We all get angry. Even His Holiness the Dalai Lama has admitted to feelings of anger.
EVERYONE feels anger, and it's important to remind ourselves that ALL of our human emotions are valid, and we are built to experience all of them, no matter who we are or how emotionally intelligent or enlightened we are.
What we want to begin to become more aware of is how long we stay in a state of anger, and to understand that when we are 'IN' anger, we are generally not thinking as clearly or logically as we could, or be able to distance ourselves enough to get a level perspective on things.
That's when people do or say things they might later regret, and then families can really suffer, friendships can dissolve, and unfortunately sometimes they never repair. And we've all seen or heard the research to support that hanging on to anger and other so called 'negative' emotions for long periods isn't good for our physical mental emotional or spiritual health.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we as individuals or if whole communities experienced less anger and more kindness?
But is that easier said than done?
What are some of the steps we can take to let go of anger more quickly?
These 5 steps might help:
1. Building self awareness
The first thing we need to build is some self awareness around WHAT our triggers are.
What things get under your skin? What situations push your buttons?
These are different for every person and depend on what your values are, what you've experienced in the past, the relationships in your life and their history, and a range of other factors. When you start to self-reflect you can think back to the last few times you got really angry and why, then you'll start to work this one out.
And big things like grief and loss can manifest as anger. I've had first hand experience with this after losing my sister a year ago. I felt like I had a much shorter fuse at times and snapped so much more quickly for a few months.
If you've experienced this and it isn't subsiding with time then it's good to get some professional support to help you navigate this challenging time in your life.
2. Noticing - How do you usually respond?
This is another exercise in self awareness, which is all about building our emotional intelligence. When you get angry what happens? Do you go red in the face? Does your heart race? Does your mind start to race with thoughts? What is your self talk? Do you throw things? How does it affect the people around you?
Working out how you DO anger is an important step and is as valuable as considering what situations get you into a state. Then you'll know what triggers you and how you usually respond. At this point acknowledge yourself because lots of people never even look at this. You are expanding your emotional intelligence, accepting that you are human and valuable and this can assist you to start feeling so much more empowered across all areas of your life.
3. Build your Intervention list
Once you've accepted that anger is a natural emotion and everyone feels it, then you can start building a list of things that you can do, when you notice your trigger or response, that will help you to begin to move through it. This is where physical movement helps - any change in your physical state will influence your emotional state. Take a short walk, breathe in some fresh air, count and breathe (this really works), get some exercise, have a glass of water.
And as you learn more about this you can start to learn about your self talk and how that is working for or against you when you're in anger and how you can start to have a constructive argument with yourself to help you move through the emotion.
4. Build your Prevention list
At this point you can start to apply some preventative strategies when you can see anger looming on the horizon. When you get really good at knowing your triggers then you can start recognising the things that happen before that, and you can take action to prevent some of the anger situations from arising in the first place.
Or you can build some strategies into your life that help you minimise trigger situations, or you can get a coach or counsellor to work with who will help you to change what you have decided those triggers mean, or you can decide to let some things or people in your life go.
There are so many options that can assist you to let go of anger, and this can be life changing and really help you to feel empowered.
5. Acknowledge Yourself
Like anything we begin to learn or develop within ourselves, take a moment to acknowledge yourself. Yes you are human and you feel anger just like all human beings, and if you have decided to reduce the time you spend in anger then celebrate any improvement.
If you used to hang on to anger for 3 days and you've reduced it to 1 day? Acknowledge yourself. If you've reduced 3 months to one week, acknowledge yourself.
Your goal might be to get your anger experience down to just a few minutes, or if you're like the Dalai Lama you might get it down to a breath or two. Just take one step and one improvement at a time.
And finally, if anger is really becoming something that you know is stopping you from living a life of enjoyment, or from enjoying the relationships you know you want, then please seek support from someone who can help you work through things.
You're worth it, and your life experience will improve completely.
Until next time,
The PLS Team
Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash