"Don't be angry, it's not nice!"
"Just calm down! You are so angry!
"You are not going to get anything by being angry, be nice first!"
Haven't we all heard about the 'anger management' advice from everyone we know?
Don't we doubt ourselves and shy away from expressing anger when we feel it? Don't we feel ashamed of admitting that we are angry? Don't we fee fearful of admitting our anger?
Anger has been dubbed a negative emotion in our society and as a result we find coping mechanisms instead of processing it healthily.
Let me debunk a social myth about anger first. The truth is it is just an emotion. Shame attached to this vital emotion means, many people look for ways to suppress it such as drug, alcohol, or screen addiction. As children we don't get the opportunity to learn how to channel our anger appropriately. Anger and rage generates a significant amount of energy as well as it consumes it too. Have you ever felt really tired after an episode of anger? Have you every felt like completely shutting down after feeling angry? Have you every noticed the shakes, muscle tension, headaches, raised heart beat etc when you experience anger? That's the energy of anger. From a neuroscience perspective, what you use, grows. When you often feel angry, it carries on growing.
When do we experience anger? - We experience anger when some essential need is either threatened or frustrated. You may be experiencing it right now, however the root cause could be way back in the childhood. Even if you seemingly had a 'normal' childhood.
How do I diffuse anger?
Breathe, meditate, physical exercise are all great ways to deploy anger. Some of you may be now thinking, "I do all of that, but I am still experiencing these episodes of anger, I feel the rage within me?'. There's a reason for that.
Anger in humans can arise as a result of encroached boundaries. One must know how to distinguish between threat and non-threat. The fundamental differentiation to be made is between self and non-self. If I don't know where my own boundaries begin and end, I cannot know when something potentially is intruding on them. Hence, our stress response activates in order to prepare us for 'fight, flight or freeze' response. Some people, lash out, get into arguments and some withdraw. The response is unique to individuals.
Here are some steps you can consider taking if you are serious about processing your anger.
Learn to recognize your boundaries and needs
Lack of boundaries are a result of childhood trauma. As children we are good at knowing our boundaries. Have you ever met a toddler? Aren't they so good at saying 'No'. However, in our family / care systems where a hierarchical parenting is prevalent, children are expected to respect the adults and follow the rules. Often when children draw boundaries, they are met with consequences. This teaches children that they must 'obey' or learn to 'please adults' in order to avoid those consequences. So, take a deep dive into those sabotaging people's pleasing habits and learn what your boundaries are. Set them and stick with them.
Learn to communicate your boundaries and needs
Communication is a skill that we must learn. When we were babies we communicated using our 'cry'. Depending on our main carer's response we either felt encouraged to communicate or learnt to suppress. As we grew up, we learn to speak and write, however despite our formal education system our ability to communicate our needs remain untouched due to social expectations and conditioning. Learn where the barriers are and learn new skills to communicate from a place of composure.
Learn to recognize when anger is on the rise (Your body tells you way before your recognize it)
Develop a healthy relationship with your body, Pay attention to its signals. Learn to read them. When you do that, you will recognize the anger way before you react. From now on, pay attention to the physical signs. Raised heart beat, clammy palms or headache etc. Do not ignore them. Read them and accept them.
Learn tools and techniques to deploy the anger
There are easy tools and techniques to process your anger. These tools do not suppress it but it actually helps you process them. Watch the video here to learn EFT tapping that will help you diffuse anger immediately. Download the guidance here 👇
Address the root cause
If anger persists in your life, stop judging yourself as a 'bad' person. Simply recognize that you are a human being. Addressing the root cause often leads to elevated self-awareness as well as elimination of the root cause. This step in my opinion is non negotiable if you are looking to let go of the judgement and shame you have attached to anger. We will continue to feel anger as an emotion from time to time. However, when we are attuned to ourselves, we feel confident that it will pass.
Most importantly remember that you are a human. Anger is an emotion. It may be unpleasant to experience it. However, it's o.k. It will pass. ACCEPT it and just SIT with it. Make a choice to take actions from an empowered place.