Anger issues: I just want peace

How can I let go of my anger and hatred, and be a better person?

Our elder has some advice on resetting your expectations to achieve inner peace.


Dear EWC

I’m a 19 (about to be 20 year old) who is really lost in this world and needs a lot of improvements. Basically, I have communication issues sometimes and when something bad happens because of me, I tend to take myself out of the situation without fixing it and just pretend everything is OK when it really isn’t. I’m very bipolar too and I have anger issues because I tend to get mad at people who did me wrong, especially some of my family members and I can’t forget certain things they did to me, which is my problem because some of them never apologized or they pretended they haven’t done anything to me, which makes me have a hatred for them and all I want in my life is peace and trying to have a bigger heart and forgive the people who did me wrong, even if they didn’t apologize to me, etc. I honestly haven’t been on social media in a while because I’m usually on social media, but I decided to delete some apps I use often because I feel like working on myself is more important. I honestly need some guidance because this lifestyle I have is not healthy for me and very toxic to be honest and I don’t want that. I just want peace. What things should I do to make sure I can be a better person for the people who actually care about me? Because I also tend to not think people don’t care about me when they actually do. I do have anxiety by the way and it’s bad as well. Please help.

Grandpa-Matt replies

I sense that you have a conflict between your heart and your mind. Your heart wants a feeling of peace, to forgive those who have done you wrong, and move to a healthy lifestyle. However, your mind is occupied with anger, hatred, and memories of those people who have done you wrong.

Occasional anger is normal. Everybody experiences this emotion. We get hurt and angry because we have expectations that haven’t been met. Anger is a troubling feeling. It often shows up when others do not behave in a way that you would expect them. We all have expectations for others’ actions. The trouble is that they say or do something to trigger our upset.

A lot of expectations are reasonable, given the circumstances we face day-to-day. But we must consider that things don’t always go according to our expectations. Our challenge is to cope with that when it shows up. Each of us is responsible for our feelings. We are 100 percent in charge of all our responses to what goes on in our lives.

I learned that we set up this experience of anger towards another when we set our expectations much too high. If we think that a person should always act in the way we expect, we are doomed to experience upset. This is because no person can consistently behave in the way you wish. We are all human and sometimes fail. So we sabotage a relationship every time we expect perfection!

When you consider the best female tennis player at Wimbledon, Serena Williams won many championships. A most excellent performer. Does she lose any points or games? She is not perfect! Yet, we consider her the best. I suggest you give up the idea of perfection and trade it in for the standard of excellence. Being excellent, one can fail from time to time and still be acceptable. If you view others as exceptional people and allow them to not live up to your rigid standards, you will all be happier. So if you will set up your expectations in your mind that folks will behave in the way you would like as much as possible, then their occasional failures will not trigger anger.

A couple of thousand years ago, a philosopher named Epictetus said, “It is not the events in life that trouble us, but only our reaction to them.” That is a statement of absolute power because only you control your attitude. You are never the victim of anyone’s thoughts, behavior, or judgments about you. It is like the old saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It is essential to distinguish between the emotion of anger, on the one hand, and, on the other, your behavior when you get angry. It is easy to forget that a typical experience of anger can be acted out irresponsibly. I understand that it is difficult to control your emotions when you forget that we are all 100 percent responsible for our feelings. 

Someone can say or do something that triggers you, but only you can choose your response. Your feeling of anger and your expression of that emotion are two different things. This presupposes that there is a moment when you can select your response or reaction. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankel, an Austrian psychiatrist, wrote, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” You can avoid lashing out by taking time to cool off.

If your emotional upsets often last longer than you want, a technique based on neuroscience can be beneficial. One helpful article that I suggest to you is called The 90 Second Rule to Control Your Emotions. If you want to know how to be more self-controlled, this article spells out the chemical basis of what goes on when your anger hijacks your mind and suggests how to handle things.

The goal is to allow your heart to take control of your mind. With anger, what you can do is reset all your expectations for yourself and all the others in your universe. Give everyone a break by:  

  1. Expecting that other folks, including your family, cannot read your mind as to what will make you happy;
  2. Knowing that your friends and family will not live up to your rigid expectations of them;
  3. Not being the victim of others when they say or do things contrary to your wishes;
  4. Knowing you are not a victim of circumstances;
  5. Accepting things as they are, instead of getting upset at what shows up; and
  6. Realizing that you can cope with everything that shows up in life because you are a survivor!

I believe that these six things will assist you in achieving inner peace. Test these out for a while and see if they work for you, and allow you to have a healthier relationship with yourself and others.

Article #: 477257

Category: Self-Improvement

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