“He who angers you conquers you.” – Elizabeth Kenny
Sometimes people make us angry, and we find it hard to let go of that anger; it burns away inside of us, growing and eating away. Yet by allowing that person to make us angry, indeed by us choosing to allow that person to make us angry (for in reality nobody can make us feel any emotion without our permission, but that’s a topic for another day), we are giving them power over us which does not serve us well. It is unhealthy and it harms us.
I remember when my role was facing redundancy and the immediate aftermath. It was not the most fun time I’ve ever had, although I recognise that it actually turned out to be one of the greatest opportunities I have ever had, of course. However, at the time, my emotions were running rather raw, especially as it was wholly unexpected and came as a bolt from the blue. Colleagues were generally sympathetic (if not more shocked than I was) and said supportive things when they saw me. With one exception, the site director who whilst not my actual manager had been my de facto local manager for my entire time there. He kept his distance, never said a word to me throughout the entire process, didn’t even say goodbye. Looking back I have no doubt that he had his reasons. I could even speculate as to what they might be although that doesn’t help anyone other than to realise that it is possible that if I were in his situation I might have even done the same; something I’ll never know. Looking back, I do believe there was no element of maliciousness involved.
However, for days afterwards I just couldn’t get that out of my head. It felt like some sort of betrayal (even though he had no input to the decision and would not have been able to exert any influence upon it whatsoever – in short, even had he wanted to there was nothing he could have done to have the decision changed), after 13 years of loyal service, I’d been ignored. How could he? And so on. The more I thought about it, the more it hurt and the angrier I got. I started imagining what would happen if I bumped into him in town, how I’d either give him a piece of my mind or I’d blank him completely, that’d show him… You can imagine how I was feeling there, it’s quite possible you have felt (or even still feel) the same way about people from your past. Think back over your past and I’ll bet there are people for whom you still hold some anger or resentment for what they ‘did’ – you are nodding already aren’t you!
Of course, all the while I was growing this festering anger (at someone who was not even responsible for what had happened), I was not able to focus on anything else; I was not able to think clearly about what to do next, about where to take my life, about what I wanted to do now I’d been afforded a most wonderful opportunity. It was eating away at me and if I carried on like that then it doesn’t bear thinking about where I’d end up.
Fortunately, I have a very good process which I offer to some of my clients which enables them to very quickly forgive others for what has happened and to let it all go and to move on with their lives. It’s a very powerful process, and a quick one (takes under half an hour), and one which I’m turning into a product which will be available for anyone who wants to purchase it in the near future. So I gave myself a metaphorical kick and used this process on myself.
And oh boy what a massive difference it made! I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted, I could see clearly, I felt no anger to anyone let alone my ex site director. I felt so liberated. For the first time in over a week I was free! Freed from my self-imposed shackles of anger and resentment, the anger was no longer controlling or blinding me, and I was able to start to focus on my future.
I’m happy to report that I met my ex site director a few days later in the local pub one lunchtime, bought him a beer, and we had a great old chat about all sorts of things, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Something I would not have been able to do if I was still holding on to that pointless anger.
In this case, my anger was not really even justified. However, suppose my anger had been ‘justified’ in that this chap had been responsible for my position going? Well, even then, my anger would not have been constructive or helpful – it sure would not have affected him, it would simply have eaten away at me and ensured I was not able to move on. So even there using my process to forgive would have been of tremendous benefit to me.
When you hold on to anger toward someone, regardless of what they did or didn’t do, it doesn’t affect them; chances are they have long since forgotten the incident. All if does it hold you back.
What incidents can you think of through your life which have caused you to hold on to some anger towards someone? It might even be anger toward your younger self (which is more common than we might like to admit!). Just pause a moment and consider what that anger is doing to you – think of how it might be holding you back, hurting you. And realise it is not affecting them in any way whatsoever.
It’s time to start to let go of that old anger, to forgive the person for what they did or didn’t do – they have moved on, it’s time you allowed yourself that same privilege, letting go of the past and moving on to face the future from a much more empowered position. After all, even if they did do something nasty, why should you let them continue to have power and hold over you in the form of your festering anger?