I hate that feeling when anger wells up from deep down inside me, then surges through my body and explodes in my brain.
What I hate even more is the person I can become when confronted by whatever has generated that uncontrolled anger.
I’m not an angry person, far from it but I can get angry when provoked.
I’m not proud of some of my comebacks but my only consolation is that anger is a natural human emotion. My research also reveals that anger is not always negative as it shows us we’ve been hurt and that we need to alter the situation and use anger in a positive way.
All my life I witnessed Dad’s hair-trigger temper go off the Richter scale in a nano-second and return to zero in equal time and I’m conscious that whether it’s nature or nurture I too can lose my cool, not to that extent but it’s still not pleasant to watch.
In all fairness to my dear late father, he was a Holocaust survivor and came to Australia as a refugee with Mum and my eldest brother. Dad suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder long before the term was ever coined or we really knew how to treat it.
I must say it takes a great deal to trigger any outburst as I try my hardest to control my anger but it does still rear its ugly head from time to time.
The medical profession is agreed that repeated explosive bouts of anger and excessive bottled-up anger can have a detrimental effect on our health and has been linked to high blood pressure, possible heart disease, troubled sleep and has even been linked to depression.
It’s much better for our well-being to release our anger in healthy ways.
Susie’s Top Tips to release pent up anger.
Our irrational thoughts at the height of our anger may well make us believe we’ll feel better if we do physical harm on others or commit murder but in the cold hard light of day we know that’s totally wrong and we certainly don’t want any of the ramifications that will follow if we do.
The next best thing is donning a pair of boxing gloves and pounding out your anger on a punching bag. I was lucky enough to train for five years with three-time world boxing champion Jeff Fenech and found it a great physical way to exercise and helped build good core strength while at the same time it’s the best stress reliever and anger diffuser.
‘The best fighter is never angry’
― Lao Tzu ancient Chinese philosopher and writer
A good mate of mine has pillow fights with her partner when they get angry with each other and it reaches an impasse. She says there are rules like you can’t hit each other in the head and that it usually ends up with them in fits of laughter and has even led to make-up sex.
If boxing or pillow fights aren’t your thing then any form of physical exercise will help distract your mind and release endorphins, our body’s natural feel-good chemicals that makes us happy and more positive.
If your anger is escalating change your environment and a study by the University of Georgia suggests that going for a brisk walk or run during or immediately after an upsetting experience can help you manage your anger.
I find listening to music I can sing out loud to is a great way to diminish my anger. It works even better when I combine it with exercise.
They say laughter is the best medicine and in this case making ourselves laugh is a great way to help diffuse tension and reduce our anger and anxiety levels.
However, the Mayo Clinic advises the one humour we should avoid is sarcasm as it can not only hurt feelings but can also make things a whole lot worse.
Breathing and relaxation
Practicing deep-breathing exercises will help abate your anger. If you’re not sure if you’re breathing deeply enough then Trudi Griffin, a Licensed Professional Counsellor from Marquette University in Wisconsin, has a fun idea to find out. She suggests buying a bottle of liquid that makes children’s bubbles from the toy store. Hold the bubble wand in front of your face and breathe slowly through the wand. She emphasises that we should focus on exhaling from our lower abdomen, squeezing our breath up and out. Even breathing steady will produce a flow of bubbles. If your bubbles break or don’t appear, Trudi says to alter your breathing until they do.
There are many other forms of relaxation that will help with diminishing your anger, including yoga poses and repeating calming words and phrases, imagining relaxing locations and listening to music.
Don’t hold a grudge
If you let anger and other negative feelings get on top of your positive feelings then you’ll be consumed by this destructive energy and become an angry person.
‘Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.’ ―Buddha
Instead of being bitter and letting that destructive emotion take up rent-free space in your head, try forgiving the person who has angered you, it will lighten your heart and make you mentally stronger. Holding a grudge and harbouring resentment are dangerous sentiments that impact adversely on our health and well-being.
As Irish-American actor, writer and politician Malachy McCourt says;
‘Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.’
The Mayo Clinic suggests that we think before we speak and not express our anger until we are calm.
Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” ― Ambrose Bierce US writer, poet, and Civil War veteran
That’s often easier said than done, especially when someone cuts you off in traffic or your child stubbornly refuses to cooperate or you spend hours on the phone to overseas call-centres, as I did recently when my internet went down for two days.
‘You catch more flies with honey than vinegar’ – Benjamin Franklin’s ‘Poor Richard’s Almanac’ in 1744
Trying to take a little time out of any busy and stressful day for ourselves is often a challenge but it will always be a good thing and can help fortify us to cope with what’s ahead, minimising the risk of us getting angry or annoyed.
Instead of fixating on what’s made us mad, we need to find possible solutions to eliminate the issue altogether.
Learning to control anger takes time, persistence and perseverance and can sometimes require professional help. If your anger seems out of your control and especially if you fear you may do something you’ll regret, the best place to start is with your GP.
‘Angry people want you to see how powerful they are… loving people want you to see how powerful YOU are.’ ― Chief Red Eagle
Author, TV and Radio Broadcaster