There’s a popular quote that makes plenty of rounds in the self-development world that goes: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” -Buddha
When I experienced an extremely difficult time in my life, I watched as everyone who I thought was a friend or loved one quickly drifted away. The one person who definitely would have been there was gone now, he had passed away onto the next plain.
I developed a lot of resentment and anger for the people who were still around, who I thought I could count on. I’d never gone through a time as trying as that and naively assumed someone would understand.
But this was no sitcom — this was real life, and in real life most people are pretty much doing their own thing.
Over time this anger grew stronger and stronger, perpetuating and strengthening the depression I was suffering. I day dreamed about ways I could get them all back one day, how I would curse each of them out so bad if I ever saw them again and how I would make them feel like tiny ants that I could step on. I quietly seethed.
I was so consumed by that anger that I had no room for thoughts of prosperity or growth. I remained stuck in a holding pattern, unable to move forward with anything in my life.
Over that time I noticed a number of physical changes happening to me. It was weird. I gained weight in all the wrong places on my normally slim and trim body. My normally smooth and supple skin became blotchy. I developed allergies to things that I had never had a problem with before. Even my digestive system started acting up.
When you harbor inner anger, hatred and resentment toward others it really does only affect YOU. Only when you act on it does it hurt others, but it still comes back to hurt YOU. It might not burn your hand as in the metaphor from Buddha, but it can hurt you in myriad other ways.
Drop it ‘Cause It’s Hot
When I finally FINALLY decided to drop that hot coal of anger that I was harboring toward certain people in my life, I felt such a wave of relief rush over me. I finally managed to put things into the proper perspective — they didn’t owe me anything, and I don’t owe them anything. Even though I would have been there for them in a trying time, they still don’t have any *obligation* to do the same for me. We all have free will to choose what we’re going to do for others. If you do find a friend or loved one who holds you down in a time of trouble, you have a really good thing. Please make sure you do the same for them.
It’s not a surprise that my peculiar conditions slowly began to clear up soon after I “dropped the hot coal.” I felt light-footed/hearted and things began to progress in my life. My businesses regained momentum and I started to see the beauty in going outside on a sunny day again.
Can You Relate?
Are you holding onto a metaphorical “hot coal” of anger toward someone in your life? Maybe an ex-boyfriend, a family member or a friend from the past?
How does holding onto this anger benefit you in the short and long run? Is it really hurting the other person?
Contemplate these questions and I sincerely pray that you can one day find the strength to let go of that anger and move forward with your life. Anger is a poison and it needs to be eliminated as soon as possible.
Remember: you are the only one who is responsible for your own happiness in life. Claim it!
Lynn Gilliard is a writer and transformational blogger. She is the author of a self-help guide entitled Survive, Live or Thrive? and a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.