“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.” -Buddah
Rare is the individual who doesn’t have feelings of anger or disappointment towards some member or members of their family. After all, we’re all human, imperfect and limited in our perspectives.
I can conjure up grievances small and large from my childhood, young adult-hood and present life. I have felt victimized, deprived, misunderstood, not seen and unsupported.
Sometimes I’m in touch with my anger; sometimes it turns inward and manifests as depression.
I’ve worked with therapists and a variety of healers to uproot, shift and release my anger but it was two coaches* who taught me the three step process below which has radically changed my life and those of my clients.
3 Steps To Transforming Anger
1. What’s My Contribution To The Situation?
Sit down with pen and paper and take 3 deep, cleansing breaths. Bring to mind a situation about which you feel victimized, resentful or angry. If you are recalling an early childhood experience, move onto #2. Leaning into the situation and emotions, consider how you contribute/contributed to the situation.
I know this is a hard one. Anger and pain often make us self-righteous: It’s all their fault! Looking for and acknowledging our part in a situation returns us to the reality that we are at choice and we are participants.
For example, I carried a huge burden of anger at my ex-husband for how he talked to me and treated me. I also recognize that I contributed by not speaking up, by sublimating my own needs and by not leaving sooner.
Recognizing our role doesn’t mean condoning the other person’s behavior; it means owning our own because our own behavior is the only behavior we can change.
Write down notes about your contribution to the situation.
2. Reclaim Power
I was completely amazed when my coach pointed out that continuing to internalize my anger or to feel victimized was a way in which I gave my power away. Forgiveness is the other side of the coin, it’s the act by which we reclaim our power.
Close your eyes and envision one of the people or situations you’re angry about, tolerating, enduring or feel victimized by. Feel the feelings, as uncomfortable as they are. Remember and feel. Now in your mind say to that person or situation: I am willing to forgive you because I am ready to reclaim the power I’ve given over to you/the situation.
What I like about saying it this way is that it shows that you’re willing — you may truly feel feelings of forgiveness, or you may not yet … or ever. Being willing is enough.
You may also find your own phrases emerging, like, “I forgive you for not loving me the way I wanted to be loved, and now I’m ready to take my power back” or “I forgive you for treating me in a way that wasn’t acceptable to me, and now I’m ready to take my power back.”
Write down notes about your forgiveness experience.
Once you’ve sent forgiveness to the person or situation that you’ve been resenting, there’s one more part to this process: Self-forgiveness. After all, we played a part at the time, or even now by continuing to carry around the resentment.
I needed to forgive myself, my past self, for not knowing how to take care of my needs; for staying too long; for not setting a boundary; for not standing up for myself.
Closing your eyes again, take a moment to allow a waterfall of self-compassion and self-forgiveness wash over you. You didn’t know a better way to take care of yourself at the time, but now you do, and you can make “living amends” to yourself as you move forward in your life now.
Write down notes about your self-forgiveness experience.
For a full holiday and New Year purge, sit down and make a list of all the situations and people you resent from childhood to present. Set aside 15 minutes a day to go through steps 1-3 with each situation. Revisit any people or situations that still have a negative emotional charge.
If you struggle with enjoying your life, with releasing anger and forgiving, I would be honored to support you in creating a fulfilled and authentic life. All first sessions are about discovering what’s possible for you and there’s never a cost for that.
* Thank you Barb Wade and Tess Whitehurst!
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: 3 Ways Transform Your Anger Into Power.