It isn’t life if you’re not thrown a curveball now and then, and that curveball can involve the bad behaviors of strangers or people you know. How do you keep from harboring anger and resentment, especially when our media and pop culture sends mixed messages about anger and aggression as keys to resolve being victimized?
Openly or secretly, many men and women believe that letting go of anger caused by a transgression against you (sometimes minor and sometimes major) is a sign of weakness and indicates that you can be victimized repeatedly.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Letting go of your anger and hurt is a surefire sign of strength. By no means does it mean that you haven’t learned from your bad experience and you can’t protect yourself going forward.
Real victimization occurs when you allow yourself to constantly live with your anger over the wrong done to you. The person responsible is perpetually insinuating themselves in your life and winning, even when you’re repeatedly getting vengeance on them in the mental movie in your head.
It isn’t easy, but some of these tips below can help you let it go and become stronger in the face of wrongs done to you.
Acknowledge Your Anger
Denying any of the feelings you have after a bad incident isn’t healthy. Let yourself feel disappointed, angry, afraid—any of the emotions that would come naturally. You’ll move on after you let them go through you. The idea is not that you’ll wallow in them forever. When initial shocks or emotional reactions happen, try to think through them and get at the exact root of what you’re feeling. And remember: anger is really fear.
What happens to you may be minor, or it may be a major transgression. But whatever makes you angry and anxious and ill at ease is usually some sort of perceived threat. Make sure that you take steps to protect yourself. For example, if you’re robbed or your identity is stolen, don’t neglect taking the necessary steps to cancel credit cards and alert credit reporting organizations for the sake of letting it go. Furthermore, letting you anger go does not mean you should accept what was done to you; hire a lawyer if you need to defend yourself or your property, or prosecute someone who is liable for an illegal act against you.
Displace the Anger
It will take time, but soon you will need to find a way to stop revisiting the harm or insult done to you. The negativity will occupy your mind. But the law of occupied space states that that an object can only occupy one place at a time. The same holds true for thoughts and emotions. Your mental health and quality of life demand that you occupy the space in your mind with positive thoughts and emotions. It must be a priority. How can you achieve this?
- Do the things that relax and entertain you
- Enjoy the company of friends and family
- Practice the hobbies that bring you happiness
- Invest time, resources and energy in bettering yourself
- Exercise to elevate your mood with endorphins
The act of forgiveness is not letting someone off the hook, it does not mean that you will trust a transgressor or let them back into your life (in some cases, it can). Forgiveness is something that you do for yourself. It means that you’re strong, confident and in a great place in your life, and that you won’t allow the poison of anger to destroy what you’ve achieved in your life. It means that you’re not trapped in one repetitive loop of a moment that’s only a small part of an incredible and unique life.
Alex is a blogger at The Kyle Law Firm in New Braunfels, Texas. He wants to become a stronger person by forgiving others for their mistakes.