Let’s face it, walking around chronically mad is bad for your health and comes with a steep price. Why do we get so angry? Why do situations get blown out of proportion? Why is it sometimes so hard to control? For many people, it’s the same scenario over and over again. An unnerving situation arises which seems overpowering and results in feelings of hurt, embarrassment, confusion, fear and/or intimidation. It’s difficult to process the emotions because it feels like a losing battle so anger boils. The response is often completely understandablel like that of a recent client who wanted help overcoming a situation. She had been working 80 hours a week for months to make partner at her law firm and they overlooked her once again. Her unrelenting anger was bringing her down and she was ready to learn new skills to get it under control. She realized that taking the time to educate herself and to reflect more deeply before responding in an angry way would help put out the fire and prevent a grudge from forming.
Everyone has his or her own unique anger triggers. It might be another person’s erratic driving, your kids talking back to you when you ask them to do something, or just getting overlooked when you feel you deserve something. For example, your co-worker receives recognition for something you did, your husband forgets your wedding anniversary or your friend forgets your birthday when you always go all out for hers. The hostility may be understandable but in the long-term studies show that it contributes to anxiety, depression, heart conditions, a breakdown in the immune system causing more frequent colds, insomnia and even a higher risk of stroke. Definitely not worth it!
Learning how to get over that grudge and let go can help you live a healthier and happier life. Studies show that the act of forgiving reduces stress, anxiety, anger and depression. People who let things “roll off their backs” and choose to get past the obstacle have reduced blood pressure, fewer headaches, better sleep and get sick less often. It enables them to create stronger and closer relationships in every aspect of life and contributes to higher self-esteem.
While it may seem impossible, you can learn emotional forgiveness. Some key steps include:
1. Consider the situation from the other person’s point of view. In the case of the attorney, it may not be a personal situation at all, but simply a financial one. Even though it’s review time, the company may simply not be in a financial position to give promotions. Or, a friend forgetting your birthday might be because she’s going through a sickness or emotional turmoil in her own life.
2. Accept what happened. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with it or give in to it.
3. Overcome the negative emotions tied with it by choosing to forgive.
4. Continue on with your life. Constantly ruminating about it and carrying the anger around has absolutely no benefit.