A note on not looking back in anger

A note on not looking back in anger
sunset in Leeds

Some things are worth being angry about. The things where you get mad, take action and it results in positive change are entirely worth getting both mad and even. Truly, they are.

But protests aside, on the mundane day to day of your life, those things that make you mad but only really affect you, are they really worth getting angry about? Some things might be, but other things, not quite so much.

In a world where there are so many things to be absolutely fucking livid about (Brexit, I’m looking at you), sometimes you just need to channel your inner Elsa on the day to day and let it go. Don’t let it hold you back any more. Turn away and slam that door, etc.

It turns out this is what happens when you hit age 27 and quite frankly, cannot be arsed getting mad at absolutely everything. I used to be the person wanting justice on every corner, but it’s time to slow down, pick your battles and decide what is worth losing your shit about. Life isn’t fair, the world isn’t black and white and when it comes to my daily life, treating situations a bit more objectively has made me a calmer, happier gal.

And I’ll be honest, it’s about all personal gain.

When something happens, your reaction is your choice.

If you can assess the situation that’s making you mad and can hand on heart say that the reaction you choose will make a positive change, go for it. Channel that anger and make something happen. I’m sure a lot of people will have heard of the recent law that passed that made up-skirting illegal? That was Gina Martin. She got angry, rallied the troops, took it to the top and got a bill passed. In this instance, anger at a situation did a whole load of good and it was a step forward for gender equality.

But what if a situation just isn’t worth being mad at? If your screaming and shouting won’t cause change. Sometimes, (and particularly on a smaller scale) situations are done and dusted before you even get chance to react. You might not be happy about it, it might feel unfair and it might not be right, but it isn’t going to change anything.

It’s these situations where I personally, choose to let it go. To quote Oasis, there’s a lot to be said for not looking back in anger.

If I’m angry, I’m suffering. If I’m upset, I’m also suffering. But the person who’s put me in that position? I mean, they’re probably not suffering are they, so why should I?

My mindset towards letting go of anger splits into two: When something happens with malicious intent and when it doesn’t.

Take for example, if someone sent you a nasty message that intended to upset you. If that person doesn’t actually want to hear your point of view or is gunning for an argument, what reason do you really have to respond? You’re not going to win an argument with someone like that. You could respond and fuel that fire or you could just leave it to burn out.

The last time this happened to me, I read the message, let those double ticks go blue and archived the conversation into the WhatsApp graveyard. And it was gone. From where I sat, that fire died with the conversation.

I consciously chose to not let that situation affect me. I could have sat and re-read the nasty message whilst ugly-crying myself into a solo snotfest because someone said something mean, but I didn’t. I asked myself if I took value in that message and decided that I absolutely did not. Me being angry meant I suffered, but the person sending that message? They wouldn’t. Choosing to not react was all the justice I needed. I quite literally didn’t get mad but did get even.

I won’t pretend that it’s an easy decision to make as we all know how it feels to try and calm ourselves down when we’re filled with sheer rage at someone else’s behaviour, but force it. Force yourself to turn down the gas on what feels like a bubbling cauldron of anger inside you. Tell yourself you’re not going to be angry and simply wait for it to subside – it takes a while to learn, but it’s worth persevering.

But what about when you’re angry at something that’s not actively malicious?

Learning to treat situations objectively has taken me years, but forcing myself to see the bigger picture before reacting has led me to lead a genuinely happier life, particularly when that anger is aimed at a situation that wasn’t intended that way. There are two things I consider when looking at a situation which hasn’t happened out of spite:

1.       You can’t teach life experience
2.       You can’t cure stupid

These are the situations where someone says or does something that makes you livid, but you need to recognise that it’s prompted by a difference in point of view, rather than someone going out of their way to make your life difficult.

Take for example you’re having a whinge to your friend that you’re going to be alone for ever as Tinder is a bag of shite (fact). And then, you hear the fateful words that literally no single person ever has ever wanted to hear from someone in a relationship (also fact): ‘It’ll happen when you least expect it’.

Reaction #1: You’re a fucking idiot, why would you say that, can’t you appreciate what I’m going through?!?!
Reaction #2: (Internal monologue) OK, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but they’ve been coupled up for longer than Tinder has been a thing so can they actually relate to my self-indulgent whinging? Probably not.

If you react and bite back to it, you’re going to end up a) causing an unnecessary slanging match and b) trying to school someone on a situation they don’t have experience of. If you’ve been in a relationship since the dinosaurs were knocking about (or so it feels anyway), you’re never going to understand the literal pain of swiping your way through a Sunday evening on Tinder (repetitive strain injuries are incoming) or worse, trying to fend off thirsty former acquaintances sending dick pics left, right and centre. It’s another world. They don’t understand that you’re literally sat around waiting for a good egg to get divorced and be up for round two as right now, there’s only the fuckboys left.

That’s where you need to make the conscious decision to leave it. No, you didn’t get the sympathy you wanted and yes, you might feel a tad patronised, but ask yourself if that was their intention? If you hang around with decent folk, I’d like to think that the answer is no, it wasn’t at all. You can’t teach life experience, and whilst it might not have been the sympathy you wanted, they’re not saying it to be a dick either.

You also can’t cure stupid. So when people start suggesting that you could meet someone on a night out when, let’s be honest, trying to shout introductions over excessively loud music in a bar (whole other issue right there, WHY IS IT ALWAYS SO LOUD?!), you’re fighting a losing battle there too.

What I’m getting at is to lower your expectations of people who aren’t in the same boat. If a reaction isn’t what you wanted to hear, consider whether it was delivered with good vibes – and if it was, it’s probably the time to just let it go.

Overall, I honestly think picking your battles is the way forward. Whether this is a mind-blowing change or simply what happens when you hit the mature part of adulthood, I’m not sure, but I’d 10/10 recommend it as a lifestyle choice. Chill your beans, accept that there will always be dickhead knocking about and dedicate your anger to shit that really matters, and you’ll find yourself feeling better, I can promise you that.

How do you feel like you react to things? Do you fly off the handle, talk it out, sleep on it or something else? Let me know in the comments.

1 comment

  1. Lizi. This post is just beautiful. It screams of your wit and humour, but also, is so frickin true and honest and definitely something I could do with drawing on myself.
    I can be confrontational, but I have begun asking for others opinions on stuff sometimes as to divert myself from erupting. Haha!