It’s hard to understand our anger when it’s invisible inside our head. We can choose to get it out by using our words, not our behavior and writing it down.
One step that may be useful to manage our anger is to ask ourselves:
“What angered us the most when that happened?”
“What’s the worst part about that?”
“Who were we angry at?”
“Who else were we angry at?”
With such questions we peel down the surface layers until we identify underlying anger. When we understand our anger, we understand ourselves. We find out what is bothering us the most when these things happen, like unfairness, neglect, rejection, inadequacy or failure. We may feel good for nothing. Or we may feel powerless to do anything about it. We blame ourselves as if it were our fault.
We can tell ourselves:
“It doesn’t mean we are bad. We are only imperfect and that’s not a crime. We are still a worthwhile person in spite of it.”
We can say to ourselves:
“Its OK to have setbacks and disappointments. They are part of the ups and downs of everyday life. If we have a setback, we can learn from it. We can do something different next time. It takes time to overcome pain and our journey will continue. This is not the destination. Since we cannot control the wind, all we can do is adjust our sails and head in the direction that makes us happy.”
Instead of punishing ourselves for overreacting, we can choose to forgive ourselves for not being perfect, for making mistakes or taking others choices personally.
Even if we are at fault, we are a not expected to be perfect. Self-respect is not conditional upon getting what we want. This is not a reflection on our ability to be a perfect person. Self-respect is accepting that we are a worthwhile human being who is unconditionally lovable despite what others’ say. Of course, we would prefer to get more recognition for our efforts. Yet, we are lovable regardless of the outcome.
A mistake is not the end of the world. It’s a chance to learn and grow as a person. We are free to do something different next time. There is no crime and we are not guilty. It is regrettable, which means we wish it hadn’t happened but it did. We are worthwhile in spite of it.
Below are some ways we can promote self acceptance:
• We can remind ourselves that imperfections are simply mistakes, not the end of the world. We have made many good decisions and have made mistakes before. We are more than the sum of your success and mistakes. We are complex, not all good or all bad. Our performance will vary from day to day, hour to hour and we can separate your performance from who we are. We are not worthless even if make mistake. Doing badly never makes us a bad person — only imperfect. We have a right to be wrong. We can separate the rating of our behavior from the rating of ourselves. We have put up with disappointments all your life; we can tolerate this one too. Not getting our way is disappointing and inconvenient, which we deal with on a daily basis.
• We can build on our past successes. Our mind may be quick to criticize our mistakes, but very slow to validate our success. If we cannot acknowledge our own achievements, we look to others for approval. This means we give control over what is a success, control over our self worth to other people. When we look to others for approval, they control our confidence. Instead, we can choose to say, “I did that. I got it done and I made it happen.” That is not conceit, it is not “smug self satisfaction.” It is confidence. It is validating our efforts to face a difficulty and get through it the best you can.