Many active and recovering alcoholics live by the edict that “revenge is a dish best served cold.” They develop anger or resentment toward a person or situation and deal with that anger by exacting revenge against them, yet that revenge often rebounds to leave the alcoholic with a cold and empty feeling. Alcohol then becomes the remedy to sooth that feeling. As many alcoholics have discovered early in their recoveries, sobriety involves more than just staying away from alcohol. A recovering alcoholic can be sober for months or years, but he will continue to be a “dry alcoholic” if he continues to allow negative emotions and self-destructive behavior to rule his life.
He will achieve a long-lasting recovery and true sobriety only if he learns to let go of the anger that fueled his alcoholism.
Letting Go of Anger
Letting go of anger is contrary to patterns that are prevalent in modern society. We are bombarded with advertisements that encourage us to sue the parties whose negligence caused accidents and injuries. Our elected officials throw recriminations at each other to gain political advantages. Corporations denigrate their competitors’ products to increase their own market share. Recovering alcoholics are encouraged to let go of their own anger and negativity, but they receive contrary messages from every other corner of the society in which they live. These mixed messages place increased stress on recovering alcoholics, leading them into dangerous relapses as they seek an outlet to ease that stress.
For many recovering alcoholics, the first step toward letting go of anger is to shift their focus from themselves. Almost everyone has experienced some unfair treatment at some point in his life. Alcoholics tend to place greater emphasis on their own problems, which can make those problems seem far greater than they are in comparison to everyone else’s issues. An alcoholic who can accept and understand that minor slights and problems are an element of everyday life will have a far greater chance of letting go of the residual anger caused by those problems.
When a recovering alcoholic gets his problems in perspective, he can then accept that fact that his own attitude toward those problems needs to change. This will allow a recovering alcoholic to move from focusing on a problem and its attendant residual anger, and into a mindset in which he can develop a constructive response to the problem that involves more than just drinking it away. Alcoholism counselors frequently recommend that an alcoholic write down the elements of the problem, including the persons who caused the problem and the adverse effects that the alcoholic experienced. This limits the problem within a finite set of boundaries. When the problem is limited in this manner, a recovering alcoholic might see that it is not a significant an issue, and he will be better able to forgive the persons responsible for it and let go of the anger and resentment that the problem caused for him.
Letting go of anger also reduces the sense of victimization that alcoholics often feel when they experience any unfair treatment. Even when anger does not cause an immediate reaction, residual anger can eat away at an alcoholic’s psyche and distract him from any attempts he may be making to move forward. A recovering alcoholic who harbors these types of resentment can find himself in a situation that pushes feelings of anger back to the surface of his consciousness, at which time he will face almost insurmountable pressures to turn back to alcohol to ease those feelings.
Letting go of anger is one of the most crucial aspects of genuine long-term recovery from alcoholism. Please contact the Last Resort Recovery Center near Austin, Texas, at 512-360-3600 for more information and suggestions on how you can let go of your own anger while you are in your own recovery. We can provide confidential counseling and help you to achieve true sobriety with no residual feelings of anger or resentment.