298 Days ’til 40: Alleviating Anger

29 Apr

Anger is a killing thing: it kills the man who angers, for each rage leaves him less than he had been before – it takes something from him. ~ Louis L’Amour

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. ~ Mark Twain

Anger. We have ALL felt it. Some people seem to percolate and seep anger during most of their waking hours. Others stuff their anger deep down and it comes out in subtle, sometimes passive aggressive ways. Still others are able to let go of their anger and transcend the emotions of frustrating human interaction in order to live a life of more personal satisfaction and inner peace.

The quotes by L’Amour and Twain state the reality ever so eloquently – anger hurts US far more than it hurts the individual we may be angry with. As we harbor anger the individual who has harmed us walks away and lives their life oblivious to the daily affliction we carry. The person who caused us pain can live completely unaware of the rage that builds inside of our very being….. and this rage is very dangerous – it has been known to be linked to cancer, heart attacks, nervous disorders, depression, weight gain, and a host of other issues.

How often it is that the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him. ~ Frank Herbert

I love this Herbert quote, as it poignantly explains a concept I have shared with my staff members and students for years. Anger is always linked to something within our inner selves. Anger is not an emotion felt in isolation. Anger always partners with another emotion (I tell younger children that anger “holds hands” with other emotions.) When one is feeling anger, the first thing I recommend is that they look deep inside themselves in order to ask what emotions are lurking underneath that anger. For example, when an individual is angry because they are not invited to a party, the partner emotions may be sadness, rejection or loneliness. When we identify and address these partner emotions we are better able to rid ourselves of the anger that subsequently emerges.

Always write angry letters to your enemies. Never mail them. ~ James Fallows

I do believe that there are times when we need to be able to express our anger and the hurt that is often connected to it. This is where the Fallows quote is a great reminder. We do need the release and writing a letter is a great way to release the anger and accompanying emotions. However, depending on the situation, we must carefully assess and weigh the benefits versus disadvantages of mailing the letter after it is written. I often recommend that an individual have a trusted friend (level-headed, trusted friend!) review the letter and provide honest feedback regarding the content and the pros and cons of actually mailing the letter. There are times when a letter can provide enough of an outlet on its own and sending it would exacerbate, rather than mend a situation. There are also times when a letter can be precisely what is needed to assist in the promotion of understanding and problem solving.

Face to face meetings are another way to work through hurt and anger, depending on the circumstances. When appropriate, I encourage individuals to consider bringing a close friend, pastor, or therapist to the meeting in order to assist with keeping the content productive and focused on problem solving, as often meetings can target the problems and perseverate there, without moving to a state of healthy resolution. There are times when two healthy adults may not ever fully resolve the issues between them, but can responsibly and amicably agree to disagree.

Today, 298 days ’til 40, I will continue to remind myself that holding on to anger does not hurt the person who has harmed me, it hurts me. By learning to let go of anger I can free myself from bonds that prevent me from living my life to the fullest. I hope that you will be able to do the same.



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65 responses to “298 Days ’til 40: Alleviating Anger

  1. Personal Concerns

    April 29, 2012 at 00:10

    great post friend. so agree with Twain!

  2. allthingsboys

    April 29, 2012 at 00:25

    Great article. So much truth in it.

  3. Donna

    April 29, 2012 at 00:40

    I agree that writing about what’s bothering you is the best way to deal with it. But do it the old fashion way, with pen and paper, so that there’s time to reflect on whether or not it should be delivered. I made the mistake a few months ago of sending my litany of issues via email and it led to a lot of grief. I think my points were valid, but the rapidity of instant communication led to no communication because the other person latched onto a couple of pithy things I said and completely misinterpreted them.

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:45

      AHH, such a very important point… I have also made that mistake (and also been the recipient of someone who wrote to me impulsively via email when they probably should have slept on an issue)….. I suppose most have similar horror stories…..

  4. Louise Behiel

    April 29, 2012 at 00:46

    good thoughts. and very wise

  5. delemares

    April 29, 2012 at 01:16

    Reblogged this on MMM… Meditation, Mental health, Mindful crochet and commented:
    This is relevant to my post on forgiveness – will be blogging about anger in later posts

  6. Dave Knickerbocker

    April 29, 2012 at 01:25

    I love the idea that anger is always coupled with at least one other emotion. Even God gets angry, but he doesn’t partner it with loneliness or rejection, but with love. I suppose that’s why he’s so patient with me when I screw up. Maybe if people would match anger with good things, good things would be the result (i.e., not again people, but against, say, hunger.)

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:43

      What a great insight – I am now also wondering what would happen if anger was paired with good things…. hmmm….

  7. sarah

    April 29, 2012 at 02:24

    I once told my mom that it would be hard for me to forget those people who had cause so much pain in our family. She replied that she never brought me up in anger and that she will not allow the seed of anger plant in my heart long enough to forget who I am.

    It was hard but in time I was able to let go such anger , enough to write a post about old home before we lost it.

    Feel free to drop by anytime.

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:43

      Wow, what a wise mother you have! What a great point that another way to let go of anger is to blog about it! I look forward to reading more of your work.

  8. handustry

    April 29, 2012 at 02:28

    “agree to disagree” you said it ! If only most of us could stop there.

    And you are absolutely right, anger is always connected to something deeper inside. The intensity of anger one expresses is, in my opinion, proportional to the depth of the psychological wound that is linked to the companion emotion of anger (I hope I express this clearly enough).

    Each of us should take time to visit this desolated land within, Identifying the wounds and try to heal them properly with the help of a therapist if needed. I did it, and still work on this. Based on that I think a self-discovery or some sort of psychology oriented class should be mandatory in high school in the same manner as learning English (or French in my case) and mathematics are.

    Your post is brilliant.

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:42

      Yes, I do wish we could all learn to agree to disagree! You are so correct that we really do need to look inside ourselves – therapy can be scary for many people, but if they find a good therapist and stick with the process it usually leads to a priceless journey of self discovery.

      • handustry

        April 30, 2012 at 03:51

        I was scared to death getting in therapy. But then my choice was either continue suffering without understanding why or dive in and maybe come out feeling better. And I sure will never regret it. And to whoever reads these lines and is still afraid, I say go for it, it is a wonderful gift for yourself πŸ™‚

        • 400daystil40

          April 30, 2012 at 15:59

          Good points, sometimes we realize that the fear and pain of therapy is less than the current pain… and at that point you know it is time to make the move.

  9. wholisticme

    April 29, 2012 at 02:52

    I nominated you for a sunshine award go to my post to get more info, Aurora Love following your count down to forty!

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:41

      Thank you so much for thinking of me, that is so kind of you and so encouraging to me!!! πŸ™‚

  10. wholisticme

    April 29, 2012 at 02:53

    whoops I meant to put , sorry….

  11. tricia linden

    April 29, 2012 at 03:52

    found an opps in your blog, you wrote: Today, 208 days ’til 40 – didn’t you mean 298??

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:39

      Thanks for the correction – that is what happens when I write late at night – embarrassingly, there were many in that particular posting….. 😦

  12. rabidmongoose

    April 29, 2012 at 03:56

    A very thoughtful post. I was reminded of a lecture on anger my counselor gave me to listen to…a gentleman by the last name Lee…can’t remember his first name…Anyway, Mr. Lee is a counselor himself and frequently works with adult children of alcoholics, and he jokes that the U.S. is a nation of Chair Worshippers, because when he suggests people smash chairs to get out their anger, they become horrified. His point, of course, is that it’s better to take your anger out on a chair than another human, or to allow it to eat you up inside.

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:39

      Wow, I LOVE this comment! Thank you so much for sharing this, as I think it will be a great illustration for me to use with others at work.

  13. John Jonelis

    April 29, 2012 at 04:40

    I agree that anger hurts the one harboring the hate, not the object of the offense.

    A number of years ago I found myself unable to forgive a family member. I didn’t know how to do it. I was attending a weekly Bible study at the time and asked for help three times running. People didn’t seem to understand why I found it so difficult. Finally on the third session, one meek and gentle lady told me she’d found a definition of forgiveness in a dictionary. To give it up to God.

    I immediately turned to Psalm 109 and read David’s amazingly bitter words to a roomful of shocked people. For the first time I understood his ranting. God is the judge, not me. That taught me to forgive.

    I recommend the Psalm. It’s so over-the-top that it always makes me laugh out loud and it’s impossible to hold my anger.

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:38

      Yes, sad but true! I love what you posted. The other thing I used to read when I was angry or depressed was Lamentations chapter 3 – check it out! Lots of moaning and complaining and then a verse that says, “I call all this to mind, and therefore I have hope” (gross paraphrasing used)….. there was a time when that was my favorite chapter/ book of the bible!

  14. photographybycalliec

    April 29, 2012 at 04:46

    So So true, whom you angry with is not hurting, only you. Sometimes I think it helps to think of some one worse off and bring things back into perspective.Well written and a great subjuect.

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:37

      Yes, anger hurts us… very good point you bring up – it does help to think of someone worse off than we are in order to put things into a healthier perspective.

  15. writerwannabe763

    April 29, 2012 at 04:56

    This is so true..and goes hand in hand with ‘control’ or lack of same…We cannot control another person or whether or not they will accept any blame for causing (or even accepting their part of the problem) for the anger we feel……we can simply accept it….therefore as you say sending a letter in the hope that all will be resolved and then getting your hopes dashed when we hear nothing back…and so left again with the anger still unresolved is perhaps worse!…I’m not sure I’m making clear what I wanted to say..hope so….Diane

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:36

      Yes, definitely! Such a good point about us not being able to control another person. Very good point about not getting our hopes up if we do send a letter, as it often may work out in a different way other than the way we envision it to.

  16. forhisgloryandpraise

    April 29, 2012 at 05:16

    Great thoughts on anger and how it affects us!

  17. viveka

    April 29, 2012 at 11:36

    Anger, something … that we all have inside us .. have been maybe quite an anger person – especially in my job when somebody has been cheating or been lazy – not really an angry person, but I have lost many time .. but as they say – when the devil goes old she become religious. It has never been worth it .. really.

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:35

      Yes, I can relate…. we all have our own angry moments and we often find that in the end it does not serve a purpose…..

  18. sued51

    April 29, 2012 at 15:16

    Excellent post…so TRUE! I love the part about Anger holding hands with other emotions…

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:34

      Yes, it is so true and such a good explanation.

  19. Job Conger

    April 29, 2012 at 16:03

    True words. It’s something of a linguistic anachronism now, but not long ago, one might have read something like, “So they put him in an asylum for the rest of his life because he had gone mad.” The key element of criminality, of many examples of failure, is the element of madness, of anger unresolved. Even depression, I’m told is anger turned inward, and too many good people “depress” themselves to death. We run from angry dogs and approaching tornadoes, but sadly we embrace anger as solace for heartbreak, not realizing it brings not solace, but self-destruction.

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:33

      Wow, what a great comment! Thank you so much for sharing. You are so correct, we can easily anger and depress ourselves to death when we should be living.

  20. anotherthousandwords

    April 29, 2012 at 16:14

    Very wise words…as anger does severely affect both our physical and mental health.

    Thanks for this great post…and the thought-provoking quotes. Have a beautiful Sunday!

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:33

      Thank you! Yes, I think many do not realize just how much anger affects our health!

  21. Lucianus Mauricius

    April 29, 2012 at 19:53

    It’s an interesting concept you’ve expressed, and one I have read about millions of times in millions of publications and personal stories of countless people, but, and maybe I’m alone in this, have you ever thought about how anger can actually fuel us in not only surviving a difficult situation, but also moving ahead without falling pray to it??? How come anger is always demonized, while in reality can be a productive force, if you know how to use it?!
    Having said that, I do agree with you as you explain how anger is never a lone traveler in our lives, but it’s connected to other feelings, in my case would abandonment and betrayal which bring anger out out of pain of being let down by those I once trusted. But, enough about me, this is after all your blog, and about you, so cheers to you for posting once more a wonderful everyday life issue.

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:32

      Very good point… you are actually speaking of a different aspect of anger, something I should focus on in a future blog… this post dealt more with letting go of the anger that hurts us. You are correct, however, we can have a righteous anger that motivates us to work to right a wrong situation.
      Great point! Thanks!!! πŸ™‚

      • Lucianus Mauricius

        April 30, 2012 at 04:19

        Thank you for agreeing, You’re right though in your post; anger is what eats us alive, and it has been doing so for me for the last 20 something years, it’s the poison which feeds on more poison and you’re just dying from within.

        • 400daystil40

          April 30, 2012 at 15:58

          Definitely – I hope you have been able to let go some of yours and live a life that makes you happy.

          • Lucianus Mauricius

            May 1, 2012 at 06:38

            It’s a work in process, I still have moments of anger and rage, but that’s always been part of me. It’s not easy to let go of past wrongs that in some cases keep on being perpetuated by the same people, though in a different manner.

  22. charlesmashburn

    April 29, 2012 at 20:23

    Another excellent post! You are doing your readers a great service by providing them these wonderful things to ponder.
    I have a philosophy about anger, jealousy, and all things that are categorized as emotions. I contend they are only emotions for the first few moments they exist; then they become our thoughts, which we can choose to deal with, harbor, or let go of. In most cases, similar to what you say above with regard to letter writing and/or meetings, I think it’s best to vent your feelings in private, and then to cast them aside.
    In my business deaalings, I had an unusual habit; when someone would make me angry, I would immediately type out a response, “giving them a piece of my mind”. Then, I’d walk away. At some point–after I’d cooled off–I’d read the letter I’d written, usually getting a good laugh from it, then I’d write the “real” letter, or call and discuss the situation with them.
    I could go on and on regarding this subject, but I think you can see my point.
    Great job! I am really enjoying your “Days ’til 40”, and I look forward to the next 298!

    • 400daystil40

      April 29, 2012 at 23:30

      Thank you so much for your very kind words! Interesting point you make that we can choose to dwell on those raw emotions and keep them alive within us. What a great strategy you used to write the letter and wait to review it at a later time and send it. I have used a similar method with my staff (I ask them to write me a letter when they are mad at a work situation) – I find that when the letter is revisited a week or so later the feelings are less raw and there is no longer a need to send it.

  23. handstitch

    April 30, 2012 at 08:41

    I have done it so many times…”Always write angry letters to your enemies. Never mail them.” By the time I write them out, I felt a sense of relief and no longer has a need to rant. Great food for thought.

  24. philosophermouseofthehedge

    April 30, 2012 at 23:42

    astute post. Too many times these days people can’t agree to disagree and still be civil and friends. Why does it have to be “my way or the highway?” Seem unreasonable, illogical, and in tolerant.

    • 400daystil40

      May 1, 2012 at 18:29

      So very true… so sad that some people do not possess the ability to let go of their anger enough to see their part of the problem.

  25. sanjaywa

    May 1, 2012 at 02:53

    Another wonderful post, as always. The healthiest person I know is my dear friend Peter, who is 80. Trust me, he puts 20-year-olds to shame. He tells everyone he hasn’t been angry in over 50 years. He decided to ‘give up’ that emotion, as he didn’t want it to poison his soul. He tells me that if someone treats him badly or takes advantage of him, he just lets it go with the knowledge that their unkind act will come back to haunt them some day, and that retribution is God’s work – not his.

    • 400daystil40

      May 1, 2012 at 17:32

      Wow, Peter sounds amazing – I wish more people were like him!

      • sanjaywa

        May 2, 2012 at 00:27

        Yeah, he is. A few years ago he sold everything he had (and this guy was LOADED) and gave all his money away, because he wanted to experience what being poor was like, as he felt that’s what God was calling him to do. He spent three years living off his own ingenuity and the kindness of others, as he refused to take any govt benefits. I wish I had that kind of courage!

  26. craftythriftydecoratingwifemom

    May 2, 2012 at 00:15

    I am so technically impaired this may not come to anything but I like this post enough to Press This. Have to see if it comes through.

  27. elliebloo

    May 2, 2012 at 02:18

    I,agree whole heartedly although it can be so hard. But I find if I pray and meditate on the why of it I release it quickly.

  28. Spider42

    May 3, 2012 at 21:25

    I’ve always been a very peaceful and even-tempered guy – partly I think it’s because I have parents and a sister (and others in the slightly extended family) who are loud, verbose, quick tempered and quite intense in varying degrees. I’ve always been a contrast to them and always felt that in some way my innately reserved and introverted nature made me not want to be like that.
    Though I do have a temper myself, I just never see the point in losing it – though I’ve always liked to find outlets for it, like writing, sports (any physical exertion really) and my favourite was my heavy bag which my sis one day said freaked her out because I’ve been called Buddhist for as long as I can remember and always been the calm, voice of reason, advice-giver and all that jazz, yet here I was calmly and methodically whaling on this huge bag and pounding the crap out of it. We laugh about that now.
    Personally I think anger has its purpose and its moments, but by and large its a thing to be channeled and restrained – it can cause more harm than anything else but if used as fuel and driving force at those moments can accomplish so much more. It’s actually most apt to compare it to the technology and uses of fire, both as an element and as a resource (including guns, fuel, bombs, healing, solar power, wildfires, basic cooking, etc, etc, etc)

    • 400daystil40

      May 3, 2012 at 21:31

      How funny – I am the same in my family… much quieter than my mother or sister….. at least now (growing up was a different story!) I personally have a very long fuse, but once it is ignited…. stay out of the way and beware! πŸ™‚

      • Spider42

        May 3, 2012 at 21:33

        that sounds eerily familiar! πŸ˜€


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