How to Overcome Anger
“Some people are just angrier than others” - what do you think? I don’t believe it to be entirely true. Yes, some people can most definitely display a lot more anger than others, but deep down I don’t think that makes them angrier, I believe that they have not yet learned how to process such a big emotional response within the body and the mind.
Allow me to back peddle here …On the night of Summer Solstice at 4am in the morning I woke up from my sleep and I could not for the life of me get back to sleep. After staring at Abbey for a solid 30 minutes and basically exploding my heart from love (Yes my toddler still co-sleeps with me and refuses to stay in her own bed!) I decided to get up and all I could think about was Anger and my own personal journey with anger. I wasn’t angry right then but it was as if I took a journey back into the depths of my own experience with it. Have you ever had those early morning ‘aha’ moments? I feel like this is something I need to share with you now.
As a child and a teenager I never knew how to deal with my emotions. I was always told I was a ‘sensitive’ child and in the same breath told how ‘courageous and independent’ I was. When I got upset over something small, rather than being shown how to allow myself to feel those feelings, I repressed them, by distraction and pushing them down deep inside. The thing with anger however is, that it does not go away until the loop is closed, and worse yet it compounds. So the next time you feel anger, its strength is amplified as the residual anger lays beneath waiting to be set free. It’s like embers of a fire being poked, waiting to burst into flames. I can honestly say that there is a better way to live, free from anger and this is what I hope to share with you now.
Let me show you this, through a quick exercise outlined in the following steps.
What happens when you get angry? Right now, go ahead and recall something that makes you feel angry, something that riles you up to a 100, simply by thinking about it.
Where do you feel this anger in your body?
What associated emotions , feelings or thoughts are coming up with it?
Really allow yourself to feel this ANGER fully. Now, how does it feel to give yourself full permission to feel the emotion of Anger?
Now let that go, allow the Anger melt away, leaving your body.
Invite in the feeling of forgiveness. How does that feel?
Can you allow your entire body bathe in the feeling of forgiveness while you release all story?
Let it all go now.
My question for you now is, were you able let it go, or did you allow your mind to keep repeating the story over and over?
You see what happens is that we can allow anger to flood our system. It takes over. We keep repeating the story over and over again in our minds, except this time including stuff you wish you had said, or reasons why you believe you are right and justified. By replaying this anger we remain living in the past and we allow these incidents fog up and steal our present.
In my 20’s if I got upset and angry or upset about something, even something small, I would torture myself by replaying the incident over and over again. I would talk about it in detail with all of my friends and I would lay awake at night thinking about it. You see I didn’t process the emotion at the time and I didn’t know how to release it. We often label these strong difficult feeling as Anger, but what is the underlying cause of this anger …. more often it is hurt, it’s disappointment, it’s shame, it’s humiliation, it’s fear of abandonment and lets call it what it is here… FEAR. It can often shows itself as Anger when we are not able to express our feelings or maybe not even able identify what exactly it is we are feeling.
Examples of Anger expressed aggressively
Explosive rage or reactions
Unpredictable and/or unfair behaviours
Revenge or punishing
Examples of Anger expressed passively
Sulking, silences or withdrawal of communication
Gossiping, patronizing, putting people down
Overly critical of self or others
Setting up self or others for failure
My point from all this is that there is a better way to live. A more peaceful way to live. Where if you happen to get upset over something and you feel angry (we are Human after all) that you can process that emotion there and then, so that it doesn’t grow and compound, that you set it free and move on peacefully and genuinely happy with your life. By the way this is different to ‘not responding’ or ‘just dropping things’.
So how do you do this? There are many different ways to approach this. My recommendation would be to firstly become aware of when you start to feel the anger bubble inside of you and in the moment see if you can react differently. Catching yourself ‘in-the-moment’ will ultimately have the biggest effect.
Anger in the moment
We all have triggers and most of us are aware of what they are. So if your button gets pressed, see if you can soften back into yourself. Consciously take a deep breath in and out through your nose and ask yourself mentally to practice compassion in that moment, even go as far as telling yourself mentally that the other persons belief is just their opinion, then choose to sit without reacting. The key here is to allow yourself to feel the discomfort and pain, and by allowing yourself to feel it, free from judging or analyzing it, it’s closing the loop and will allow the anger to move through you.
Anger after the moment
When you start to think back about something or someone that makes you angry, don’t allow yourself to keep replaying this on a loop. Remember your brain can’t tell if what you are thinking is happening now or in the past, so it will once again flood your system with stress hormones such as cortisol, as it believes that it is happening right now. You deserve better than this. Essentially you are poisoning yourself each time you allow that angry memory resurface and replay.
So my advice here is fake it until you make it …if you catch yourself in the replay anger mode, get distracted, do something else and change the program. Switch the channel.
How to release old residual anger from the body
Sometimes we have anger that is repressed so deep in our subconscious mind that we aren’t even aware this program is running until we begin to do this work to release it. But just because we aren’t aware of it doesn’t mean that it’s not having a massive effect on our lives, because it is. The good news is that once released it has a beautiful healing effect on the body and on your overall well-being. Releasing this could be all that is standing between you becoming the happiest person you know.
Practice the above Polarity exercise. Practiced regularly, simply by allowing yourself to feel Anger, followed by feeling forgiveness next, what you are doing is strengthening the neural pathway between these two emotions in the brain. What that does, is that the next time you feel anger, the brain activates the forgiveness emotion too, as cells that fire together wire together. So rather than the usual attached emotion (blame/resentment/jealousy or whatever it is) firing up , you have forgiveness activating, so you are less likely to react and more likely to let it go and move on. This is a simple yet powerful exercise.
Practice a Yoga Nidra guided meditation which is specific to anger or Self love. The difference between doing this and the above polarity exercise is that you are doing it on a much deeper level, in a way that you are accessing that part of your subconscious mind where you can reprogram your old self-limiting beliefs, you can read more about this HERE. I designed one especially to release anger and improve self love, based on my own life experience on healing inner child wounds. You can take a listen HERE for free, on HERE on the Insight Timer Meditation App.
Somatic Experiencing (SE) Therapy equips you with the ability to access and release that mobilizing anger so that your body can finally return to a healthy state of equilibrium. By working with a trained and qualified professional they will first work to assess and help you gain more self-awareness of how your body is dealing with the anger and then take you through physical exercises to release this. I was fortunate enough to do this work with Kimberley Ann Johnson who I would definitely recommend, although you can search your local directory if this is something you are interested in. With Somatic experiencing you are releasing the anger held from your body and what I love about this is that it is not done through talking, which as we know from about provokes our brain to release further stress hormones and we don’t want that.
Meditation - start small. Even if it’s sitting by yourself in silence for two minutes in the morning while you take 7 deep belly breaths focusing your entire awareness on your inhalations and exhalations. It only takes 7 deep diaphragmatic breaths to calm your nervous system, bringing it into coherence, moving out of the ‘fight/flight mode’ and into the ‘rest and restore’ mode. Here is a short video on how to practice this style of belly breathing.
We train our bodies, so why not train our minds too. How we think and how we feel creates our personal reality. So by meditating you are learning to choose your thoughts and set free everything that does not serve you.
Our thoughts create our reality. - Dr Joe Dispenza
Practice Forgiveness - If you do hold a lot of anger, especially towards one specific person there is a book I would suggest you read. It’s by the amazing Louise Hay and it’s called You can Heal your life. I first read this back in 2006 when a lady I sat beside on a bus recommended it to me and it was truly life changing. There is one exercise in this book, where you place the person that hurt you on a black stage, and then you imagine them as a child before being guided to the next steps on talking with them (it’s all in the book). It’s a guided exercise but I will openly and honestly say, this book was the start of my own healing journey.
Practice Gratitude Daily - It might seem a little silly or even ridiculous but I cannot stress enough how practicing gratitude DAILY will impact your life more than anything else. It will start your day on a positive note, but better yet, you will find yourself searching throughout your days for things to be grateful for and then you will store these in your mind to write in your journal the next day. You see, it’s not so much about writing the list down in a hurry, and its more about living your daily life with your eyes open to seeing everything that you are grateful for, so that when it comes to writing these down in your journal, you have a sense of intention and deep gratitude behind them. This is where the magic is.
Start by trying out one of these and see if it works and then commit to your own personal journey on learning to release your anger, because you deserve it and you deserve to live a life of ease, love and joy.
If you found the above interesting and would like some further practical tips and also to read a different persons perspective, I suggest you take a read of George Burns from Back2Basics Living website blog post titled ‘How I overcame My Anger Issues’ by clicking HERE. In this he shares his own personal journey with resolving his anger issues in this real and raw account.
Let Go and Let it Flow.