Anger is a complex emotion. While it has positive aspects — for some people, it’s a source of motivation — it also causes health problems if held onto for too long. When anger is chronic, it becomes not only an emotion but also a mood. This can cause problems in relationships. Chronically angry people tend to be more jealous, cynical, bitter, and aggressive. If left unchecked, the anger controls the person rather than the other way around. Long-term anger has also been linked to obesity, depression, addiction, heart disease, migraines, and low self-esteem.
Despite its adverse effects, anger is a normal emotion that everyone experiences. It’s part of the body’s fight-or-flight response to unfair situations. It becomes a problem when anger causes you to lash out or when you won’t let go of it. For example, if someone cuts you off in traffic, your immediate response is anger. That feeling should lessen within a few minutes and fade away entirely as you go about your day. If you’re still angry hours later, or if it causes you to yell at someone else, you’ve gone beyond healthy anger.
To cultivate inner peace, you must learn to process and overcome your anger. The first step is accepting your feelings. Acknowledge your anger, then ask yourself: is my anger covering up a more profound emotion? It’s easier to be mad for some people than to admit that there’s an underlying fear, sadness, or resentment that they need to deal with. Evaluate the situation you’re in with a calm, rational mind.
In the heat of the moment, that isn’t always easy. Practicing mindfulness can help. Remove yourself from the negative situation if necessary. Then practice taking deep, slow, and even breaths. Picture something that brings you peace or joy. Once you’ve distanced yourself from the anger, analyze the situation. Why did it make you react the way it did? How can you handle the situation in a healthy way? Is there a more profound emotion that you need to deal with? Is the situation itself unhealthy? If so, can you remove yourself from it?
If you find yourself getting angry often, journaling, therapy, and meditation can help you to let go and find peace.