Letting go of Anger: A Better Way than Drugs or Alcohol
Many people who are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or who are in recovery have had some kind of experience with anger, or may even have an anger problem. Many a times, these individuals are unaware of the source of their anger, yet it is at the core of most of their problems in their life.
Anger could derive from past childhood traumas to frequent stress at work or home. At times, anger may seem to empower an individual, but in the end it will deplete them of any energy they had, and make any kind of positive thoughts and actions difficult to achieve.
What Can a Person Do to Let Go of Their Anger?
Recognise the positive aspects of anger.
The first thing to do when trying to let go of anger is to recognise the positive role that anger can play in the individual’s life. Yes, that is right, the positive role. Anger does serve a purpose; it lets a person know that something is not right. When an individual is feeling angry, they should take a step back and closely examine the situation. This in turn will allow them to get closer to the root of the anger and then take the necessary action towards positive change.
Recognise how anger is being expressed negatively.
The next thing that an individual should do when trying to let go of their anger is to figure out how they are expressing their anger in a negative way. Often times, an individual will hide their anger and let it ‘grow’ deep inside of them. Because they are unable to find a healthy way to express it, the anger comes out in other negative ways.
The following examples are things that a person with a great deal of hidden anger may show. The person may often be sarcastic, be late for work or important appointments, be over-polite to where it seems fake, speak in a monotone voice, procrastinate with tasks, have difficulty sleeping, become easily irritated, appear high strung or tense, or exhibit unintentional, similar, repeated physical acts.
The opposite of hidden anger is vented anger. This can be just as destructive. While it is important to express these feelings, sometimes it can be taken to an extreme and it is often used as a way of establishing power over people and situations.
Find the source.
The third thing to do when one is trying to let go of anger is to find the source or root. Anger can come from many different sources or circumstances. When calm, the individual should try to self-analyse: Do they have any unfulfilled expectations? Are things in their life not as they would like or are beyond their control? Do they often think about the negative experiences they have had? Do they feel overwhelmed or overworked? Do they think that life is unfair and are convinced that nothing will ever change for the better? Instead of dealing with the situations that seem beyond control, do they try to indulge in things they can control like, food, sex, drugs, or alcohol?
Once the root of the anger has been discovered, the individual must learn to accept it. This, of course, is not easy and may take some time. Opening up to trusted friends, family, or therapists can help with this.
Time for forgiveness.
After accepting the anger, it is time to forgive one’s self and others. Holding onto anger, no matter how deep and painful it is, will always cause the most harm. Forgiving is a process and requires a full release of the source of the anger. If the individual is still angry after forgiving, then they have not truly forgiven themself. Forgiveness can open up new feelings and cause a restorative power to the individual. This is truly the pint of letting go and beginning a new positive journey. Once true forgiveness has been made, the individual should embrace optimism, and fill any void with positive thoughts and intentions.
Below is a great exercise to help an addict overcome and let go of their anger. After compleing each statement with honesty, it may help to print it out and hang it in a visible place.