We all have both good days and bad. Sometimes we are faced with challenges in our lives that make us angry. Everyone has been in that situation where someone has really ticked you off. Actually, as I write this… I feel angry. Anger can come from anything or anyone and its completely normal, however, there are exercises to deal with anger.
It’s inevitable that I’ll feel this way again- and many times with people I know well and love. We all will. Misunderstandings and annoyances happen and there are lots of opportunities to practice responding to anger productively and calmly.
By being mindful, we can use these situations to better ourselves and relationships.
With that in mind, here are a few ways of dealing with anger.
Sitting with your anger
Feel the anger
Don’t cover any negative feelings with positive ones. You don’t need to do that. You are entitled to feel whatever you need to feel.
Sit with your feelings
When I feel angry, I feel the need to urgently act on it, but generally, later on, I wish I didn’t. I wish I had waited until the feeling had less of a grip on me.
Feel anger throughout your body
Are you tense? Is your chest burning? Are your hands twitching? Recognise these areas in your body and just breathe to relieve blockages that are keeping you.
This is an exercise… a challenge or self-soothing
Yeah sure, you can get yourself all revved up and stewing in righteousness and you can think about all the ways in which you were wronged. Or…. You could talk yourself down from your rage into a place of inner calm. After all, we are the ones in control of our mental states, so practice regulating yours.
Commit to acting without seeking revenge
Decide that you’re not looking to get even or regain any sense of power. You want to address the situation and communicate your thoughts clearly.
Exploring your anger
Assess your mood before the incident happened
Sometimes you may already be having a bad day before the incident even happened. It could be that someone’s actions were the final straw to break the camel’s back, but they weren’t fully responsible for creating the feelings of anger.
Why is it bothering you so much?
Is it really what they did or is it how you’ve interpreted the situation and their actions?
If you’re angry with someone for doing something you’ve also done yourself many times, then you may be projecting your own traits onto someone else to get closer to the root of your feelings.
Write it down
The amount of times I’ve done this, and it really does work. Now that you know more clearly what the other person played in your anger and which part is more about you, write a letter to him or her. You can send the letter, delete it, burn it or whatever you wish. This will help you to clarify exactly what you’d like the other person to know or understand.
Respond without anger
Now you’re clear about the role you played in your anger you can initiate a verbal conversation about what has bothered you.
Use the ‘I feel’ language
An example of this is saying “You don’t show up so you obviously don’t care”, instead say, “When you forget about things that are important to me, I feel hurt”, in this way you’re not assuming the other person meant to make you feel bad, but you are explaining how it makes y0ou feel so they can understand how their actions have impacted upon you.
Resist urges to unload all of your unspoken grievances
Don’t let annoyances open up the flood gates for a list of other complaints – no one responds well to a lot of criticism. Stick with one issue and address any other issues at another time.
Stay open to the other persons perspective
This is sometimes very hard to do, but the other person can often feel angry too. They may think that you’re in the wrong. There isn’t always a right or wrong way and sometimes people see things differently but need to respect someone else’s views.
Focus on creating a solution
If your goal is to prove yourself as the one who is right, then you’ll just end up in a power struggle. Focus on what you’d like to change in the future. You both need to communicate your thoughts on positive changes.
Learn from your anger
Learn what you value
This taught you something valuable. It was a useful experience about what you value in the people you choose to be close to. This will help you to decide which people you might want to spend more time with or less time with going forward.
Learn what you need
You may realise that there are areas to improve on in your relationship or it might be that a relationship could come to an end because you know it doesn’t serve you. LEARN IT, OWN IT, ACT ON IT.
Learn clear communication
This exercise was in expressing yourself in the best way to be heard and understood. This exercise will be used again and again in the future. It’s great practice for misunderstands and struggles to come.
Learn what you’ll do differently in the future
You probably realised somewhere on this exercise that you did do something that played a role in the situation. It’s very rarely black and white. You can now use this knowledge to create peaceful relationships with people going forward.
Lastly, forgive. Very few of us end our lives and say, “I wish I stayed angry longer”. If it won’t bother us in 5 years, then why worry right now about it. In years to come, we don’t wish to have stayed angry longer, but we will be saying things like “I love you, I forgive you. I’m sorry”. Why not express it now, while you can enjoy the peace it will give you.