10 ways to cope with anger
In my last article, I explained what anger and conflict are. Here I'll be sharing 10 ways to help you cope with anger.
How to manage angry feelings
- Start by understanding the difference between being fiery, losing it inanely in rage, and calm assertiveness. Calm assertiveness is a skill that can be learned.
- When you are not feeling rage, discern how it would benefit you to be less explosive or implosive with your anger. Write a pros and cons list.
- Once it is established that being less angry would be of benefit, become aware of your physiological response to anger. This could be your rapid breathing, faster heart rate, adrenaline surge, any heat in your body, or your louder tone of voice. Try using a soothing voice instead. This should calm you down.
- What an explosion or implosion of anger often shows, is that we don't know how to put on the brakes. If we detect a threat, our nervous systems can accelerate from 0 to 100 in a split second. So, what's needed, is the practice of using our parasympathetic break system. We need to be able to limit and inhibit our 'limbic' acceleration.
Begin, by becoming aware of the urge to release anger. Then, surf that wave without venting. Catch that moment between emotional reaction and response. Create a pause. This is the practice of mindfulness. The more you practice mindfulness in any circumstance, the more likely you are to be able to pause between any emotion and reaction.
- See anger as just a state, just one part of you, rather than the whole of you. This part is trying to be understood, like any other part.
- Understand what's beneath the anger. What triggers it and what the beliefs are that keep it going. Anger always has a message. So try to work out when it's useful and when it's not. Ask who you are angry with? And, who else?
- Name the anger and express yourself to the right person. If you can express yourself to someone empathic by starting with “I feel...because...” it can help to release the energy of the anger in a less destructive way. Here are some words for anger (taken from the CNVC website): Exasperated, displeased, livid, irritated, disgruntled, aggravated, dismayed, frustrated, irate, resentful, irked, enraged, impatient, furious, indignant, annoyed, incensed.
- Use the energy of anger differently. Screw paper up, hit cushions, scream into a pillow, or channel it into an energetic or meaningful project.
- Sing through complaining or argument. This is guaranteed to make you smile!
- It's really hard to stay angry if you do this: Open your hands in a receptive gesture.
In this culture, we are often more likely to squash rage and anger in favour of taking it out on ourselves. It is often said that it's people who don't express anger that we need to worry about.
Anger needs to be heard and understood. It's a signal of something you don't like. It's there to help you protect yourself. You are not a bad person for being angry. It's normal, necessary, and helps you to thrive.
The way through anger is to become interested in it rather than being instinctively impulsive or suppressing it. The way to calm assertiveness is through exploring and understanding it, and creating a pause between anger and the damage it can cause.
Some ideas here were inspired by a Nicabm training on working with anger. You can buy the full training programme here: https://www.nicabm.com/courses/
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