Tools for Tough Times: Avoiding Anger

Clearly there are many divides in our social settings during the pandemic response.  Certainly, masks, mandates, and vaccination are some of them.  Emotions run surprisingly deep and may surface at any point on any day.

One of those emotions is anger.  Anger at people and their choices.  Anger at systems.  Perhaps anger at God.  Anger at the fact that we cannot change people’s situations.  Even anger at ourselves for not being able to save more people or make a bigger difference for the sick or dying. For some, this last anger can be the beginning of what we call “moral injury.” That is an “ouch.”

We cannot solve all the root problems that are contributing to our anger.  But we can manage our anger in ways that may keep it from depleting us and contributing to further difficulty in us.  The following are a few tips for managing one’s anger in a difficult situation. These tips are known to help people release their anger appropriately so they can be free of the toxic effects of holding it in.

First, recognize that you can choose anger, and therefore can chose to let go of or even to not take up anger.  There is great freedom and far less stress that comes when we decide to not pick up anger and to let go of that which we might have picked up already.  Freedom from pain, anger, rage, hopelessness, and resignation in us.  Freedom to move past the problems and on to solutions and effective performance.  Freedom to collaborate with those we might otherwise be seen as enemies.  

Second, choose to forgive and move on.  Remember that when we do not forgive, it is like drinking poison and expecting it to hurt the other person.  Learning to let anger and bitterness go is the path to freedom, health, hope, strength, and release in you.

Third, try some of these ideas to help you avoid anger as a reaction.

  • Allow yourself to express the emotions you are feeling—don’t wait, don’t bottle them up. Do so with responsible people who can help you release the emotions.
  • Ask for and accept support from those who can listen responsibly.  Others in your support system may be similarly overwhelmed, so choose your listeners wisely. You know, those healthy enough to help you process and let go of toxicity.
  • Give yourself time to heal; be patient with changes in your emotional state.
  • Write your thoughts and emotions honestly in a journal. Even if they are angry thoughts and feelings, writing helps with “getting them out.”  Finish by writing something like, “And I let all of this anger and hopelessness go, and let it fall to the floor.” 
  • Reach out to help others. It may redirect and ease your own pain, anger, or bitterness.  
  • Take care of yourself physically: Eat well-balanced meals, exercise, avoid drugs and alcohol, get plenty of rest.
  • Avoid major life decisions—relocating, quitting, changing careers, or ending a relationship—until the anger has passed and you can make well-thought-out decisions.
  • When you feel anger rising, stop the train and get off – help someone, speak gratitude, pray, be mindful, choose wisely.
  • Remember, your anger is your choice. Choose wisely.

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