Having blogged for many years about fostering and raising children I have more recently looked at ways in which adults and young people can achieve happiness and contentment. Last time we looked at different types of anger and being able to let go of it. In this blog I would like to go more deeply into how we can turn the corner and move on with life after a negative experience.
When exactly the turning point arrives varies. It may come at the end of days, weeks or years of being angry. Clearly big hurts need longer to heal than smaller hurts, and while we are healing anger is acceptable and healthy.
We know when our anger is past its ‘use by’ date; when it is time to let go and move on.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be a big hurt that is making us angry and unhappy, but even if it’s a small hurt at some point we have to let go. In a lifetime we have to let go of anger many, many times, for life is full of situations which cause us pain and suffering. If left unaddressed the anger and resentment fester, making us unhappy and depressed.
Here are a few examples of the turning point from readers. A young man wrote:
I was unjustly accused by my manager of being late on my third day at work (my first job). I was in fact at work but in another room, which my manager hadn’t been informed of. The manager tore me off a strip in front of my workmates before I had a chance to explain. I stood there humiliated and angry and wishing the ground would open up and swallow me. After that I hated going to work and I considered handing in my notice. Monday mornings were a nightmare. Then I made a conscious decision to get over it. I stopped feeling angry and focused on all the good things about the job...
It was a conscious decision, as letting go of anger often has to be, and once this young man had let go of his anger he began to enjoy his work again.
A woman of 32 wrote about her mother who had given her other daughter (her sister) a ring that she had inherited from her mother and had sentimental value. The woman had seen the favouritism and had translated it as her mother loving her sister more than she loved her. She had been upset and angry for over a year and this anger was souring her relationship with her mother and sister, whom she loved dearly. The turning point for her came when she addressed herself as follows:
My mother decided to give that ring to my sister. It was her choice. Although it’s going to be very difficult, I need to stop being angry and ask her why she decided to do that. Have I done something to upset her?
When she finally plucked up the courage to ask her mother, she wished she’d asked her sooner and so avoided a year of anger, pain and resentment. Her mother’s actions were entirely innocent of any favouritism. It was simply that the other daughter had always been fascinated by the ring, right from childhood, so when the ring no longer fitted the mother’s finger (because of arthritis) she had naturally given it to the daughter who had been interested in it, never dreaming she was causing her other daughter pain. The mother apologised, although there was no need, for the writer knew what her mother was saying was true.
Perhaps what has caused you to be angry and depressed is not one incident but a culmination of small incidents that have built up over time. Or it may be there aren’t any incidents at all, but just an ongoing gnawing anger that life promised you something and hasn’t delivered.
One reader from the US wrote:
I was fed up with my life; nothing seemed right. There was no reason. I mean I hadn’t been abused like the children in your books but there didn’t seem any point to life. I was twenty-nine and hooked on antidepressants and pills to make me sleep. I really hated the person I had become – negative, angry and finding fault in everything. It’s a wonder I had any friends left at all. Then one evening after a really bad day I asked myself: do you really want to carry on like this or are you going to try and find something better? I realised at that moment it was down to me: my future was in my hands. I could carry on as I was – unhappy and hating everything – or I could change and be happy.
The woman carried on to say that with the help of a life coach, who showed her how to focus on the positives in life, she had stopped taking all the pills and was finally enjoying life.
Whatever the reason, if we are angry we will be unhappy and at some point we need to make a conscious decision to let go of anger and move on. You may find you need some extra help to move on, as the lady who approached a life coach did. Don’t be afraid to ask for help for yourself or for any member of your family.
In my next blog I shall be looking at taking responsibility.
The audio version of Happy Adults is out now. http://po.st/HappyAdultsAudio