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You cope pretty darn well with the crises and emergencies of life. Somehow you get through them, over them, and get on with life.

But then there are things that aren’t crises, yet somehow manage to irritate, annoy or aggravate you every time you bump into them. Things you don’t get over because they’re in your face time and time again.

You know, like that ex with whom you had the misfortune to birth a perfectly wonderful daughter who you have to “share” with him since the divorce. Seven years ago. And yeah, OK, it’s been seven years and you’ve gone on with your life but every time you see him – if only for a moment during drop off or pick up – you bristle. Your recurring refrain is “I hate him, I hate him!”

Or there’s your mother-in-law or sister or co-worker who has this irritating habit of interrupting you before you’ve completed your thought. Or – better yet – has this infuriating need to tell you what you “should” do at every turn. As if you were a two year old who couldn’t put her shoes on the correct foot!

As understandable and as justifiable as your reactions are, they are hurting you more than benefiting you.

Oh, sure, it feels good to rant about your horrible ex, or text your girlfriend the gory details of how your sister insulted you yet again. But at the same time, you’re stressing your heart, your immune system, and you’re probably feeling pain in your gut as well.

That’s what negative emotion does to us. Study after study shows that anger, aggravation, and constant annoyance do bad things to your body and your mind.

So what’s the answer? To stuff your negative emotions, “Hi! I’m fine!” when you want to strangle someone? Certainly not.

The answer is – feel and release. Feel your hurt/angry/resentful feelings powerfully for five-ten-twenty minutes tops! Confide them to a journal, scream them into your pillow, yell them full volume in your car with the windows rolled up – but then, let go. Be done with them.

As recovery groups have said succinctly for many years, “Let go or get dragged!” Because that’s exactly what your negative emotions will do to you if you hang on to them. They will drag you into unhealthy places. They will disrupt the smooth regular beat of your heart, the full functioning of your immune system, your digestive system, the very way your brain functions.

Once you’ve done your releasing, whenever you encounter the irritating person again, let their irritation roll right off you. Say to yourself “Oh, it’s no big deal. That’s just the way they are.” Don’t take their comments personally, even if the comment is personal. Let it go! They want to be critical mean people? Not your problem. You can just smile and ignore the barb.

Yes, you can. You are strong enough for that. Remind yourself of the good things you’re doing for your well-being, and let go! You’re much too valuable to get dragged.

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