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Recently someone asked me why I wasn’t angry, or bitter, about some of my experiences. Why I’m not generally an angry or bitter person.

It was an interesting question – tantamount to “why are you the way you are?”

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

When someone hurts you, or does you wrong, it’s nearly always about them – so don’t let them make it about you, and more importantly, don’t let you make it about you!

Here is what I used to tell my clients – all men, and nearly all men who had been terribly hurt by the actions of their wives or ex-wives (usually involving withholding the children from their fathers): by hanging on to anger and hurt, which often becomes something of a self-righteous cloak in which we wrap ourselves, what we are really doing is giving the person who hurt us power over us – power to continue to hurt us, even though they themselves have probably moved on long ago, and aren’t giving us a second thought, and couldn’t care less how we’re feeling.

Let’s say that someone named Chris has done you wrong, and hurt you terribly a few months ago. Now you are hurting, licking your wounds, and you keep thinking about what a rotten thing Chris did to you – picking at it like a scab.

But do you really think that Chris is still thinking about it? Do you think that Chris cares at all?

Is your continued anger and hurt and bitterness affecting Chris even a tiny bit?

No, of course not. It’s only affecting you, like poison. Meanwhile, Chris has moved on and couldn’t care less that you’re still angry or bitter. So why are you giving Chris that kind of power over you?

So much of the time we think that something we are feeling or holding on to is about the other person, when it’s really about us. Sometimes we hang on to it because it’s scary to let go of hurt or anger or bitterness, because it’s familiar or because it means now we have to move on and be responsible for what comes next.

Sometimes we hang on to it because it allows us to continue to feel some connection to that person (this is part of a phenomena known as ‘negative intimacy’) – and to let go of it means we really have severed all connections (real or imagined) with that person.

Or we hang on to it because it’s scary to let go of the hurt/anger/bitterness because we think that to let it go is to somehow not be sticking up for ourselves, or to somehow suggest that we deserved the hurt. But really, acknowledging it and then shaking it off is the best way to show that we didn’t deserve it.

The bottom line is that carrying anger and bitterness around is not just self-defeating – it’s letting the other person ‘win’.

At least, that’s how I see it.

3 Responses to “On Being Angry and Bitter – or Not”

  1. "gunner" says:

    very good advice anne, i always like the old g.i. saying, “f*** it, drive on”. holding on for whatever reasons just gives the “other” power in your life.

  2. Dr.Mani says:

    I’m glad you chose to start writing your story, Anne. I’m sure there’ll be many more nuggets of wisdom and sage advice that so many can draw from your experiences. Thank you for sharing this one – it’s so true!

  3. Dennis Galvan says:

    I agree with you. I have never understood why there is such “hate” between two individuals who were in “love”. Hearing about a spouse harming the other or a child because one grew apart from the other is beyond me.

    I have been divorce twice, each time I did the divorce myself with the support of my spouse(s).

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