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How Can Anger Hurt Our Recovery?

As we are working towards recovery, there are some emotions that can actually stand in our way and impede our forward progress and momentum. Anger is one of these emotions, and we can become paralyzed by the force and strength of it. Sometimes we’re carrying anger towards people who’ve hurt us, whom we can’t seem to forgive. We might come to realize we’ve been holding grudges unnecessarily, or we may feel as though our anger is justified. Sometimes we’re angry with ourselves for the patterns we’ve perpetuated over the years, for the difficult circumstances we’ve manifested in our lives, for the addictions and other issues we haven’t healed from. Much of the time we aren’t compassionate or forgiving with ourselves. Our anger becomes part of our self-rejection and self-destructiveness. How can our anger hurt our recovery and interfere with our healing process?

When we’re consumed by anger, we tend to be more focused on the problem at hand than on any possible resolution we might be able to come up with. Our energy is going towards the difficult circumstance, or the unresolved issue, rather than on how we might be able to solve it. Our anger makes us feel a variety of seemingly negative emotions which are hard to handle and process but which have a lot to teach us – we feel sadness, anxiety, rage, resentment, bitterness, and envy. We feel betrayed and disrespected. We feel confused and overwhelmed. At the root of much of our anger is often a sense of fear – fear we will lose someone we love, fear we are being judged, fear of rejection. Our fear and anger are often so interconnected that we can’t tell them apart, and when we’re angry we can experience heightened mood swings, intense anxiety, and severe panic attacks. Similarly, when we’re dealing with fear, such as our anxiety around confrontation and conflict, it can make us increasingly tense, aggravated, angry and volatile. All of these emotions when left unexamined and unexpressed can hurt our recovery because we’re usually not confronting them, we’re avoiding and suppressing them, hoping they will go away, hoping our inattention will lessen their painful effects. We deny our anger. We try to silence our minds from thinking negative thoughts and keep ourselves from feeling negative emotions. All of this emotional avoidance, suppression and denial actively keep us from healing. We need to feel our emotions in order to heal them.

Anger is something many of us are afraid to feel. We’re afraid to be perceived as angry people. We’re afraid our anger will make us lose control. We’re afraid we’ll say or do things we regret if we act on our anger. We’re afraid we’ll be abandoned if we confront people on the ways in which they’ve hurt us. Because of our fear we build up resistance to our anger which only compounds and worsens it. We end up having worse fights with loved ones than we might have had we been able to deal with our anger in healthy ways. We end up creating even more angst and turmoil for ourselves. We turn to our drugs of choice to try and distract ourselves and escape how painful it all is. Our addictive patterns and mental health issues can be exacerbated as a result.

Our recovery requires our full commitment to healing, but anger takes our energy and focus away from our well-being and places them on the object of our anger. Instead of focusing on self-care, spiritual practice and emotional healing, we’re focused on what we’re angry about, or who we’re angry with. Every time we let our anger get the better of us, we’re distancing ourselves from our goals. We’re giving ourselves fuel for our addictions to feed off of. We’re letting our inner demons, the voices of our fears, unresolved issues and insecurities, run the show.

Resolving our anger requires that we make certain choices, however difficult they may be. We have to choose to forgive ourselves, for all of our mistakes and wrongdoings, even those we haven’t yet made amends for, even the ones we feel are so shameful they don’t deserve forgiveness. When we’re angry with ourselves, we tend to subconsciously perpetuate patterns of self-sabotage and self-defeat that automatically derail our healing process. We want to become mindful of these patterns and work to heal them. We also will want to choose to forgive the people who’ve hurt us, not because we want them in our lives since chances are we don’t, but because we want peace in our lives. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we condone the things that have been done. It doesn’t mean we agree with them or think they are acceptable. Forgiveness means releasing, letting go, and detaching so that we can choose peace. It means viewing the person or situation in question with compassion, trying to understand the underlying unhealed hurt that caused the problem in the first place. It means trying to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and having empathy, trying to relate to them and see where they’re coming from. This helps us create connection and understanding where before there were disconnection and disharmony.

When we’re ready to prioritize our recovery, we will also want to take steps to resolve our anger. Therapy, support groups, journaling and creative self-expression, along with yoga, meditation and energy healing, are all powerful tools to help us heal from anger. If we continue to suppress our anger rather than confronting it, we’re taking so much of our powerful energy away from manifesting the recovery we want for ourselves.

The Guest House is a welcoming and supportive recovery home where you will be met with open arms, wherever where you are on your journey, without judgment or expectation. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.