Do you find yourself often on edge? Monitoring what you say at work or during social situations? Does exhaustion hit as you watch the news or a late-night show that is supposed to simply entertain you? You could be responding to the anger effect.
There is much anger evident in our world today. The media we consume seems to be glorifying anger, freewheeling with expletives and angry discourse; confrontation has replaced conversation. Violence is the acting out of anger and it is abundant in our movies, music, athletic spectacles, current events, the news and politics.
As a survival-oriented mobilization energy, neurologically driven, anger is primitive emotion and only useful in a fight/flight situation. With our global need for armies, law enforcement, and social agencies created from the mismanagement of anger, one can see the dangers of allowing anger to dominate our behavior.
I chronicled in my book, how at first, I suppressed my anger and suffered from depression as a result and then acted it out in many dysfunctional ways before I learned how to manage it. Having been traumatized and cruelly abused, I was filled with rage and anger and felt righteously indignant about what had happened to me instead of taking responsibility for my choices
It remains my hope to use my experiences to help others learn about the destructive power of disowned emotions—especially anger.
Failing to notice what we are experiencing inside our bodies. Is failing to take responsibility for ourselves. It’s like texting while driving—an accident waiting to happen.
Some things to recognize about anger are:
- When we use “I statements” to communicate our anger rather than holding it in or hurting another with this negative emotion, we are in a position to use that “mobilization energy” to correct the situation. It is a baggage-free option with no regrets or repercussions to ourselves or the other.
- Holding anger in also has negative consequences as it contributes to anxiety, depression and procrastination or inertia within that individual.
- Acting out anger out by bulldozing over another or other’s rights has its consequences.
- When a situation is beyond our control is when we need to accept it as it is, rather than needlessly prolong our suffering by refusing to see the situation clearly. Fair or not, it is what it is.
- If we recognized the circularity of life; that what goes around—comes around, we might not be so hasty to even the score when we feel slighted or taken advantage of.
- If you have gotten angry and recognize there was a better way to deal with the situation, forgive yourself and learn from the experience. That is how we grow, by making “mistakes.”
- Having compassion for ourselves and others is an act of generosity and is reparative, unlike how destructive our negative emotions are. It is also movement into the executive functioning of our brains, helping us get into our right mind or awareness-oriented thinking where we find peace of mind.
Anger Management Basics:
- Awareness is a powerful intervention for negative emotions. Notice what you are feeing, breathe deeply and slowly, staying curious and watching the sensations within you. Stay focused on your inside awareness as you watch these feelings diminish as you breathe them out. Feel free to exhale loudly, use your voice or cry if you feel the urge. Honoring your feelings validates them so they will not return with an unmet need to be validated, released and thus healed.
- Ask yourself if there is anything you can do about the situation you think is causing your anger. Chances are, a solution will arise since you are not getting carried away by your anger.
- In the process of taking ownership of our emotions and physiological reactions, we usually no longer have a “reason” to be angry as the sensations disappear.
- We humans consider ourselves at the top of the evolutionary scale, but how is that we continue to prey upon one another, just like all the rest of the creatures roaming this planet?
- Understanding the mechanisms within us creates choices for resolving anger, reducing emotional reactivity and having more peace of mind. The part of our brains that super-charges us with emotions will eventually stress our organs and immune functions if we allow our fight/flight/freeze survival reactions to run us. Impulsively running nowhere in our hamster wheel of emotional reactivity is like riding a merry-go-round. If you don’t get off, or stop being hijacked by emotions, you get dizzy, disoriented or even sick. By learning how to resolve emotions that the challenges of life bring, your heart (blood pressure), nervous system, brain, internal organs and loved ones will thank you for it.
- If you want to avoid being hijacked by anger—notice it, breathe, be curious about what it feels like in your body, stay focused on the sensations, and breathe deeply as you watch them diminish.
In short, what we do with this primitive, mobilization energy we call “anger” is a choice. Using it to express our needs or to correct the frustration of our needs or rights is the healthiest use of this energy. Your heart (blood pressure), nervous system and loved ones will thank you for it.
With awareness and self-responsibility, we have the power to manage anger for our best results. The choice is ours.