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 Blooming Stars

Letting Go off Anger

            I am often asked as to how to let go of anger. And my answer is simple. If your anger serves a useful, beneficial purpose, keep it; if not, let it go. Very easily said; very difficult to put it into practice. In about 45 years of mental health practice in the USA and India, I cannot recall a single person who said that holding on to anger has been helpful. But how can we let it go? The first thing is to want to let go of it. This denotes the intention to release the anger. Once the will to let go of anger is set in motion, and the informed decision that letting go is more advantageous than holding onto it is made, sheer enlightened self-interest kicks in. Enlightened self-interest is the result of a well-executed assessment that holding on to anger is more harmful to the person who clings onto it than to the person at whom it is directed. In reality a negative and burdensome emotion is renting space in the inner life of a person.

            It negatively influences that person and weighs that person down while receiving no rent. Once the conscious decision to let go is made, the emotions will fall in line. In technical terms, the emotional, affective release will follow the intentional, cognitive release. Emotions are charged energies like spirited horses ready to prance; but they need to be reined in and directed in the direction by the mind. The emotional release will take time depending on personality factors, level of maturity, spiritual disposition, and one’s own world-view. A person who is cynical, has a distrustful view of life; a person who had an overwhelmingly negative experience of the hostile world around in early years of life will have extreme difficulty in letting go of anger. This person will have great difficulty in forgiving for his/her own good. On the other hand, a person who is secure, and has very little need for controlling others, and has an optimistic outlook on life will have little difficulty in letting go of cumbersome anger that damages him/her.

            Letting go of anger becomes easier and easier as time goes by, and also as one experiences the benefits of it. As a result of letting go, one becomes more compassionate, understanding, empathic, tolerant, and aware; less judgmental, less dogmatic, and less critical; one is less tired, more energetic and enthusiastic, more accepting of self and others, and sleeps better; one enjoys life more fully. Viktor Frankel, a great Austrian psychiatrist, let go of his anger, channeled his energies, and survived the most abject of human conditions in a Nazi concentration camp; found meaning in life, and founded Logotherapy, a form of Existential Analysis - Existential Therapy. His wife and his parents were killed in concentration camps. Christ asked for forgiveness in one of his last statements on the cross for those who physically and emotionally abused, tormented, and crucified him. He said: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23, 34). Persons who cause suffering to others, and occasion anger in them truly suffer from ignorance (avidya). If nothing else works, the fact they are ignorant, and the fact they are their own worst enemies is an adequate reason to let go of anger and to make the best out of life for all.


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