Have you ever been so angry that you stomped your foot, hit your car horn, screamed at your loved ones, or walked around with a scowl, mad at the world?

Yes, it’s normal to feel angry, frustrated, and grumpy; after all, we are mere mortals. Yet, if anger takes over your life, it will interfere with your health and wellness, leading you down the path of self-pity, martyrdom, and resentment.

Nelson Mandela had this to say about anger upon leaving prison, “Yes, I was angry. And I was a little afraid. After all, I had not been free for so long. But when I felt anger well up inside of me, I realized if I hated them all after I stepped outside that gate, they would still have control over me. I wanted to be free, so I let go.”

Here are life-changing facts about anger (adapted from the Daily Good):

  1. It’s easier to feel anger than hurt, pain, fear, or sadness. When you’re angry, it’s important to look behind the anger. What caused it? What about the incident or the relationship caused such pain? Are you able to meet the depth of the experience with supreme kindness? You might be surprised at what you discover. Think about something that made you very angry, write it out. Try to look at it through kind eyes.
  2. Anger brings out fierce emotions. Take notice of your bodily sensations when you’re angry. Is your face tense, are your lips pursed, are you suddenly sweating, is your heart racing, are you breathing fast, talking rapidly, screaming? Sit and feel your emotions.
  3. Are you a perfectionist? Take a look at yourself. Are you super critical of yourself? Do you set high standards and berate yourself with negative self-talk if you don’t meet them? If so, start introducing compassion or love when anger rears its head in the form of perfectionism.
  4. Do your stories sustain your anger? We all create stories that we tell ourselves about this person or that person. To free yourself from anger, you must recognize the story you keep repeating. For example, as an adult child of an alcoholic, I had a lot of anger towards my mom and very little compassion. That story did nothing but reinforce my sense of martyrdom (poor little me). When I was able to open up the story, see how hard it was for my mother to grow up in a house filled with depression, have a husband who died by suicide, and be a woman scorned by her family, I could call up compassion and give up anger.

Some strategies to help you do this are:

  • Open up to compassion for everyone, including yourself.
  • Recognize that you are continually examining the past by bringing it into the present.
  • Forgive yourself and take actions that allow for expression and grace.
  • Speak up and advocate for actions that enhance well-being.
  • Set healthy boundaries for yourself, hit pause when life gets to be a struggle, and never be afraid to take time to rejuvenate.