How Holding Onto Anger Is Like Drinking Poison

Meditations in Motion
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I was fuming to my hubby Bill yesterday. A certain person I love who also at times drives me crazy was driving me crazy.

My anger was justified, Bill assured me. This person’s behavior was completely outrageous, thoughtless, and selfish.

That’s the good thing about being half of a long-married couple; your partner always knows when you need validation and I needed it badly.

I vented for fully 10 or 15 minutes, non-stop, then I ran out of gas.

My tirade, I realized, did not affect the person my anger was directed at in the least. This person did not even know I was irate.

It had boomeranged back and was zinging me. And Bill. I have told myself a million times to not get angry at the person in question, but emotions are often stronger than thoughts and I wind up feeling exasperated.

Anger isn’t always a bad thing. When I was a school teacher, I acted as though I was irritated with students sometimes to get them to change their behavior. If they cheated on a test, for example, I responded angrily; if they behaved in an unsafe way or were mean to their peers, I let them know I was displeased.

Meditations in Motion
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But yesterday’s anger threatened to fester and morph into bitterness. It was not the constructive, everything’s-under-control kind of anger I used effectively at school; it was the sharp, acidic kind that slowly eats your heart from the inside. It was like this quote from Felice Dunas:

Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Anger usually stems from hurt, but when you hold on to anger, the only person who continues to be hurt is you. Or, in this case, me.

I don’t believe we should suppress anger, but we do need to be able to express it, then let go and move on.

Stepping back and counting to ten (or ten thousand) allows us to gain perspective and address the situation in a calmer manner, rather than acting rashly in the heat of the moment.

Deciding whether to make changes in your relationship with the target of your anger or accept the current circumstances allows you to take action, which gives you a feeling of control and can lead to less anger.

You may elect to limit or even eliminate your exposure to the one who causes your anger to surface.

Ultimately, the way to stop being angry is to forgive the person who wronged you, even if that person did not ask for or even deserve forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t a gift for them it’s for you. Forgiveness allows you to move on, leaving the anger behind.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. – Ephesians 4:31

 

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90 comments

  1. Yikes! Allowing someone to rent space in your head is so damn frustrating. Then mix in anger, that is pure poison. A quote or saying that I use when confronting that someone,” You really heart my heart.” Then, I go on to give examples of choices that could have been made. Gives that someone a chance to see things from your shoes without taking away their power. Or, Bitch Like Mad At Poor Mr Bill. And Remind Him That The Bathrooms Are Rather Dirty.

    Big Hugs & Positive Vibes,
    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your point on deciding whether to take action or to accept the situation hits the nail on the head. Most of the time, people are not malicious. They’re just thoughtless and sometimes stupid – and that’s why most of the time I choose to accept the situation. It’s not always easy, though!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Once the decision is made, taking action on the decision is the easy part. I agree – most time people do not intend to make us angry – they just are thoughtless in their actions and words. Accepting the situation is not always easy, but it does bring peace.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Boy, this is something I really struggle with sometimes. I am not great a telling people in a calm positive way when something they are doing is bothering me – I get angry and don’t want to freak out on people. So I step away until I calm down, but trying to think of a way to express what I’m thinking or feeling sometimes gets me angry all over again. I’m gradually working on telling people up front, but it’s definitely a process!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to be married to someone who would hold onto anger he incurred 20 and 30 years prior and it changed how I looked at letting go of people or things that would rile me. It’s not always easy – sometimes it seeps in when I’m not in the best of moods anyway. But your post reminds me that letting go of anger means being kind and gentle to ourselves. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s not easy to let go of anger at all. For some reason, we get satisfaction from (self-righteous) anger. Learning to let it go is one of the best moves we can make for ourselves! Thank you for the comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Every time I feel anger I say that to myself….it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I was always taught, being angry not only allows the other person to live rent-free in your head but YOU are the one that has lost peace. Likely the other person is doing just fine! Forgiveness is not for them, it’s for us. What a wonderful God we have that teaches us how unforgiveness rots away in our hearts and hurts US AND the other person. Thank you for this post and thank you for linking up @worthbeyondrubies

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had never heard that quote before, Diane. I like the one about the person you’re angry at living rent-free in your head too! Following Jesus’ example of forgiveness and mercy is always my goal. I just don’t always get there.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It helps too, to be filled with God’s word. Then, we are more aware, when anger begins to rear it’s head, and we’re also aware of the power we have, to choose our response. Thanks for sharing, Laurie. Many blessings to you! I hope the situation with this person gets better soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Laurie, I am deep IN THIS right now. Your post was serendipitously timed for me, as I put my energy toward Person A, a someone who needs healing, vs Person B, someone who will never choose to see her role in a terrible situation. I’ve decided it’s my opportunity to choose compassion instead of ‘proving I’m right.’ And you are spot on—it’s a gift I’m giving myself. But, sheesh, it’s draining. Thanks to supportive spouses, eh? xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am so glad the timing on the post was good, Carolyn. My son texted me to say the same thing. We are all somewhere on the road from Person A to Person B. Thank goodness my spouse is supportive!

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  8. Ugh, I relate to this, Laurie. My fuming is mostly behind the scenes (which I guess is one step closer than face to face? maybe? ha), but I’d rather eliminate as much of it as I can altogether. Forgiveness is God’s miracle work that he allows us to participate in when we’re willing. Thankfully he is able!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I do quite a bit of seething here, silently and not so silently Laurie. When I really rail, there is no one to hear me. At least when I had Buddy, my canary, I felt he listened to my rants and acknowledged them. Seriously, it is difficult sometimes to not lose your cool. I can start every day with a clean slate but at least once per day, I fall short of my expectations of holding it in. I thought of you this morning and I hope your weather is a little warm. My boss is in Florida this week – he is in Ocala which was 30 degrees and parts of Florida had light snow. Watch out from the iguanas falling from the trees because their bodies are too cold to stay in the trees … don’t bring one home for a little brother or sister for Benji. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I sometimes wish there was no one to hear me rail either, Linda. Poor Bill has to hear it all! I think animals understand more than we think. When we were packing for our trip, we had to do it in secret. If Benji had seen us with our suitcases, he would have been stressed. Your canary probably did understand and commiserate with you.

      Temperatures are supposed to get up in the 70s today. We ran in shorts this morning. What a difference from PA weather! I would not want an iguana for a pet! Not cuddly enough.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is hard to rail silently, I must admit. Yes, animals sense your frustrations. They are much smarter than given credit for, even a tiny bird like a canary. Domestic birds and wild birds have feelings too. Yes, Benji was saying to himself “I thought they’d stay home – it is Winter!” Glad you had some warmer weather because they mentioned the Florida snow flurries and I thought of you – the portion of Florida with flurries was colder than we were. I think iguanas are devoid of personality – I would not stand under any trees right now in Florida in the colder areas of the state.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bill and I are going to take our binoculars down to the lake tomorrow and look at all the exotic birds that never come as far north as PA. I’ll give you a report. It’s supposed to be 79 degrees. Yay!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh Laurie – you know I am jealous hearing about that; 79 degrees sounds heavenly. We have had an all-day rain and likely the same tomorrow (happy it isn’t snow). My boss has been in Florida since Thursday, the 16th, with temps at times in the 30s. I’ll look forward to the post about the birds.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We had to reschedule our birding expedition. I think we will go down to the lake tomorrow. Today, we did a race in the morning then went to an outdoor concert in the afternoon at a winery. I’m now ready for a nap! 🙂 Hope to see some good birds tomorrow.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds like a fun day Laurie – hopefully tomorrow will be good for the birds too. We had another drizzly day here, so I did not walk and stayed in to write a post, but it has not shown up in Reader for some reason – cyber gremlins perhaps? This is the third weekend that we have had bad weather, so my fingers are crossed it is better next weekend to get to one of the bigger parks.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. For the past few years, something has flipped in me and I no longer nurture anger and grudges. A decade ago, a therapist suggested that grudges were one of my biggest problems. Not sure why the change–I always put to medicating OCD–but that might be oversimplifying it. Regardless. I spend much less energy by not sitting around mad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good for you, Jeff. I am typically not a grudge-holder either. My anger comes and goes fairly quickly. Now I just need to learn not to react on that anger. When I was teaching, I found that girly usually hold onto grudges much longer than boys. It’s wasted energy.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I just let my anger get the best of me & I so wish I would have slowed down & taken a breath & just asked for Gods guidance. It would have saved a lot of heartache

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I like that – forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for you. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but it’s absolutely the case. I tend not to hold onto anger – I have the attention span of a dory – but there have been times when the bitterness of people’s actions to those I love has surprised me in its tenacity.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I used to think I didn’t have a problem with anger! Hahaha! Then I realized it was disguised as frustration and irritation, which are bitter poison to me if I hold on to them. 😳Thank you for sharing your wisdom on such an important topic that affects us all.❤😊

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I am so with you on this, holding on to anger is pointless. It also destroys relationships when you can’t let go of it. I get angry, everyone does, but I don’t let it consume me. Like you say, it’s not going to hurt them any more than it hurts you. x

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This is one of my favourite sayings and it’s absolutely right, you are the one who feels the anger not the other person. It is good to have a rant to someone as long as you can move on with your day afterward I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Isn’t it a gift to have a spouse who knows our heart and with whom we can trust our heart….and vent when necessary…and then move on? No sure they always think of it as a gift – but it truly is:)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sometimes we have to forgive even if we don;t forget.
    My husband get very vocal and opinionated on other people and other things and carries round a lot of anger and things he has no control over, seems pointless to me. #WotW

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  18. Funnily enough I have spent the last week working through or at least discovering the 12 steps programme in more detail. I have found it easier to let go of anger as a result. Isn’t forgiveness a very powerful thing? I don’t think I had understood that properly before. Kate on Thin Ice commenting via #PoCoLo

    Liked by 2 people

    • @Kitty: I’ve done this work also in 12 steps and it is so powerful. I wish I had it decades ago – my life would have been so much more serene and I would not have been consumed with resentments and anger.

      Cheers,
      S.G.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. So much wonderful truth in this post. First, it made me laugh because my Dad used to do the same thing with us 5 kids – pretend to be more mad than he was to make a point. And the poison part – I’ve lived it. But surrendering my anger at the Cross set me free. Forgiveness really is the only way.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’ve done this kind of work in Alanon, a 12 step program for those affected by the problem drinking/addiction of another. Often it’s said in Alanon that our resentments and unwillingness to forgive or to let go are a poison that tears us up inside, not the other person.

    There is much beauty and wisdom in your post. Thank you!

    S.G.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Oh yes, I can so relate to this post. Anger can be constructive and helpful at times but holding on to it definitely hurts you more than the person you’re angry at and being able to forgive makes such a difference. Easier said than done though! #WotW

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Yes, forgiveness is so hard, but necessary. I think grudges can be hard to let go of sometimes because we feel forgiving is like saying it doesn’t matter, but actually it’s handing it over to God and trusting him to deal with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, being angry at another person hurts me far more than the person I’m angry at. As soon as I saw the quote, I knew I had to write about it. Hubby IS a wise and patient man!

      Like

  23. I struggle with forgiveness and feel that a person should know how they’ve upset me. Usually this manifests in them launching an attack on me about my faults, but I’m learning to just walk away and let the anger go, but I will have a rant about it with my husband as saying it out loud does help me find peace with the situation. Thank you for linking up with #pocolo and hope to see you back this week

    Liked by 1 person

    • Letting go of anger is one of the hardest things to learn how to do – at least for me. It’s always rewarding, though. Thank heavens my hubby is willing to listen to me rant! 🙂

      Like

  24. FINALLY catching up with your last several posts — which as you see, I sometimes have to save for a week before I get to them! This one glows with your characteristic wisdom, honesty, and clarity. And I LOVE that quote. I have trouble letting go when I feel wronged, so those words (and yours) will come to my aid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Jan…I remember those hectic days when I was still in education. I could barely read ANYTHING for pleasure between September and May. I love the quote too! I knew I had to write about it as soon as I saw it.

      Like

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