How to Let Go to Reduce Stress and Angry Feelings
In every one of our lives there will come a time when we feel we are unable to control our lives. This sense of not being in control of our life is the main cause of stress. It is as if we are stuck in a corner and we go into overdrive to resolve the situation and this causes extreme stress. The situation has to be faced but we are so angry with life and ourselves that we are unable to think straight. Without the ability to think calmly it is difficult to find a creative solution and get out of the unpleasant situation. We find ourselves caught in a vicious circle and our body protests by becoming sick and unhealthy.
If you have experienced such circumstances a few times in your life then you might have also tried to find a way to deal with them. You might have read many books, talked to friends, counsellors or even doctors. However, that would have been when you have reached an extreme point of discomfort and unhappiness. What can we do in our daily life to deal with minor stressors and situations that make us angry? It is always the small things that get on our nerves and slowly build up into unmanageable emotional distresses.
Dealing with Stress and Anger
We have to deal with the physical body, the emotions and the mind in day to day life. These three parts of ourselves are always with us. If there is disharmony even in one of them our life can become miserable. They are also interconnected and a discord even in one of them affect the other parts. How can we better control what happens in the physical body, our emotions and in our mind?
There is one simple solution: to Let Go. To let go of our preoccupation with the body, emotions and thoughts. We always have a tape/CD playing in our minds which seems to play the same thing over and over again. We seem unable to get out of this repetitive pattern and become angry with life, circumstances or others. How can we let go of these thought patterns which seem to affect our emotions and body?
The Real Cause for Stress and Anger
First of all we have to understand the cause for stress and anger. It is when unforeseen events occur that put a strain on our ability to cope and we no longer feel in charge of the situation that creates what we perceive as stress. This stress results in a feeling of helplessness which causes pain in our being which manifests as anger. Anger manifests as irritability or annoyance when it is not fully expressed. Every little thing seems to get on our nerves. Hence, the whole process starts with us perceiving something as being out of our control.
The real cause for stress is our attitude to what happens to us. And when things don't happen the way we would like them to we become angry. It is important to remember that there is pain behind anger. It might be because someone has treated us unfairly or due to circumstances that cause us pain and suffering. To hide our pain we express anger towards people or situations. The most important point here is that every emotion has another one under it. We might be thinking it is foolish to feel anger and try to suppress it, however, it is the pain behind it that is the real cause for our feelings.
Once we have identified the cause for stress and anger the next step would be to learn to deal with them. Trying to suppress our feelings does not get rid of them. They manifest in other forms as we go through life. The only solution is to let go of our feelings and emotions. However, letting go is a skill and requires practice.
Why Should We Learn to Let Go?
Let us try an experiment:
- Pick up a book in your right hand and hold it on your palm for some time. Feel its weight, hold it for some more time.
- Notice how a book that might have weighed 160gms will feel like it weighs a kilo as time goes by. It is the same book but feels heavier.
- When it gets too unbearable put it down. How do you feel?
- Don't you feel a sense of relief? Notice your blood flowing back into your arm and the pain disappear after some time.
This is what we do in relation to everything that happens in our life. We hold on it and do not let go or put it down even for a moment. Not only do we carry it when we are awake, we even take it with us when we go to sleep and continue to hold on when we wake up. It is no wonder that most of us wake up more tired than when we went to sleep.
The most important skill we will ever learn to manage stress and anger is to Let Go. However, letting go is not passive resignation to what is happening in our lives. It is not merely accepting our feeling stressed out and justifying our anger. It is actively releasing what is not working for us and learning to Let Come that which is helpful to us. It means a change of attitude which will result in a change of character in the long run. Eventually whatever situation we are faced with will not affect us adversely but we would take it as an opportunity for growth.
Tips to Let Go of Situations
Most of our suffering due to stress and anger are caused by our desire to change what is. However, as J. Krishnamurti said:
If you see what is, what is changes.
So the first step to letting go is to accept and see clearly what is at this moment and ask the questions:
- Could I let go of wanting to change_______________? (Fill in the blank with what you are wanting to change but are unable to do anything about at this moment.)
Could I let go of only 1 percent of wanting to change_________________? (This is a good option when you are unable to let go of the whole thing. You can let go in parts.)
Could I accept 1 percent of __________________? (When a situation has to be endured this is a good strategy to accept a portion of it when total acceptance seems impossible.)
Could I postpone wanting to change_______________for only two seconds? (Sometimes coming back to deal with an issue can help you work with it. Here you are letting go for two seconds.)
Could I let go just for now of wanting to change ________________?
The above strategies can be used in dealing with situations that are causing stress in our lives.
Meditation to Let Go
Many studies have been conducted by scientists and psychologists on the beneficial effects of meditation to deal with stress. The following meditation has been a great help to me since I found it in 2006 in the book Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das:
Where you are
Open to effortlessness,
Rather than doing.
Enjoy for a moment
This marvelous joy of meditation
This meditation is helpful when you are training yourself to learn to let go. It can be done any time you are feeling stressed out, in the office, at home or in a group before a meeting. When the mind is relaxed it will provide solutions that will be of help in resolving a situation or help with creative thinking.
Tips to Let Go of Feelings
The way the physical body works is different from the way the emotional body works hence the strategies to deal with them are also different. The mind is another matter. To deal with the 'monkey mind', it is a good idea to start the day with an uplifting thought during meditation. So whenever the mind is free during the day, this uplifting thought will come to the fore. It is also a good idea to stop and observe your breath a few times in the day. Concentrating on the breath helps to still the mind and bring you into the present moment.
It is important to remember two points:
- Feelings occur in layers. When we release on one feeling, the feeling that was underneath it surfaces. This gives us an opportunity to release on this other feeling, bringing us even greater relief. Many of us have warm and loving feelings that are buried beneath negative feelings. When the negative feelings are released, we are free to be more loving of others and or ourselves. – Patricia Carrington Ph.D.
- It is important to stop and slow down periodically. The main reason the body becomes stressed is because it has not had a chance to re-balance the energies. Normally once stress is over, the parasympathetic nervous system will reverse the physical stress responses by slowing down the heart rate, re-stimulating digestion, closing the pores, helping the bronchi contract again to help the body function normally.
We have to learn to be mindful of our physical, emotional and mental state throughout the day and see how each situation affects us.
Mindful living is the highest form of human intelligence. – Deepak Chopra
What is Weighing you Down - (Video 2.40min)
- SoulPancake: Pop Your Problems - Video - @OWNTV
SoulPancake asks people to write the things that are weighing on their minds all over a giant balloon in the middle of a park.
Further Resources for Stress Relief
- Meditation Results in Brain Growth
The brain is the most complex, powerful organism in the universe and taking care of it requires a holistic approach. Here are tips on nutrition, physical and mental exercises and meditation to improve brain health and brain growth.
- Stress Relief When Meditation is Difficult
The most important thing is our attitude that determines whether we suffer from stress or transform like charcoal into a diamond under the pressure. Find out what are the signs of stress. Four tips to achieve stress relief by deep breathing, restful
- Easy and Simple Meditation for Beginners
Regularity rather than duration is the key to success in meditation. Even the simplest form of meditation will help in becoming centred, peaceful and alert through out the day. Read on for some important do's and don'ts when practicing meditation.
- Easy Meditation Tips
Meditation can be practiced by anyone and it is easy to begin a daily practice. Learn about the obstacles and how you can make it easy for yourself to practice a simple form of meditation.
- How to Meditate in Only One Minute
If you are feeling off centre during the day, here are two meditation exercises you can do to come into the present moment. This will help you deal with any challenge afterwards with a clear and relaxed sense of being. Learn how to meditated in just
- Total Stress Relief – Practical Solutions that Really Work by Vera Peiffer. Judy Piatkus (Publishers) Limited, 2003.
- The Power of Letting Go – A Practical Approach to Releasing the Pressures in Your Life by Patricia Carrington Ph.D. Elements Books Limited, 1999.