Each one of us thrives on happy times – the good memories. Many of us have some memories that are not so nice and that we don’t care to share about. Some have memories that are so painful and horrible that they struggle to move forward in life. They are angry and unhappy and stuck in the misery of what took place. We can choose to hold on to those memories, or we can release them and banish them from our life forever.
Napoleon Hill, author of Think & Grow Rich, identifies anger as being one of the most destructive emotions we can have. Anger is so destructive that it WILL destroy your business, personal relationships, and even break down your body.
Unfortunately, we grow up learning that to be angry isn’t good and we should not show it. Therefore, a person can grow up learning to suppress our anger. That doesn’t dissolve the anger, it simply gives it breeding ground so that it continues to build and build until we finally explode. Anger is normal and it needs to be expressed instead of being turned inward. Giving expression to your anger is not a license to injure yourself or others or to destroy property. Giving expression must be done in a safe, controlled manner and with a commitment. The commitment is that once you give expression to your anger… you LET IT GO.
A safe and effective way to deal with anger is using the journal writing technique called Unsent Letters. Unsent letters are written with the intention of NOT sending them. These letters do not hurt anyone. They free you from a potentially deadly poison.
The beauty of an Unsent Letter is that you can:
- Get as MAD or as UPSET as you want
- Write an unsent letter to someone who has died or left your life
- Write to someone or something that is not realistically an audience
Follow these guidelines:
- Set aside time when you will not be interrupted
- If you need support, ask someone you trust to be with you while you write the letter (they sit quietly in the background as you write, supporting you to know that you are not alone and this action is a safe and controlled way to express your feelings)
- Tune into the feelings that you want/need to express
- Write without fear of judgement or reprisal because the letter won’t be sent
- You do not need to censor or edit or even read the letter when you finish
- Write quickly without stopping until there is nothing more to be said
- Begin the letter with a springboard statement like, “What I’ve wanted to tell you is…” or “Something you may not know about me is…”
The final step is your commitment to LET IT GO! Letting go is not easy but it can be done and achieved by creating a closing, such as a ritual. The ritual is your unique way to dispose of the letter. Do not keep the letter because that only harbours the anger.
Some suggestions for a ritual are:
- Burn the letter
- Rip it up and stomp on the pieces and throw it away
- Drown it in water
- Bury it
This exercise can be emotionally charged; therefore, it is draining. It is important to have someone to debrief with after you finish. After you have finished the exercise, do something nice for yourself. Take a warm bath, go for a walk, work out at the gym, or sit quietly and listen to soothing music.
Remember this: the human mind cannot hold two thoughts at once; therefore, it cannot hold a positive and negative thought at the same time. One will dominate! The gift for all of us is that we get to choose…so choose wisely!