Let’s face it—we’ve all been angry from time to time. Anger in itself is not bad. It’s a common emotion and expressing it is healthy. But if you’re not careful about it, particularly unresolved anger, then you are in for potential trouble. Holding on to old wounds and grudges hurts no one but yourself. Learn to let go of anger, forgive and be free.

Release the Anger

When the feeling of anger wells up inside, it can be frustrating and painful. Sometimes your first inclination may be to lash out and hurt someone, other times you might just stuff it down deep within. Either way is unhealthy. While it is important to express your anger, it is also important to do it in the right way so you can release it, let go and move on.

Holding on to old wounds and grudges hurts no one but yourself. Learn to let go of anger, forgive and be free.

Allow yourself to fully feel your angry emotions. Acknowledge them along with the hurt. Do the traditional things people tell you to do when you’re angry: cry, scream into a pillow, exercise and journal. While they may sound cliché, they are tried and true—and actually do work!

Many times our anger is directed at a person. Communicating with the transgressor may be a good idea. Although you have no control over their response, this does give you the chance to express how you feel—which may help you let go.

Foster Forgiveness

Once you’ve let go of the anger, then you can start to foster forgiveness. Although forgiveness doesn’t erase responsibility for offensive acts, it does help bring about peace for everyone involved. It is good for the heart both figuratively and literally. In fact a Harvard study found that forgiveness could improve blood pressure and overall heart health. This research really gives new meaning to the term “having a change of heart.”

So how can you reach that point of forgiveness, especially when the scars are so deep? Start by taking your time. Forgiveness does not necessarily happen all at once. It can be a process. Give yourself permission to move slowly. You may still need awhile to grieve and reflect on the situation. If you still find it difficult to begin, consider writing out the phrase, “I forgive (the transgressor’s name).” You can try repeating it aloud as well. It can start the ball rolling. Essentially it works just like an affirmation. By repeating it over and over, eventually it takes root within your psyche and becomes reality.

Actively choose forgiveness. By doing so it shows that you are in control of your life and destiny. It also serves as a release of energy. When you lack forgiveness you still retain an energetic bond or cord with the transgressor. Although you may no longer be angry, until you forgive, the remnants of the connection are still there. But once you forgive, those energetic bonds are freed. The thoughts and emotional vibrations tangled up with the offender and the situation are transmuted into positive energy. And that’s freeing for both of you.

Be Free

Once you let go and forgive then you are truly free. You will notice a huge difference in your outlook and attitude. It’s almost as if a weight is being lifted off your shoulders. You may even question yourself about this whole process asking, “Why did I wait so long to lose the anger and forgive?” if that’s the case, don’t beat yourself up for it. This is all part of the journey towards compassion, understanding and wisdom. Embrace the lessons along with the newfound freedom.

Being human we will likely fall into anger and grudges again and again. At times like this I might be helpful to remember a quote by Lew B. Smedes, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize that prisoner was you.”