Healing Anger

by Mark Ivar Myhre on October 25, 2010

I was so freaked out the other day because of what somebody said to me.

I carried the anger with me as I drove down to Eugene to pick up some blueprints and construction materials.

About twenty minutes into the drive I started thinking about it, since I hate to hold onto any emotion like this.  I know it’s not healthy, and besides, I have a reputation to uphold, right?

So I reviewed the facts:

I am holding onto this anger because I was wronged.

However, I am the one who created the wrong.

It’s like walking out into the back yard, and tripping over a rock.  And then getting mad at the rock.  Or it’s like walking out in the woods and stirring up a wasp nest and then getting stung, and then getting mad at the insects.

Hey, wasps sting.  That’s what they do.  Especially those yellow jackets that build their nests in the ground.  If you’ve ever walked past one of their nests, you never forget it.  They’ll make sure of it.  That’s what they do.

Just like rocks sticking out of the ground trip you up if you’re not careful when you step over them.  That’s what they do.

And in my case, I’m talking to someone who’s just acting the way they always act.  (And I’m not going to dignify this person by specifying a gender, so I’ll continue to use the plural pronoun.)

Why am I so surprised when they act the way they always do?

Why am I surprised when I walk past a nest of yellow jackets and they sting me?

And why in the world would I get righteously angry about it?

See, it’s one thing to get angry.  Anger is a beautiful emotion when expressed cleanly, and then released completely.  It’s invigorating, like a Florida thunderstorm on a summer afternoon.

But when I start telling myself stories about the anger, everything changes.  The anger starts to get ugly.

And it’s not like I wasn’t wronged.  I WAS wronged the other day.  I really was.

But here’s the thing:

When we don’t see the big picture, it’s like we’re always getting wronged.  ALL THE TIME.

It’s wrong those street lights turn red just when I’m approaching them.  On a more poignant and serious level, it’s wrong I was shamed as a child and it almost killed me.  And I spent decades flailing about, trying to get that invisible monkey off my back.

That’s the little picture, which always produces a little story.

The other day, my little story got me riled up.  I was wronged.  Well of course I was.  That’s what this person does.  They’re acting out their nature. Water is wet.  Rocks are hard.  This person dumps their shame on others.  No mystery there.

The only mystery is why in the world, with everything I know, why am I hanging onto this anger?

Once I reminded myself of these facts, then it became a simple matter to disengage my story of being wronged from the actual feelings of anger.

First you let go of the story.

Then you can feel the feelings cleanly.  For as long as you want.  Which may be a few minutes, at most.  Then you release them completely.

It’s a simple formula, and it works well.

But I’m sure you see the problem here.  No one wants to let go of the story of how they were wronged.

It’s easy to feel anger and let it go.  It’s hard to drop the story.

(Well, it’s not REALLY hard, but it sure seems that way!)

It’s a matter of perspective and priority and hidden agendas.  It starts with perspective.  When my perspective is small and narrow and limited, then of course I’m going to get righteous when someone does me wrong.

I can’t even see the bigger picture, for many reasons.

I become the victim; I AM the victim.  And I WILL BE the victim.  Nothing changes.  If you’re righteously angry today, then most likely you’ll be righteously angry tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and the day after…

It’s a cycle you can become trapped in.  The anger slowly eats you alive.  Or the fear or the bitterness or the resentment or the hurt or whatever.  And it all starts from not having a clear perspective.

I just can’t see anything differently.  I can’t imagine things being different than the way they are.  That’s the problem.

That’s the problem I had for many, many years.  And my life reflected it.  I REALLY WAS a victim.  I wasn’t just pretending to be a victim.  I really was being wronged.  Almost everyday.

But in the back of my mind, I always knew it didn’t have to be this way.  I just didn’t know what to do about it.

I searched for decades to find the answers that would work for ME.  Reading books such as “Think And Grow Rich” just didn’t do it for me.  Not because the information wasn’t valid.

Rather, it was because they never addressed the different blockages I had.

It’s easy to tell people what they need to do to be successful.  Way too easy.

It’s hard to tell people HOW to overcome what stops them from success.

Oh, I’ve come across plenty of gimmicks.  But not much that really worked.

As you might imagine, I finally did discover exactly what to do.  But since I never found it all compiled together in one package I ended up writing the book myself.

I spent decades seeking the information.  And I spent about three years writing it all down once I found it.  I finished my final draft about ten years ago.

I wasn’t much of a writer, and I certainly didn’t have all the answers.  I just wrote the damn book anyway.  And over the last ten years, as I learned more, I added to the book.  And as I worked on my writing technique, I revised the book some more.

Is it perfect?

No.  But it’s good enough.

It tells you way more than you need to know about how to turn your life around.  It gives you the perspective.  It also gives you the answers about why you block yourself from ‘thinking and growing rich’.  Whether we’re talking in monetary terms or the more important emotional riches.

Because what’s the use of having money if you’re miserable?

Perspective.  Perceiving and understanding.  That’s where it starts.

Well, actually it starts by clicking the link below.


And here’s the rest of the story from my recent trip to Eugene:

I ended up having a wonderful day.  That other person, I would imagine, continued their misery.

Living well is the best revenge.   It starts by clicking the link below.



Nobuo Obukuro October 25, 2010 at 11:43 am

looking forward to get it

Echo Foxtrot October 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Dear Mark,
Thanks for your great work.
One thing that helps me to “strategically space out” is to listen to white noise (or the sound of a waterfall or brook, etc.) You can download a file and put it on a mp3 player. Put the mp3 player on track repeat, and you can listen to it as you sleep (or chill out).

George October 25, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Thanks so much for this Mark. Anger has been a tricky problem for me for years. Just when I think I’ve put it past me, something stirs up past resentments and things get jumbled in my head for a while. I do my best to look at all the good things in my life right now considering what I went through last year. It’s tough to get those stains off of my heart and soul and maybe they’ll never fully be removed, but in the end, it’s necessary and worth it. And yes, living well truly is the best revenge.

Kathy October 26, 2010 at 5:29 am

Great article. I love your work. Thanks for this great reminder of letting go. Such a “coincidence” that I journaled about letting go this am.

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