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How to Start Letting Go of Anger & Past Trauma in Recovery

Feb 9, 2022

Feeling anger can be a natural response to circumstances and perfectly acceptable at times. When it becomes destructive to others or self-destructive, the way anger gets expressed makes the feeling harmful. The consequences can lead to even more harm to oneself and to others. Today, let’s introduce some strategies to help you manage anger daily and find ways to let it go before it becomes a serious problem.

Unmanaged anger and past trauma can fuel a person’s desire to act out in self-destructive ways, including misusing drugs and alcohol. Letting go of anger can be done in healthy ways by examining what caused you to become angry and how you’ve contributed to or fed the resentment. You may need to set new boundaries with the person who’s angered you so it doesn’t get repeated. You may also consider offering them forgiveness so you can focus on your own health, well-being, and happiness.

Five Ways to Practice Letting Go of Anger & Past Trauma

1. Set boundaries for yourself.

Boundaries are those invisible lines between what we’re willing to accept and what we consider unacceptable. Anger can come from allowing people to say and do things to us that we don’t like, feel threatened by, or feel hurt when they happen. Perhaps you’ve poorly communicated these boundaries and placed yourself in a position to be hurt. You may realize how you’ve given people permission to anger you and not known how to stop this from happening.

Physical boundaries can help you begin addressing anger. It may be creating physical distance between you and another person. If interactions with them in person feel harmful, pause those interactions or stop them altogether. There’s no need to risk feeling angry if that’s what feels inevitable to you.

2. Explore how getting hurt has created anger in you.

Think about the words or deeds of one person that made you feel angry. If it was a close relationship, you may have felt betrayed by them. They may have created a serious problem for you. Perhaps it involved money.

Not every instance that made you angry has to be intentional. It could have come from a misunderstanding or a difference in expectations. In some cases, the person you’re angry at may not even know how you reacted to a situation. Reflect on each relationship shaped by the anger you’ve held onto and what it’s done to you personally. Identify the areas of self that have become threatened or hurt, and examine what fears are driving your continued resentment.

3. Allow your negativity to come out… with a limit and in the appropriate space.

Dealing with anger and past trauma doesn’t come from ignoring it. It takes directly addressing it to manage it in a healthy way. Your negative feelings can be expressed with someone you trust, such as a sponsor or therapist, or written down in a safe place.

Limiting that negativity allows you to find a window of time to express your feelings. There should be a specific end to it, though. If you think you need 30 minutes to talk about those feelings of anger, set a timer and bring your sharing to a close once it goes off. If you need more time, try coming back to it later so you’re not letting the intense emotion take over so much of your day. Therapy sessions can be a great place for expressing this anger in a controlled way.

4. Treat yourself with great care.

Care means different things to different people. All you need to think about here is what choices will help you improve your health, your well-being, and your happiness. It could be a favorite food, a preferred place to spend time, or a physical activity that you really enjoy.

Self-care isn’t just about doing things by yourself. It can involve asking for help and accepting help when it’s offered. Maintaining connections with friends and family members who are reliable and trustworthy is a self-care strategy worth devoting time to regularly.

3. Practice the art of forgiveness.

Holding onto anger toward someone becomes an endless burden for you to carry. Forgiving others helps you release that burden and restore a sense of peace to your life. This can be considered another form of self-care as it allows you to focus on healing while you let go of the feelings of anger, shame, or guilt hanging over the relationship.

For some people, forgiveness may feel difficult to offer, especially when anger and past trauma are related. In these situations, it may be helpful to consider the times you’ve angered someone else and were offered forgiveness. It may also mean seeking therapeutic support to unravel the trauma. Keep in mind, forgiving someone else doesn’t mean their behavior will change. It can be a reminder of how you’re the only one in control of how you respond to things that make you angry. Healthy responses, rather than self-destructive ones, can keep you focused on creating and nurturing your own happiness.

Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs, call us today: 866-952-5532.

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