Erasing Bitterness

Mountains

Mountains in the distance

If I could erase one emotion completely from my life, I would eliminate bitterness.

Anger frightens me. When someone annoys me, I bite my tongue and inwardly scream until I have no voice. If a person hurts me, I fake a smile and brush off a few tears as a cauldron of fury bubbles inside.

But I struggle to confront or actually deal with the anger. Complain to others? Perhaps. Face my own anger? Never.

That is when the bitterness begins to grow.

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Dissolving the Bitterness

It is hardly possible to build anything if frustration, bitterness and a mood of helplessness prevail. - Lech Walesa

It is hardly possible to build anything if frustration, bitterness and a mood of helplessness prevail. – Lech Walesa

Over the past semester, bitterness towards me school has built up inside of me. The firing of dear faculty, condemning of my views, and belittling of me with others’ superiority has bothered me. At times, I did not know if I even wanted to walk with my graduating class this May.

However, the last few days have amazingly melted away some of my bitterness. A wonderful chapel speech from a great leader who complimented my performance and knew my name, kind words from the class president who also remembered my name (how?), and a surprisingly uplifting theology class all contributed to this change. Plus, numerous relationships are healing beautifully and making me sorrowful about leaving Minnesota.

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Bitterness Erodes Hope

Fear of Anger

Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean. – Maya Angelou

Hope, although powerful, can be shattered by numerous events, feelings, and other things. Fear, disappointment, shame, abuse – there is a long list of ways we can lose our dreams and ability to see a brighter future.

One that I realized I am currently struggling with is bitterness. When you are bitter against a certain place, person, or group, you are unable to make a positive change. Instead, the negativity inside of you undermines your ability to be a symbol of hope.

Even worse than being bitter about a certain thing is being bitter about life in general. If you are cynical about everything and mad at the world, how can you have hope for positiveness? How can you love others and inspire change?

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Getting Rid of the Anger

Fear of Anger

Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean. – Maya Angelou

Anger – this is such a frightening emotion. It breaks apart families, murder friendships, and explode violence into countries. More than most feelings, anger appears to have a power that cause people to act in a way contrary to harmony, love, and care for others.

Yet, this emotion can also bring about positive results. Anger motivated civil rights leaders to stand up for those being downtrodden, fathers to protect their families from invaders, and children to call out a bully. When channeled correctly, anger is a powerful tool for change and justice.

Many of us, however, stifle our anger out of fear of what will happen. Over the years, the emotion builds up inside without a release. What happens when there is so much anger and frustration inside that you feel ready to explode?

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Choosing to Love Can Hurt

There is a time for risky love. There is a time for extravagant gestures. There is a time to pour out your affections on one you love. And when the time comes - seize it, don't miss it. - Max Lucado

There is a time for risky love. There is a time for extravagant gestures. There is a time to pour out your affections on one you love. And when the time comes – seize it, don’t miss it.
– Max Lucado

Love is often depicted as a flowery, happy emotion. Characters in movies fall into it with a single glance and are willing to give up all other commitments to follow its call. People break off relationships because the feelings are gone. Even some of the symbols of love (hearts, pink, flowers, etc.) seem a bit frivolous.

There is a sweet and joyous side to love. As a romantic, I am prone to see the world that way at times. There is nothing wrong with the tingling emotions when holding someone’s hand or making valentines for a special person. All of this is one important aspect of love.

However, there is more than just that. Love is also a choice, not just an emotion. We have to make the decision to care for others even when we are annoyed or respect others even when we disagree. These decisions are difficult and can hurt. Still, they show true love – more so than the fabled true love’s kiss from Snow White.

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Life’s Great Debate: Should I Let Them Know I am Angry?

Fear of Anger

Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean. – Maya Angelou

Anger – that emotion elicits more fear in me than almost anything else in the world. Showing it to others terrifies me. Even admitting it to myself is a struggle.

Letting someone know that I am angry – perhaps even furious – with them…that is that most horrifying of all.

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No One has the Power to Break You

As you learn who you are, you can better surround yourself with friends who make you a better person, and that sometimes only happens when you disassemble old relationships. - Maggie Stiefvater

As you learn who you are, you can better surround yourself with friends who make you a better person, and that sometimes only happens when you disassemble old relationships. – Maggie Stiefvater

Agony fills me when I look back on some of the people in my past. Adults who shamed, girls who whispered just loud enough for me to hear, boys who snickered, and many other memories still haunt me. Mostly I blame myself for the unkind comments and thoughtless abandonment. After all, people only treated me how I deserved, right? The shy, naive, awkward girl had it coming to her because she had no idea how to survive in the real world.

However, traces of anger and bitterness reside deep inside of me, nearly invisible but poisoning everything they touch. The more that I ignore these feelings, the stronger they become. Guilt then  begins to set in which only adds to this toxicity.

For years, I stuffed down these emotions. Finally my therapy has allowed me to open up a bit about them and start to voice them aloud. The seemingly simple practice of announcing my hurt to others makes me feel like shackles are removed from my wrists. However, allowing the words to leave my mouth or even process in my brain throws me into the front lines of a war. When people say call themselves recovery warriors, they are not kidding!

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