Therapists are often called on to advise people to help them live more consistently with their values, and most people have the value of being loving and compassionate. Carrying hatred and anger towards someone doesn't feel right for them.
Believe it or not many of my clients ask for help forgiving people that they harbor feelings of ill will towards be it a family member, an ex-partner, or even a boss. Letting go of anger is part of this goal. It isn't necessarily someone in their life currently that they interact with, although it may be, often be maybe someone from their past that they need to let go of these feelings toward.
The goal of letting go of anger has come up so often in my sessions that I thought writing a page on my site would be helpful.
I think most of us have struggled with feelings of anger and hatred towards someone. Please don't read this page if you are not wanting help with this problem. I'm not preaching to anyone who feels fine about being in that space. If you are, here are some strategies that might help alleviate those feelings.
It doesn't feel good to be angry and feel hate. Too much anger constricts and disconnects us. It can cause us to feel bad, especially if we hang on to it too long.
You can actively work to help yourself when you feel emotions. Allow yourself to fully feel the emotion and then take yourself through the following series of exercises to see if an of them are helpful towards the process of letting go of anger.
1. One way to help yourself with anger is to consider the damage it might be doing to you. Is your anger doing you more harm than good? What is the impact on your body? Does it feel tense and tight? Does it feel relaxed and open? Does it make you want to engage and reach out to your friends and loved ones? Or does it cause you to have discouraging and defeating thoughts? Sometimes we feel we need our anger to protect us, but often it has outworn it's welcome. Ask yourself some questions about it's purpose, it's impact on you now, and whether you need it or you can release yourself from it.
2. Consider that fact that the person you are angry at might not be all bad. Can you remember the times they were good and/or the things they did they may have been kind? Can you think of things they do in their life that might be perceived as good or kind to other people? All of us have both good and bad in us. You do too.
3. Understand there will be consequences for what the person has done. Everyone has consequences for their actions, whatever they may be. If you are moved to cultivate and attitude of kindness and forgiveness in your heart, your consequence will likely be that of more peace. For someone who is hurting and wronging others, there will always be consequences for their behavior even if they are not naturally evident.
4. Try and see the big picture in the persons life who hurt you. Sometimes when you fully understand someone, you can feel more compassionate. Who is this person and what is their life story? Can you understand why they would behave the way they did that hurt you? Was it out of fear or jealousy? Have you ever behaved in a similar way? Feelings of compassion help ease feelings of anger and hatred.
5. Remember that letting go of anger or hatred does not mean letting someone off the hook for their behavior, it only means freeing yourself from the impact of an emotion that you are ready to let go of.
6. Ask yourself if fear is behind the anger or hatred and begin to work with those feelings. Sometimes directly addressing the fear can really help you to let go of resentment, anger and hatred.