Anger is a common emotion you will experience when you feel there is a violation of your rights and personal boundaries.
Behind the anger lies other feelings for example fear and emotional pain. Fear happens when you feel threatened and emotional pain happens after being hurt in some way.
How can you use Anger in a creative and helpful way
- It can be used as fuel to move through certain fears thereby creating positive changes in our lives
- You can use it as a ‘self-assertion act’ when you feel ignored or tramped on
- It may give you the motivation to say NO to what doesn’t feel right
- You can use anger to assert difference so that you can live your own life instead of adjusting to other peoples’
- Anger can be used to confirm and communicate our individuality especially in children
Hidden inside Anger is our own spark of life energy.
Research suggests that people who are unable to feel anger or those who do not allow themselves to feel angry are likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. People who supress anger usually value others’ needs above theirs.
Hidden inside anger is also a sense of helplessness
The energy which comes with anger is trying to mobilise a sense of strength. This strength that can be used in a productive way or negative way.
The danger is in getting stuck in the helplessness behind the anger. This leads to an uncontrollable state where they feel the need to attack that which is outside of themselves.
Anger and the Brain
The emotion of anger activates the part of the brain which prepares you for fight or flight. This is why people lose their ability to think creatively and with perspective. The thinking becomes two dimensional; black or white and nothing in between.
How can you manage your Anger?
- Understanding what triggers your anger. The more aware you become of the triggers the less power they will have over you. You create wriggle room for a measured and considered response.
- Relax your body. If you feel the tenseness, try to focus on each part of your body then try relaxing your muscles.
- Understand your short-term benefits of anger. It might make you feel more powerful, noticed, feeling better immediately afterwards. However these benefits are cyclical and are not helpful in the long run, they do not move you forward. Realise you may experience some discomfort letting go of these immediate benefits.
- Learn to contain and move through difficult feelings of anger. Find a standpoint beyond fight/flight – try not to be reactive (knee-jerk emotions).
- Distraction techniques – distract yourself mentally or physically, preferably something that changes your thoughts patterns. For example, listening to upbeat music, dancing. Use your hands to fix or make something. Be creative – colouring or drawing, journaling, take a cold shower. For more activities check this Blog.
- Bring your focus to your feet and then your spine – feel the strength of your backbone supporting you.
- Change your environment – changing the surroundings may help you feel better and buy yourself time before reacting.
- Take timeout – Give yourself short breaks during the most stressful times of the day. Moments of quietness may help you feel better.
- Feel the sensations induced in your body without following the thoughts. Focus on the sensory experience as it will help you not to react.
- Imagery work- try to visualise yourself standing by a river. One by one drop 10 white balls down the river and watch them drop down and splash and then flow in the water.
- Visualise your breath through the feeling and sensations in a gentle rhythm. Visualise your breath gently dissolving the tightness in the sensations.
- Better communication – in a heated discussion, slow down and think through your responses. Instead of saying the first thing that comes into your head, stop and think carefully about what you want to say.
- Use humour to defuse rage in a number of ways
- Do some assertiveness training
- Try counting to 10 to give yourself time to think before reacting
- Talk about what makes you angry – someone unconnected to the situation (friend, counsellor, GP, support group)
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling may help to equip you with skills to manage the anger. Read my blogs about the different types of therapy and psychotherapy
Your anger is someone else’s victory – learn to stay
Remember, using anger against another as a cover up for more vulnerable feelings, you may push away the very need for emotional connection. In standing up for your rights, it is important to respect those of others you may be in conflict with.