"Prediction is difficult, especially about the future." -- Yogi Berra
Question #93382 posted on 01/17/2021 11:32 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

How do you let go of anger from the past (both situational and towards people who hurt you?)



Dear Zoboomafoo,

I'm dealing with that right now with my ex-pediatrician, and I'm contemplating therapy.

On another note, one thing that I did was go to the 12 Step Program. Yes, you heard that right. It's not just for porn or alcohol addictions. My (at the time) investigator had a lot of anger problems towards her ex-husband as she walked on him cheating on her. Someone suggested that she went to the 12 Step Program for her anger. Naturally, we went with her and I went through each step as well. I had a lot of anger with certain people in my life pre-mission that hurt me. In the end, I even ended up prayerfully writing a letter to the said person who hurt me the most. He wrote back in a way that I didn't like, but I was able to let go of it all and move on with my life. We haven't talked since, but we already knew that we were no longer part of each other's lives anymore, and that's okay. Completing the entire 12 Step Program made me feel so light and so free. I felt like there were so many chains of anger just dragging me down and they were gone by the end of it. I think everyone should do the 12 Step Program at least once in their life.

-Goldie Rose


Dear friend, 

I am working on this. I have realized that I just turn anger into contempt. It doesn't burn anymore, it just festers and never goes away. This is miserable and it sours my relationships with the people who have angered me. That doesn't really count as getting over anger.

As long as the anger you're feeling is the kind you *should* be working through (by that I mean, my next advice doesn't apply if you're angry at someone who abused you, that sort of idea.) The best way I have found to work through anger is to force myself to be nice to the people who made me angry, and if possible, talk about my feelings with them. 

You may have heard that "anger is a secondary emotion"... and sometimes this is true (there's a weird terminology around it... technically anger is a primary emotion because it's the initial response to a situation, but it's also technically secondary emotion because it's a result of deeper emotions. Psychology is confusing.) I think the best advice I can give is that you should spend some time doing introspection, write down what you're thinking, identify the root emotions behind your anger - typically these are feelings of fear/anxiety, shame, sadness, embarrassment, jealousy, betrayal, or frustration (a gap between reality and expectations). 

Once you have figured out the deeper reason behind your anger, you can work to address the needs associated with those feelings. Do you need to forgive someone? Forgive yourself? Practice gratitude? Repent? Talk it out? Work through grief? Establish realistic expectations? Talk to a therapist?

If you want to maintain a relationship with the person you're angry at, it might be worth talking about these feelings with them and coming to a reconciliation. Many times, said person may not realize the effect their actions had on you and will want to help make it better. 

Being mad at a stranger or someone you won't maintain a relationship with, or a situation in general can be much harder. In those cases, it's still important to identify the root emotions and figure out how to meet your needs... but it might also be worth asking for some divine or therapeutic help in learning to let go of the things you can't control. Sometimes it helps to write down what you can control and try to take responsibility for those. 

Hope this helps a little bit. 




Dear Hurting,

Your question made me think of my response to this question about being hurt and wanting to know how to move forward. I can reference the same devotional, "On Measuring Flour and Forgiveness", one of my favorites on the subject. If you'd like further help, you can always reach out. My email is <inklings(at)theboard(dot)byu(dot)edu>.



Dear you,

This hasn't always worked even in my own life, but distance and new perspective does a lot. It's easier to let go of anger when situations change and you're no longer trapped in whatever circumstance facilitated someone else hurting you. But then of course consequences and scars can far outreach the situations where they were first created. I think as we heal it becomes easier to forgive and let go. And it's okay if letting go of anger is a work in progress. 



Dear Zuko,

My usual way of dealing with feelings like anger is to write it all down, especially in cases where I'm not able to express my feelings to the person I'm angry with or unable to do anything about situational anger.

I've found it's hard to let go of my feelings without some sort of outlet for them, and writing an angry letter or even trying to analytically dissect my feelings helps to mitigate them.




Dear grumpy,

I second Luciana on writing things down. I discussed my most formative experience with grudges and past anger in Board Question #92608--maybe something there will be helpful to you. I still don't have it all totally figured out, myself, but some mitigation is better than none.