Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why You Need to Let Go of Your Anger

In this PLPT Guest Post, Pastor/Professor Lawrence Ware reminds us of why it is so damaging to hold onto anger, and why we need to let it go.

There are few actions more harmful to our spiritual selves than holding on to anger.

Now, don't get me wrong: anger is a natural emotion. It is as natural for us to feel anger as for us to feel fear, joy, or sadness.

Anger can be good. Malcolm X, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. all are examples of individuals who were angered by conditions of injustice and used that anger to fight for the well being of mankind.

It is not the emotion of anger that troubles me—it is the holding on to anger that I am addressing.

So many of us have been hurt in the past, and we allow the pain of that past experience to negatively effect us today.

So many people have been so hurt by past relationships that they live in a state of existential angst—they want a new relationship, but are unable to live healthily within it.

Too many mothers have been hurt by the fathers of their children, and now the anger they feel toward these men is straining the relationship their children have with their fathers.

The list could go on forever—too many of us hold on to anger. What we do not realize is that holding on to that anger hurts us more than it hurts the subjects of our disdain. The Buddha said it best:

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.

You have to let it go.

The anger you feel toward that man; that woman. I am not asking you to excuse what they have done. Do not condone it. Do not pretend it never happened. Do not walk around with a fake smile upon your face—if you feel pain express it. If you are angry address it.

But here is the key: Let it go.

Stop going over in your mind what happened; reigniting the flames of anger that time would have otherwise put out. You are only hurting yourself. You will not bring more joy to your life by holding on to that anger. You will not have peace as long as that anger has residency in your heart.

Please, it is time to let it go.

Lawrence Ware is lecturing professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University and Pastor of Christian Education at Prospect Church. He writes for Tikkun and Religion Dispatchers all while living in Oklahoma City with his wife and sons.


Tiffany said...

Absolutely true but very hard to do.

Peace, Love and Chocolate,

Tammy said...

@Tiffany - very hard!How do you stop going over stuff in your head when you can't get it out of your head?!

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