My History with Anger and How I Finally Let Go of It, Part 3: Healing From My Anger

This is part three of my five-part anger series, sharing my history with anger, how I have consciously decided to let go of it, along with a guide on how you can overcome anger as well.

  1. My History with Anger and How I Finally Let Go of It, Part 1: Growing Up in a Household of Anger
  2. My History with Anger and How I Finally Let Go of It, Part 2: The Damaging Effects of Anger
  3. My History with Anger and How I Finally Let Go of It, Part 3: Healing From My Anger
  4. How To Deal with Anger: Your Gentle Guide to Removing Anger for Life
  5. What to Do When You Live with Angry People: 7 Tips

Releasing Anger

Quick Note from Celes: Are you doing your part for cancer research? Run For Hope Singapore is an annual charity event held in Singapore to raise much-needed funds for cancer research. The run this year will be held on 18 November, Sunday, with a target of 10,000 runners!

Do your part for cancer research and sign up as a runner; subsequently, if you don’t wish to run, you are more than welcome to pitch in a donation (even if a small amount). More details at the Run for Hope website; registration ends the end of this month! Let’s all do our part to help out with cancer research!

How I Am Currently Working Through My Anger

While I have made the decision to let go of anger, anger resolution is a process, rather than a binary event, for we are talking about anger that was built up since childhood.

The following six steps are how I’m dissolving my anger permanently. You may find them useful for your situation as well.

1. Being Conscious of My Anger

After my friend brought my anger to my awareness a year ago, I began working on being conscious of my anger.

While I used to be 100% unconscious of times when I was angry (I would think that my ticked reactions were “normal” or that I wasn’t angry when I really was), I’m now aware of the times when I’m angry. I’m also aware of moments where I’m not angry yet but I can feel anger about to stir—an awareness which I find invaluable. Additionally, I’m also aware of specific things that tick me, i.e., my anger triggers.

Having developed consciousness of my anger, this then leads to Step 2.

2. Understanding the Source of the Anger

After realizing that my anger has never been external; it is internal, I focus on understanding the true source of my anger every time I get angry, rather than seek for a solution in the external world (which had never resolved my anger anyway).

I do that by using the root cause exercise, where I keep asking myself “Why am I angry? Why does this make me angry? Why? Why? Why?” to get down to the bottom of my anger.

Example: Irritation from Kids’ Screams or Cries

For as long as I could remember (up until I began healing this issue), I would be ticked whenever I heard kids screaming (at the top of their lungs) or crying. Such screams and cries are very frequent occurrences in my neighborhood.

Whenever I heard them, it would feel like a siren went off in my head. I would feel like ripping a piece of paper to shreds or hitting someone with an object. I wouldn’t be able to do anything constructive because I would be so intensely annoyed by the screams. I would feel incapacitated.

I used to deal with this annoyance by (a) shutting out the noise, (b) changing to a quieter environment, or (c) blasting music to block out the screams. The methods would work to varying degrees, but were merely short-term measures. As soon I heard the screams or cries again, I would feel frustrated all over again.

After realizing that anger isn’t external but internal, I then took a different tack—I dug into myself to understand why I would always be so pissed off by the screams and cries of kids and babies.

Root Cause #1: Anger at My Helplessness

(Blue = Answers from my subconsciousness.)

  • “Why am I angry?”
    • I’m angry because these kids just keep crying over and over!
  • “Why am I angry with them crying? What’s wrong with that?”
    • I hate the fact that they are so helpless. They can’t do anything. They are good-for-nothings.
  • “Is it their fault that they are helpless? They are just babies and kids!”
    • I know… I just can’t stand helplessness.
  • What is the real problem here?”
    • Seeing their helplessness reminds me of my helplessness. It reminds me of how I used to be helpless as a child, trapped in the middle of my parents’ arguments. It reminds me of how I continue to be helpless today, surrounding the state of my family and the animosity my family members have towards each other.

I felt a “thud” in my heart when I heard that from my subconsciousness. I had been reacting in anger all this while to my own helplessness. I had been so pissed off at the kids’ cries and screams because they reminded me of my own helplessness in my past and in my present life.

Root Cause #2: Childhood Resentment of My Parents

Here is another set of answers I got from doing the exercise in another setting.

  • “Why am I angry?”
    • Because the kids are really freaking noisy! Why are they screaming at the top of their lungs like that?
  • “Why am I angry at that? They are kids—of course they are going to scream without restraint.”
    • Because they are disrupting my peace and quiet!
  • “Why is it so important to have my peace and quiet?”
    • Because I was never able to get my peace and quiet when I was young. All I want is just some privacy and quiet time with myself today, as an adult. Can’t I get that?
  • “…What am I really angry at here?”
    • I’m angry at my parents for taking away my peace and quiet when I was young. I’m angry at them for taking away my childhood from me.

Wow, I had thought. It was finally starting to make sense. I had been so angry at noise disruptions all this while, since I could remember, because my head was still filled with the yellings and shoutings of my parents from when I was young. That was why even the slightest noise would irk me. This was why my ears would be so sensitive to even the littlest of sounds.

I wasn’t really angry at the kids for “taking away my peace and quiet”. I was really reacting from my childhood anger at my parents for taking away my peace and quiet when I was a child. This was why my reaction to the screams of kids would be so violent—I was displaying compounded anger from since young.

Root Cause #3: Anger at My Lack of Consideration for Others

And finally, the last set of answers:

  • “Why am I angry?”
    • Because these kids are being so inconsiderate. They are just screaming around without considering others’ need for privacy!
  • “Why am I angry about that?”
    • Because inconsiderate people have no regard for other people. They are among the worst kind of people to be around.
  • “Why am I angry about that?”
    • Because it reminds me of how I can be very inconsiderate of others’ needs. It’s something I hate about myself. I wish to be more mindful of others needs and never hurt or implicate other people because of my callousness or insensitivity.

Rounding Up

Ah, ah, and ah. As it turned out, I was never really angry at the kids or the babies. My anger at them was an expression of my latent anger toward myself, my parents, and my past.

No wonder I would react so violently whenever there was a kid screaming or crying. It wasn’t the kid’s screaming or crying I was reacting to per se. It was my past and my inner issues that I was reacting to.

(Read more about the relationship between our annoyances with ourselves and our annoyances at others in Day 22: Mirror an Annoyance of Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program.)

So nowadays, every time I experience a hint of anger, I would do this self-questioning exercise. Each time, I would get a new dash of insight. Sometimes, I would get a huge revelation. Each of them would reflect an inner wound that had not been healed yet. I would then work on healing these wounds, as per Step 3.

3. Healing My Inner Wounds

If I want to permanently resolve my anger (read: no longer feel anger), I need to heal my inner wounds, one at a time. Otherwise, I would be infuriated each time I’m exposed to my anger triggers. I would be looped in an angry cycle.

Healing my inner wounds means processing the issues hidden underneath each feeling of anger. That means examining each issue, one by one, examining my beliefs, questioning them, challenging them, then forming new empowering beliefs in their place.

Example: My Repressed Anger with My Parents

One of my inner wounds, which I shared under Root Cause #2 under Step 2 above, was that I resented my parents for my emotionally violent childhood. It was not an active feeling of resentment, but a passive one. The person who felt the resentment was my childhood self.

However, if I were to review my life in totality and clarify my feelings toward my parents, am I really angry at them? No, I’m not. I am more than grateful to my parents for everything they have done for me. I am grateful to them for the love they have shown for me, the (silent) support they have given me, and their non-oppressive presence in my life. I’m grateful to them for bringing me into this world. I’m grateful to them for being strong, sturdy, pillars of my life.

My parents’ incessant arguments since young… that is just the way it is. It’s unfortunate that they had to argue. It’s unfortunate that they still argue every here and there (but then again, one can see this as a normalcy in some married couples’ lives). It’s unfortunate that they have such fundamental differences with each other. It’s unfortunate that my household carries an air of disharmony at times.

But… so what? I have my parents with me. I have my dad. I have my mom. I have my family under the same roof. I have the opportunity to improve my relationships with each of them. I have the chance to right past wrongs with them. I have the chance to love them and express my love to them today.

Some people don’t even get that opportunity, whether because their parents have passed on or because they don’t even know who their parents are. Who am I to b*tch and complain?

Realizing that the past was the way it was and my parents really dealt with their differences the best way they could, the best way they knew how (by trashing out their grievances with each other), helped me to let go of my anger. For my parents never had any ill intentions toward me when they were arguing, be it with each other or with me. They also never intended to make me an angry person. I just grew up angry because I picked on their angry energy.

Now, whose fault is that? Nobody’s. It just simply was the way it was.

Having resolved this inner wound, I no longer get irked by my past anger triggers linked with parental resentment (e.g., babies crying, kids screaming). That’s because my past anger to those triggers was merely a reflection of my childhood resentment at my parents. Now that I have “cleaned out” that resentment, I no longer have any anger to release surrounding it.

My Other Inner Wounds

As for my other inner wounds, it’s about working through them one by one, in the same manner I have worked through my repressed anger at my parents. How do I know that I have completely “cleaned out” a wound? When I no longer react in anger to the anger trigger (see Step 1) associated with that wound (see Step 2), i.e., a state of neutrality.

(For more about how to achieve this state of neutrality, read Day 22: Mirror an Annoyance of Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program.)

4. Releasing My Anger

While I work on healing my latent anger (via Steps 2 and 3), I make sure that I don’t accumulate new anger.

Meaning, if I’m ever in situations where I feel infuriated, I will release this anger to the universe right away.

Irritation from being stuck in traffic jams? Unhappy with sloppily done work which didn’t meet my expectations? Annoyances with people who impose their worldviews on me? Irked by people who are slow pokes and stand in my way? I simply imagine opening a hatch in my heart and releasing my negative energy out into the universe, for it to be recycled into positive energy.

5. Recognizing No One Owes Me Anything

Some of my past anger would be anger at people who behaved me in an unjust manner.

“This person shouldn’t have said that to me,” I would think. Or, “That person shouldn’t have behaved so rudely toward me.” I would harbor anger toward those people and expect an apology or two before I would consider rekindling the friendship or re-establishing contact.

However… after realizing that anger at other people solves nothing, and that the person I damage the most when I’m angry is myself and not anybody else (as I shared in part 2), it got me thinking about how I should immediately work on releasing anger that I was holding toward others, as there was nothing to gain from fuming by myself.

As I pondered for a way to release that anger, I suddenly came to a realization that—hey—there is actually nothing, no reason, no basis, for me to be angry with those people, or anyone in this world for that matter. Why? Because no one owes me anything. Everyone has his/her right to do whatever he/she pleases, and there is no reason why I should expect him/her to behave otherwise.

Meaning, if so-and-so person rebukes me rudely, there is nothing for me to feel angry about because it’s not like he/she has a responsibility to be polite to me. If so-and-so person does me wrong, sure it wouldn’t feel pleasant at all for me, but there is nothing for me to feel angry about because it’s not like he/she has a responsibility to do me right.

So does that mean that I should let people treat me poorly? No, not at all.

It simply means that (a) instead of fuming at random people for one or two petty incidents, I should stop being angry at them and just move on with my life, and (b) I should learn from those encounters and not let them happen again.

So if the original problem was that X person rebuked me, I should learn to stand up for myself the next time that happens. Or if the problem was that Y person did me wrong, then I should be more mindful with him/her the next time, and not let him/her back in until that trust is regained. These actions are way more constructive than sitting around, fuming to myself about said individuals and expecting them to apologize, when they don’t owe me any apologies.

6. No Longer Being Angry at Myself

The last part of the equation is to stop being angry at myself.

I’ve observed that much of my anger is usually anger at myself for letting certain “atrocities” happen to me.

For example, let’s say I’m angry at a random Y person for being rude to me. While on the surface it may appear that I’m angry with Y, I’m actually really angry at myself for allowing someone to be rude to me. I would feel that I have failed myself, because I have not properly shielded myself from the negative agents of the world. I have not done a good job of protecting myself.

However, is it my fault then? Is it my fault that  I had “allowed” Y, or anyone for that matter, to be rude to me?

No, it isn’t. I have simply done the best that I could in that incident. That Y was rude to me, and perhaps hurt me in one way or another, was just an unfortunate outcome. Even if I didn’t stand up for myself during the incident, it would be because of one reason or another, each of which would have its own justification, like not wanting to hurt Y’s feelings and not wanting to be misappropriate in my conduct. Each reason would be justified in its own right.

Rather than hold myself responsible for what had happened and be angry at myself when I had been acting in my best interests, I should work on forgiving myself instead. Whatever it was that I did or didn’t do, I had simply been doing what was best for the situation. There is nothing to be angry about because I had done the best that I could have done in that situation. There was no other way it could have panned out.

Funnily, when I forgive myself about something, I stop feeling angry at the other things and/or people in question. My anger at them have merely been been projections of my anger toward myself all along.

For those with Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program, Day 25: Forgive Yourself shares more details on how to stop being angry at yourself and steps to do so.

Moving Forward & Part 4 of the Anger Series

I’m currently working toward becoming an “angerless” person. I believe it is possible to achieve a state of neutrality in life, even toward the seemingly most “outrageous” things. As and where needed (very rare), I do display anger. But this anger is consciously anger to achieve a certain outcome, and it is anger that is merely projected and not felt or worn in my heart. It is not unconscious anger, which is what 99.99% of people experience. Addressing unconscious anger is what this entire series has been about.

Many of you have left comments (read: part 1′s comments and part 2′s comments) sharing your experiences with anger. Thank you so much for all your open sharing. :) In this part, I’ve shared my personal steps on how I am addressing my anger which I hope you will take heed to apply in your life. I hope you have found my examples helpful in healing from your anger.

In the next part, part 4, you will find a guide, with five timeless steps, on what you can do to let go of your anger. If you are interested in riding anger from your life, you will find this guide instrumentally useful. Check it out here: How To Deal with Anger: Your Gentle Guide to Removing Anger for Life

In the meantime, share your feedback of the series so far, as well as your experiences with anger if you so wish, in the comments section. Remember to pass this article along to someone who may find it helpful; nothing gratifies me more than having my work reach out to more people out there. Thank you and I look forward to reading what you have to share. :)

This is part three of my five-part anger series, sharing my history with anger, how I have consciously decided to let go of it, along with a guide on how you can overcome anger as well.

  1. My History with Anger and How I Finally Let Go of It, Part 1: Growing Up in a Household of Anger
  2. My History with Anger and How I Finally Let Go of It, Part 2: The Damaging Effects of Anger
  3. My History with Anger and How I Finally Let Go of It, Part 3: Healing From My Anger
  4. How To Deal with Anger: Your Gentle Guide to Removing Anger for Life
  5. What to Do When You Live with Angry People: 7 Tips

Images: Release

  • Alexa

    Reading this hit me hard (not in a bad way)! When you talked about being angry at yourself for letting things happen to you, I realized that is much how I think as well. While I often don’t see it as “anger” (rather, I think thoughts of shame and disappointment), I think the emotions I feel are related to anger.

    I think this may be perhaps part of why I am so fearful, I never allow myself to expect good from people! If things don’t go as I wanted, if people don’t respond to me, if I face a lot of rejection, I just see it from the point of view of, “well, looks like I was right, I do suck/these people don’t like me/these people don’t care about me.” So basically I equate anything besides my expectations to people disliking me. Well, that might be an over-statement but I think it’s relevant often enough!

    I think me having these expectations is because I’m trying to protect myself from being hurt. I will associate certain actions of other people with the actions that have hurt me in the past, which really isn’t fair to these new people but I view it as self-preservation. After all, I don’t want to be a fool for falling for the same thing twice!

    I really look forward to your next article(s?) in this series! However even in the mean time, I know that what you talk about here will help me immensely, because I can relate to what you’ve written so far.

    I do have a question though, what are your thought processes when you release your anger into the world? Maybe this is something you will describe in your next article, but I just don’t really know if I can consciously let go of anger when I feel it. I feel like I can’t just simply decide to do that and have it happen. =(

    • Susan

      Dearest Alexa. You are on the path to enlightenment. I used to believe that no one cared about me (when I was in my 20s and 30s). I later realized that my true belief was that no one should care about me because I was not worthy of caring because I was flawed. I changed this belief, once I became aware of it. I now believe that being flawed is the human condition, and that worth does not depend on skill level or perfection. We are all worthy of love, even though we are all flawed. My new mantra is — “I accept myself for all that I am, and all that I’m not.” Just because I am on the path toward improvement does not mean that there is anything wrong with me right now. We can all do better. It is part of never-ending growth. But we are worthy of love now, 10 years from now, and 10 years ago, regarless of our growth status.

    • Celes

      “I do have a question though, what are your thought processes when you release your anger into the world?”

      Hey Alexa! Conscious release of anger where one feels anger does require one to be fairly conscious and in tune with him/herself. Usually it comes after working through the roots of your anger (Step 2) and healing of various inner wounds (Step 3). I think if you find that it’s difficult to release your anger into the world, then it’s best to work on Steps 2 and 3 first.

      Part 4 is coming up soon! I would love to hear what are your thoughts after you read through the guide. Stay tuned Alexa!

  • NGayanP

    Anger leads to frustration, which may turn into depression.

    Sometimes when we are angry, we act rashly and we also blame and punish others. However, we are the ones that end up suffering. Our anger is due to us and not external forces – we control our mind.

    Controlling anger only comes – as you’ve said – by firstly acknowledging it, and then consciously working against it when the thoughts arise. As they say, practice makes perfect, there is no shortcut to it, no magical solution, you just have to consciously train your mind to be aware of your feelings and eventually you will be able to have some control over your thoughts.

    A couple of quotes:

    - “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned”

    - “Suppose someone, to annoy, provokes you to do some evil act, why allow anger to arise and thus do exactly as he wants you to do?”

  • Vasundhara

    Hi celes,

    This anger series is really helpful to me as i was also in the process of becoming more and more conscious about my anger and the actions out of it. I started becoming more conscious about my anger just before this series started and your series is really helpful for me to address all the emotions and cause and effect of anger.

    What i loved most is the explanation about how other people are affected by our anger. Sometimes i used to think that i have hurt them but immediately i will console myself telling that they deserve this because they only made me to think and behave like this and they are the cause of my anger.

    Lets say, if i ask my husband to do anything, first he wont do it immediately and some times he forget also. This really pricks me and at one point of time i burst out. I know the base of my anger is that i expect him to the things immediately and in the same way as i do.I need some ideas and help to get rid of it as my anger and his anger out of it are spoiling our relationship, which is not good.

    So i am eagerly waiting for your next series, where i might get some ideas to get rid of my anger and “be Happily ever after”!!! :D :)

  • Matt

    Thank you for writing this series and sharing your experience. I do experience anger in many situations whether it’s work related, family related, or in other cases. Sometimes I feel like yelling at someone or hitting someone. It’s something I have always kept to myself because there is a certain shame to it. It feels like I shouldn’t be angry or I at least shouldn’t be as angry as I am. I think some people can see that I am angry though even though I rarely share my feelings. I often clench my jaw and people have commented that my brow is often tense.

    Part of what you have pointed out here is that your anger at others has more to do with an inner issue you are recognizing in others. I can definitely relate to that.

    I’m looking forward to the final part of this series.

    • Celes

      Hey Matt, thank you so much for your comment. I like that you mentioned it’s something you have kept to yourself because of a certain feeling of shame. That’s what many people probably feel too, actually, just that they are afraid to talk about it. I think I would have seen my anger as something shameful too in the past.

      It’s definitely important to realize that anger isn’t shameful; it just is. What is truly commendable is when you are able to acknowledge your anger to yourself and you take the step to address your anger. I think that’s more important than anything else.

  • Bob

    Hey Celes,

    Thank you for sharing and caring your insight and how you work with anger.

    I think anger stems from ourselves when we feel that we have not done enough or faced a situation where we feel powerless. This makes us feel extremely unhappy, and some people specialise because of their ego problems getting one up on you.

    I agree that is an inner issue and that we sometimes through no fault of our own haven’t got or had the tools to deal with it when the situation arises. As Matt says above he carries a certain tension in his body – many of us do I still clench my jaw and furrow my brow sometimes. The power as you say is being aware and engaging our brain and intercepting any action which may be detrimental to ourselves and others.

    We may not be able to completely deal with every situation today, but with diligent thought and practice we can prepare ourselves for next time whether it is tomorrow, next week, month and so on.

    I have three quotes on anger that I find pertinent:

    Anger is a feeling that makes your mouth work faster than your mind.

    Don’t make decisions when you are angry. Don’t make promises when you are happy.

    Anger is like a thorn in the heart. Yiddish Proverb

    • Tanders

      I agree. It’s really interesting how a lot of our emotions are self-produced. Also, some past influences may have affected how we see the world now even if they seemed minor prior to in-depth examination. I realized through this article that some of my anger may be a feeling of not fully experiencing something due to barriers in life. Also, a lot of anger is based on social constructs that are easy to take as rote fact. Some of those reasons weaved into other reasons why those problems exists.
      The other day, I turned in a paper a couple of days late and I’ve been rather upset about it even though my professor was rather chill about it and the class policy allowed no more than three late papers to be turned in without penalty and this was only my first one. Still I felt rather mad at myself but I took a chance and asked why. My subconscious went the typical route (because I’m dumb, lazy, unproductive, fill in the blank) but then after the laziness thought, my subconscious said “because I don’t want to be a bad person.” How was turning something in late being a bad person? That was rather shocking. Then I remembered a lecture my martial arts teacher was giving. I didn’t like her at all and she often pushed us way too hard but as I was the student and she was the “master”, I couldn’t fight back (not to mention I was scared to death of her). She essentially told us that procrastination was associated with laziness, sloppiness, and a disregard for the world. If you’re behind, you’ll always be behind and you’ll never do well in society. You’ll end up on the street because of not paying attention. She never once mentioned that people could get back up and catch up from those things and still do well. This also led to the reason of why I could never be open about my procrastination problem because I fear people (especially teachers) would think of me as dumb and I’d have essentially given them a reason to throw me out of school and then my family would never love me again. I even get scared of asking questions about class topics because of looking dumb and looking like a bad person. Best part is none of it is true.
      I care about school and the teachers know that. The school knew I had some smarts and I could contribute to the community otherwise they wouldn’t have taken me in and let me learn all of these valuable lessons. People know that I can do something great and even with these flaws I know I can do good things too. Overall I am a good person. I love life, my parents, my friends, and this community even though I’ve only been with them for a year. Thank you again for sharing this Celes. I hope your journey to a peaceful life keeps getting better and keep on writing! I love your articles.
      Much love, :heart: :hug:

  • JadePenguin

    I’m in the process of fixing this already but…gonna try to find the cause why I would get angry at people not being considerate/intelligent enough. Probably it was anger at myself for not being able to be a good conversationalist and find a connection with them. Without understanding, I would never be able to convey my own thoughts to them. Feeling that the world never listens to me while I would never truly listen to the world either (I used to dismiss people as soon as I realised they were not interested in important issues of the world).

    I’ve found I don’t hate the world as much anymore :)

    • Celes

      Jade, it’s so beautiful how you have used this series to reflect so deeply about yourself. I think it speaks volume about your level of consciousness and your wisdom, especially given your age (I recall you mention that you are still studying in university at the moment). Double kudos to you. :hug:

  • fufu

    Why am I angry at my girlfriend right now? I’m not angry at her..I’m angry at myself for being attracted to other people so much in her absence..I’m angry for not being a good enough partner..and I’m angry for always being the one to not be able to hold her feelings in while she’s always calm and makes me feel unworthy to be her partner and it hurts even more to know that I feel like I’m the one doing bad when I tell this to things to my girlfriend. I feel like I deserve to be leaven, like she deserves a better person and like I deserve for her to be mad at me..and yet..she never does..I don’t get her..and that confuses me..I’m angry for being so honest with her..

    Does the fact that you don’t understand what goes on in your girlfriend’s mind bother you? Yes it does because I like to understand what goes trough other people’s minds or it makes me insecure. I like to imagine what others are thinking of me but I can’t hers because hers because I don’t know what the f*** she’s thinking! It makes me see her as less than a human. It makes me insecure and when I tell her to express herself she doesn’t! It pisses the sh*t out of me!!

    will continue soon

    • Celes

      Hi fufu, that’s really great that you are actively applying the steps and airing your output through the comments section. What you have done is the beginning phase of “understand the source of your anger” (step 2). Continue to work through it and you may find new insights coming your way, after which you can get to step 3, which is on healing your inner wound.

  • Jola

    I’ve been an kid grown in an angry household and I hear you in every word!

  • Span

    I think anger is an acceptable response to bad situations. The first article that the author observed other people reacting in varying negative emotions. I personally think anger is as legitimate a reaction to show as any of the other reactions you stated. Aside from it showing your displeasure to others, you also know to what extent the situation bothers you, doesn’t it? I would think that is an internal indication of what type of follow-up action needs to be taken.

    For me, I find that I primarily get angry when my expectations of people whom I’ve known for a while have been betrayed. But I don’t intend to stop having expectations of other people because my expectations result naturally from me getting to know others better. (I should clarify that when I say that my expectations of others are betrayed, it’s mainly what I expect them to be capable of doing or understanding rather than how they behave socially.) So I kind of disagree that we shouldn’t expect anything out of others. I do agree though that we shouldn’t be holding onto our anger beyond the point where we can learn lessons from it.

    • Celes

      I don’t think the issue is about whether anger is “acceptable” or “not acceptable”. (After all, what is acceptable and what isn’t? Everything is all relative at the end of the day.) The point is that anger isn’t necessary, as explained in Part 1 of the series, and that anger is damaging at the end of the day (as mentioned in part 2). By embracing an anger-free life, one can be happier and live life in a more conscious manner, while still being able to stand up for one’s rights and make decisions in an assertive manner.

  • Beauty Box

    Hi Celes,

    Thank you for writing this series and I’m really looking forward to Part 4. I have a question: How do you deal with friends who disappoint you or do not fulfill your expectations. I understand how to let go when it comes to strangers or acquaintances — I really get the whole “nobody owes you anything” point. But how do we navigate our expectations when it comes to friendships? Do we just also have no expectations? If so, should we continue the friendship if said friend disappoints us in some fundamental way? I think your point about being angry at oneself for being “duped” by a trusted friend is really enlightening. But how can you re-navigate a serious breach of trust, even after getting over the anger bit? I guess I am wondering how you would process something like this to reach a state of neutrality?

    • Celes

      Hi BB! Have you checked out the disappointment series before? If not, I’d encourage you to check it out. It’s a 4-part series on how to manage disappointment. Net, it’s okay to have expectations, but don’t attach yourself to expectations. Disappointment doesn’t come from having expectations, but from emotionally investing and attaching yourself to those expectations.

      Example, think of a simple expectation you have about your workplace or your colleague, and you probably will notice that you don’t get emotionally affected when that expectation is violated vs. when it’s a friend. That’s because one emotionally *attaches* to the expectations when it comes to personal relationships. Part 3 of the disappointment series on How to Overcome Disappointment goes into that in detail.

    • JadePenguin

      I’m currently going through some relationship disappointment myself. There is really no easy way to deal with it. I feel some calmness by thinking I’m simply too much ahead of most people in the process of growth (hehe, ego speaking) and that I should expect disappointments when people I saw much potential in fail to deliver. One of my friends once said, “Exceptional people find it exceptionally hard to find partners in life.”

      It might feel unfair if you have given much to a friendship/relationship and they aren’t as committed to it and it might seem no one ever is. It might help to simply work on yourself, do things you love, do something good for the world and maybe become strong enough to deal with disappointments and be more accepting of the world as it is.

      Have you tried talking it over with your friend though? I don’t know what your expectations were but if they were in their best interests as well, maybe you can show them that you expect things because you care, that you’re disappointed because you care. If they cannot see that then they are probably not aware enough for the level of connection you were hoping for :(

      Oh, and thanks for the article reminder, Celes! Was a good re-read at this point :)

  • Arvind

    Nice chapter.

  • Kelly

    This series has really hit home with me. I’ve never understood why I resented self-pity so much until now. During high school I would find myself engulfed with rage whenever anyone would complain about their lives. If someone insisted that their life was terrible or that things hadn’t been going their way, I would harbor ill feelings, and I would never look at them the same way again. After reading your blog, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the result of my history with anger.

    My mother and father have very different ways of handling rage. My father would remain calm most of the time, but if he ever got stirred up he would occasionally shout or swear but primarily handled the anger physically; i.e., smacking me. My mother, on the other hand, was the master of verbal abuse. If my mother ever argued, she didn’t want it to end. There was no way to ever calm her down. She would assault us fervently until she got a reaction. For example, if I tried to ignore her defuse the situation by agreeing with her (“Okay, I understand” or “Okay, I’m sorry that I made you angry”) she didn’t take that as a valid answer. She /wanted/ me to get angry. She would provoke me until I responded. If I ever did respond, she would answer with something like the following:

    “You have no idea how hard my life is!”
    “I have to take care of rotten kids like you and your brother!”
    “I do everything for you, you spoiled brat!”
    “I have to suffer all the time!”
    “I have to pay these damn bills!”
    “You have it so easy!”
    “No one appreciates me in this house!”
    “You never do anything! /I/ do all the work!”
    “Don’t back talk me when you don’t do sh*t! You have no right to complain!”

    To this day I hate self-pity. Whenever people insist that “no one understands” them, I get very, very angry. Whenever people try to say that they have it tough, I always respond with rage. This article has helped me make sense of it all, and hopefully I’ll be able to resolve it.

    Thank you!


  • Starlight

    I hate it when people take advantage of me even when it is small things like jumping queues and saying that it is me who came later to queue. And I think why, it is because I felt weak at having been taken advantage of. This weakness started from long ago when I did not stand up for myself at school and at home, when I didn’t want to study abroad but my parents forced me to.

More in Emotional Mastery
My History with Anger and How I Finally Let Go of It, Part 2: The Damaging Effects of Anger

This is part two of my five-part anger series, sharing my history with anger, how I have consciously decided to let go of...