5 Ways to Release Your Anger and Embrace Forgiveness

Young adult with long hair sits in tall grass, looking out into distance, holding a bunch of brightly colored balloonsWe all experience love in one form or another. We all experience hurt and pain. It’s part of the human condition.

Likewise, people can be insensitive sometimes. They say or do things either intentionally or unintentionally that hurt others. At times, a careless action or critical remark can really hurt us, especially if we attach too much importance or meaning to it. The more closely connected we are to the person, the deeper the pain.

An infraction that is relatively minor or insignificant to one person may be devastatingly painful to another. For some, resentments are difficult to release. The tighter the hold, the harder it may be to let go.

When ruminated about over a period of time, a resentment can transform into a grudge. If these negative feelings are left unresolved within ourselves, they can lead to unhappiness, bitterness, and permanent unforgiveness. Research has shown that prolonged anger can have devastating effects on our health and longevity.

Although we may feel justified in our anger, what can we do to stop feeling the pain and upset feelings that the hurt has caused? Not every infraction requires forgiveness. However, if the hurt is personal, profoundly deep, and seems unjust, the following ideas may help you begin to release your anger and bring back a sense of peace and joy.

1. Decide to Forgive Yourself

Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can at any given moment. Try not to replay the “what-ifs.” Validate your feelings by acknowledging your anger and pain. Anger is a helpful emotion that signals to us that something is wrong and needs to be corrected.

When you are ready, make a conscious choice to release the anger and hurt and let go of the past. Be kind to yourself and set yourself free from hurt. Being able to forgive solves many problems.

2. Decide to Forgive Others

Everyone is imperfect and flawed. Everyone makes mistakes every day. Everyone is doing the best they can given their personal life history and the impact that history has had on them.

Make a conscious decision to let go of offensive words and behavior. Decide to not let what others do or say have power over you. Stand firm in your truth.

3. Redirect Your Thoughts

What we believe may become true for us. Thoughts are powerful, either positive or negative. Dwelling on past hurts only serves to reinjure ourselves.

Challenge your negative thoughts and reframe them in a positive and more balanced way. Bitterness can cloud your vision and alter your perspective. Be truthful to yourself and allow yourself to be aware of how you may have hurt others in similar ways.

4. Change Your Perspective

Allow yourself to see things from a more positive perspective. Try being able to see the person or situation in a new light. Look for things that the person is doing right rather than emphasizing their flaws.

5. Live in the Present

Realize that the past is in the past. You only have the present moment to live in. Focus on what is going well right now, and try not to allow negative thoughts about the past to creep into your consciousness.

Our existence provides us both positive and negative experiences. Life offers us numerous opportunities to be hurt and offended by others. It can be difficult to let go of the past, forgive ourselves, forgive others, and try to experience life differently, but the benefits of forgiveness far outweigh the benefits of unforgiveness. Working toward creating a happier, more peaceful existence through forgiveness is worth the price.

If you’re struggling with forgiveness, contact a licensed therapist for compassionate support and guidance.


Smedes, L. B. (1984). Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Ellen Schrier, MS, LPC, NCC, GoodTherapy.org Topic Expert

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Suzanne M

    December 13th, 2016 at 12:03 PM

    So it might not always feel like it is ideal but you have to learn to forgive other people. They are never going to be the bigger person, that is usually going to be left up to you. So why not take that chance and be the bigger person and do the things that in the end is the one thing that will help you feel better?
    I don’t know if this always works for everyone but once I do that then it is like a load has seriously been lifted off of me, and that weight is a killer if that’s what you let it be in your life.

  • Padgett

    December 13th, 2016 at 2:22 PM

    It might sound weird but I think that there are times when I actually have a harder time forgiving myself then I do other people. I think that one thing in life always holds me back, thinkingof what I could have or should have done differently, and then getting hung up on it.
    Oh well, the lesson is to live and learn and that’s all I’m going for now.

  • betsy

    December 14th, 2016 at 2:06 PM

    For me it is all a path toward moving forward. I don’t think that there is veer anyone who has been that much of a success in their personal life while holding onto anger. I guess that it could be true that you are successful professionally but I would have a hard time with believing that you are truly satisfied and content in all other areas of life if all you want to do is hold onto that anger. That is what will in the end hold you back.

  • Shelby

    December 15th, 2016 at 7:45 AM

    If only we could learn that we can’t change the past.

  • Laken

    December 16th, 2016 at 12:15 PM

    I will do whatever I can to just take my mind off of whatever it is that is bothering me.
    I might go read, go for a walk, play with the dog, just anything so I don’t have to dwell on the worrisome stuff. For a little while at least.


    December 21st, 2016 at 10:19 AM

    It does always feel like those that we are the closest to are the ones who are most likely to hurt us. It is not that this is likely to be intentional, it’s just that they mean so much to us and their actions are going to impact us in a greater way than what those of another person might do.

  • Paulette Y

    December 22nd, 2016 at 6:29 AM

    When my husband left me I blamed myself, thinking that if I had been a better wife then he would not have left me in the cold like that. I didn’t think that I was worthy of him staying with me, but I wish that I had recognized the value in my own life far earlier than what I actually did.

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