How To Work Through Anger

Although some say a healthy dose of anger isn’t such a bad thing, I know that for me, when I feel angry it’s a pretty destructive feeling.

When I get angry I start to self sabotage situations. I get stuck in my head. I see through raging, blaming, judging eyes and I have a hard time focusing on anything else.

Anger is something I’ve seen a lot of in relationships and most of the time it looks like rolling eyes, snide remarks, hurtful language and ignoring or intentionally not listening.

Anger is emotion misunderstood.

So how do we work through our anger?

Well, if anger is emotion misunderstood then it means we need to get to know our anger.

Without taking the time to sit with it – we don’t give ourselves the time to work through it.

Some of us want to express ourselves the moment we feel it while others like to keep it inside. What works for me is finding the balance.

First
I feel the anger in my body. I observe my feelings and thoughts piling on top of one another and the heat rising.

I notice my tendency to want to be mean, passive aggressive, ignore, punish.

I notice the tension in my chest. The aching in my torso. Or sometimes it shows up as a dryness in the back of my throat.

And while everything is firing and pushing me to react I sit.

Second
I sit in the anger without judging it – simply noticing that it’s there.

If I were to react right now I would be misunderstood. If I were to react right now what the outcome is that I need to feel better wouldn’t be possible. If I were to react right now I would be reacting from a place of wishing pain on someone else.

But … if I wait. If I sit with the emotion, although uncomfortable to do, without judging it, I can get past the initial thoughts of “me, me, me,” and move into questions like, “why am I feeling this way?” “What do I need to feel better?”

Third
Then those questions lead into questions about the other person. “Did this person intentionally try to make me feel this way?” “What was going on for the other person that they may have said what they did or did what they did?” “Does the person even know I’m upset right now?” “Do I want to care for this person? This relationship?” “How can I care for this relationship right now?”

What I come away with each time is the following phrase: it’s my role to teach whomever I’m with what’s happening with me. If I don’t find a way to articulate what I’m feeling I’ll be holding onto my anger, suppressing it, and feeling pretty horrible for a long time.

Fourth
Once I get to this point, I’m through the initial anger and into a place of seeing clearly what I need to express, and once I’ve figured out what to say the last step is finding the right time to express it.

Finding the right time is about making sure you’re giving yourself the opportunity to be heard. You want the other person to be in a position where they can listen, because as long as they listen to you – you’ll be heard.

The most uncomfortable part is really the most important – sit with your anger – notice it – don’t judge it – accept it – then let it go – figure out what you need to express – find the right time to be heard.

If you try it out I’d love to know how it goes.

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  • Helen Burns

    Hi Cynthia. Thank you for this. Anger is a topic and emotion I am curious about . As a woman, as a “polite” member of society and as a “nice” person, showing anger is not encouraged – it make people feel uncomfortable – “who is this wild woman?” they ask. The approach you’ve suggested still acknowledges, respects and gives space to the emotion but also encourages outrospection and empathy for the person or situation that has triggered it. But then it asks you to still address it, rather than squashing and denying. I’ll let you know how I go, next time anger comes hammering on the door.

  • Patricia

    This is great advice. It’s surprising how few people know about these “focusing” techniques or are willing to use them.

    This works with any powerful emotions including the tsunami of pain that is grief.

    As a matter of fact, I’m not sure any other method works to move the energy of emotion as well.

    Thanks for the post!

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