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How to Let Go of Past Anger

It’s happened to all of us.  Someone betrayed you, hurt you, took advantage of you, lied to you, left you, stole from you, or otherwise tore your insides to pieces.

You’re angry, and you can’t let it go.

Maybe you want revenge.  Maybe you want to forget.  Maybe you want to move on, but something triggers you and the pain comes back.

Perhaps you’ve tried therapy, or talking to the person who betrayed you, or you try not to think about it, but you just can’t let go of the anger.

Carrying anger, bitterness, and resentment only hurts you and erodes your well-being.  It can cause you to develop trust issues, or avoid emotional entanglements for fear of a betrayal happening again.

If you’re ready to let go of that anger, I’ve got a technique you can try that will help you release it.  This will either remove the anger forever, or dampen it in your mind so much that it no longer has any (or much) power over you.

Set Aside Time

First, make an appointment with yourself to use the technique.  Block out 15 minutes when you can utterly focus your entire attention on this matter and you don’t have to be somewhere else.

Find a Private Place

Pick a place where you absolutely will not be interrupted or overheard.  You must feel free to behave in a way that is not witnessed by others so that you feel free to throw yourself into this technique fully.  Turn off your phone, make sure the kids or your pets won’t need you.  Hide yourself away.

Make Your Space Ready

Get a pad of paper and a pen, or be in front of your computer with a document open, or just be sitting on a couch, chair, bed, or some pillows on a floor.  You may also stand.  If you want to, light some candles.

Get Ready to Rumble

Set a timer or use a stopwatch, something that will ding when the time is up.  Take a deep breath and commit to this fully.

Rumble

When your timer starts, you start.  Express your anger fully.  Think about the wrong done to you.  Let the pain overtake you.  

Now do any or all of the following:  Rant, rave, scream, yell, pound some pillows, throw darts at a photo of your betrayer’s face.  Have a conversation out loud, on paper, or in your mind.  Tell that person what you’re feeling.  

Example: “You totally screwed me over, you son of a bitch.  You knew when I lent you that money that I would need it back, and you took it knowing you were never going to pay me back.  You broke my trust, you put me in a bad position, you got me evicted.  I hate you for what you did to me.  You put me out on the street. I had to move in with my parents.  I had to sell my car and start taking the bus to work.  You destroyed my credit. You caused me such pain and heartache and fear.  I am so mad at you.  I didn’t deserve this.  You used my compassion against me.  You made me distrust everyone else after you.  And all your promises to pay me back just gave me hope.  You should be ashamed of your behavior.”  

And so on.  Get it all out.  Say everything you want to say.  Say it twice if you want. 

Release

Be physical (but don’t hurt yourself).  Tear some paper to shreds.  Break some pencils in half.  Stomp on an old pillow.  Throw marshmallows at the wall. Pop some balloons.

Cry.  Feel frustrated.  Feel sad.  Mourn what you have lost.  Sit in the sadness.  Let it overcome you.

But When the Timer Stops, You Stop

Use every bit of time you’ve allotted yourself, but when the timer goes off, you stop.  

You are only giving this anger 15 minutes of your time.  That’s it, no more.  The rest of your day is for your present, not your past.  The rest of the day is for your joy, not your anger.  You gave it expression.  It doesn’t get to ride inside your mind all day.

Repeat When Necessary

If you need to, schedule another session with your anger.  Literally put it on your calendar.  

Keep it compartmentalized to only your appointment time.  If something happens during your day that triggers your memory of the past event, say to yourself, “I’ll address you in my next session, but you can’t have my attention right now.”

In this manner, you are not avoiding the anger, you are merely putting it in a time box for later examination.

Then set aside another 15 minutes, and go at your anger as hard as you want.  

Over Time

Over time you’re going to notice that you don’t really need the full 15 minutes.  You’ll start to become a little bored expressing this anger.  You’ll start to schedule it for 5 minutes instead of 15.  You’ll do it once a month instead of once a week.

Over time, the anger will begin to have no impact on you.  You will have processed it all.

But if the rage does comes back, you’ll know how to handle it.  Set an appointment.  Give it your full attention, then put it down until next time.

You don’t have to forget what happened to you.  It’s going to be a valuable lesson you don’t want to forget.  But you don’t have to let it control you, cripple you, or take you down to the ground.  

Try the technique for yourself and see how it works for you.   

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