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letting go of anger

June 23, 2011

 

Perhaps the biggest obstacle in my health-journey is anger.  Anger makes me stubborn, reactive, rigid, immobile, hopeless and stuck… which is totally counterproductive when my intention is to be flexible, active, hopeful, loving and dynamic.

The funny thing about letting go of anger is that there is an ironic little catch: first you have to allow it in.  It seems wrong at first to make yourself hold onto the very thing you wish to let go of, but this really is a key step.  Pushing something away is not the same as letting it go; in fact, in my undergraduate psychology studies, we found that suppression only augments the unwanted emotion.  It is my neglected anger, not my felt anger, that causes me to react with stubborn immobility.

This reminds me of an ever-crucial variable: AWARENESS.  I believe awareness makes all the difference in life, and it seems to pop up in so many different important discussions and processes.  In this case, when we suppress emotions, we deny ourselves the choice to be aware.  We cheat ourselves of our right to be aware.  We become reactive machines rather than conscious decision-makers.  When I do let myself feel my anger, I may still have the urge to become stubborn and reactive, but at least I have the choice as to what I choose to do with those impulses.

I have already started working through some of  my weight/body-related anger .  What do I find in the clearing once the anger subsides?  Gratitude!  I wouldn’t have expected that, but gratitude is what seems to be waiting on the other side of anger.  Here are a few examples of some of my longstanding weight/body-related anger that has, at least in part, given way to gratitude over the years:

*Anger at my parents for their extremely polarized approaches towards my weight and body image (which caused me to feel torn, confused, and distressed)  has made way for gratitude:  I am thankful that I now have the ability to see both sides of the equation so clearly, which has allowed me to find my own truth.  How wonderful is that?

*Anger at life because my knee was born backwards and remains week and malformed, though still sometimes present, has mostly cleared the way for gratitude about the fact that I have more physical capabilities than the doctors predicted… that although I may never be a marathon runner, I am free to lead a healthy and unhindered life.  I have learned to be in awe of the gifts I do have.  In other words, I have learned to shift my focus towards what I have rather than what I have lost, but only by first allowing myself to feel sad and mad about what I’ve lost.

Here are the body/weight-relating things I am realizing I am still angry about:

*I am angry at the people who look at me immediately assume I eat junk and don’t exercise.

*I am angry at our culture for fostering the above prejudice.

*I am angry at my own body for its tendency to store weight.

*I am angry at life because I was born into a culture that hates my body type.

*I am angry at myself for letting the above anger turn into hopelessness, causing me to totally give up on health and fitness for a few years (though I have some gratitude that this experience pushed me to finally open my eyes and make changes, and gratitude for my ability to come back to life!)

This is the anger I am holding.  It’s a lot.  The cool part is that I know what to do with it now — hold it, experience it, and watch as it slowly clears the way for gratitude.  And when this happens, I will get out of my own way more than ever!  Who would have thought that letting go of anger could be so directly connected to weight-loss?  And isn’t it awesome how everything is connected?

❤ Diana Banana

image courtesy of this site

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2011 7:21 pm

    “When I do let myself feel my anger, I may still have the urge to become stubborn and reactive, but at least I have the choice as to what I choose to do with those impulses.”

    I love this bit. It’s so easy to think we don’t have a choice what to do with our emotions but we are really more powerful over them that we think.

    All of those things that you realised you are still angry about are all out of your control. They are all externally defined by other people. It’s so easy to get caught up in what others think but it’s totally a waste of your awesome time and energy:)

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