Question for Bernie
Through meditating and reflecting, I’ve come to see that anger plays a role in my life. I know I should find ways to let go of it but just can’t seem to.
I’ve been reading your books – right now 365 Prescriptions – but wondered, how does one let go? Truly let go of anger?? Thank you.
Thank you for your question—many, many people over the years have asked me the same question as it applies to their situations.
There is appropriate anger, for instance when you are not treated with respect, it is important that you speak up. This is survival behavior because you face the person or persons causing you to feel anger immediately. Even if they choose to remain disrespectful, you are not damaged if you speak out in defense of everybody treating each other with respect first and foremost. Some call this “righteous indignation” because there is no excuse to be disrespectful of others even if you disagree strongly.
But when it is something you carry with you as a negative but never address, then anger is inappropriate it hurts you. The damage begins with your immune system pumping out too much adrenaline (fight or flight hormone), and your mind remains fixated on whatever your anger comes from and just gets stronger until you get ill.
At the point when you see that people or situations that anger you are not going to accept your thinking on the subject, then you move on to forgiveness. To keep your body from damaging itself because of anger building within, forgiveness frees you from the burden. You can’t psychoanalyze people who treat you with disrespect except to say to yourself that clearly they are lashing out at you because they cannot resolve the anger they carry around. It is in using this knowledge that allows you to be calm and forgive, saying to yourself that they have not yet faced those causing their anger about things in their own lives. You can’t change that, but you can change how you let their misdirected anger affect you.
Another effective strategy is to become a love warrior and use love, not anger, as your weapon. Be compassionate and understanding with people and situations in your life, and always let the people in your life feel listened to and valued. A great way to defuse certain types of anger-provoking disagreements is to simply say, “Let’s just agree to disagree, since we both deserve the respect of each other to effectively communicate and begin to collaborate.