Anger has a bit of a bad reputation. And many of us do not have a healthy relationship with anger but it is never too late to turn that around. We can develop a healthy relationship with the emotion and learn how to use the energy it carries in healthy ways. In ways that will free our healthy ambitions, enhance mental health, and lead us to our best lives possible.
So What is Anger?
I believe that at the very heart of anger is a being’s ambitious and creative energy seeking to find it’s way. When the energy doesn’t find it’s way into the world, it gets built up. This only generates more persistence to find liberation from the resistances against it. It means more anger to push us to get moving.
Anger is not necessarily a pleasant energy to deal with. It is also not an energy that will be easily ignored. It is not just going to go away. At first these angry thoughts and impulses may gently ask for our attention. With the asking turning to forceful demands as we neglect to respond and take action.
When we don’t take the actions we need to for too long the energy may take action into it’s own hands. It may create all sorts of problems internally and with our relationships.
The Battle with my Anger.
I would love to say that my history with anger has been rooted in nothing but healthy expression of the emotion. But no, it has been loaded with dysfunction and pain.
I had no clue that I simply had an abundance of creative energy that had no where to go.
Because of my lack of awareness of the crazy amount of energy in me and the anger I developed I damaged or destroyed many relationships and opportunities for success. It wasn’t until I began my journey of recovery that I began healing relationships and learning about the source of my anger. As well as doing work to heal the past that exists inside of myself.
Today, the ways I deal with my anger has mostly entered the world of the sane. My anger only sneaks in and causes problems once in awhile, and to a much lesser degree than in the past. Because over the years I have found a new way to live.
Lessening the Danger in Anger.
The danger in anger is clear. I am sure we all know someone or have been someone who has spilled this energy out in ways that cause embarrassment, humiliation, relationship loss or even jail time.
Dealing with anger irresponsibly doesn’t process the emotion. And unprocessed energy in anger leads to excess stress, anxiety, and diminished mental health
The Buddha likened holding onto anger to “holding onto hot coals.” So in order to process it we must find healthy ways to let this sometimes painful energy find its way out of us and into the world. To me this doesn’t mean that any form of acting on or communicating anger is harmful. But we do need to find the right ways.
In this study individuals were asked to respond in an either aggressive or non-aggressive way to a situation. The researchers wanted to see if either way of responding would lessen the amount of anger felt in those individuals. The study found that not acting did a better job of lessening anger than trying to vent the anger aggressively.
The findings may run contrary to what our anger might tell us will work to release our tension. Anger may say I better yell at this person because they pissed me off. It might also say I need to quit this job because I don’t like the way the boss looked at me. There are an endless supply of probably dangerously silly decisions the thoughts that go along with anger can lead us to make.
Healthy Ways to Deal with Anger.
The study above may have said that not acting did a better job than acting aggressively. Though doing nothing too often, can lead us to being pushovers or to be in denial of issues we need to deal with. And acting out on anger in rash ways usually causes more problems than we started with. So what is the answer here?
We have compiled a list of healthy ways of dealing with the possibly misguided thoughts and impulses of being angry that don’t involve aggression or doing nothing. We hope they can help you process your anger and develop a better relationship with it.
1. Don’t make hasty decisions.
Far too often when I am feeling angry I think that something needs to be done right here and right now. Though more often than not, taking actions in haste when angry has created unnecessary problems.
If you are angry and the job, spouse or whatever else is the target of those possibly violent thoughts, please take some deep breathes and don’t quit. Don’t abandon the relationship just yet. Our judgment may be clouded and we need to step back to find out what is REAL! Then if you find out you actually are being taken advantage of then find a healthy way to leave or stay.
2. Chat with trusted friends.
After holding off on making quick decisions while too pissed off, allow a close friend to chat with. A trusted friend can help us calm down and may help us see the next course of action. But remember too much venting with the friend may actually not make things better so try and keep a cool head.
Keeping a cool head with your trusted people will allow them to give more sound advice. Otherwise they may just be pressured into agreeing with angry demands.
3. Do some Therapeutic Writing.
A lot of the time when I am angry I will turn to therapeutic writing. This is a process that has helped me keep from making many silly angry decisions. I sit down with pen, paper and calming music. I write to find my responsibility, not to simply vent my frustrations. I seek real feeling, and healing.
Sometimes simply jotting down a bunch of things I am grateful does great things for slowing my anger down.
4. Let go of Some Expectations.
The World not meeting my expectations for it can be a great source of my anger. This definitely isn’t to say that all expectations are unnecessary. Though some can be realistic and others just setting ourselves up to be pissed off. It is good to take a break from what we are doing and examine our expectations for ourselves and others when angry. Then we can let go of those expectations that are reasonable to let of.
5. Get some Exercise.
It always amazes me what a half hour pushing it hard on the elliptical can do for my anger and stress levels. By exercising, anger gets a nice outlet, though I recommend not thinking too angry of thoughts while working out. Then it just becomes an aggressive outlet which as I said above may be less effective than doing nothing.
Here is an article of “10 Exercises to Help Reduce Anger.”
When attempting meditation in an angry state, it may take a little time for the mind to slow down. There will be likely be a phase where meditating is the last we want to do. Our thoughts and energy may scream at us to get up and quit this stupid silence crap. Soon that voice and those impulses will subside and we will be returned to a more sensible state.
There have been many meditations that have completely melted away that anger I was once feeling. It is one of the most freeing feelings I have experienced.
7. Take a Nap.
Sometimes a nap may help immensely. Although naps may not be the easiest thing to have for someone that lives a busy life. Just a little nap can help me settle down the emotion I am feeling. This can give me a better perspective on what I currently see as a problem. And if the issue does need attention, I now may have a little more energy to take care of it!
8. Get a Bite to Eat.
I find it crazy to think about how many times I have gotten angry from things that seem like no real big deal then go have a bite to eat and have the aggression just melt away. Getting hangry is a real thing. So who knows maybe your not mad that an individual called you the wrong name at work, you may just be hungry!
9. Take Some Time to Stretch.
I am not talking about doing a bunch of yoga poses or anything like that! Sitting too much throughout the day builds up excess tension in the body. And for me tension and anger go hand in hand with one another. Just taking a little bit of time to bend down to touch my toes and stretch my back goes a long way to help me get some relief from feeling angry. It takes no time at all but I don’t remember a time my body didn’t appreciate it.
Taking some time out to thank a higher power can help lift the stress of anger. Whether you believe in god, a helpful universe, your subconscious or whatever. Stopping to ask for some assistance or to express gratitude can be a productive solution.
The Creative in Anger.
The list above is meant to get us back into a state of mind that isn’t having us controlled by our anger. It is to get us back in control of ourselves. When we are back in control of ourselves, we are much less likely to make destructive decisions. We will be in a position to allow that energy that is coursing through our bodies to do something productive.
Anger often leads the way in my creative process. I work on something, which could be anything complex, then I get confused. Then I get frustrated, and then pissed. After I use some of the healthy ways of dealing with my anger off the list above, I generally find myself feeling something and then moving on. Dealing with my anger in healthy ways has healed and enhanced relationships and brought me success I once never thought possible.
Anger is full of creative energy. Once we can get our thoughts and impulses under the guidance of our more sane self we can use them and the energy to create responsibly.
My relationship with my anger is not always a comfortable one. But I feel life isn’t meant for staying comfortable. Life is meant for creativity and growth, and anger will help us blaze new trails that will lead to amazing opportunities.
So I ask you today. If you are scared of your anger or are misusing it in ways that are hurting yourself and others, please join me in developing a healthy relationship with anger. Your stress levels and mental health will appreciate your decision. And you just may find that the deepest parts of yourself are using it to help you find the best your life can be.
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Much Love, Travis Hagen
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