Overcoming Anger: Releasing the Desire for Certainty & Control

Woman sitting in meditation on the side of a cliff while a man is hanging off the cliff

I grew up a shy introvert. As a child and teen, I often didn’t stand up for myself or speak my real opinion. I also didn’t do myself the respect of setting necessary boundaries. I was very passive and was often too afraid to let others know how I felt because I didn’t want them to become offended and think ill of me.

Not quite the way you pictured an article about overcoming anger starting, is it? But you see, despite popular opinion, introverts can struggle with anger just as much as extroverts; sometimes more I’d argue.

I say this because I think in many ways we naturally crave certainty and control more than extroverts. We want to make sure that others like us, we want to do everything we can to behave just right. We also want to ensure that others make the right decisions because we deeply contemplate what might happen to them if they don’t, and it pains us.

If you struggle with anger, whether mild or severe, perhaps you can relate to a portion of what I said about my childhood. Did you spend years not asking for what you needed? Did you keep things to yourself in order to fit in with the masses? Did others accuse you of being a “neat-freak” or a bit of a “perfectionist”?

While none of these may be the cliche personality profiles of those who struggle with anger, I think they can be substantial contributors to dealing with anger issues. I believe they are reflections of inner turmoil and feeling the need for certainty. I believe they are also a compulsion to have control - of ourselves, others, and our environment.

If you have a hard time with anger (whether you’re an introvert or extrovert) I want you to know that anger is normal. And it’s acceptable too. This may seem obvious, but so many of us beat ourselves up, even hate ourselves, for feeling it. You just need to know how to honor it, diffuse it, and learn some new habits so you can feel less of it.

As introverts, we may keep our anger buried so deep that we aren’t even aware of it. We may appear disgruntled or tense on a frequent basis, though neither we nor those around us know why; we may be extremely agreeable and kind in public, but a total control-freak at home; or we may be overly-friendly, right up until we blow up over something small.

Does any of this sound familiar? I’ve done things like this my whole life. I get it, my friend. You are not alone.

On the other hand, if you’re an extrovert you may feel impulsive or overbearing sometimes; perhaps you have a hard time appropriately caring or feeling in control of your actions; or maybe sometimes you’re just angry and have no idea why.

I can tell you as an introvert, I rarely feel something and have no clue why. I typically know the exact 7 reasons that I am feeling angry and I can spend the next 45 minutes telling you the deep meaning and turmoil behind each. Which, honestly, is a good part of the reason I’m so mad, because all that concern and depth of feeling is taking up a lot of flippin’ energy!

Rather than talking about what little things make me angry, or going on some rant about how people really need to start using their blinkers, I’d like to share with you the true, deep roots of my anger as I’ve come to understand them thus far. I do this in the hopes that you’ll be able to gain some insight into the roots of your own anger. I’ll also share with you 5 solutions that I’ve found for changing my perception to help with anger.

I invite you to reflect on your own life as you read the causes and solutions below. What can you relate to, and what do these teachings inspire you to do that might change your perception and help you experience more inner peace?

Where does anger come from?

I have so far come to understand that my anger comes mainly from three sources. Knowledge of these sources has come from my studies of Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and Stoicism, as well as through my own discussion with others, experience, and reflection. Here are the three sources:

  1. The desire for control

  2. The desire for certainty

  3. Overvaluing temporal circumstances

Some teach that anger derives from pride, fear, and/or sadness. I agree with those who say that anger is a complex emotion that results from other emotions such as these - both conscious and subconscious. While I could have written these as the sources of anger, it helps me to break anger down even further to things that are more concrete, so perhaps I can give you a perspective that might be more helpful than attempting to tackle matters as abstract and challenging as pride, fear, and sadness.

A great deal of my anger comes from feeling disappointed in myself and not meeting my own perceived expectations (can you relate?). In essence, this is a desire to be more certain that I’ll do exactly the right thing to match my partially culturally-perpetuated expectations of myself, as well as to feel in complete control of my own desires and emotions.

To an extent, my anger also comes from caring about others and not wanting them to suffer. I think it is this way for a lot of us. I have spent a lot of my life thinking about the mistakes others make and being angry about them. I have wanted to do what I can to ensure they don’t suffer; to convince them if I can, directly or indirectly, to change their ways.

Some might call these thoughts and desires altruistic or compassionate. They are in a way I suppose. However, there is a whole other part to these perceptions that is neither altruistic nor compassionate. Rather, I think it is centered on selfish desires; it is the part that seeks for certainty and control.

I want you to know that I don’t say this at all in a self-degrading kind of way, but rather from a place of plain self-honesty. I’ll explain what I mean by this more deeply, in the hopes that it might be an inspiration for you to see thoughts and beliefs you might have that are leading to your anger.

I’ve thought for a long time that I became upset about others' suffering because I cared about them. Yes, I care. I don’t want others to suffer and I want to help. But also, there is the part of me that not only does not want the person to suffer, but I don’t want to have to watch them suffer. I also don’t want to go through the discomfort of dealing with someone during their suffering. So, in essence I want to ensure they don’t suffer so that I don’t suffer. Perhaps you can see these same tendencies in yourself or your loved ones?

In reality, the most selfless thing sometimes is to simply allow others to go through their experience and learn what they need to learn. We can take action out of care and love for them - and by all means we should be their greatest support - but these words and acts change from selfless to selfish when we seek to force or control someone.

People need to make mistakes. They need to experience suffering. It is a necessary part of their earthly experience. Suffering is not inherently bad or evil, it is one of our greatest teachers. We need to allow each other to experience it sometimes.

We need to honor each other’s journey while being a support, a friend, and when appropriate a voice of reason, without any sense that we need to control or make certain someone’s decision is the ‘right’ one. I believe this is the only way we can be an unconditionally loving friend and free ourselves of anger surrounding the actions of others.

In addition to all this, I try to remind myself of the temporary nature of this life. It is but a blip in eternity. When I fully allow someone their own choices and decisions, remembering that this life is temporary, I can experience care and concern without it translating to anger.

I can also do this for myself. I can allow myself the room for mistakes and learning, as I go through my own necessary suffering and learn through it. I can seek to remember that I am an infinite being living out a small piece of my existence, and it is okay to suck at things sometimes. It is all part of eternal growth.

We must recognize and accept our anger

It is important, I think, to accept our anger for what it is, and to recognize it as normal. Everyone feels anger. Truly, I believe it is those of us that believe we don’t ever get angry that may have the very worst problem with anger, as it is so pervasive that we deny it is even there. And in the very act of denying it and being unaware of it, we allow it to thrive.

When it goes unacknowledged, anger can be like a parasite that robs the rest of our lives of peace and joy. It can hide, feasting on experiences and growing fatter with each passing day, depriving us of beauty and appreciation.

When we feel anger, we must seek to understand why we are angry, and let ourselves know that it is okay to feel that anger. When we accept anger, talk ourselves through the reasons we feel it, and see that it is our perception alone that causes the anger, anger then loses some of its power.

Anger is a reflection that we feel sadness or fear, or both. When you feel anger over something that has happened, or is happening, ask yourself:

  • What am I afraid of, and how did that fear turn into anger?

  • What caused me sadness, and how did it turn into anger instead?

  • What am I seeking to make certain of?

  • What am I wanting to control?

  • What will this really amount to in my (or someone else’s) eternal journey?

Can anger issues be cured?

Anger is a natural, normal emotion and not one that we should shame ourselves for feeling. While we may never overcome anger entirely, we can increase our patience and inner peace through changing our perception to become one of more understanding, tolerance, and acceptance.

It is also certainly worth noting that trauma - both literal head trauma and emotional trauma - can play a significant role in anger issues. If you struggle with severe anger, it is worth your time to get a brain scan or to seek professional help. There may have been an accident or there could be experiences from your past playing a significant role in your issues with anger.

I also think it’s important to note that nutrition plays a significant role in mood and poor nutrition could lead to increased irritability and anger.

Five things to focus on to get rid of anger

Here are 5 beliefs I am using to help heal anger and change my perception to one that does a better job of releasing control, releasing certainty, and having a more helpful perspective on the temporary nature of physical circumstances:

  1. Allow others to own their personal journey & suffering

  2. “I am a piece of the great Whole”

  3. Physical circumstances are a blip in eternity

  4. Accept others’ actions & perceptions are detached from mine

  5. There is divine purpose in suffering

For me, managing anger is a spiritual endeavor, as is overcoming and finding peace with all things in this life. For those familiar with Christianity, Taoism, Buddhism, or Stoicism, you’ll recognize familiar themes from these faiths and philosophies in the 5 items below.

Allowing others to own their personal journey & suffering

In order to be free of selfish anger, I must learn to let others own their journey, respecting that it is different from mine. Not better. Not worse. Simply different.

How is this possible for me to accept?

I believe that we are here on earth to learn and grow. I believe that learning and growth in their highest forms lead us to become like God and to serve Him and His children. Though we may make some decisions that are stupid or even evil, I believe we will learn from the decisions we make here on earth; whether in this life or the next. Either way, I think we will learn and we will eventually become better able to love others and spread joy and peace in our eternal existence.

All decisions have a purpose and can be an instrument in God’s hands for good. I believe there are only a select few people who truly will not learn, due to pride, fear, and anger, and will continue to be evil for eternity. But those people are so few that I feel confident saying you are not one of them.

I think we will see many things much clearer when our consciousness (our spirit) leaves our physical body. Things which were unknown during this life will become known, and pride we held while alive will dispel. Many who’ve had near-death experiences speak of this enlightening.

Given that all things are simply for learning - joy, suffering, and everything in between - what others say, think, or do is purely a present step in their infinite journey. Nothing more, nothing less. I am here to love them and help them, but I need not change what they think, say, or do. They will think as they think, speak as they speak, and do as they do, and I must learn to honor whatever that is for them right now.

Instead of seeking for control, I can simply seek to understand. If others become angry or sad, I accept this and them within that current space. It is all simply part of their journey.

I do not know what this person came here to experience. Perhaps they are going through something they are meant to go through for a very specific purpose. Who am I to judge or question that eternal purpose? Also, what if all suffering I see anyone endure is an opportunity not for me to judge but instead to seek to understand and for God's compassion to move me to love them in spite of (or perhaps because of) their suffering? What if their suffering is an opportunity for those around them, including myself, to grow?

This does not mean that there are not times that I might try say something to change a person’s mind, or where it is best for me to speak boldly. It simply means that it is always better for me to speak and act without the need to control or make certain of others’ actions or desires. These are theirs, not mine. Any desire that I have for control or certainty is not of God, it is of Satan.

“I am a piece of the great Whole”

This concept is from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations - the philosophy of Stoicism. It is the understanding that I am simply one tiny piece of the “Whole” of the universe. I am a shard of divinity, a tiny piece of God, only one of His marvelous creations.

I am one person among billions, perhaps trillions, who have ever lived. I am also living on one planet out of a universe of infinite galaxies filled with (I believe) other planets with life forms on them as well.

Perhaps this is reminiscent of the beliefs of Nihilism, but when understood with wisdom I believe it can be seen with an eye of great hope, rather than hopelessness.

Knowing I am simply a piece of the great expanse of existence can help me accept anything that happens to me. All is acceptable - joy and suffering - because I am simply one man in one tiny moment. In this, I can have courage to try anything and pursue anything which is noble or honorable, as my physical existence is nothing in comparison to that of the Whole.

I must do that which is right for the common good of my fellow human beings, as my existence on this earth is so brief that there is no purpose in living it simply for myself. Logically, the purpose of my existence must go far and beyond that. I must do that which contributes to the Whole, without concern for my own selfish desires which are comparably and unavoidably nothing when put into perspective.

If I take this from a Christian perspective, I am one child of God, and I am here to serve my fellow brothers and sisters.

This being said, I think it can be of comfort to perfectionists such as myself to understand that you are but one person out of billions. This does not diminish your worth, but it lets you know that you don’t have to save the entire world. You just need to make a small difference here and there for those closest to you. You simply need to “change the world” in small ways for a few people. That’s enough.

When I start thinking it’s all up to me and that I need to change everything - seeking for certainty and control - the pressure is too much and it causes me to procrastinate, become anxious, feel depressed, and anger can emerge as a result of these feelings.

Think about your own life. How can you submit your own selfish wants and desires to give to something greater than yourself? How can remembering that you are a small cog in the giant clock of all things bring peace to your mind? Perhaps you can release perfectionistic expectations and seek to do simple, good deeds that bless others’ lives in small ways.

Physical circumstances are a blip in eternity

Being a tortured perfectionist myself (and quite dramatic), I’ve got a thing about being organized and neat. Is it a strength in some ways? Sure. But in other ways it is one heck of a pain in the butt.

I struggled with OCD during my childhood and teenage years. I lined up army men, hated getting my hands dirty, and double-checked and triple-checked that all the doors were locked every night before going to bed.

While I’ve overcome some of the more neurotic and repetitive behaviors I once suffered, I still struggle with many of the same thought patterns that convince me things need to be done a certain way. These tendencies have led to a great deal of hardship for me. I’ve had trouble adapting to situations and have often been under the delusion that my way is the right way and everyone else is an idiot (‘cuz obviously…it couldn’t be me who’s crazy…right?).

If you’re like me and you struggle with perfectionism or OCD, and it causes you a lot of resultant anger, I promise you that it can get so much better. I’ve been changing my beliefs and habits over the years and I now live a life I used to only dream of. And you can too.

If you are not someone who has dealt with OCD, I challenge you to think of the rigid beliefs you have that may potentially lead to your anger. Why do you feel things need to be done in a certain way? Is it reality, or is it really just in your own head? How could you be more flexible in your thinking so that you are not so prone to anger?

I’m coming to understand as the years go by that everyone has their own way of doing things. While some ways may be more or less “efficient” than others, in the grand scheme of things different ways of doing things are just that: different. Not better, not worse. Just different.

As someone who is naturally obsessed with efficiency, I’ve come to question what the value of efficiency really is? What does it mean? Efficiency is just one of thousands of factors of something that we could value. As a perfectionist, my brain may tell me it is the thing. But really…it’s not.

Striving for efficiency in things from my morning routine, to my job, to eating a meal, to building a relationship is often not helpful. It often leads me to a whole lot of self-inflicted suffering and anger when things do not workout as efficiently as I would expect. Which happens frequently. Aiming for efficiency often distracts me from truly experiencing something (or someone) and being present.

If you are someone who values efficiency, I challenge you to question why it is so important, and how it may be leading to some of your anger.

What else could you value equally as much (or even instead of)? What about beauty? What about peace? What about allowing others their space to explore and experiment? What about presence and enjoyment of the moment? All of these hold just as much if not more value than efficiency.

Ask yourself, in our eternal existence will differences in the way we complete tasks really matter? Is there truly one right way to do something? Or are there thousands? In my experience, seeking for the absolute “best” way to do something can often cause more suffering and obsessiveness sometimes than simply allowing for mistakes, inefficiencies, and experimentation and being at peace with it all.

The obsessiveness inside of me wants to control situations. In other words, the pride and fear within me wants to make certain that things work out just right. And these desires to control and make certain eventually lead to anger.

These self-inflicted pressures want to ensure the kitchen always stays clean and organized and the dishes never pile up. They want to make sure everything I write in my blog is gold. They also cause me to want to stick to my schedule perfectly, or complete every last thing on my list for the day.

But are all of these things actually important? Or does my mind just say they are? Inasmuch as they lead to fear, pride, and anger I would argue that they are not helpful nor important.

What is more important is living with balance, peace of mind, and doing what is most needful in the moment. Which sometimes means stopping everything and being present for a friend, taking time to breathe and express gratitude, canceling my plans for the day and doing something spontaneous with my spouse, or heading out to the gym to get a workout in because I really need it.

We live by so many expectations, and so much that we think is important that really isn’t. To combat anger, I’ve been working on letting go; remembering how temporary this life is, and how little it means when something doesn’t happen the way I want.

When I see something is out of place around the house or someone is doing something slower than I would like, I try to think “what will this mean in a year? In 5 years? In eternity?” My desires for control and certainty - the desires that fuel anger - would like my house to be immaculate all of the time. These desires convince me that my physical circumstances are important and urgent. Why?

I ask myself, what will an occasionally messy house truly mean in the eternal scheme of things? What do a few dishes left out on the table after dinner signify? If something more important comes up, such as a family member who needs me, why is finishing everything on my task list today actually needed?

Do any of these impact my eternal well-being? Does it cause me to be stopped up in my eternal learning and experience?

No. If anything, things not being the way I want them to be are actually opportunities for me to gain more patience and acceptance. To accept that some things can wait. To accept that sometimes I need to be present with my family, here for a friend, or to take time to breathe and express gratitude. Finding balance and peace are very necessary parts of my growth in this life, and they mean far more than the tasks I want to check off on my list.

Of course I need to practice discipline. I’ll also need to teach my children how to take care of their environment and I should have a system of consequences in place if they do not keep things reasonably orderly and clean. But becoming angry when they don’t follow those teachings is not necessary. Giving them consequences is necessary, but it is seeking to make certain and to control that causes me anger.

When my wife leaves her hair straightener out, is it seriously worth feeling animosity towards her? Is it actually a personal affront or a reason to be angry? Or…is it simply a hair straightener that is left out, with no more or less meaning than that?

If you struggle with anger, perhaps you can relate in some way to these challenges and rigid beliefs I am describing.

I am seeking to learn from Buddhism, which teaches that things are neither good nor bad. They simply are. Joy and suffering are neither good nor bad. They simply are. A hair straightener on the counter is just a hair straightener on the counter. A pile of dishes is just a pile of dishes. A few unfinished tasks on a list are a few unfinished tasks.

None of this needs to signify anything about my character or cause me fear that my life is spiraling out of control. None of these have any more or less meaning than what they are. It is only my perception of clutter or unfinished tasks that causes my suffering. All of these matters are temporary, minuscule, and even meaningless in my eternal existence.

Any suffering is an opportunity for me to learn more and see what I need to change within myself to overcome the source of that suffering. And the source of my suffering in things like clutter, disorganization, or unfulfilled expectations is simply my perception them. I see them as an unacceptable current circumstance.

I can be at peace knowing that some things can be left undone, some things can be messy for a time, and some expectations can be left unfulfilled.

Perhaps there are things in your life that you can relate to my experience. What do you seek to control or make certain of in your life and how do you overvalue temporary circumstances? How can you see life with a more eternal perspective? Be sure to show yourself plenty of compassion and understanding as you walk your path and seek to learn and understand your own beliefs and perceptions that lead to anger.

Accept that others’ actions & perceptions are detached from mine

This is one that I’ve been working on for a long time now. That is, to perceive a healthy separation between my own feelings and the feelings of others.

Note: For anyone out there who struggles with social anxiety, having a healthy detachment from taking on responsibility for others’ emotions is also extremely important for overcoming social anxiety. If you do have social anxiety, check out my free 3-part series.

As far as anger goes, accepting that others’ actions and perceptions are detached from my own helps me to avoid anger. It means someone else can become angry or sad, they can feel unfairly treated, they can tell me I’m wrong or stupid, they can even insult me…but none of this means that I must become angry in response. That is my choice. Those feelings are theirs to own, not mine.

In the same way, I can completely own my personal feelings as well, seeing them as no one’s responsibility but my own.

And you know what? I am perfect at doing this now. I am literally the archetype of balance and healthy detachment…

Okay, so that’s a joke. I still have a lot to learn obviously.

It can be difficult to detach yourself from being responsible for others’ emotions, while at the same time fully being here for them as their ever-loyal friend and support. It takes a lot of awareness and practice. It is by no means instant, but it is necessary if you want to heal your anger.

I experience a healing of my anger by effectively dealing with the challenging emotions of others. I can do this by releasing control and the desire for certainty, and simply focusing on what good I can do for someone in distress. I can be here for someone, forgetting my pride and the need for approval, and seeing myself simply as a tool in God’s hands to serve and bless someone else.

While I may never be perfect at this, it is important that I make small steps over time, focusing less on myself and “how well I am doing” at it, and focusing more on allowing others’ the space they need to learn and grow and simply loving them. The very act of focusing on how well I’m doing at not being angry is a selfish focus, and one that can easily turn into anger - more specifically anger towards myself if I do not meet my own expectations.

I can then easily misconstrue this anger as being directed towards others, and it can cause me to believe others’ actions are causing the anger that I feel. I believe anger of this kind can infest the entirety of our lives, causing us to feel angry at others constantly, when really we have deep-rooted anger towards ourselves.

So, by remembering that I am not responsible for others’ emotions and they are not responsible for mine, I can find greater peace and healing of anger.

In addition, it is important that I remember I can always learn from what someone tells me, even when it might be harsh or hateful. I can see what I might have done to upset them and use it as a learning experience for the future so I can treat them and others better. Or, I can perhaps learn something new about that person and the pain and hurt that they carry. I do not need to accept insults that have no truth, nor do I need to agree with everything someone tells me or absorb words that are simply hurtful, but I can learn and observe with healthy detachment.

Something I am actively working on remembering is that disagreeing with what someone says doesn’t mean there is no truth to it. It also doesn’t mean that there is. It also doesn’t mean that I need to convince them of my view. As I’ve said, their actions and words are separate from my own, and I can detach myself from them while taking in any good I can possibly glean from their meaning. Their words do not define my worth, just as my words do not define theirs. We can both see things differently, and I can remain at peace within myself, as long as I do not desire to control their personal beliefs or words in any way. Those are theirs, not mine.

I hope these words get you thinking of your own beliefs and tendencies that lead to anger. How might you seek less control in your life and simply honor the journey of another human being?

Beyond learning from the difficult emotions of others and practicing having compassion for them, there is another key to overcoming anger I think. That is to realize that if someone is angry, if they speak hate, or if they are impatient, I believe it is only a reflection of the pain within them and not necessarily a reflection of anything within you.

Think of it this way. If someone felt completely at peace inside, it would not matter what happened around them or what anyone said - they would continue to remain at peace whether you spoke love or hate. So then, do you have any responsibility for others’ emotions? Or do they have full responsibility?

This gives no excuse for you to be unkind by any means, and you are to seek to be respectful and good to others. But it helps me to remember this so that I can simply allow others to be the masters of their own emotions, releasing myself from the belief that I must change the way they feel.

When I let go of this desire, I can simply focus on being the master of my own emotions in any given situation. I believe from this space, I can do the most good for others, as my choices are not dependent on their approval or reaction. I can simply seek to do the right thing, and know that I cannot force someone to feel anything. I think from this perspective, I can see things clearer and hopefully be more helpful and understanding.

Much of what I have said here comes from my readings of the philosophies of Stoicism and my own personal reflections. I hope they’re helpful for you.

There is divine purpose in suffering

For some, it may sound strange to say that there is divine purpose in suffering. For Christians or Buddhists this may sound familiar. I am coming to realize the truth of it more and more in my own life.

I believe that suffering is not a bad thing. As the Buddhists would say, it simply is. I think sometimes we confuse hardship as being something that is evil or wrong. Heck, I know it would be nice not to experience it, but it is not in and of itself 'bad'. Suffering is the one thing that can connect us more deeply to each other than anything else. It can help us finally see the faults within us that need a closer look. It can also be the launching pad we need to develop a character of more depth and understanding than we could have ever previously imagined.

I think suffering can hold great purpose when we choose not to see it as unfair, but instead as an opportunity - even a gift - given for us to grow. Suffering does not need to cut us off from God; rather it is the very thing which qualifies us to connect more deeply with Him. I owe this understanding to Thich Nhat Hanh who wrote The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings.

Without suffering, what significance would our lives truly have? What inspiration could possibly be drawn from a life of luxury or complete ease? We must suffer, struggle, trudge through sorrow, and experience pain in order to be molded into our best selves. Without suffering, we could never become more benevolent, compassionate, and resilient. In this way, I believe suffering is ordained by God.

This is not to say that life does not hold experiences of brutal tragedy. When it comes down to it, in the thick of the moment of utter despair, what are teachings like those above in the face of the death of a child? A divorce that shatters family ties? Being tortured as a prisoner of war? Rape? Chronic illness? Life-altering accidents?... It is in such suffering that many feel there is no balm in Gilead, there is no purpose, and it would be better to be swallowed by the abyss than to go on living in this meaningless and irredeemably tragic life.

Suffering can break us down and destroy us. And for some it does.

But I think it doesn’t have to. At least not in the long run.

The most compassionate, understanding, and deep individuals who have ever lived experienced horrific tragedy. I believe it is such suffering that defined who they became.

Who would Martin Luther King Jr. have been if not for the destructive hate and bigotry of his time? He suffered severe racism, violence, the death of those close to him, and much more. Such suffering and opposition caused him to rise up with divine purpose, inspiring a nation of people to fight for equality, and inspired others to finally feel some compassion.

Who would Nelson Mandela have been if it was not for his suffering 27 years in prison, a brutal civil war, and a hateful 46 year apartheid? He transformed the government and society of all of South Africa and became one of the greatest men to ever live because of the opposition that he faced.

Who would Mother Teresa have been had it not been for the pain and suffering of the sick and the dying? How could she ever have become who she was and changed so many people’s lives had it not been for the hardship experienced by many in this world? What she did was sacred, meaningful, and beautiful because of the hardship and difficulty that it addressed. If the suffering didn’t exist then none of the compassion and goodness could have existed either.

I believe suffering pushes us, stretches us, and blesses us to transform into a being stronger than we could have ever imagined. Suffering is necessary for us to experience a meaningful life. If it weren’t for Yin and Yang, life would not be worth living. There would be no purpose in it, and no growth.

But it sure can be hard to remember that when we’re in the thick of grief, betrayal, or oppression…

I pray that you can remember that there is purpose in suffering, and that this will help you in hard times. I also pray that the things I have shared above can aid you in your journey to heal and better manage your anger. Remember that suffering is trying to teach you something, and that you can face it with courage knowing that it can hone you and make you better.

Release your desires to control others and make certain of outcomes. Allow people to make their own choices and for things to not work out the way you would like. As the Hindus would say, don’t focus on the fruits of your actions, simply act.

Do what is right and know that others’ decisions are theirs and they need to walk their own journey. It is not your journey, it is theirs. You need to honor and respect it and simply allow it to take place if you want to free yourself from anger. Remember that in eternity all experiences will be for learning, no matter what they look like in the present moment.

In all things, have compassion for yourself. Remember that most things come in small steps - sometimes drunken, stumbling ones. It is okay to mess up - you always have and you always will; it’s a part of life. Learn from your mistakes, forgive yourself, and trust in God to continue to strengthen you and guide you as you change one little bit at a time.

I share the things above because they are a great reminder for me too. I am simply another person stumbling along their way on their journey back to God.

Something else that has helped me with anger is remembering what defines my worth. I invite you to read my article that talks about it here.

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