When things happen that make you feel angry or hurt (usually it’s when we feel hurt that we get angry), there are a multitude of ways to react that are specific to each person and the experience. You might want to retreat and avoid, or you might want to lash out and hurt back. Of course both of these reactions only serve to prolong the situation rather than provide clarity and get you closer to a resolution.
There are many angry people in the world, but I find a woman’s anger to be particularly destructive. Forgive me, for I am generalizing here, but for the sake of this article I’m taking that liberty (and I’m a woman so I’m allowed). In my experience, both personally and with the women in my life, we tend to hold onto anger and allow it to build. It stews and festers until it either explodes outwards in rage or implodes inward in depression or illness. This is not helpful or healthy for you or anyone in your immediate surroundings.
Lately I’ve been working on two ways out of this mess. First, saying in the moment when I feel hurt. This can be especially challenging if you’re used to keeping your mouth shut for the sake of keeping the peace. For some reason it feels easier to do with my boyfriend than with close friends and family. When you’re willing to do it though, it gets you out of the festering trap and allows you to resolve an issue in the moment, rather than turning a molehill into a mountain.
The second is for those times when you don’t know how to respond in the moment, but later on you find yourself bombarded by waves of hurt and anger.
Or perhaps in the moment the emotions are simply too strong to react, and you want to take some time to absorb and process. My advice to you: write an angry letter.
This is a letter where you let it all out. You write to the person that has triggered those angry thoughts, and you write with reckless abandon, because my friend, you will never actually give this letter to the person in question. This is the opposite of angry texting, which is often extremely destructive and leaves both parties feeling worse off. No, you get it all out on paper, all your feelings of hurt and betrayal, knowing there is no danger because you will never actually send it. Then something magical happens.
You start to make sense of it. You start to see where communication broke down, or where you could have done something differently. Your compassion for that person and for yourself expands, because you see it was likely simple human error that got you there.
You are then able to communicate more lovingly and clearly to the person in question as the original intensity has dissipated and your need to lash out is no longer present.
This is not avoidance. Writing is a wonderful way to work through difficult and complicated emotions. You can be completely honest and free without flinging venom in anyone’s direction. It gets it out without creating more hurt and guilt in return. Then, you can either move on, or hash it out if you feel that’s necessary to repair the hole in the relationship.
I did this writing activity recently, and it helped me a great deal to unravel a tangle of complicated feelings and see with more clarity and compassion. In the end, most people, especially those that care for you, only have the best intentions. Yet if you are in a vulnerable mindset or too wrapped up in your own perspective, you might assume otherwise. In the wise words of my eighth grade English teacher, when you assume, you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”
Take action now:
– Write an angry letter (that you will not send) to someone with whom you are feeling angry or hurt. Be completely open and honest with how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Write as much as you need to. In the comments below, share how this exercise makes you feel and if it provides any clarity on your situation.
– For more on women’s anger and the art of angry letter writing read Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, by Regena Thomashauer.
P.S. For personalized tips on life and love, check out my soul-care program HERE.