08/19/2013 03:59 pm ET Updated Oct 19, 2013

Soothe Hot Tempers With a Dose of Forgiveness

Last week I shared with you some of the Big Fat Lies I've been telling myself. This past week I realized I've got another one to add to the list: "I am a calm and peaceful person and I never get angry."

Yeah right! While I am generally a happy person (annoyingly so, according to some of my colleagues), I've found myself getting angry a number of times in the past few weeks. While I'd love to blame the hot weather for my short temper, if I'm honest with myself, the poor air quality and 100-degree temps have very little to do with it.

To top it all off, I got annoyed with myself for being angry. That's when I realized my Big Fat Lie. Instead of "I never get angry," it might be more appropriate to say, "It's not okay to feel or express my emotions." A ridiculous notion, but one that I think society sometimes reinforces -- especially for men.

All of us experience emotions on a daily basis -- we may not always choose to express them, but we feel them nonetheless. So the question becomes what should we do about them? If the emotion is positive, we usually have no trouble expressing it, but when happens when the emotion is negative? If you're like me, you might sometimes have trouble expressing those negative emotions -- especially to the person the emotion is directed toward. Yet, bottling those negative emotions up inside isn't healthy either.

So what should we do? My friend and an interfaith minister, Paulette Esposito says that when we feel upset with someone, we should say, "I Bless You and Release You." Sometimes I have to repeat that one several times until I calm down!

If that little mantra doesn't do it for you, it might be time for a releasing ceremony. It doesn't have to be as complicated or ritualistic, although it can be if you so desire. It may involve saying a prayer for someone you've been upset with, writing them a forgiveness letter (you don't have to give it to them -- this exercise is more for you than for them), or calmly and compassionately telling someone who's hurt you how you feel.

If there are no recent incidents that come to mind, feel free to go back and think about occasions in the past where you may still need to do some clearing. As Deepak Chopra likes to remind us, "When you have a resentment, grievance, feeling hostility towards anyone or if you have any of the other toxic emotions like guilt, shame, depression or fear, these emotions release hormones that have harmful effects on the cardiovascular and on the immune systems." I don't know about you, but that is motivation enough for me to want to release all of those old emotions!

There are a variety of ways to do this. Deepak Chopra has a Heart Sutra meditation CD that walks you through this. But sometimes I like to create my own release and forgiveness ceremony because it's more authentic to me. I did one recently where I wrote down all of the things I needed to release on a piece of paper, and burned it, saying a short prayer to release the emotions and offered forgiveness to myself and those I was still holding any resentments or grievances toward -- big or small. I felt so much lighter when I was done and it allowed me to enjoy the rest of my 100 degrees in peace!

So in between enjoying a dip in the pool to cool off and getting involved in a road rage incident because the hot weather has your temper soaring, set aside some time to release and forgive. Your mental health will thank you for it!

For more by Mary Pritchard, Ph.D., click here.

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