You may already know that anger can have negative effects on both your emotional and physical well-being. I will describe some of those effects later in this post.
But before I do, I want to point out something most people don’t think about, which is this: when most of us think about anger and being angry, we think about someone we’re angry at, or about something that happened to us that made us angry and upset. We remember getting angry when something happened to us that wasn’t fair, like getting sick or losing our job – or both. We get angry at our government for passing bad laws or for not passing laws we know are needed.
But when we think about anger and being angry, rarely do we think about our anger at ourselves. However, most if not all of us have some–and some of us have a lot of it.
We get it from not being the way we think we should be. We get it from not having the willpower we think we should have. We may have it because we haven’t taken good care of ourselves or from not staying true to our values. We can get angry at ourselves because we got sick—even though we’re not to blame for that happening. And we can be angry at ourselves for countless other reasons.
Whatever the reasons and wherever they came from, whether we are aware of it or not, virtually all of us have some anger at ourselves. And that self-anger can have the same negative effects on our emotional and our physical well-being as anger at others does.
Those effects include weakening our immune system, high blood pressure, problems with digestion, skin problems, heart attacks, strokes, anxiety and depression, and many others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that 85 percent of all diseases appear to have an emotional element. I think the percentage is even higher.
So if most of us have some self-anger, and that anger has negative effects on our emotional and physical well-being that makes our lives worse, what can we do?
The first thing we can do is to look and see if there are things we’re angry at ourselves for, things we’ve forgotten or never acknowledged in the first place. Then when we find that anger, we can do the same thing we can do when others do things that hurt and upset us: Just as we can forgive them, we can forgive ourselves.
In one way, it’s often easier to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive others. That’s because it’s easier to forgive people who apologize for what they did, but other people often don’t ever apologize. But we can always apologize to ourselves, and when when we do that, and mean it, it is a lot easier for us to forgive ourselves. So I strongly recommend that you take the time and make the effort to forgive yourself.
The next thing you can do is to be gentle with yourself and have lots of understanding compassion for both the part of you that has been hurt and angry and for the part that caused the hurt and anger. Remember that the part of you that did that was doing the best it knew how and was not intentionally trying to hurt you or make you angry and upset.
Healing self-anger can make a very big difference in your life. One of my clients recently discovered that because of her anger at herself, anger that she didn’t realize she had, she had been punishing herself for years. When she forgave herself and stopped doing that, she had a big breakthrough and experienced a miraculous shift in her often difficult relationship with her husband.
Whether or not you have a breakthrough, I am certain that healing any self-anger you have, by apologizing, forgiving, and having compassion for yourself, will have a very positive effect on your physical and emotional well-being.
Tom Robinson, who has a chronic illness (Crohn’s disease) himself, helps people with chronic illnesses meet their many challenges and then find and follow a path to happiness and fulfillment.