This feels incredibly personal to talk about my struggles with anger, even if these moments are few and far between. For compassionate people like you and I, it does not feel right when this 'shadow' emotion feels so all-encompassing. In fact, I used to advise people to simple 'feel more compassion when anger arises', but have since shifted my approach.
The truth is, when I am angry, I tend fantasise about doing 'bad' or harmful things. Usually wanting to slash tyres, run away or say something nasty. Once, I even made a jazz song that vented how much someone annoyed me! These desires can create a sense of incongruence because I see myself as a 'nice' and tolerant person. If you have felt intense anger, you are obviously not alone. It is a universal secondary emotion (it stems from other feelings) and part of being human.
Today, I want to give you some of my favourite strategies for dealing with anger. I know there are more out there and that you may have other ways that work for you. Please share them here!
Acknowledge that the anger is there and greet like a visitor in your home who will leave eventually.
Wait. The anger will subside.
Often-times, after a day or so I feel pretty much zero emotion about something that made me want to throw a brick through a window.
Take your power back and do something for yourself to take control of any area of your life.
This is the best!
If you are angry that someone owes you money, take a step towards getting another client.
If your boss yells at you for a co-worker's mistake, do something nice for your friend.
This won't solve the problem, but it will help soften the anger. Because anger is so connected to frustration, it is crucial to prove to yourself that you have power in your life and don't just have to be reactive- you are creative.
And something more advanced, and deeply powerful. Ask yourself this one question.
What is this anger really about?
I have found, when I dig beneath the surface, that my anger is never really at another person or situation. Here are some revelations I have had when looking into my anger. Please know that these may be fleeting beliefs or ones that I have worked on eliminating and continue to combat. I want to destigmatise anger and be open to its lessons. Here are my personal thoughts that were only just beyond angry feelings.
I am ashamed that I offer my time wholeheartedly and feel obligated when people take advantage of my generosity. Why can't I just say, 'No'? Damn my lack of boundaries!
My own disorganisation could be avoided if I value my own time instead of allowing myself to be yanked in different directions til my life is a clusterfuck.
I deeply need that person's approval. Can't they see how hard I work? Why am I never good enough?
This is my fault and responsibility for being in a place where shit like this happens. I should just suck it up.
I am so messed up, no wonder this has happened to me.
I want to be special. I wish people would stop copying me!
It is hopeless. I am one person. How can I fix war? Am I a hypocrite?
Uncomfortable honesty right there.
What did you notice? A pattern of frustration certainly emerges. Or frustration with my patterns. A sense of not being good enough crops up. Hopelessness, ego, shame, guilt, fear.
Once we delve deeper, we can begin to resolve these beliefs and feelings.
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” ― Gloria Steinem
Taking responsibility for these feelings and belief is super important. You can then make practical solutions to improve the quality of your life. (Note: Anger is natural, and doesn't have to be fixed, but can certainly transmute into learning.) For me, I can be more rigid with boundaries, have more open conversations and choose to feel like a leader (rather than feeling like a school girl being 'copied').
I want to know now, when have you experienced anger and what did you do about it? What was the anger really about? What have you learnt about yourself? Share in the comments.
I get asked about anger on a weekly basis, so this post is a long time coming. Feel free to ask me any questions here. I would love to answer them with you.
“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems -- not people; to focus your energies on answers -- not excuses.” ― William Arthur Ward
All my love,
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