How to get over anger, frustration, and resentment, and find peace.
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger." Ephesians 4:31.
If you hold grudges, hold on to anger like it is your shield, and clutch past hurts to your chest and dare anyone to take them away, you are only hurting yourself. There is a better way to live with peace and contentment and acceptance.
I have done all the destructive things associated with anger and resentment. I was angry with so many people that I couldn't even list them all. But if I had tried to make a list, my own name would have been at the top in bold, capital letters. I often felt consumed with anger mad at everything from people to cancer to addiction, and everything in between.
The realization that anger was ruling my life came to me suddenly one day when I was busy feeling sorry for myself over some insignificant comment that someone had made. Something (I believe that it was God) made me see that I was wasting my time and energy on the most negative of emotions. It's true that many difficult things had happened in my life, and anger was an understandable reaction, but it was time to let it go. I then set myself on a path to do so.
The first thing I learned when I began to try to make sense of and get rid of the anger was one of the most important lessons I've ever learned. My anger was not hurting anyone but me. It had chipped away at all the good things in my life until they were almost non-existent. My heart was getting hard, and I had little compassion for anyone. I had lost the ability to empathize or sympathize with others. I felt bad, almost physically ill, most of the time. I had physical pain and emotional pain. My relationship with God had deteriorated to me telling Him how bad my life was on a daily basis.
The next thing that happened is that God sent me help in the form of a wise friend. She had been through many of the same difficult experiences that I had and had overcome serious anger issues. At first, I resisted her help because even though I knew that the anger was robbing me of my sanity, I was to a point of being comfortable with it, and change can be very difficult.
My friend was patient, and she shared what had worked for her. She made a few suggestions such as journaling, exercise, and meditation, and they all made perfect sense. However, the last thing that she told me to do made me think that she was insane.
She told me to pray for the people that I was angry with. She said to pray for them to have everything that I would wish for myself and to pray for their general well being. This suggestion was way over the top! Why would I pray for them? I didn't wish good things for them.
But after a while, as I continued to suffer, I decided that I'd try it. I knew it wouldn't work, and then I could go tell her I thought she was crazy! As it turned out, she wasn't crazy. I remember nearly choking on the words the first time I prayed for everyone that I was angry with, but I got through it, and after about a week, I felt an indescribable feeling of freedom. I could then focus on things like cancer and addiction (the targets of my anger that I couldn't pray for), and I began to accept the changes that they had brought to my life. I began to deal with anger and resentment on an as-needed basis instead of letting it build to an unmanageable level. It's much easier to cope with one situation at a time than it is to be lost in the middle of a lifetime of anger.