Have you been upset about an issue that seems to make no sense and asked yourself, “Why did I get so angry over something that was relatively minor?” Oftentimes, our response is triggered not by the present issue but from an alternative source. Odd as it may seem, the past and future can hold the keys to why we are angry. It is the discovery of these secrets that can enable us to live an anger-free life. Let’s take a look at each one:
Many people don’t realize how much their past influences their present. A child who lost a parent can experience abandonment and hold on to that fear well into adulthood. Anger when a loved one threatens to leave or a simple disagreement between friends can trigger the anxiety of being alone. One becomes angry with their family member over an insignificant issue rather than addressing the root cause beneath the obvious incident. One who was bullied become distrusting of those who are critical and demanding. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness (the very definition of anger) overpower the now adult who responds with an aggressive or hostile gesture or statement. Even a well-intentioned request from a neutral party can conjure up unpleasant memories from times past.
Memories live deep within our inner conscious minds and can resurface without warning or apparent logic, causing unexpected or inappropriate reactions.
It is critical to identify those issues from our past that are causing distress in our current lives and heal them. Redefine them; re imagine or replace old painful memories that no longer serve you well with more positive ones that do. Ex: forgive the bully who made fun of you in front of the entire 7th grade class. See him not as a hateful child but one who was immature or troubled. Allow your memories to bring you peace rather than discomfort. Heal your past and live anger free.
The Future: It’s sometimes hard to feel hopeful in today’s world. Economic distress, terrorism, immorality, dissension – for many the future looks bleak. The young who have no distinct plans for their future, the middle aged who do not see themselves in a better place five or ten years down the road, those who believe the best is over and that it’s “all downhill from here” fill their minds with anxiety (fear, an underlying cause of anger) and hopelessness. Older adults who fear not being able to retire and sustain a reasonable lifestyle, or who are concerned about physical maladies and limitations live with dread brought about by the unfairness of life. Projecting into the future negatively will only foster negative feelings as well. However, those who look to the future with hope and enthusiasm, who eagerly plan new adventures and experiences thwart off any potential anger and instead feel excitement and hope for what is yet to come.
Like a blank page in a book, the future is yet to be written and you are the author of your life. Write something wonderful!
Create your future and live anger free.
The Present: Someone once said that if you’re resentful (old anger) it’s because you’re living in the past; if you’re worried or anxious you are projecting into the future. We are encouraged to be mindful of where we are in the present moment for it is truly all we have. All I need concern myself with is exactly what is occurring at this very moment.
Imagine being in Hawaii on vacation. However, rather than enjoy your snorkeling adventure surrounded by brightly colored aquatic life, you are thinking about the three feet of snow and bitter cold temps you left behind in Colorado. Can you fully embrace your once-in-a-lifetime experience? Of course not. Physically you may be in a tropical paradise but mentally you are buried under a blanket of frozen white precipitation.
It is only when I am fully present to the present (moment, that is) that I can give it my full attention, take control over its happenings and savor every moment.
Embrace and empower the present and live anger free.
Always remember that anger is a choice. All emotions originate in the mind with a single thought. Focus on what is good and beautiful and wonderful and these thoughts will block out any anger, allowing you to fully savor all that life has to offer.
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