my mind that exist only to protect myself from my own feelings of abandonment and lack.

        It’s time to have a healthier relationship with my heart. I’ve been walking the path to disappointment for so long. It’s disgusting. I end up in situations that I think I can handle and can’t as a way to compensate my worth, I take on charity friends. I was recently treated as a charity friend by an adult three times my age who said that she loved me, wanted to help me, and then bailed. Ultimately I am pained by the life that I have created for myself in the town that I live in.

        I am posting this just to be real. I can’t be real around anyone I know or am “close to” apparently because they are all too busy keeping their fantasy worlds intact. The minute I open my mouth to say something or ask for what I need or needed when I was little, I am made to feel mentally ill. My mom was a therapist. Or I am put down. My dad doesn’t like me. It seems like I’ve been running with people with the same problems as my parents my whole life, so it’s tough.

        I am clear that I am not a kid and I need to move away to continue to heal. And I know I can do that. It’s just all the pretending drives me wild and is so confusing.

        • avatar says

          Thank you for sharing this, Elena. When you put words to what lives hidden inside and share it with others, the jig is up. The secret hell is over. And it is the beginning of freedom, of the return to wholeness.

          The way out of pretending is honesty. Confusion clears by seeing things as they actually are. It takes a lot of energy to wall yourself off from difficult feelings; truth-telling is effortless.

          Things are really shifting for you. Be on the lookout for opportunities to step out of these habits and see life – people, situations – with fresh eyes and an open heart.

  25. avatarJeannette says

    I’m so glad I found this. I’ve been dealing with anger and with anger of a close loved one. But at first I wasn’t truly angry, I simply let what happened be. I knew I wasn’t the problem(at first) and if I except that fact, I have nothing to worry about. Until her anger turned my fear of interacting with her, into anger towards her, she would disrespected me for no reason. I have no choice but to ignore her to avoid fighting. I feel like I lost a good friend over her sudden anger issues. But reading through this site I did realize my anger was from fear.

    • avatar says

      Thanks so much for your comment, Jeannette. Anger so often masks other feelings, especially fear. For some people, it is easier to be angry than to realize there are other emotions like fear and sadness. If anyone feels a lot of anger, it’s always a good exploration to see if something else might be going on as well.

      Sometimes friendships need to end, and we might not even understand why. It sounds like you are trying to understand your reaction so you can learn from the situation. Then even this rift in your friendship, even though it is painful, serves your freedom.

      Sending love…

  26. avatarClare says

    Hmmmm somebody hasn’t lived with a psychopath. Anger saves victims. Anger can serve to protect and warn us. I’m not angry in every aspect of my life but when I see/hear any sign of that man my whole being recoils and feels anger. I thank my soul for protecting me.

    • avatar says

      Hi Clare,

      No, I haven’t lived with a psychopath, and you bring up a very good point. This article was targeted to people who get stuck in anger to the point where it affects how they feel and react to situations in their lives. Someone who goes through life holding onto anger is bound to be unhappy and have difficult relationships.

      But it sounds like in your case anger has been protective and has led you away from a terrible situation into safety and sanity. This anger is functional and serves you. It doesn’t sound to me like you are stuck in it – rather, you are responding appropriately to a very challenging situation.

      I’m very glad for you that you’ve taken good care of yourself in this way.

      With love…

  27. avatarJean Fauver says

    I am trying to find the answer as why I am so angry, very short-fused, resentful to the point that I think that there obviously is something seriously wrong with me. I seem to suffer from the perfectionist syndrome. It’s extremely stressful!!

    • avatar says

      I don’t know why you’re so angry either, Jean, but I do know that gently beginning to work with your anger – and the thoughts around it – can help. It may be a long and difficult path, but it’s possible to slowly unhook. Sometimes we need help from an outside objective person to guide us through the stickiest places. Be committed to doing whatever it takes to find moments of peace.

      In love and support…

  28. avatarDonna says

    Hi I read the article about anger and then the posts for a while. I have almost uncontrollable anger. Over the years it waxes and wanes but I can remember feeling fierce rage as early as twelve or thirteen. Please don’t think I am a monster but I have kicked my dogs.. Beat them sometimes when they set me off… Nothing where they were ever actually harmed. Now I have kids and I have just pulled out of a downward spiral where I would slap or hit in a moment of extreme frustration. I feel so horrible I can never take those things back. I feel miserable inside it’s hard to be a mom I just have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I’m constantly CONSTANTLY battling depression sadness lonliness guilt anxiety. I wish I could just wipe the slate clean and relax but several times a day I am fighting the urge to scream at my children. I just feel terrible and now I am always tired and sore so I guess all this is beginning to take a toll. Every day that goes by is a day I feel like ill never get back with my children and maybe if I can’t do better they won’t even like me in a few years. I’ve got to mention that there’s just nothing between me and my husband. I want to go to him and cry and beg for help but he can’t do anything. He just looks at me… He doesn’t know what to do.

    • avatar says

      I encourage you to get professional help in your local area, Donna. Find an anger management program, maybe in a clinic or from your local psychological association. There you’ll meet other people who have the same kind of difficulty coping.

      I hear how tremendously painful this is for you. I understand how powerful this force of anger can be. You need to learn to relate to the anger, not from it. This means stepping back and realizing when it is in control. Then loving it, walking away from it, anything but continuing to act it out.

      There is the possibility of relief for you. Find someone who can teach you what to do.

      With love and support to you…

  29. avatarAnger says

    Hello,

    Can you tell me something about,

    Being a friendly person,
    but yet having a lot of silent anger inside me that I can hide, but its big but I can still hide it, I can feel its huge. Maybe that’s why their is always a sad/slightly mad expression on my face.

    But most of the time I appear friendly automically even though Iv got a lot of anger to work on.

    I try to forgive people in the past but the anger keeps returning and its buddy hate!

    • avatar says

      I think you’ve said it quite clearly, Anger. You’re trying to suppress a lot of anger. You’re able to still be friendly, but the anger leaks out on your facial expression. It will probably keep returning until you turn to meet and explore it. It might be huge and contain a lot of energy, but that’s okay. It’s really waiting for you to turn and be friendly toward it.

      • avatarAnger says

        So yesterday I felt really happy

        Perhaps it was because I said to myself its ok to be mad, but when I did that I smiled automically, their I was confused lol.

        It got me a lot of woman looking at me as well hehe.

        Anyways or perhaps it was because I had a massive workout going well before going out. Anyway, both work. I think I must not deny anger or block it, it will appear on my face anyway :)

  30. avatarBella says

    I stumbled on this looking for some answers. My partner of 3 years has rages and anger sparked by relatively little. A wrong look, a wrong expression, ‘pushing buttons’, wrong body language, misconstrued statements. He had 20 years in an unhappy relationship and, I think, a lot of hurt and damage to his self esteem. I read what you wrote about anger just being the surface emotion, but can hide fear, pain and hurt and can completely identify. Also in the ‘perfectionist’ – he is very particular and is so afraid of failing in any aspect of his life. In his calm times, he sees this, but is so much more comfortable putting responsibility on me and my need to change so that I don’t push the buttons. I want to support him, but he just needs his heart to heal. Not sure what to do, really, but appreciated finding this and the insight that came with it. Thanks.

    • avatar says

      You are most welcome, Bella. I appreciate how you are looking at this situation from all angles. Really, though, it’s not your responsibility at all to change so that you don’t push his buttons, so please don’t take this on. In the name of honesty and his caring about you and the relationship, he will hopefully realize that this is his work to do. I also wonder about your boundaries – what are your limits are for yourself about what is not okay?

  31. avatarlara says

    Dear Gail,

    What you are doing here is truly inspiring, devoting your time to help people. What you are writing about is the truth and I read few books on this subject but for me the change comes too slow. I had an abusive parents in my childhood and it messed me up pretty hard, for years now I’m struggling to heal and after 4 years i did some improovments but I still feel depressed, sad, underappreciated, controling and a lot of anger. This is such a pity because i love to be happy and when I am, it is often when surrounded by people that have a good energy an they bring up the best in me. I dont even remember my childhood any more and I forgave my mother, but now I see my husband affecting me in the same way by being mad towards me because he doesn’t like me having a life of my own which causes my frustration from feeling of being trapped. I see him as an abuser now but he just also has his issues and his anger is not really abusive I just see it in that way. I also get mad when people hit my weak spot I don’t know how to change this because I tried a lot and my mind is going crazy from analyzing my thoughts and actions and talking to myself.

    • avatar says

      Hi Lara,

      Your husband acting the same way as your mother is an opportunity for you. It’s very common that we end up with partners that somehow remind us of the past because that’s what we’re comfortable with, even if it’s painful.

      When you feel angry and underappreciated, this is the young Lara in you who has not had her needs met. Acknowledge her and be a lovely nurturing parent to her. This way you get to learn to take care of yourself when these urges arise.

      It would help tremendously if your husband is on the path with you for honesty and openness. You could work on your patterns together, help yourselves and each other, and build intimacy in your relationship. If he is open, maybe you can read books together or work with a couples therapist.

      These deep-rooted patterns take time to unwind. There is a lot of info on this site about working with overpowering emotions, so take a look in the archives. If you need the guidance of a therapist, don’t hesitate. It can be very helpful.

  32. avatarHarold L. Millican says

    This post speaks volumes to me about the need for men to continue to move towards a place where they validate their feelings and emotions more comfortably. There is still a generational stigma out there that many men like myself are healing from that says: Strong and capable men should not express and deal with their emotions. Anger is a complex emotion. It’s something that definitely effects men of all ages. Men suppress their anger because of outdated moires of socioeconomics, culture, and perpetual denial. All of this is brought on by unhealed wounds from the past, in my view. I’m glad to see the post… it’s confirmation that I am not alone in my thinking that ANGER is far deep than meets the eye. I’m grateful to see such a response effort, and would like to challenge more males to join this dialogue.

    • avatar says

      What you are bringing up here is so important, Harold, and I couldn’t agree with you more. We all get mixed messages about anger, but men in particular, as you mention. There is a lot of fear around anger – fear of feeling it, expressing it, and being the target of it. When we meet these fears, there is more space for a balanced and authentic expression of anger, which is healthy for all of us.

      Sometimes people hold insidious spiritual ideas that go something like this: if you are really mature, enlightened, and living as your higher self, than you won’t feel angry. This idea only serves to invalidate this essential emotion. Anger is fiery and exhilarating. Can we bring it out of the shadows so we can finally be free of the pressure to hold it back?

      • avatarPeter says

        I’d like to first start off by saying THANK YOU Gail Brenner you might of saved my soul. I’m 35 now and I’ve been angry for a long long time and have never really discussed my feelings or even thought about them and just kept pushing it away. My childhood wasn’t the greatest my father was a very hard man to please and was abusive in many ways, he beat my mother really bad and us kids when we did anything wrong not to his liking. I’m the oldest of 6 siblings and from about 8 years of age I’ve taken on the role of looking after my younger siblings during my parents 10 year divorce. So much has happened during that time and now I see that that’s when I shut myself off. I literally had no emotion as I grew older or compassion for others from a very very young age. Time went on I had many girlfriends and could of been married multiple times but it never worked out, I always found a flaw after awhile and ended the relationship but funny thing is I never understood why I wasn’t married with a family like all my friends which is something I wanted so badly and it has greatly affected me. I’ve been with my current girlfriend for 5 years now and the first 2 years where the best years of my life. Then I started acting different towards her treating her like my possession and it seemed like whatever she has done it wasn’t perfect which I only realized today after stumbling onto your website. She has said many times that I was suppressing her and not letting her live her life, I thought she was crazy. The 4th year is when it all changed I completely gave up on us and 3 months ago we broke up. We still live together hoping it’ll work out, she has and still is giving me endless chances full of hope but I’m afraid it’s at its end. Lately I go one day I feel like this is exactly what I want then when something doesn’t go my way the smallest of things I get so angry. Feeling jilted from her and say this isn’t going to work and just completely give up and begin with the emotional abuse. I started to emotionally abuse her finding and making up imperfections she had when in fact she’s smartest most kind caring person I know but I didn’t care about that she wasn’t good enough, especially when the rage had taken over I wanted to run away. I had realized my anger problems awhile ago but could not understand why they were happening and had absolutely no idea how to fix it. She had always said it was up to me to change and be happy. Up until today when I stumbled onto your articles I just couldn’t understand why I was this way or how to change for the better. Reading the articles and all the forums have answered so many of my questions and doubts about what she was trying to get through to me for the last three years. Your great insight has helped me realize that yes it is me that has an anger or fear problem and it is up to me to make myself happy not her when I believed it was her job. I’m so looking forward to taking the necessary steps now that I have some clarity, knowledge and realization that it was me all along, I’m an ass and she deserves unconditional love as she so freely had given me this whole time. This is going to be hard for me but perhaps my stubbornness in first realizing that I was the one that brought us down was ultimately the hardest thing to accept. So many things I read on your website were triggering memory’s of bad unhappy feelings I had towards her thinking she was lazy and not perfect for me which in fact was all me blaming her for me not knowing how to deal with feelings I didn’t want to deal with. I was really confused and losing my mind for awhile now but I feel so much better now that I understand why and where my anger was coming from and the necessary steps that need to be taken when anger first starts to happen thanks so much to you. I can’t thank you enough and will take any further advice you have to offer. My father is remarried and is actually a changed man for the better and I think that’s my first step is to stop that long story that has plagued me since a little boy. I’d greatly appreciate any further advice you have to offer. Thanks Peter

        • avatar says

          I’m so happy for all of your insights, Peter. I’m glad you found your way here at just the right time.

          It sounds like, at the core, you care about your girlfriend and think she could be a good partner for you. If this is true, then come clean with her. Sit down and tell her how you now understand your anger and other emotions. Make apologies as necessary and take responsibility. And vow to be open with her in the future about discussing your feelings (not acting them out). It might be a good idea to get some professional help. If you both are willing, it helps to sit with an objective person, a counselor, to help the two of you have this discussion.

          With anger, and with any other feeling, it’s about how you relate to it – not how you let it drive you. So with time and good intention, you can learn to step back enough to see it before it starts wreaking havoc on your life, and find healthy ways to express it that aren’t destructive to your relationships.

          Learning what to do with feelings is an essential life skill that will serve you well, and I’ve talked about this a lot on this site. As you bring everything out into the open, you begin to see that, although feelings seem to consume you, they are not all of you. There is a “you” who has never been touched by them. It is the sense of you as aware and alive that transcends all thoughts and feelings. When you can find that and rest there, the power of feelings begins to subside.

          You’re embarking on a beautiful journey that I hope will be fruitful for you. Sending love…

  33. avatarjames says

    I am going through alot over the past few years, depression, bad breakups, gained weight, bought a business that turned out to be a bad deal, now struggling to keep it open until it’s sold…..havent had a vacation or any other time “away” in 4 years…..i am so angry to the point its affecting my interaction with customers, friends, family. I unfortunately have anger peaks, where i “destroy” everything. For the past 2 days, I am feeling the anger escalating…..im shaking….i want to break things and i dont know what to do. I am fearing this time if I “snap” it might be very serious. What should I do????

    • avatar says

      I encourage you to get some professional help, James. If you work with a therapist in your local area who specializes in anger management, you’ll have a safe space to talk about what’s going on, release the anger, and find healthy ways to cope. It’s going to take some time, so it’s good to work with someone for a while – maybe 8 sessions or so as a minimum.

      In the meantime, you probably know that anger has a strong physical component to it. So every day, do something physical – run, lift weights, get the energy out so your body is tired. You can also do safe things like scream in your car or in the shower, punch pillows, and get up and stomp your feet. When you’re alone, yell out all the things you hold back from saying about the things and people that bother you. These might help to release some of it. And just so you know, I have done all of these things myself.

      Anger has a wonderful vibrant energy at the core of it. It’s so alive! But if left unexpressed and unacknowledged too long, it starts to boil over and even become scary. I really appreciate that you posted your situation here. There is something very important for you to learn about the anger and the situations that trigger it. When you’re not so overcome by anger, see if you can figure out the teaching that is being offered to you.

      Sending a big hug of support your way…

  34. avatarJuan Harper says

    I know you posted this article two years ago, but maybe you can help me. I am constantly falling into a pit of anger and hatred for everyone and the world. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but it is true. I literally boil to a point where I have no regard for anyone, not even family and friends and I honestly and truly wish for everyone to just go away and/or die. I even seriously contemplate murder to make them go away or suicide just so I don’t have to deal. I just want to be alone and feel that other people are only paramount to chaos and disappointment. Even as I type this and understand the irrationality of my behavior, I still wallow in my anger, hatred, and vocal disappointment, and it is usually ALWAYS directed at my partner.

    About a month ago I thought I had found a harmony. I was working out every other day, I was eating healthy, getting plenty of vitamin D and iron (I’m deficient according to a blood test). Things with my live in partner were going well and my social and professional life was in sync. I thought nothing or no one could throw me off this happy path. Oh boy was I so wrong.

    Our fridge broke and all of the good nutritious food I bought had to be thrown out. We ordered a new fridge but it took over a week to arrive and I was forced to eat junk food in the meanwhile. With a bad diet, my body went back to being it’s normal sluggish moody pissed off self. The fridge did arrive but my phone broke in the process.

    My iPhone also literally died. My partner ordered me a new phone BUT THE FED-EX DRIVER STOLE IT IN THE MAIL! I was told I would have to wait another week or two and I was so angry I cancelled everything and almost punched the AT&T clerk in the face and went to jail. I then went to FED-EX and yelled at all the employees until I felt satisfied. My partner then went to get me another line through a new carrier, but it turns out someone stole his identity and already opened a phone account with them meaning I couldn’t signup through him and his credit and now I am without a phone and haven’t spoken with my family, who is 2000 miles away, in 2 weeks.

    My partner has given up on it and I hate him for that. He promised to help me get a phone and didn’t deliver and has made no efforts to work things out or even follow up on his stolen identity. I checked out of the relationship because I feel hatred for him over all this, and the fact that he does not care about my frustrations, and I even thought about quitting my job because I just don’t want to be around people. I would be fine living unemployed with my mother and dying alone. I know I should not feel this way, but I can’t help it.

    Stuff like this always happens with EVERYONE in my life. I no longer have friends and have gotten to the point where I avoid anyone who tried to enter my life or I treat them rudely to drive them away. As I type this it is easy to look at it all from a bird’s eye view. But when I am out in the world, in the heat of the moment, I resort to my same ole tactics.

    • avatar says

      Hi Juan,

      It’s so clear how difficult things have been for you, and I appreciate your writing here. You probably found your way here by googling “anger” which means that you are searching for solutions. That’s a great starting point.

      There’s a lot here, so I’ll make a couple of points. First, I understand the situations that trigger your anger, but ultimately, it’s not about the situations – it’s about how you relate to your anger. What this means is it’s helpful to get to know your anger so it doesn’t overpower you. But it also means not squashing it, but finding healthy ways to express it. Anger is a fiery emotion with a big physical component. For starters, take a few moments when the anger is about medium, not super strong, step back from it, and start to get to know it. Just be curious – how is it in your body, where is it, what does it feel like. And let yourself feel the sensations. The more you step back to study and reflect on your anger, it begins to lose its power. So do this a lot, especially feeling the physical sensations.

      Second, spend some time reflecting on your values about how you want to be with and treat people. It sounds like there’s a disconnect. You don’t want to be rude, but you are. You get one go-around in this world, so you get to decide how you want to be. What’s important to you? How do you want the moments of your life to be? How do you want to relate to your partner? You can’t control the situations that come up in your life, but you can control how you react to them. This is key. Stuff happens and it always will – the refrigerator, the phone. Your job is to stop and be conscious about how you want to respond.

      Third, I don’t know, but maybe some areas of your life need to be cleaned up. Are the people in your life supportive and affirming, or do your relationships with some of them need to go? Are you living in a way that is aligned with your truth? Declutter and simplify in all ways and there’s a greater chance of experiencing peace.

      Finally, when you are very angry, let yourself go into a rage – but do it safely. Go into your car or the shower or somewhere where you won’t scare others, and roar. Try not to break things, but let it out to the extreme. Say the things you probably don’t want to actually say to someone, beat your fists, scream, stomp your feet, exaggerate it so it gets a chance to come out. Then when it’s over, take a few breaths, and you’ll be ready to come back into your life.

      If you seriously feel like you are going to hurt someone else or yourself, please get help ASAP. Go to a hospital emergency room, call the suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255), tell your doctor. Do something right away if it gets that bad.

      I wish you deep healing and love…

  35. avatarScott says

    I get angry almost every day. Recently, I’ve been feeling anger every day to the point where I’m destroying my relationship with my girlfriend and any objects I take my frustration out on.

    I don’t need to stop being angry, people just need to stop p*ssing me off :)

    • avatar says

      I wish it were that easy, Scott. Waiting for people to stop pissing you off will only lead to more waiting—and anger. Because, as I’m sure you know, you can’t control what they say or do.

      The path to peace is for you to form a new relationship with your angry feelings so they don’t have so much power over you. You learn tools and perspectives that are peace-promoting. It has to start from within you, or things will never change.

      When someone thinks they’re right, the question is: do you want to be right or do you want peaceful relationships. Giving up the need to be right can be very liberating! Wishing you well…

  36. avatarJ says

    Hi, I am confused about my actions when I’m drunk, I become very stupid and say things and do things I would never do when I’m normal. I feel more sensitive and immature when drunk. And the next thing I feel angry and embarrassed og my actions. I’m angry at myself. At the same time I’m angry at people. I feel misunderstood. I am so much in pain and angry to myself. I regret things I do. I knew all my mistakes but I feel like people who forgives me makes me still insecure if they still look at me or love me the same way as before.

    • avatar says

      It sounds like you know in your heart that you are more clear thinking when you’re not drunk. If you need help to stop drinking, please contact Alcoholics Anonymous or a local counselor.

      When you stop drinking, you will have a clearer perspective on what to do with your feelings and how to make wiser life decisions.

  37. avatar says

    Great article and I also enjoyed reading through your followups. I noticed that nobody commented on this as an issue in the workplace. In the past I have worked with people with unresolved anger issues. I think in these cases the main causes were points 5 and 7 (self importance and attention seeking) in your article.

    I think that in many cases as a result of economic factors, people can feel trapped in work relationships. They feel they have no easy way to remove themselves from the situation, whether is is simply being in the presence of or worse yet managed by someone with anger issues.

    I wish there was a way for an article like yours to easily find it’s way to those types of people. Anger has psychological victims on many sides, not just the person who is angry.

    • avatar says

      I hear you, Peter, and I understand your point about people feeling trapped in work situations.

      In my view, chronic frustration and anger is no way to live, and I know another way is possible, even if external factors make us feel stuck. Really, we put ourselves in prison by our thoughts and attachments – and we hold the key to freedom from them.

  38. avatarA-train says

    Sometimes I just don’t know if I want to let go…you know how there are people who are just too far gone…well I might be one of those people…I’ve had so much pain created in my life…honestly….I can’t feel joy or happiness…I was numb at my wedding…it took my three years to be happy with my twin daughter’s…I just graduated as an lpn…and I felt nothing…I’m so angry tears start for no reason…I cheated on my wife…and feel no remorse…Yes she knows…now she’s different…it’s three years later now…I love my wife and kids past the edge of the universe…more then I love my God…there is so much more to my anger then what I am posting…but it doesn’t matter anymore…I try everyday to be happy…but the slightest misstep pulls the trigger…I know I’m lost and personally I just don’t care if I stay that way anymore…I just want my kids to have everything…and at least I’m succeeding in that even if my marriage is hanging by a thread…therapy failed…medication failed…talking about it failed…praying about it failed…I know it’s no one’s problem or concern and I’m not looking for sympathy or pity not even empathy…I just thought I’d let people know that there is a point of no return…I live it everyday…I uhh hope for the rest of you that when you read this it somehow moves you to get past your anger and pain…good day

    • avatar says

      Hi A-train,

      I’m sure you are not the only one who is living like this, so I really appreciate your sharing your experience here.

      I know you’re not asking for sympathy or pity, but I do want to recommend a book to you. It’s called, “To Be a Man,” and is the best description of what it’s like to be a man, including the anger, pressure, and shame that men experience, that I’ve ever read. It’s opened my eyes tremendously, and I suspect you will find it validating, if not helpful. I personally know the author and trust him totally. You can find it on Amazon here.

      I care about your experience, your pain, and I’m sending love and support your way…

  39. avatarCalista says

    It is true that holding onto anger is drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. However letting go of anger in all situations is not easy – at least not in my experience. I’ve lived with immense anger/hurt for 2.5yrs and it is ruining me. A family member betrayed and humiliated me. And yes I think she’s wrong, she clearly thinks she’s right because she never apologized. If I bring up, it will be useless, however each time I am at a family gathering it uproots all the anger, to the point I avoid them. The avoidance hurts me and the rest of my family. Yes anger that lingers definitely is a reaction to being hurt very badly. If after 2.5 years I cannot forgive, forget, move on, etc….do I just remove person from my life? What she did was horrible and although she couldn’t predict or be blamed for the outcome, I attempted suicide. I was on antibiotic that was aggravating my depression (side effect I didn’t know of) and for one week I tried to reach out to the person and she didn’t return phone calls and when I did reach her, she was dismissive before I had a chance to speak. The next morning I woke up without premeditation, took a lethal dose of drugs in my car in an abandoned shopping center parking lot. I didn’t show for work and they GPSed my car. I always will wonder if she treated me like a human being the week prior whether I would have been pushed over the cliff. The attempt severely hurt my family, me and my career…and more fallout I cannot disclose. How does one reconcile a situation such as this?

    • avatar says

      I understand your anger, Calista, and I also see how you feel betrayed by her. But the source of the problem, as I see it, is that you see yourself as a victim of her actions. Yes, her actions were hurtful. And the path to healing for you is to take responsibility for your own behavior. That’s the missing link here. Your anger toward her is keeping you locked into unforgiveness. The key is to take a breath, and feel the feelings that are they underneath you anger – despair, hurt, loss, disappointment. Whatever it is, give space to all that is happening within you. Once you begin to have compassion and understanding for your own behavior, the focus on her will lessen, and there will potentially be space for forgiveness.

      This is a fierce journey for you. Take back your power by changing how you relate to your inner experience. Don’t feed these stories, which will only keep the pain going. Look deeply within yourself for the way out. Sending love….

      • avatarCalista says

        Gail,
        You are absolutely right that I haven’t forgiven myself. I do take responsibility, and have more than I can share on the Internet, but I am still dealing with the mess I created, and it’s not because I’m dwelling on it, but because I finally put legal ramifications to bed this past week.
        I do just hate myself. I don’t hate her, she let me down. I understand having expectations leads to bring let down…so I have anger and expectations, two self destructive feelings.
        They say half the battle is admitting and understanding your own problems…but it is only 20%…I’ve got a long way to go to change my thought process. She shouldn’t even matter to me, except she’s married to my brother. Otherwise I would have erased her from my life. I think it would be best for both of us.
        I do appreciate your thoughtful and accurate advice.
        Thank you!

  40. avatarS says

    Hi doctor
    I am no longer angry. I used to be very angry but now it left me . Now I feel lazy all the time. My brain is not used to feeling so relaxed what should I do? I feel like sleeping all day. Will this sleepiness go away. Please help.

    • avatar says

      Hi S,
      It sounds like you want the sleepiness to go away. Rather than resisting it, why not investigate it? Are there any emotions present? What is this sleepiness/laziness trying to tell you? Can you find the place within you that is awake and present in your life?

      This could be a fruitful investigation for you…

  41. avatarNika says

    Anger is what drove my husband to be separated from me. I didn’t know, but he’s been angry with me for years and held it in until he just didn’t want to be bothered any more. Talking to him I was a horrible and immature wife and he never talked to me about this out of fear. Now I try to make ammends, but his anger will not allow him to forgive and move forward. Until recently I have apologized over and over and now understand he has to deal with the anger: there is nothing I can do or say to ease it. Wow anger cuts like a knife to the gut, but I will continue to support and will not give up on my marriage.

    • avatar says

      There’s so much intelligence in your comment, Nika. Yes, he’s the one who needs to deal with his anger. Good for you for apologizing. If you stay together, he’ll also need to realize that he can trust you, so you’ll need to show him by your behavior that you can be trusted. Beautiful how you’re keeping your heart open…

      • avatarNika says

        Gail….in this journey I am also finding out I need to forgive him too so I can move forward with love and not keep harping on the past. Last night in writing this post I was concentrating on his anger to me and then God revealed to me that I may need to forgive him as well and then I won’t feel the guilt of his anger. Again, thank you for this article, it opened my eyes to anger and helped me on my road to healing.

  42. avatar says

    A very interesting list of eye-opening facts!

    I’ve been suffering from anger for some time. I’m not being angry with my most dear people that I love, but the ones that creep me our with their attitude and behavior.

    But considering the fact that I indeed am a perfectionist (sometimes self-centered), and that I don’t intend to give up on my perfectionism attitude and personality, anger will probably stay with me for a while :)

    Meditation however, helps a lot to overcome this!

    Thanks for this great post!
    My Profile

    • avatar says

      Interesting, Zdravko. You want to overcome your anger and keep your perfectionistic personality. You are right in the richness of the human experience, filled with paradoxes. Enjoy yourself!

  43. avatarJohn says

    Hello so I have been having anger towards my parents for years now and I am 20 years old with the feeling that I should have already passed the stage of hormones. This anger does not necessarily come from a source and I do not know what to do. I don’t want to be angry and would like to smile and joke with them but i feel like there is a force that is separating me from them. I would appreciate any help. Thank you.

    • avatar says

      Hi John,

      The path here is for you to make peace with the anger within yourself. I talk about a very similar experience I had in this post. Maybe that will help you – feel free to let me know.

      You don’t have to buy into the these thoughts and feelings about anger – especially because you want a different kind of relationship. See what needs to happen in your own inner experience for the anger to lose its power.

  44. avatarJanie says

    Lots of great insights here. Right now struggling to let go of a non existent relationship. Got back together with an ex BF, briefly. He said all the things I have been waiting years for. Then one day he did the “I love you and you mean a lot to me, but lets just be friends”. thing. I found out he left me to be with someone else. I tried over and over to talk to him. He will not respond at all. I can not be his friend if he starts out a relationship based on a lie. I am hurt and very very angry. Rage is a good word. How dare he give me what I have been waiting for then 3 weeks later take it all away? I am a giver, making things for him, taking care of things for him, lending him money. etc.. He never said thank you. I feel angry at him for lying, and abusing my kindness, and I also feel angry at myself for ever believing him again. i am also mourning for something that will never be. That also makes me angry. Letting go of the anger means letting go of the relationship, but there was no relationship to begin with. It had always been one sided. Hugging myself often and saying things will be ok.

    Thanks for listening. I am in tremendous pain.

    • avatar says

      Hi Janie,

      It sounds like underneath your anger is hurt. Let yourself have all your feelings, without indulging them. The more you keep telling yourself stories about what should and shouldn’t have happened, the more this pain will stay alive in you. Be very nurturing toward yourself right now with kind and compassionate self-care. When the time is right, see what you can learn from what happened. You’re in a healing process, so don’t rush it. Get support and take good care.

  45. avatarLacey says

    Thank you for the article. I came across this tonight, looking for suggestions as I cant stand my anger any longer. After 31 years, I realize I am the problem. My anger ruins relationships and wont let me advance to being the mature person I would like to be. I get angry over the stupidist things that I of course feel justified for being angry about but I am realizing normal people don’t let such insignificant things bother them, not only that but I stay angry. I’m sure my anger comes from not being happy with my life. I’m working to change it but its not happening fast enough and my frustrations are being misdirected, not only that but I’m pretty sure a part of me enjoys being angry. In the moment I like the attention. Afterwards i feel horrible though. I know this behavior is not becoming and it needs to change. I hope to use your advice as a stepping stone to moving in the right direction. Thank you.

    • avatar says

      Hi Lacey,

      I hear the authenticity in your words. You are the one who has control, and it sounds like you’re ready to exercise it. Yes, there may be moments when you enjoy the anger, but in those moments, stop and ask yourself what you really want. Let your wisdom lead you.

  46. avatarBellyBoo says

    Brilliant work Gail! :) I’ve had to deal with anger issues before, as an eight year old child I used to fly in to a rage for no real reason. This anger lasted for two years that I was aware of, until I was about ten. Sometimes nothing even needed to be said to me to make me mad, I could sit in my bedroom by myself and just get mad over nothing that I was aware of. Then at night I would get mad at myself again for having been mad throughout the day towards my siblings, parents and within myself too. I never knew where this anger came from but I was determined to get rid of it. I didn’t really know how to do this at the time and I didn’t talk to anyone about it either. I first tried by doing relaxing breathing as I felt the feelings escalate within me and found this to partly help, as I continued with that method I also introduced the idea of reversing my thoughts, turning angry thoughts, feelings and hatred into the happiest thoughts I could think of. The combination of these two methods proved to be quite helpful to me and in about a year I had removed these negative emotions from my mind. All was going quite well emotionally for me until I was fourteen and a certain dominant, male figure in my life violated me… This occurred many times, until my parents withdrew me from the situation. I didn’t know how to handle it, no one ever really wanted to talk about it and neither did I. I decided that it mustn’t of meant much and just tried to forgive him. I thought I was doing okay for about a year after and then slowly my feelings of anger started coming back, this time they are more internal. Now four-ish years down the track I am struggling with this inward build up of anger. I don’t want anyone to see it or to know about it… On top of this I’m also having other family issues and just normal life stresses to deal with but I’m just not coping…I should be able to… :( I don’t want to be angry anymore… :)

    • avatar says

      Welcome to you, BB. You are such a survivor! I see that you value peace so highly and you won’t give up until you’re living it. Good for you!

      I know you don’t want to be angry anymore, but for now it would be better to accept that you are. Because then you’re not ignoring the anger, which only empowers it. You can deal with it directly. You’ve come up with some wonderful tools to help you, so keep practicing them.

      Since the anger is now more inner, it might help to work with the ways it shows up physically in your body. It’s very simple – just bring your attention into your body and open a space of presence to allow the sensations to be. As you probably know, the sensations of anger can be quite strong. When they’re unseen, they create a story…and suffering. So consciously give the sensations space to be. You might feel quite a bit of energy, but that’s OK. You don’t need to go into any story or thoughts around them, just stay with the physical sensations, giving them room to breathe.

      Here are some posts you might find helpful here and here.

      Sending love…

  47. avatarJosh says

    When I was a young teenager I was abused by my father. Rather than feel the pain, I resorted to anger, a much easier sensation to deal with. I am in my mid 30’s now and many broken relationships later, I am beginning to see how my anger is destroying my life, but more accurately how my inability to feel pain is ruining my relationships. The moment my partner does anything to hurt me, I react in furious rage, rather than feel the pain. As it is much easier to feel anger and power than to feel small and hurt. My question is where to go from here? How do I get in touch with the pain for healing? Do I try to remember all those teenage years of hurt and begin to feel them, maybe cry over them? Is it about getting in touch with the past? I understand the the concept of acknowledging the sensations and getting more in touch with my present feelings of hurt, but is there also work to be done digging into my past? Thanks, Do you have experience healing anger in your own life? I suppose everybody does on some level, but just curious if you had major work around it? I find the greatest healers are ones who have had to heal themselves. Cheers.

    • avatar says

      Good for you, Josh, that you see the problem so clearly and are so willing to deal with it.

      There are two ways to go here, and maybe both of them will be helpful to you.

      One, and this is the most essential in the long run, is to be truthful about your experience in the moment. So when you rage because you’re hurt, part of your experience is rage, but if you were to stop and shine a spotlight on all of it, you’d find hurt, sadness, fear, etc. So first, as you start, when you rage or feel the rage coming, stop and be open with yourself about what else is there. Name the feelings and feel how they show up in your body. Cry, if tears come, but don’t force anything. You may want to also write about what’s happening within you. The next step would be to talk about it with your partner, if she can be with you in a safe and loving way. But more important is for you to know within yourself what’s happening and begin to befriend all of these feelings. I write a lot about this if you check out the archives here.

      You may also find it helpful to tell the stories from your past and feel the feelings around them. Ultimately, the story isn’t important – what is is your experience in the moment. But when the stories are so a part of who we think we are, telling them and experiencing the feelings helps to let them go. That might sound like a paradox, but when the stories and feelings stay hidden and unexamined, they cause trouble, as you know. Think about it as shedding the stories so you can know who you really are without them – this is freedom. But most times people can’t just put them down. Instead, it’s a process that takes time that allows all parts to be experienced. BTW: this is work that can be very helpful to do with a therapist.

      As for my own experience, when I was younger, I experienced a lot of anger, but at some point, I realized that it was mostly fueled by fear, so that became my focus. At that point, the anger dissipated a lot. But the one experience I can share with you and have written about somewhere on this blog is that I was very angry toward my parents for many years. At one point, clarity came in a flash, and I realized that my own life experience was being negatively affected by me holding in this anger. At that time, I was very much on fire for understanding happiness and how not to suffer. And I saw that being angry at them was causing me problems way more than anyone else. The second I had that realization, the anger dropped away and never returned. I didn’t want to hurt myself anymore with it, so dropping it was a selfish decision for my own happiness. As a result, I was so much happier and lighter, and yes, my relationship with my parents improved a lot. But that was a side effect. I just really wanted to be happy, no matter what.

      Hope that’s helpful. Sending support for your journey…

  48. avatarNina says

    I am 64 years old and have dealt with my mothers anger, hatred and rage all my life. She responded to everything with anger…if we dropped something, changed our mind about something…..She hated strangers walking down the road or driving in front of her. She screamed at my father constantly and if she didn’t get her way, we got the silent treatment. I never realized until this week during a tour of my local women’s shelter, that she was verbally and emotionally abusive to us! I have grown up believing its normal to get angry for everything that isn’t perfect. I remember hearing people I worked with talking to others and thinking, how can they be so nice, why aren’t they mad? She is cold and won’t say “I love you” even to my children or grandchildren. Before my father died, she wouldn’t even sit next to him in the hospital room, she sat across the room. The day after he died, she thru all his things into garbage bags. My father was funny, intelligent, easy going, hard working, generous… I don’t know how he put up with her abuse all those years. I have been in therapy trying to deal with my anger toward her…..now everything makes sense!

    • avatar says

      Hi Nina,

      It’s so lovely to hear that you are discovering a new way – that you don’t have to respond with anger. You can stop, press pause, and decide how you want to respond. Freedom!

      I’m glad it’s all making sense to you now, as this is the road to your inner peace and happiness.

  49. avatar says

    I have just come across anger not in myself but my boyfriend, I suffer with anxiety (I was always honest about it) and the majority of the time I can control it when I didn’t I was met with the most extreme anger from my boyfriend not speaking to me for 5 days. He it seems need everyone to be perfect and if that doesn’t happen he gets angry, ignores, punishes and as he has just done ended our relationship as I rub him up the wrong way. Obviously because I must be doing this on purpose he cannot do problems….and that makes him very angry.

    • avatar says

      If he’s not willing to work on this, Claire, as painful as it may be to break up, maybe you’re better off being free and available for a loving, accepting partner.

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