“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."
When we think of releasing anger we often think of things like: seeing “red”, cussing, throwing something, or even punching.
Anger like any emotion can become intense or extreme. What we need to do is become aware of the subtleties in our bodies that build up. These may include tension in certain areas of the body, headaches, and/or fatigue. If we are mindful of how our body seems to be feeling we will be able to better to notice the need to release these emotions that are building within.
Anger is an emotion that can be expressed in healthy ways.
The key is to release the emotion before it builds into a thunderstorm of lightning bolts. Anger needs to be released from someone not at someone. It is common that there are underlying emotions of disappointment, rejection, and fear that often drives anger. I recommend self-exploration of alternative driving emotions that might be pushing for an anger response. Often if we can acknowledge those underlying emotions and express those feelings, just being heard and accepted by someone, we gain relief. If this does not help, then there is typically an intense fear of our character or values or even of a loved one being attacked or threatened.
This is where anger has been healthy. Anger for the protection of self is an instinct that has kept us alive. However, as with any intense emotion, we must recognize the severity or level of the need for behavioral expression.
I recommend taking time for:
1. Self-reflection – “Besides anger what else might I be feeling?” (rejected, judged, disappointed)
2. Body awareness – “What is happening within my body?” (tension in my neck, pain, fatigue)
3. Daily self-care – “Am I focusing on my self-care needs?” (mediation, social supports, exercise, therapy)
If one focuses on the three areas above, in most cases, a healthy release of emotions can occur and prevent the unnecessary reactionary or irrational behaviors.
Melissa Tower, MA, LLP, CPC – www.melissa-tower.com
Anger is an emotion that we all feel.
It is my belief that anger stems from fear and sadness but anger is often for many people an “easier” emotion to feel than hurt and sad. There may some relief in yelling, or throwing something or hitting something in the heat of the moment however it nearly always leads to more problems. Some people “stuff” their anger, the “if I ignore it then it will go away” trick. Other people drink or use drugs or shopping or any other form a distraction to stop themselves from feeling what they are feeling. There is a great deal of truth in the fact that these things may work for a little while but they will only make you unhealthy and unhappy. I want to look at “stuffing” in a little more detail because in my practice it is what I see the most often and what I find to the be most unhealthy for the individual who is “stuffing”.
What happens when we “stuff”
Years of anger, years of hurt built up, angry words, abuse as a child, unhealthy adult relationships….”why talk about it” “why think about it”? This is very common to hear in my therapy practice. People have used the technique their whole lives many times and they think it works and it can, to a certain degree.
What I tell people is this….there is only so much room in a body….you stuff, stuff, stuff and eventually you run out of room and it comes out and not usually in a healthy way. It is most often explosive, aggressive and hurtful to you and other people around you who often have little to do with the built up anger you have.
How can you release anger in a healthy way and with some control?
Below I am going to talk about some of the ways that I have found to benefit people the most over my years of doing therapy. They take some practice and they take some effort. However, don’t most of the things good for us take some work?
1. Get it out- we are human- ever single one of us- if we keep stuffing we will explode.
Get your feelings out anyway you can. Ideally talking and working with a therapist but if that is not an option then talk others. Talk to family members or friends or anyone who is supportive of you.
Write- journal, doodle, draw use a pen/pencil and paper to get out words or use paints/colors to draw pictures of “anger”. Journal without abandon- yell on the page, put down any and all thoughts that come to mind. Getting it out takes it out of your head and in a safe and productive way. You can burn the journal or drawings when you are done if you like as a final “getting rid of it exercise”.
2. Feel what you are feeling- one of my favorite expressions.
My clients hear it over and over in therapy sessions because it is so very important. If we don’t like a feeling our first reaction is usually to try to make it stop, make it go away, make yourself feel something different so you drink or shop or anything that temporarily changes how you feel. Guess what? The feelings come back and will continue to do so until you honor them and become aware of them.
Notice your anger, recognize when it comes up, learn to feel the physical symptoms that occur when you start to get angry and observe them without judgment. Allow yourself to feel the emotion, the physical and the mental discomfort for a few minutes and then release it. Picture your anger as a balloon and visualize it floating away. Make your anger into a leaf and throw it into a river and watch it float away. Let it go. This will get easier and easier the more you do it. Take back your power.
3. Learn mindful and meditation techniques.
When you learn to become aware of how you feel, what is around you and live in the moment you begin to realize something. The thing that mindfulness teaches is that most of the time what is going on right now, right in this moment is ok and you are safe and you are ok. It is when you go back in the past, you remember past hurts and past problems you become angry, sad, depressed and are in that state that you were in when the events actually occurred.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to rewire your brain, to make you calmer and to improve your ability to address things that happen rather than react to things that happen. These are powerful techniques that can change your life in many positive ways. Be here, now, be safe.
It takes some effort, some practice and some work but I can tell you with this work will come a relief, a sense of control and a realization that you do have control over your actions. You realize it is your responsibility to react with kindness and compassion to others and most importantly yourself. When you allow anger to take over you are not showing you the compassion you deserve. You are worthy and you are enough and you deserve goodness.
Jamie Stacks, LPC, LADAC – www.jamiestackstherapy.com
Anger is an intense wave of energy rising up in the body in response to a perceived assault.
This often overwhelming emotion, although prickly and uncomfortable, provides real information about what is and isn’t acceptable in our lives. Getting angry at times is natural, but dealing with this emotion can be tricky.
Like every emotion, anger moves through the body in an organic manner until it finally dissipates. Depending upon how you respond, you can either help and hurt your ability to process this uncomfortable emotion.
Are you more likely to stuff your anger or blow up?
Neither is good. Stuffing anger turns up the body’s furnace causing blood pressure to rise and the adrenal glands to produce stress hormones that, when chronically elevated, make us mentally and physically sick.
Blowing up is equally as bad, producing the same stress hormones as stuffing but also leading to an emotional addiction of sorts. When anger is stored for a certain amount of time, a craving for release kicks in that leads one back down the path of explosion.
For a stuffer, the healthy way to handle anger is to first identify the specific feeling and what triggered it.
This is a good first step for those who try to avoid thinking about unpleasant emotions all together. It’s easier to talk to a friend or tell the person involved when you’re clear.
If you’re more inclined to blow, WAIT!
Instead, exercise, clean your house, or do something creative in order to allow the anger to dissipate. If your face is red or you’re shaking, you’re not there yet. Only when the intensity has diminished are you in a position to diplomatically share your feelings with another.
Regardless of whether you’re more inclined to stuff or blow, avoid blaming another person for your feelings by staying focused on your interpretation of the events and subsequent reactions. By identifying your feelings, taking responsibility for them and practicing healthy self-expression, you will experience more health, well-being and inner peace.
Kimberly Kingsley, Energy Coach – www.kimberlykingsley.com
Have you ever thought or been told you have a problem with anger?
ANGER is a naturally occurring strongly felt emotional RESPONSE to a perceived threat. It can be outwardly expressed or inwardly contained. Anger can be directed toward self or others. And, it is not only emotional–there are typically physiological changes that accompany the feeling of intense anger, such as facial flushing, increased heart rate, and shallow breathing.
Anger can be experienced on a continuum from mild to severe.
When severe it may be referred to as rage. When mild, it may be experienced as annoyance. Depression, anxiety, and other emotional issues can exacerbate anger. Anger can be triggered by many circumstances. Often, how we respond to angry feeling is learned from family, friends, and societal norms. Anger is not a negative thing but how we express it can work for us or against us.
Take a moment and think about how you typically respond to anger.
Do you bottle it up, or explode with expletives? Are you the person who holds up your middle finger to the driver in front of you who is going too slowly for your liking and lets off a string of expletives. Or, do you hold onto anger and go into lock down mode boiling inside but remaining silent? Both of these responses are extreme and both can work against us. Most of us are probably, most of the time, somewhere in the middle.
No matter where you are on the continuum you can consciously and intentionally set goals for a healthier reaction to anger.
Keep in mind, one’s reaction to feeling angry is partially determined by one’s perception of self and others. Changing how you react to anger often involves changing your perceptions.
If you would like to manage angry feeling in a more effective manner there are some things you can do.
The first suggestion is a long- term, ongoing practice that involves nurturing feelings of compassion toward yourself and others.
This approach requires ongoing practice and is intended to alter your perceptions so that others, like the driver mentioned earlier, won’t be perceived as someone deserving of your umbrage. How can you do this?
One approach is to imagine the person you are in conflict with (this might even be yourself) as a baby.
Sounds funny but it can be very effective. Most of us have tender feelings toward babies. Awakening tenderness in you is bound to have an effect on what comes out of you.
The other approach involves tuning in to your breathe.
This approach is particularly effective in the moment when extreme reactions to anger are brewing. It has a calming effect.
The next time you are in a situation that evokes an over the top angry reaction take a moment to take stock.
Breathe deeply. In fact, breathe in through your nose to a count of four, hold the breath for a count of four, and then exhale, through your nose to a count of four. Do this four times. This alone will alter the body’s chemistry making it easier to respond judiciously.
We are works in progress. These techniques, like most self development activities, will take root and grow with practice.
Pauline G. Everette, LMSW, PhD – www.everetteandassociates
Anger can be uncomfortable to feel (understatement!), and as a culture we are not taught healthy ways to deal with it.
This often compounds the discomfort of feeling it. Denying anger or acting out aggressively are the two most common responses. Many people experience shame on top of the anger and have developed habituated patterns of either suppressing it or rashly acting out. Neither of these are beneficial for long-term health.
Anger is OKAY!
There is nothing inherently wrong with feeling anger or with you for feeling it. Learning to honor and release anger can have a hugely transformative effect. It can free up energy which you can then put towards productive and life-affirming purposes.
The next time you feel angry, can you adopt an attitude of curiosity towards the anger?
– Ask yourself, “What does it feel like in my body?”
– Does it start as a tightening in your belly or perhaps an increased heart rate?
– What is it like to offer nothing but curiosity towards your experience?
The point of this practice is to develop new possibilities and choices about how you respond.
Releasing anger is a process, and the first step is beginning to know it.
From there you can find out what you are angry about and what it needs.
If you notice judgments arise such as “these feelings are bad” or “I shouldn’t feel this way” simply try to notice those without making too much of them.
If the feelings or sensations start to become overwhelming, back off from the experience. Remember to breathe. The point of this exercise is not to force yourself into any one experience, but rather begin a new way of relating to anger. If you are able to stick with the experience (and this may take practice), ask the anger what it is angry about and if it has a need.
From there you can make the choice to honor and intentionally release it.
Here are some possible suggestions for healthy ways of releasing anger and inviting in transformation:
1. Journal about your experience and your feelings. Once you feel calmer, share what you’ve learned with a trusted friend or therapist.
2. Write a no-send letter to the person or circumstance you are angry with. Consider burning it as an act of release and transformation.
3. Exercise with the intention of letting the anger release from your body and in its place focus on inviting in what you would like more of in your life.
Dana Ticker, MA, MFT – www.danaticker.com
First of all, I want to validate the purpose of anger.
Anger exists to help us create change and overcome obstacles in our lives. The emotion of anger has a lot of energy and if we are able to hear what anger is trying to tell us, without letting anger overcome us, it can be our friend. One key to doing this is Mindfulness.
Mindfulness Meditation for Regulation of Anger:
Take at least 5 minutes a day to sit in a space where you feel comfortable and will not be interrupted. You are going to be spending this time practicing the art of inner awareness without reaction or judgment. Without judgment means that we do not deem an emotion (including anger) or thought as “good” or “bad” or anything at all. It is just there and we are noticing it.
Notice without judgment:
1. Your breath
You do not need to change your breath, just become aware of it as your inhale and exhale. Feel the air from your nostrils on your upper lip as you exhale.
2. Your thoughts
Notice the thoughts that appear in your mind without judgment. How are they affecting your emotions and your body? Are certain thoughts contributing to anger?
3. Your emotions
What are you feeling? Do you feel these emotions in your body? Where are they? What do they feel like?
Learning to notice your thoughts and feelings during meditation can help you to experience anger without being consumed by it when it occurs in regular life.
Our emotions are not facts.
Our emotions are not us.
Our thoughts are not facts.
Our thoughts are not us.
It can take practice to understand this!
Supplements for Anger
According to Chinese Medicine anger is associated with the element of wood which rules the liver and the gallbladder organs and meridians. There is an herbal supplement that you can find at most health food stores called “Free and Easy Wanderer” (Xiao Yao Wan) which can help you to clear liver chi stagnation and thereby reduce problematic anger and frustration.
Another supplement that is very useful for decreasing feelings of anger, hatred, and jealously is a Bach Flower Essence called Holly, which works homeopathically to transform negative emotional and energetic patterns. As always, consult your physician before taking supplements.
Health Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging.
Jeannie Herman, MS, NCC – www.holisticsolution.org
Holding anger inside is not dealing with it; it’s dealing with you.
When you stuff and suppress your emotions, which is what anger is, an emotion, you’re actually bottling them up inside; they become like a ticking time bomb and can explode at any time. All you need is the right trigger; and who knows who or what that will be; or where, for that matter. When you don’t learn about yourself and what’s going on within, it’s easy to internalize things, and difficult to let them go. When you take out the time to get to know who you really are and understand what bothers you and why, you can deal with your emotions better; in a healthier way.
The longer anger sits and stews, the more dangerous it can become.
Often when people hold onto this emotion, they tend to point fingers outward and blame others for whatever is going on in their lives. People show up to reflect us in some way. Because we’re not paying attention to what’s going on within, it has to show up somehow; and it does in others, especially those close to us.
When you understand that anger is just an emotion, you also understand that it’s neither good, bad, right, wrong, positive, negative, nor indifferent; it’s just an emotion like love, joy, happy, sad, or frustrated and afraid.
The emotion itself is NEVER the problem, but what you do with the emotion can become the problem.
It’s trying to communicate something to you. Sit with it a minute. Say hello to it. Ask, what do you need from me? How can I support you? What can I do?
As you begin to approach your emotions in this manner you will come away with a different perspective. After all, whatever you feed and give energy to will get stronger. So if you’re already angry, and you continue to feed into and give that anger more and more energy by talking about it, thinking about it, and letting it control you, it gets stronger and stronger.
Instead, STOP! Breathe.
Reflect on where it’s coming from and change the way you’re looking at it and watch how the feelings change. Hope this helps you to deal with your anger in a healthier way.
Barbara Ann Williams, LPC, MS – www.barbaraannwilliams.com
Anger is a powerful emotion!
It is neither inherently good nor bad; it’s information. Stuffing the anger down and leaving it unexpressed and unresolved can lead to numerous physical and emotional problems: high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, anxiety, relationship issues, low self-esteem, etc. So in addition to anger causing potential emotional issues, it can actually become life threatening if if it’s not addressed.
Luckily, there are healthy and productive ways to deal with anger!
1. Name the feeling and feel it.
If you’ve been stuffing your anger you may have become disconnected from other emotions too. So, begin noticing and naming your emotions. No one needs to give us permission to feel our feelings. Just remember, feelings aren’t the problem, reacting to them in unproductive ways creates problems.
2. Identify the underlying emotions.
Anger is a secondary emotion – meaning that it often shows up on the surface when something deeper is actually going on. We can feel angry when we’ve been hurt, betrayed, or humiliated because it may feel safer to feel anger than other more vulnerable feelings. Until you identify the emotion, it will be difficult to decide how to deal with it in a constructive way.
3. Identify the experience that brought on the anger.
Again, feelings are information. So do some detective work, if necessary, to figure out why you feel upset and what happened to bring the feeling on. When you can identify where the feelings are coming from, you can figure out what to do about them. The more you understand your own reactions, the more you can ask for what you need, stand up for yourself or find a solution.
4. Express the feelings.
Here is where it can get particularly tricky if you haven’t had practice. When we’ve been stuffing our anger, then we sometimes go to the other extreme of blowing up at people and lashing out. However, that kind of reaction doesn’t solve problems. If you’ve done the first three steps then you understand what’s going on for yourself. Take time to calm down then talk about the core issues which are causing the anger.
5. Practice forgiveness.
Forgiveness is about moving forward and accepting that we can only change ourselves carrying around the anger that someone else’s behavior has caused gives them a lot of power in our lives to make us miserable even if they’re no longer there. Forgiveness is for others, but it’s also for ourselves. We make mistakes, we misunderstand, we also learn, grow and change.
These are skills and while they may feel awkward or difficult at first, you can get better at them! Your life, your happiness and your health are all too important to keep stuffing emotions!
Chris Adams Hill, LCSW – www.southvalleytherapy.com
Anger swells within when expectations of others are not met, promises are broken and life isn’t how we would like it to be.
Were you taught to hide your emotions? Were you punished for temper tantrums?
You can learn that anger is not good or bad. What we do with the emotional intensity can be destructive or constructive. Anger can be used to fuel activity and lead to personal growth. It can also be a source of inner turmoil.
Knowing how it feels to be angry is easier for some people while others claim never to get angry as if the thought of being angry is distasteful. They claim to get frustrated, irritated or disappointed but never angry.
Holding anger in can lead to physical and mental health problems just as letting anger take over in your life can lead to legal and relationship problems.
Learning to use angry feelings is a skill that can be learned.
Some anger shoots into us like a skyrocket while other times it starts with a slow burn of irritation and builds to a white hot heat. To learn to use your anger for personal growth choose a time when you have been angry or ask your Self;
“What am I angry about today?”
Identify what triggered the anger, what expectation was not met or what promise was broken. Writing your feelings down on paper or typing into your computer can also help you focus on the reasons for the anger.
In the first expression of intense anger there may be a lot of verbal abuse, name calling and blaming.
This is best done in a document that you never share with anyone. This is the “let is all hang out” phase of anger expression. After venting do something that takes action. Go for a brisk walk, clean the floor, punch a pillow. Do not attack a person or pet. Use the angry energy constructively.
After you calm down, return to your document. Remove all the abuse, blaming and bad language. Look for the core message of how you were feeling used or abused. Look for the hurt and fear that is behind the anger. Turn your sadness into an “I want” message. Deal with the person who evoked your anger in a way that reaches out for growth.
For example: I am so angry with her for canceling our meeting. She is so inconsiderate etc. …….. I trusted her to keep her word and she ……. I want her to apologize and not just brush me off as if I have no importance to her.
There are times the anger will lead you to recognizing a relationship is not good for you. There are other times when you will earn greater respect and appreciation so the relationship deepens. Ignoring your anger will deprive you of a chance to build authentic trusting relationships with like minded people.
Marilyn Belleghem, Author of Self-Help Memoirs on Personal Growth through Travel – www.questpublishing.ca
Anger is a natural emotion that everyone expresses, appropriately and inappropriately.
When we get angry inappropriately it usually due to a childhood wound being triggered. If you are not seeing a therapist to help you heal that childhood wound you can use EFT to dissipate the unwanted emotion.
EFT is the action of tapping on acupressure points while saying statements about your emotion. There are 9 points and they are:
1. Between your eyebrows
2. On the outside of your eye
3. Under your eye
4. Under your nose
5. Below your lower lip on your chin
6. On your collarbone at the base of your neck
7. On your side – 3” under your underarm
8. The crown of your head
The very first place to start EFT is at the Karate Chop point.
This is on the pinky finger side of your hand (either hand). Here you use the Set-up Statement of “Even though I am angry, I truly love and accept myself.” Say this three times while firmly tapping with the first two fingers of your opposite hand on the Karate Chop Point. Then start tapping the 8 points mentioned above. While you are tapping on these points you will say “this anger.” Tap a couple of rounds on these 8 points than assess your level of anger.
Do this until you no longer feel angry.
There are many ways to successfully use EFT for issues bothering us and there are ways to fine tune this process to address your anger, this is just meant to be an introductory approach to EFT.
Gail L. Van Amberg, MA, LPC. CAADC – www.glvinnovations.ws
Emotions have a long-standing evolutionary role in our physiological and social needs. No emotion is as particularly misunderstood and mishandled as anger.
When released in toxic ways, anger can destroy relationships, careers, and even damage health. Given this, anger is many times labeled to be a “bad” or dangerous feeling. In that aspect, individuals are often led to believe that the best “anger management” is to reduce any and, if possible, all feelings of anger.
While this misguided approach to “anger management” at face value sounds plausible, this is simply not feasible for several reasons. Furthermore, what is maladaptive about anger is not the emotion itself but the ways in which it is discharged. Managing anger therefore should not be about suppression of anger, but instead about developing adaptive ways to release this emotion.
Mindfulness is a valuable tool to aid in emotional regulation and is utilized to help individuals cope with a variety of negative feelings such as sadness, shame, and anger.
The three main concepts associated with of mindfulness (awareness, present experience, and acceptance) are particularly useful in helping individuals to better express anger.
In order to develop adaptive emotional coping skills, individuals need first to be aware of their experience of anger.
Mindfulness techniques increase awareness of the bodily and mental reactions associated with the experience of anger helping individuals to become conscious of the building up of anger before it becomes explosive. Individuals then become better able to identify the stirrings of anger before the feeling becomes unmanageable and results in impulsive and maladaptive responses.
Additionally, mindfulness also helps individuals become more aware of the relationship between one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The more one understands about his/her experience of anger, the more control one will have over one’s reaction to it.
The second concept associated with mindfulness is enhanced focus on present experience.
By increasing one’s focus on the experience at hand, individuals become less able to revisit the past or to venture their thoughts into the future. In this way, mindfulness may limit feelings of anger to current experience freeing individuals from a focus on a culmination of past wrongs.
In keeping with the above example, an individual who was verbally criticized by his/her partner will also be better able to identify the role past similar verbal criticisms (by his/her partner or perhaps even others from his/her past) may be playing to exacerbate his/her current feelings.
The third main concept associated with mindfulness is acceptance.
Through mindfulness, individuals become better able to accept and tolerate both the anger and related discomfort in the present moment and therefore become free to utilize a more adaptive coping mechanism. Additionally, through the continued awareness and experience of these feelings states, individuals will come to learn that any and all feelings are temporary and ebb and flow in any given moment.
Changing our views on anger from a dangerous and all encompassing feeling to a valuable and temporary one can help individuals to redefine and remodel this often mishandled emotion.
Dr. Nicole LePera – www.abetterlifetherapy.com
You can’t be a fully functioning adult without feeling angry when the inevitable inequities and injustices of life occasionally become too great a burden to bear.
The alternative to being angry is to repress and deny anger-inducing thoughts , which only creates bigger problems down the road when unexpressed anger builds up into impulsive outbursts, chronic health issues, or worse.
Though anger is unpleasant and inconvenient, the benefit to embracing it as a normal part of adulthood is that you become ultimately happier.
Here are three suggestions for handling the reality of anger so that it doesn’t jump out and grab you when you least expect it:
1. Become more involved with people face-to-face.
Have you noticed that it’s much easier to be angry with people from a safe distance? Think about it. When someone cuts you off while you’re driving or posts something offensive on the internet, angry judgments – How dare you! You are such an asshole! — are automatic and uninhibited.
You are much more likely to be calm and compassionate when you confront someone up close and acknowledge that they are a human being much greater than whatever the gesture or comment that got your blood boiling.
2. Build in productive ways to let off steam.
How angry you become in response to a trigger – anything from having to wait in line at the grocery store to putting up with an unexpected verbal attack – is directly proportional to how stressed out you are. The lower your stress level, the less pronounced your anger will be.
Given that there are anger triggers everywhere, it’s wise to always be working on keeping your stress level to a minimum by giving yourself routine outlets: regular exercise, sufficient time spent laughing and having fun with family and friends, creative expression through painting , writing, dancing or whatever art or craft you’re into; plenty of breaks from work. When you make letting loose a healthy habit, you will be able to resolve your anger and move on more quickly.
3. Address anger as it happens.
Anger becomes toxic to your health when it simmers over time into resentment and bitterness, so it’s important to process it incident by incident. This means communicating assertively (ie. gently yet firmly) with the person you’re mad at, or perhaps discussing your anger with an objective friend or therapist if the source of your anger can’t be named or reasoned with. Talking helps to get anger out of your system so that more enjoyable feelings can rise up and take hold.
Dr. Amy Wood – amywoodpsyd.com/wordpress
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