We’ve all felt it, that heat, our blood boiling all the way up from our toes, the blinding rage that fills our body, but have you ever asked yourself, what is that anger trying to tell me? The anger you’re feeling, most of time, has nothing to do with the person or situation you find yourself in, typically it’s something that has been triggered from your past, so before you unleash holy hell on the poor individual who may be standing before you, pause, and ask yourself, where is this coming from?
For most of us it comes from childhood, from times when we may have felt less than, or not important, when we may have been bullied, or told to be quiet and keep our mouths shut, and those things could have continued into adulthood, during times when we had more power to do something about it, but we didn’t, still believing the old narrative, and storing our hurt, humiliation, and sadness down so far that it has now erupted into anger. For me, when I first started this journey, and for years into it, I didn’t always know the source, or root, of my anger. There were times it would flare up, sometimes unexpectedly, and I would just react. Often I would then owe someone an amends or apology because they would end up on the receiving end of something that had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with me. But it’s in those times we need to put on our detective hat and find out what’s really going on.
Why are we carrying around all of this anger? What’s the source of it? Is that still valid? And, what can we do about it today? We are in charge of how we feel, so if something isn’t right, or needs to be dealt with, it’s our job to take it on. For me, I wasn’t able to do that on my own, I needed some guidance and help because I could never see past my anger to find out where it came from, I was just angry, a lot of the time. But it’s not in our nature to be angry all the time, we’re not meant to live our lives angry, hostile, or as reactive people, I know I wasn’t happy that way, sure I got a short jolt of satisfaction firing off an insult or a quick jab, but that slowly dissipated to shame or regret, or, if I did manage to indulge in some self-righteous anger I could feed off of that for a while, but there was always a small voice inside of me that called bullshit and I would slide deeper into depression, until my next outburst. Finding out what my triggers were and why I had them gave me a road map to my anger, and to who I needed to protect and nurture. We get knocked around as we travel through life, some more than others, and some of us don’t fight back initially, we carry it around with us, until we can’t anymore, but by the time we say enough, we may not know how to find a better way of living, of dealing with problems and issues as they come up, so we fall back into just being angry, but, anger doesn’t get us anywhere, unless, we seek to find out where it’s coming from.
When anger bubbles up for me today I practice these techniques in the moment, and I say practice, because sometimes it still gets the better of me, but, these techniques do save me most of the time.
1) Pause. The first step for me is identifying I’m angry and instead of just reacting to it I try to pause and ask myself what is really going on. What is my part? Is there a misunderstanding? Does this person usually behave this way with me, or are they having a bad day? I ask myself what the facts are. Sometimes, if I feel I can’t process all of this in the moment, I will excuse myself to give myself some space. I’ve said this countless times, life is not a game show, you don’t get extra points for the fastest response, if you feel you need space, take it.
2) Breathe. This is another one I’ve talked about in the past. Our breath is so important to stabilize our mood, nervous system, and to slow our rapidly firing brain. Many times steps 1 and 2 can curb our anger just by pausing and breathing. Don’t forget to breathe.
3) If you’ve gotten your breath in control and it’s calmed you down enough to have gained your composure again, see if you can identify some possible solutions. It’s OK to express that you feel angry, but that you’re open to finding a way to solve the situation. If you’re able to do that you are now in a better mode, a solution based mode, and even if you don’t find or come to one, you’ve at least got your mind on the right track.
4) Stick with “I” statements to avoid placing blame and possibly increasing the tension. Explain how you feel and why, saying something like, “I am upset because…” instead of “you never….” use statements to explain the problem from your perspective and then allow the other person to talk.
5) Don’t hold a grudge. If you’re able to talk things out, even if a mutual solution wasn’t found, let it go. You’ve said your piece, explained how you feel, so you’ve done what you can in the situation, the next action is to let it go. If it’s something that truly bothers you about this person or relationship, and you can’t come to a solution, then perhaps this person is someone who should only be in your life in a more limited way, or knowing the other person’s perspective, you now know what to expect in the future, and you either except that, or you don’t.
Overall our anger is our job. We need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves, giving ourselves what we need psychically, mentally, spiritually to live healthy productive lives, and, if our anger does creep up find ways to pinpoint what it is, or minimize it through physical exercise, breathing exercises, finding a way to find some humor in the situation, and making sure we’re not blowing it out of proportion and giving it more weight than it deserves. Going back did we make our own intentions known, did we make them clear, did we ask for what we want, and did we enter into a situation we knew would upset us? We are the captain of our own ships, it’s up to us to steer that ship in the right direction, and, keep it out of harms way.
SLAY OF THE DAY: Do you have trouble controlling your anger? Why do you think that is? Do you understand the true nature, or root of your anger? Where does it usually stem from? Is there a way to take on, or handle your anger? What types of behavior or situations trigger your anger? What can you do to diminish your anger around these issues? Are these issues valid today, or are they old ideas and things from our past? Does this anger serve you today? How, in a situation where your anger rises to the top, release it in a more healthy way. Count to 10 SLAYER, and let it go.
S – self L – love A – appreciate Y – you