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Why ‘Letting Go’ of Anger Isn’t Enough

Why ‘Letting Go’ of Anger Isn’t Enough

One time when, as a couple, we were disagreeing and getting heated with each other, a wise friend said, “Can’t you just laugh?”  This had the immediate effect of reminding us that the ego loves to be right and easily over-reacts and clings. By remembering to laugh we not only see the ego at play and defeat it at its own game, but it also enables us to not take ourselves too seriously. In that way we don’t react to the accompanying emotions and move on much more quickly.

When emotions are running high and you’re trying to stay calm then it’s easy to say, “Just let go.” Especially to let go of anything that is causing disturbance or grievance. Letting go implies not reacting to a situation or holding on to feelings, which means taking a deep breath with awareness.

However, once some incident, challenging situation, or disharmony makes us want to let go, then it’s already been picked up and is affecting us. Letting go doesn’t always work: we can still feel the anger, frustration, hurt, or whatever emotion is attached to the situation. Fear and anger appear to be the main culprits here, and as much as we want to let go we often end up holding tight to the very thing that is causing pain. The ego is like a dog with a bone.

So rather than letting go we prefer to say, “Don’t even pick it up!” or “Don’t take it on!” This allows us to stay mindful and objective, to observe and witness the situation without ego getting the better of our feelings. We are mindful of what is happening without making it “our” story. Even if someone is screaming angrily, it’s important to remember that we only lash out and hurt another when we ourselves are in pain, so that person must be hurting emotionally. We don’t need to pick up that pain; we can let it stay where it came from.

Through mindfulness and meditation we see what is happening, the issues and feelings that are in play, and what emotion belongs where. We stay aware and non-reactive. So now our real guru is Lord Teflon, as nothing sticks to Teflon!

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Award-Winning Authors Ed and Deb of Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World, are mindfulness, meditation and yoga experts. Deb’s new novel is: Merging: Women in Love — what happens when you fall in love with the least likely person of the least likely gender? – and she is the author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 19 languages. They have three meditation CDs. See more at EdandDebShapiro.com

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Ed and Deb Shapiro

You can learn more in our book, Be The Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Marianne Williamson, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Byron Katie and others. Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: EdandDebShapiro.com

86 comments

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5:40AM PDT on Sep 29, 2014

noted

12:04PM PDT on Aug 14, 2014

Easier said than done when you are in an extremely toxic relationship. It's good advice but obviously spoken by a couple on the same page. Sometimes, letting go of anger means simply walking away. Forever, if necessary. Some people refuse to compromise. That's when you have to walk.

And sometimes, as S.J.A. says, it IS very appropriate to react in anger. Just depends on the degree.

7:27AM PDT on Aug 8, 2014

Thank you!!

8:44AM PDT on Aug 4, 2014

Thank you for noticing :)

12:24AM PDT on Aug 2, 2014

Thanks for sharing

5:08AM PDT on Aug 1, 2014

We anteaters are fairly calm animals by nature.

4:42AM PDT on Aug 1, 2014

Choose at the moment of incident. This applies to sorrow or any other "negative" emotion as well as anger. Holding on to the hurt just makes it fester,

10:24AM PDT on Jul 10, 2014

Thank you :)

2:00AM PDT on Jul 2, 2014

noted

3:33PM PDT on Jul 1, 2014

Thanks

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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