In a previous section, we introduced you to the idea of meditation. We also talked about it again later as a way of reducing stress.
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the many different causes of anger. It can develop from stress, from fear, from unmet needs, from feeling a lack of control in a situation, or from an unwillingness to accept situations, to name just a few. It can develop from depression, trauma, and the use of substances.
Anger can also come up quick, before you realize it. One moment, you were operating as usual, and the next moment you feel as if your body is threatening to snap in two. Suddenly you may find you are in a moment of dire pain or stress. Maybe your partner has expressed they want to break it off. Maybe your dog escaped while you were walking out the door to get to work.
We have already addressed the notion of using STOP while in the middle of a conflict. But what if the conflict is internal? What if the only person you are in conflict with is yourself?
Just like before , you will want to turn immediately to checking in with your body. You will identify your thoughts, related beliefs and feelings. You will seek self-awareness. But what’s next?
When you are in a moment of emotional pain, you have the option to fight it, embrace it, explore it, or try to stuff it down or avoid it.. You may lash out in anger and do something you regret. You may beat yourself up for your choices later on, losing self-respect and self-esteem. Choosing to remain calm and self-assured, you can strengthen your sense of self and even improve how you feel about yourself.
If you are really in the middle of being angry, then remove yourself from the situation. Initiate a timeout, even if for only a few minutes. This can be a physical timeout where you remove yourself from the situation or it may be an internal timeout where you take a pause and take a few deep breaths. If you are in conflict with another person, then let them know you are too angry to respond at the moment.
When you have sufficient space, take stock of your feelings, your body, your thoughts, and your breath. Is your breathing ragged? Is your heart in your throat? Maybe your mind is a muddle of negative self-talk. Maybe you feel that you can’t bother being present or with noticing your breath anyway.
Take a moment to be with your breath. Acknowledge your anger, your body’s response to your anger, and your negative self-talk. Just acknowledge it is there without trying to change it.
Acknowledge you are angry. It is common for people to want to stop their anger. They want to run away from it or crawl out of their skin to escape it. They often don’t want to face it. It is important however to face it and acknowledge it for what it is, an emotion. It is an emotion that can let us know that something is out of balance, that a need hasn’t been met or that a boundary has been crossed.
As your anger begins to decrease in its intensity after you have allowed yourself to just be with it and acknowledged it, begin to try to locate its source. Do so gently, making sure to remain neutral and objective and avoid being judgmental or critical.
Review the previous section on meditation (section 21). Sit with your breath three or four times in the upcoming days. Make sure you sit for ten minutes or more this time.
Track your anger and use of assertive communication.