Here I am today, far from complete but reasonably happy with who I am and who I have become. Knowing that life is a process of self-discovery. Accepting that every time I peel away a layer of myself I uncover new and exciting treasures. Believing that I have unlimited potential because every time I have one of those aha moments, after the excitement has settled I take the knowledge I have gained put it to use and become a better person.
Anger is a perfectly acceptable human emotion that we are all capable of feeling. Learning to recognize anger as it starts to brew is the key to understand how to release it Learning how to release anger instead of trying to control anger has served me very well.
I believe anger is the opposite of forgiveness. Anger is here to teach us how important it is to forgive. Forgiveness is the key to true peace. Those who I have the most anger towards are the ones I need to forgive the most. I do not need to forgive them for them but rather for myself. I needed to forgive myself because holding onto anger towards myself benefits no one. As Buddha has said: Holding onto anger is like holding onto a hot stone, in the end I am the one who gets burned.
I also had to learn that forgiving does not mean I have to forget. Nor do I need to let those I have forgiven know. Nor does it mean I have to be close and loving with everyone in my life. Forgiveness simply means I am allowing myself to let go of those negative feelings I have because they no longer serve me. Life will constantly bring me teachers until I truly understand anger and forgiveness. Forgiving has made me feel lighter, made me feel more free. I no longer want to be restricted by something that has happened years ago or even minutes ago. I forgive because I want more in life. I have made a choice to let go of resentment. Many times I have to remind myself that to be angry is a choice and I have the power to change. I do not want to be defined by all the perceived wrongs or mistakes in my life but rather by the choices I have made to become a better person.
The ability to stay calm amongst the chaos is a skill I have been committed to. I planted the seed when my marriage failed in part because of my inability to recognize and release my anger. During our final hours when I saw the fire behind her eyes I had trouble accepting there could be so much there. I made a promise to myself as my marriage fizzled away that I would embark on a journey. This journey would not be easy but I knew if I were to ever love another or myself again I would need to tame the lion that lived within my soul.
Throughout my life I was never taught about anger. I was incapable of expressing my anger in healthy ways. During childhood anger was expressed verbally through yelling and swearing. During my time in the military I was taught to keep my anger inside. It was as if the military was merely keeping a monster at bay so the monster could be unleashed at precisely the right time. Angry soldiers are good soldiers. In adulthood at times I would use booze to hide from the anger. But the booze was such a temporary solution. Not only does the beer not make the anger go away but it seems to come back stronger.
I did not know how to express my anger. I also had the belief that it was wrong to be angry. For many years I only knew of a few ways to express my anger, through yelling, by abusing my body through too much exercise or too many drugs, or swallowing it whole. For so long I was a ticking time bomb. I do not even think I was aware of how much anger I had inside of me. The tension in my back and neck, the fire that ran through my veins, the fury in my eyes, the more I ignored my anger the bigger it got. Anger when left unchecked is like a snowball rolling down a hill, as it rolls it gains size and strength until it gets to the point where it becomes an avalanche and will destroy anything in its path.
Anger left unchecked leads to a host of other problems and emotions. Too much anger can turn into depression, anxiety, resentment, and many other strong emotions. Anger left to linger can have very strong physical ramifications as well, heart problems, muscle tension, weight gain, and headaches too name a few.
During my life anger has been my greatest teacher. Anger has caused great turmoil in my life. Anger has also lead to my greatest treasures. For if I had never taken the time to go within and understand why I am angry, what am I suppose to learn, and why these experiences keep coming into my life I would not be the person I am today.
With enough searching within and asking the right people the right questions I have made a new relationship with anger. Anger and I have come to an agreement that allows us to co-exist in a beautiful way.
First of all I have told my anger that I will never try to disown it again. If I am mad I own it. Every part of it. I own the strong emotion, the hair standing up on my arms, the tension in the back of my knees, the clenching of my fists. I own the racing thoughts in my mind. The fastest way to release an emotion is to understand that it is perfectly acceptable to be feeling that emotion. I embrace my anger now when it rises and then I let it go.
When I first began this journey I thought I was going to get to the point where I no longer got angry. And while I am impressed with myself because the little things rarely set me off anymore I am no longer trying to not get angry but instead I recognize anger, learn from anger, and then release the anger.
Meditation has been my biggest reason for coming to a new understanding with my anger. A daily meditation practice has brought a new sense of calm to my life. Not only do I not get as angry anymore, I believe meditation has allowed me to recognize the subtle hints from my mind, body, and soul. Anger only grows when we do not get those little hints.
I continue to write almost daily. Putting my emotions to paper is an excellent method of release for me. As I get lost in my words I feel the energy drain from my body.
Nature will always absorb negative emotions. Getting outside, taking a few breaths, and recognizing the beauty of the flow of water or the ripple of the trees as the wind blows help me stay calm. If I am really upset I visualize myself getting in the river and letting go of the ores. Instead of trying to paddle my boat up the stream with all my might, I simply pick up the ores, point the boat down stream and go with the flow.
I try to understand why I am angry. I can still be as stubborn as a mule but I am willing to embrace another’s point of view. I am willing to try and be vulnerable with those I am angry with and talk it out. It may feel difficult at first but once I realize that my anger is not towards another but rather a conflict that has developed within it does make it easier to share with another the feelings I am having.
Finally when all else fails, if I am truly lost within the whirlwind of my emotions I grabbed those dumbbells and work myself out. Exercise may be the ultimate anger release. The dumbbells do not ask questions, they do not care that I am angry. It is just me versus them for the next 30 minutes. Exercise releases endorphins and when those endorphins are flowing they overtake the anger.
These days I do not get as angry as I use to. It is not that I will never get angry again but I do believe I will not express my anger in ways that will hurt another or myself anymore. I recognize that I am a very passionate person and I love that about myself. I love myself when I am happy and I love myself when I am angry. I have owned all parts of myself and that has been the reason I have changed parts of myself. I no longer run from my anger or stuff it down, instead I open myself up, admit that the anger is there and then I do what I need to do to learn from it and let it go.