Anger, fear, sadness and joy are the four basic human emotions. A blend of these emotions gives a spectrum of human feelings that allows us to increase our aliveness, awareness, wellness, acceptance and discovery of expression. Many people have never been taught how to effectively express their emotions, so it is important to learn how to do it in a positive way especially when it comes to anger.
By the time we enter school we already know how to express anger as it is a learned behavior from the people around us. This behavior is further reinforced by our life’s adult experiences until it becomes a habit.
When we feel angry, adrenaline is released into our bodies, blood rushes to our head, arms and legs, heartbeat and breathing increases, sweating occurs, urge to scream surfaces and eventually we react via our sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response. This fear-based, reflex-like response occurs when we no longer trust something or someone and do not give enough time to decipher what is the cause of the fear. If a person is not thinking when he or she reacts, the immediate reaction can subsequently produce adverse results.
When anger is mobilized and appropriately expressed, it can become the fire for change and an indication to others that their behavior is unacceptable.
Anger energy is very powerful, and ignoring it will not make it go away. Repressed anger increases resentment, causes unpredictable loss of control, increases muscular tension and stress which affect our immune system and mental health.
Understanding our patterns of anger provides us with a better insight into why we react as we do and offers ways in dealing with this complex emotion. The following exercise is to help you identify with whom or about what you are angry about.
- What made you most angry?
- How did you handle the anger?
- Who are you angry at now? Why are you angry?
- How does this anger affect your life now?
When handling difficult emotions of others, it is important not to react in a defensive way as this can escalate conflict. Here are some tips:
- Listen and say nothing. Do not offer solutions, and give others the opportunity to discharge emotions.
- Observe your own reaction, breath deeply.
- Do not take things personally, separate feelings from content.
- Clarify the other person’s needs and concerns, shift focus from anger to exploring issues.
- Make sure feelings and facts are mutually understood, and acknowledge needs and concerns.
Below are some ways of releasing feelings of anger:
- Learn how to interrupt your pattern, using neuro-linguistic programming methods.
- Talk to someone who understands and accepts your feelings of anger.
- Learn to label the emotions that you are having. Are you feeling anger or pain? Sadness or anger?
- Write your thoughts of anger on a piece of paper as this allows the anger to surface without harming anyone.
- Decide and resolve your anger as you as soon as possible by finding ways to release anger. Remember unexpressed anger affects your life so do some relaxation, meditating, visualization or yoga. Repressing anger becomes a habit.
- Recognize that anger as all emotions are transient. While you might feel incredibly angry at this moment, your anger will pass as long as you express it.
- Do regular exercise as anger is best expressed physically. Choose a physical activity that will not harm another person or yourself. Some good ways to express anger include punching pillows, hitting the ground with a baseball bat, popping balloons, taking a kickboxing class or going for a brisk walk.
- Cry if you need to, as tears do heal emotional scars.
- Laughter is the best medicine so a good belly laugh is recommended as it can do wonders for a person’s emotional state.
Everyone should experience anger as it is a basic and common human emotion and it proves that we are alive and normal. Expressing anger constructively and positively will help you maintain your relationships in tact and biology healthy.
This article appears in Miscellany of Topics 1