“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Buddha
Have you heard this quote before? We feel it is true and yet most of us have probably dreamt of taking revenge on somebody. Or we have suffered from anger over a longer period of time. It has kept us up at night. It has disturbed our concentration during the day etc. Anger is a powerful emotion and it can destroy us with one blow if we let it. Or it can eat us up bit by bit over time.
But why waste this powerful emotion by simply trying to get rid of it? Here is a simple trick to allow us turn the power of anger into strength. All we need is a piece of paper, a pen and a few minutes to dissect what we are really angry about and then transform it!
We show you how with the following little game. Let’s get started!
Do you have feelings of anger whenever you are in contact with a particular person? Somebody who you feel has held you back, attacked you or never given you the love you deserve? Has somebody wronged you? Maybe this person is a member of the family, a (so-called) friend or a colleague at work. Maybe it’s somebody who you cannot get out of your life for one reason or another. How do we deal with our anger against this person?
Write down all the reasons that you are angry with them and don’t hold back! For example:
- I’m angry at you because you’ve never supported me.
- I’m angry at you because you criticise me all the time.
- I’m angry at you because you’re never there for me when I need you.
- I’m angry with you because you’ve never tried to understand me.
Now play a little game! Without denying the justifiable anger you feel at this person, I’d like you to change the pronouns of your sentences. Basically “you” becomes “me”, “myself” or “I”. So the sentences could now read:
- I’m angry at myself because I’ve never supported me.
- I’m angry at myself because I criticise myself all the time.
- I’m angry at myself because I’m never there for me when I need me.
- I’m angry with myself because I’ve never tried to understand myself.
How do these sentences sound to you?
Don’t worry if they don’t make perfect sense at first. You can turn them around so they fit. For example: “I’m never there when I need myself” could turn into “I never pay attention to my needs”.
For me this was a light-bulb moment. The idea is for us to take responsibility for the anger, so that we are no longer victims. For sure this person did us down and maybe is still trying to do us down – but they only have power if we give it to them. So in the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Nobody can make us feel bad without our consent!” After all most of us are our own worst critics!
How can can we learn to deal with a situation like this? To continue our little game, I’d like you to change the sentences one final time. This time make the sentence positive and change “I’m angry at myself” to “I love myself because from now on…” So the sentences could now read:
- I love myself because from now on I will always support myself and choose supportive people.
- I love myself because from now on I will protect myself all the time and choose people who don’t hurt me.
- I love myself because from now on I will always be there for me when I need me and choose people who are there for me.
- I love myself because from now on I will always try to be understanding towards myself and choose people who understand me.
How do these sentences read now?
At the beginning they sometimes feel a little unreal. If this is your case, write instead “I’m starting to support myself” etc. For example:
- I love myself because I’m starting to support myself…
- I love myself because I’m starting to protect myself… etc.
It can be life-altering to acknowledge the anger we feel, go past it and transform it into a strength. The powerful emotion of anger can now turn into the powerful knowledge of what we don’t want and therefore will never allow into our lives again!