How To Change Anger To Happiness?

How To Change Anger To Happiness?

There is a quote from Nelson Mandela, a man who has every right to be angry after twenty -seven years of imprisonment: 


"As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison." - Nelson Mandela


Eighteen of those years were served at Robben Island, where prisoners faced a harsh regime in a cell block constructed for political prisoners.  Each had a single cell about seven-foot square, all built around a concrete courtyard.  To start with, they were allowed no reading materials and they crushed stones with a hammer to make gravel and were made to work in a blindingly bright quarry digging out the limestone. Read more here.

Cape Town, South Africa - May 14, 2015: Banner on Robben Island Prison wall where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, now a museum, Cape Town, South Africa.

Cape Town, South Africa - May 14, 2015: Banner on Robben Island Prison wall where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, now a museum, Cape Town, South Africa.

Yet despite those terrible years, Nelson was able to leave all the hatred and anger behind so that he could be truly free.

Anger is something most of us have carried at some point in our lives and I have worked with many clients who have held onto anger and who felt like they were in prison.  

It is a condition that can have a ripple effect onto our families and other relationships. Chronic anger also contributes to many physical illnesses, including heart disease and additional stress-related diseases and can consume vast amounts of mental and physical energy.  

It can be soul destroying and vacuum the life out of you and others in your inner circle.

Anger in the workplace ruins careers. Anger destroys lives.


What is anger?

Anger is the feeling we experience when events in our world are not going according to our plans or rules. You see yourself as the “victim” of the situation.  It's as if we have a fundamental idea of how things, events and people should be and when they don't “march to our tune”, we get angry and either feel frustrated or try to change them.

Most people holding onto the anger feel entirely justified in doing so, feeling entitled to blame others for their stupidity and thoughtlessness and feeling angry with them and the situation.

But just becoming angry is pointless because it changes nothing.  You can try and change things, but changing other people’s viewpoints, or the situation, may not always work.

You then need to be the one who changes.  

You may think you are in the right when you get angry and you deserve to feel this way, but I want you to ask yourself “Does anger make me happy?”. 

Is your anger contributing towards your happiness and the happiness of others?

I would guess that the answer is a resounding “No”.

"You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger." 
- Buddha

It’s time to let it go. Here are three ways for you to help yourself deal with your anger.

1. Don't Bottle It Up

Holding onto anger is like a volcano getting ready to erupt.  According to Better Health Victoria, suppressing anger can lead to all sorts of diseases in your body and leads to an explosion. 

I have seen that expressing anger makes things worse because it exacerbates the problematic situation and can have hostile concerns for your family, career and relationships, and even your freedom.

You need to seek help to get your anger off your chest, so you don't end up lonely, or feeling you are in prison.  


2. Leave The Anger At The Gate

As Nelson Mandela did, the best way to deal with the anger is to stop it happening in the first place by choosing not to get angry when you feel that you would be justified in doing so.

Understand what the triggers are that evoke your anger; what feelings do you have in your body, where do you feel it, and then systematically defuse these triggers.

By recognising how these triggers have controlled you, often you can see what is happening to your life and you learn that you don't want to be ruled by these emotions anymore.  

When you feel the triggers, try to think of a time that you fell down laughing, a time in your life when something so funny happened that you laughed until you cried.  This will squash the triggering feeling of anger, so you can feel something else instead – happiness and calmness.


3.  Keep Growing

Keep defusing any triggers of anger and instead, start to design your life.

You are in control, not the anger.  Decide from this moment how you are going to be happier in the future.

Write down what being angry was doing to your health, happiness and relationships.  Then in a second column, write down the benefits of letting this go, and the freedom it has provided you.

By not allowing others to control your life, you become the master of your destiny.


And keep practising at diffusing the situations and avoiding feeling angry, because practice makes perfect. 

Of course, just doing the above three steps won't stop you entirely from becoming angry, but they will get you to think of and recognise why you are angry.  Don’t be upset with yourself if the change is gradual and you still feel angry sometimes, but if the anger continues unchanged, please seek alternative professional help.  

Carolyn Rowland is a qualified NLP Master Therapist, Advanced Practitioner of Matrix Therapies, Time Line Therapist, Practitioner of Hypnotherapy, has a Diploma for Business and Life Coaching and A Professional Image Stylist.  Carolyn is happily married to her husband Simon, and raised four beautiful children, who are now young adults and a teenager.


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