What to Do When Anger Takes Over

Let me start by saying that anger is not a problem. No, really, it’s not. Anger has energy and can be a motivator for changing something we dislike – finally cleaning off that desk, because you can’t find an important paper, or speaking out against injustice.

Anger only becomes a problem if it gets stuck or out of control, or when it keeps us from recognizing and releasing deeper feelings.

We are designed to feel.  Every feeling is a chemical, a neurotransmitter that sends information to the body. When feelings are buried rather than released, those chemicals can cause us harm.  Repressed emotion has been linked to a wide variety of illness, including cancer and autoimmune diseases. So, don’t hold back; expressing what you feel is important for your health and well-being. And, remember that anger turned inside can turn into depression. 

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The interesting thing is that both thoughts and feelings are fleeting.  Like ocean waves, they come; they
go, unless we keep them going by a thinking-feeling-thinking loop.  You get cut off in traffic, and your heart rate goes up due to a cocktail of anger and fear.

Depending on how close you came to disaster, your immediate response may be a gesture or expletive indicating your displeasure. Then you might take a deep breath, let it go and go back to listening to the radio. Doing that allows the emotional cocktail to dissipate pretty quickly.

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Or, you could keep the anger going…What’s wrong with people? They shouldn’t be allowed to do that! Where’s a cop when you need one? You feed the fire, and the anger grows, leading to more angry thoughts – that thinking-feeling-thinking loop. You get to where you’re going and tell everyone about the jerk that missed you by a half inch. Then you find other things to be angry about, because you fed the anger and that’s all you feel.

Then there is the anger transfer – piling up life’s little frustrations into one big ball of WTF and throwing it at an easy target, often a family member. employee_diciplined_800_clr_5635It’s that old story of boss yells at employee – employee can’t yell back, so takes it home – still in a huff, trips over toy left in the driveway and screams at kid. In psychology we call that displacement, and by the time you get home, you forget where the anger even started.

So, what to do?

breathing sky-114446_640First, breathe; it’s nature’s reset. Then, breathe again, slowly – in through your nose and out through the mouth.

Pay attention to your thoughts. Are they keeping you in that TFT loop? Find another way to look at the situation or just tell yourself to let it go.

Find a physical outlet to release the tension that can come with anger. Walk, exercise, run, dance, yell into a pillow…whatever it takes to get it out of your system.

Learn Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to release uncomfortable feelings. And, when anger has become a problem, call Meg at 610-504-4830 for a no-cost strategy session to help you begin to identify and manage the underlying causes. Anger doesn’t have to control you.