Anger, in its unprocessed form can be incredibly detrimental to a person’s success. This is especially true when it comes to their success in their personal relationships. Every single one of us can think of a time in our lives, where either our own anger or someone else’s anger has caused significant strain or damage to a meaningful relationship. Sometimes things are done, or words are said that are hurtful, and can not be taken back.
If you are the type of person, who struggles with anger, it can be a frustrating thing to struggle with. Nobody (or maybe I should say most of us) do not ever want to hurt people, or make ourselves into the bad guy, or lose control in a way that hurts others and damages our reputation. Usually an angry reaction is quite hard-wired into our system, making it almost automatic. There is also a lot of energy involved in the emotion of anger. It takes over the body, tensing muscles, chopping up the breathing pattern, and making one’s voice shaky. It can also be very akin to a virus in your mind, taking your thoughts in a different direction, away from love and peace, and into suspicion, faulty judgment or framing of particular situations, and negative thoughts that not only harm the person/situation you are angry with, but also yourself.
The great news is that, just as much as we have been programmed to react in the way that is not helpful to us, we can quickly turn it around, using our intention, and the tips I am going to share below. As with any emotion, when you strip anger of its labels, associations, and preconceived descriptions, anger is simply energy. Energy in and of itself is neither good nor bad, and when it is worked with in this state, can actually be a very powerful force that you can harness to work for you, instead of against you.
Tip #1: Feel the Energy
As I just said above, emotions are energy. A strong and intense emotional reaction is a very strong and intense energy. Though it is strong and intense, it does not need to be “bad”. It doesn’t need to alter your ability to stay positive, calm, and in control of yourself. The trick is in recognizing it as it is, and removing the labels that your mind has given it. Once you’ve removed its labels, you can see it as it is, and then even, if you wish, take it a step further and reassign a new label for it that you find more helpful.
I’m going to share an exercise with you that helps you do this. You can do this now to practice, and then begin using it during times of anger.
Sit comfortably with your spine straight, and close your eyes. Now identify a feeling in your body. It can be any feeling or sensation at all. Focus in on this feeling. Now ask yourself these questions over and over again:
- What color is the feeling?
- What shape is the feeling?
- How dense is the feeling?
- How much water could it hold?
- How does it feel around the edges of the feeling?
Feel free to add any more questions you can think of that help you describe and connect with the feeling. Now, realize that this feeling is energy; pure, neutral, intense energy. Feel and imagine the energy vibrating.
And now, realize that this energy is yours. It’s your power, it’s your creation. Give this power and creation of yours some acceptance and appreciation. Acknowledge it. Thank it. Say “thank you” to it in your head.
You have now converted a feeling that otherwise had a rational label in your head back into pure, powerful energy.
Remember at all times while doing this exercise that this energy is yours, and that you created it.
Practice this a few times when you are not feeling angry. When you do use it on the emotion of anger, you will find it is very easy to identify a physical sensation, associated with the emotion. After you have gotten good at stripping the labels off of the energy, you can then play around with it. You can even convert it to good energy and send it through your body. You can change the emotional label for it and turn it from a feeling of anger to a feeling of overwhelming excitement. Really, your options are completely limitless.
(If you are serious about gaining more power and control over your emotions, I have provided a free resource that you can download right here. My emotional mastery E-book is packed with 10 of the most effective techniques to re-gain control over your emotions and use them to manifest positive experiences into your life.)
Tip #2 Realize the Source of the Anger
Anger is a secondary emotion. If you are angry, it is helpful to understand that before you were feeling angry, you felt hurt. Often times anger is used as a defense mechanism to protect people from the vulnerability that they feel when their feelings have been hurt. Some of us even have an idea that it makes us look “weak” to express being sad, or betrayed, or hurt, so we channel that into the more aggressive emotion of anger, thus seemingly protecting ourselves from being hurt further.
The next time you are feeling angry, get in touch with why the thing that triggered you made you feel that way. If you can get down to the original emotion, that feeling of hurt, you can more effectively and clearly express yourself, and communicate your emotions in a way that doesn’t hinder the resolution of the issue with those involved. This is especially useful when it involves a loved one, a good friend, or someone that you know genuinely cares about you. The obvious reason being that someone, who genuinely cares about you would never want to intentionally hurt you, and will care deeply when you express your feeling this way to them.
Tip #3 Express It!
I personally struggled with passive aggression for a large chunk of my life. In many ways, our society facilitates this, as when we are children growing up, we are often taught by the authority figures that it is not ok for us to express our anger, or other strong emotions. This is not necessarily society’s fault. It is very important for us to learn as children that throwing temper tantrums and expressing our emotions in a less than helpful way does not help us get what we want out of the situation. It can be difficult, however, to communicate the subtlety that it is OK to express your emotions, but that they need to be expressed in a helpful way, to a child. This results in many people growing up with a habit of stuffing or denying their anger.
In my personal experience with this, I had many occurrences, where something would irk me, not too severely, but to a certain extent, and I would tell myself that it didn’t bother me. I actually ran into a form of conflict with my spiritual path as well, because I wanted very much to be a forgiving person. So, sometimes I would trick myself into thinking I had let it go when I hadn’t. This would work just fine once or twice, but in my more personal relationships, these little things would sit inside of me, and build up, until, all of a sudden, they would all stack up together and I would feel very upset, and taken advantage of. Then I’d explode, and the poor person I’d explode on would not realize where it came from at all.
This would turn the tables very quickly from me feeling taken advantage of, or wronged, to me being the one who was hurting the person I loved. It was very counterproductive, as I would usually hurt the other person’s feelings to the point that we were not able to really get to the bottom of why I had been so upset in the first place, and with me being so explosively angry, it wouldn’t provide the right setting for communication and resolution to take place anyways.
It is important to accept and acknowledge when you are upset. Let yourself feel how you feel. From that point, it is important to express it in a healthy way. Little upsets in relationships can turn into much bigger things than they really are by sitting on them, not talking about them, and not resolving them. If someone you love has hurt you in some way, it is very important that you give them the opportunity to express to you that they did not intend to, and apologize or find a solution to the issue. Sometimes you really need this. Have you ever noticed how much better you can feel from just hearing someone genuinely tell you they’re sorry?
Make sure you give people a chance to talk to you about it, and apologize if it is in order, before letting yourself get really worked up about it.
A few general guidelines for expressing strong feelings in a conversation:
- Use the words “I feel” when talking about what is bothering you. (ie: “I feel frustrated when I don’t think you’re listening to me”, or “I feel taken advantage of if I end up being the only one that does X chore around the house”
- Avoid using “YOU statements”. “You” is a very pointed word when having a conversation with strong emotions. It’s much like pointing a finger. (ie: “You need to learn to listen better.”, “You don’t ever ____.” “If YOU would just _____, then we wouldn’t have this problem.”
- Avoid using absolute words like always or never. (“You always do this!”, “You never want to talk to me about how I feel”, etc.) These can make people feel like you are being unfair, and not acknowledging the times when they have done what they are hearing they “never” do, or vice versa.
Though it can be challenging at times, it is important to use a certain level of tact when communicating strong emotions with people, especially when they know you are upset with them, because this will put their defenses up, too. The right words can help you communicate your feelings clearly and succinctly, without fanning the flames.
Tip #4 Deep Breathing
Have you noticed how choppy and restricted your breathing can get when you are angry? Just as feeling a strong emotion can affect you psychologically, consciously modifying your physiology will also affect your emotional state.
When adrenaline starts flowing, the fight or flight response is engaged in your body. At this point, the most resourceful parts of your brain are not being used as dominantly, and the more primitive, reactive, and emotional parts of your brain are taking a larger degree of control. This is a built-in biological survival mechanism that is usually not helpful to you.
By learning to breathe deeply and evenly into your stomach, while you are angry, you quickly reverse this fight or flight response, and disengage the part of your brain that can cause you to more easily lose control. It brings more oxygen into your body and brain, reactivating your much-needed mental resources for clarity of thought, communication, and emotional control, and also calms the physical body back down, minimizing the use of your adrenaline gland, and helping you to relax and tack a step back.
Regular practice of this can turn into a habit, where you naturally take deep breaths when you feel upset, which can eventually turn the whole reaction around, and change the way you think, feel, and act entirely when the emotion of anger appears.
Tip #5 Channel It to Something Helpful
As you explore the feeling exercise from tip #1, you will realize more and more that anger is a strong energy. It is your strong energy. This energy can be utilized and spent doing things that benefit you, rather than being spent tensing up your muscles, restricting your breathing, and thinking negatively.
You can very easily channel this energy into something healthy or creative. It can be burnt as extra fuel in an exercise routine, or used as a creative medium for writing music or poetry. Use your unique talents and abilities to turn it into something that helps you, rather than something that hinders you. Doing this not only allows it to benefit you instead of create obstacles for you, but it also gives you a healthy outlet and expression for it, allowing you to release it, rather than stuff it.
Tip #6 Learn Not to Take Things Personally
Through my experience in working with people, both in life-coaching scenarios, and upper corporate management, I have found that a large degree of anger and upset comes from people taking things personally that need not be personal at all.
It is very valuable to foster the remembrance at all times that everyone is very involved in their own stuff. Everyone has their own challenges, their own agendas, their own emotional and mental limitations, and their own emotional triggers. Often times when you are interacting with someone, even someone you know quite well, there is a great deal of projection and shadow material being processed. People are always perceiving you and everything else through their own unique lens of beliefs, memories, and emotional struggle.
Some of us in this community get a welcome break from this, because we are more likely to associate with those that are doing inner work on themselves, resolving their emotional triggers and limiting beliefs about others and the world. Therefore, these people do not project their unconscious limitations and pain onto others quite so much, and are usually less easily triggered emotionally. Keep in mind, however, that many people are not doing this type of inner work, and are also completely oblivious to the idea of projection, or the ability to change their perception about issues that trigger them emotionally.
The gist of what I am saying here is that usually when people treat you with a sense of disregard, or even a flat-out lack of concern for your feelings, they are very absorbed in what is going on for them, and it really has nothing to do with you. It could have been you or anyone else, and for all you know, a particular tone of voice you used may have unconsciously triggered their memory of someone who killed their dog 5 years ago. Most people, even very off-putting, tactless, and inconsiderate people, do not go out with the intention to offend you, and even if someone does, it’s still all about them and what’s going on in their mind.
So don’t take it personally! It really isn’t.
Tip #7 Forgive
Much unresolved anger and rage can come from painful or unpleasant past experiences with people in our lives. These could range from unkind words being spoken to serious physical/emotional harm taking place. The reality is that once these experiences have become the past, it only does us harm to hang on to them. Though we have been hurt by this person or situation in the past, we are the ones that continue to hurt ourselves by holding on to the pain, and fostering a grudge.
I know that releasing the past and forgiving someone that has hurt you is easier said than done, but I also know that you can do it, and that you will reap incredibly great benefits from doing it.
There is an emotional energetic charge that occurs during a trauma that we are usually not able to process or release at the time it happens. Because it is not easily processed or released when it occurs, this energy is commonly “stuffed” or repressed instead. This is a recipe for limitation because when this energy is repressed, rather than expressed, processed, and released, it can burrow deep into the body, causing first tension and stress, and often times developing into severe energy blocks that interfere with the normal balanced flow of your energy system. If these blocks are not released, they can develop further into a myriad of different emotional, mental, or physical disease.
Holding on to this energy, and its associated memory also has a very strong programming effect on the mind and belief system. It literally sends a signal to the brain to constantly look for related threats and situations as a means of protecting oneself from the trauma occurring again. The problem with this is that your mind is creative, and any added focus from the brain and mind on any fear, negativity, or memory of trauma makes it that much more likely to be drawn to you again.
The only way to fully release the trauma of the past is through forgiveness. Not just forgiveness of the person/people who were involved, but also forgiveness of yourself, and forgiveness of the situation.
There is great news when it comes to forgiveness. It’s backed by the ultimate truth of your reality. This is a deep subject that we will not be able to get into here, but understand that the very nature of what you are, and what is true in your ultimate reality sets you up to forgive and release the past.
Two of the very best methods for forgiving at a very deep level are Ho’oponopono, and the Course in Miracles. I highly recommend both. For more information on forgiveness, feel free to read my 7 Life-Changing Tips for Releasing the Past article.
This concludes the article. I would like to leave you with one more thought. As you progress along your path, whether it’s a path of spiritual growth, personal development, success, or exploration of creativity, you learn, grow, and expand. In modern times, it is nearly impossible to not be learning, growing, and expanding. Take heart if you are struggling with anger, because along with any path of personal growth, these types of feelings naturally begin to fall away.
Greater understanding of yourself, other people, and life itself naturally lends a greater perspective of compassion and light-heartedness, coupled with a realization that everyone is just doing what they are doing, and bumping up against their own barriers and limitations. And so are you. The truth is, it’s all water under the bridge, and we can be at peace in this exciting and tumultuous world with a developed awareness of the truth.
So walk your path, and follow these tips. It gets better and better every day.
Here are the other articles from the 7 tips series: