If you’re a human being, you’ve felt angry at one point or another. You’ve likely experienced somewhere close to the entire range of human emotion. But some emotions are more challenging to manage than others. Like anger and resentment. These are two of the most difficult emotions to cope with, even as adults. So today, we’ll offer some tips and advice on letting these heavy feelings go.
Anger vs. Resentment: The Difference
Anger and resentment go hand-in-hand, but let’s be clear:
They’re not the same thing.
Anger is a natural, understandable response to real or imagined unfairness or injustice. Anger serves the purpose of driving us into action when injustice takes place. Yet, when left unchecked, it only ends up hurting us more.
That’s where resentment comes into play. Anger is a natural response to injustice in the moment. Yet, resentment is the lingering feeling of ill-will toward someone long afterward.
Why Is It Important To Let Go?
Letting go is essential because your long-term mental and physical health and wellbeing depend on it.
There’s the age-old saying, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Or, “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
These famous sayings come from folks like Nelson Mandela, St. Augustine, and Buddha. They also wouldn’t be popular worldwide if there weren’t some truth to them.
Here’s a fact, whether you’re aware of it or not:
Holding on to anger and resentment can increase your blood pressure and your stress. It can also weaken your immune system and even lead to depression. So it’s of dire importance to develop the emotional intelligence necessary to let things go.
The road ahead might be long and complex, but you can live a more centered and forgiving life if you follow these seven tips.
Identify the Source
Identifying the source of your anger is easier because you’re experiencing it live and in the moment. Resentment gets tricky, though, because if enough time has passed, you might not even remember why you were angry in the first place.
Make sure you’re in a safe place before venturing back into painful memories. Feeling that you’re safe is essential to fully accessing the subconscious mind and the emotions it can activate.
Identifying the source of resentment requires that you go back through your memory to pinpoint something that happened which you haven’t yet let go of.
Try your best to replay these emotional memories from an unbiased point of view. That way, you only observe the facts and have a clearer picture of how things unfolded.
Take Responsibility for Your Feelings
Allow yourself the space to feel the anger again. Notice physical sensations that arise as you replay moments in your head and what triggers them.
At this stage, you must separate your conscious mind from the physical sensations of anger. For example, your heart rate might increase. Or you might clench your fists or notice tension in other parts of your body.
Understand that this person or event triggered negative emotions in you. But it’s ultimately your responsibility to manage and cope with them. Even if the emotional harm was intentional.
You don’t need an apology to let go.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Practicing meditation is one of the healthiest ways to manage negative emotions that drain your energy.
Take a timeout.
Regather your thoughts and self-control.
It doesn’t matter whether you meditate for ten minutes in the morning or an hour in the afternoon. Practicing any relaxation technique will empower you to cope with a vast array of negative emotions.
When it comes to letting go of anger and resentment, relaxing doesn’t always help. It’s not always as simple as breathing to calm yourself down, and this is where physical exercise comes in.
Physical exertion can be highly cathartic. And regular exercise will help to exhaust the excess negative energy that comes from holding onto anger and resentment.
Run for twenty minutes, and you’ll feel much less anger afterward!
Learn Kindness and Compassion
Forgiveness is one thing.
But showing kindness and compassion toward the people you resent or are angry with will change the entire game for you. So, try to do your best to empathize and understand what the other person feels, what they’ve gone through, and everything that’s led to the way they are today.
Showing kindness and compassion is the active and positive form of “not holding a grudge.” So don’t tell yourself not to hold a grudge (for which there is no practical application).
Instead, remind yourself to show kindness and compassion!
Talk With a Professional
Negative emotions like anger and resentment can be complex. You might feel so tied up in overwhelming feelings that you don’t know where to begin.
It helps to talk with a professional, whether it’s a psychologist or counselor.
Meeting with a mental health expert will help you navigate your own psyche. It’ll also help organize your thoughts and emotions in a way that brings clarity and understanding for you.
Doing so will help you release the pent-up anger and resentment.
Mental health should be a priority for everyone, no matter what. So don’t hesitate to ask others for help (even if you think you don’t need it)!
Understand That It’s a Process
If letting go of anger and resentment were easy, there wouldn’t be any angry people in the world. Unfortunately, it’s never as simple as pressing a button, but it is, in fact, possible.
It could take days, months, even years. But if you start now, you’re guaranteed to learn a whole lot about yourself and grow into a stronger and more confident person in the process.
Letting go of anger and resentment isn’t easy. But with these seven strategies, living a happier life is possible!
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with The Hartley at Blue Hill Park to help them with their online marketing.