“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.” ― Gautama Buddha
Anger, frustration and that sense of being out of control is something we have all felt at some time in our lives. Often, it comes about in a rush. Suddenly. Unbidden. If we are not careful, we get caught up in the events and the moment that “triggered” the anger and follow through with words or actions that often we come to regret afterwards.
The interesting thing about this feeling of anger is that it often comes upon you unannounced, in the moment. What triggers it and how on earth can you come to deal with it. Manage the anger. And possibly reduce it to minimum levels.
I recently read three different articles that all talked about anger from a number of perspectives. I hope the following tips help you to manage anger.
Conversational Cross Purposes:
Imagine for a moment. You have been at work all day, working hard and probably in a frustrating and stressful environment. You come home and literally the first thing you say as you walk in the door is
“Evening. What on earth is all this mess?”. Your partner will probably react immediately and quite angrily to the implied criticism (I know when I do it, my partner does!),
“For God’s sake, I’ve been at work all day as well and when I got home, I tried to tidy up after the kids!”. You then retort with,
“Look I’m just saying. Surely, you’d agree with me it’s a mess?”.
What you have done is make an observation that’s factually correct, but implies a critical judgment. The other person will react angrily to the implied criticism. Next, you defend your initial statement vigorously but focus only on the surface-level meaning. What you have done is you’ve established a textbook case of cross-purposes,
Often we do this by accident. Letting our initial thoughts and feelings come to the fore. Not thinking about the context of the conversation. You could say, speaking your “unedited mind”. This is often the primary cause of a conversational argument.
So how do you try to minimise these? Pausing and reflecting on what the person is saying is key. Learning to take that small moment; a second or two is all it takes; before responding. Go on try it. The next time you are faced with a potential cross purpose anger moment, just pause, reflect and then respond.
It is all in the brain:
A recently published scientific study has found that there is a part of the brain, a region of the hypothalamus – which regulates emotion, sleep and appetite – that is responsible for triggering violent behaviours. Although the study was based on trials of the brains of mice, there is quite a significant link to that area of the brain as this area of the brain is common across all mammals, according to the research. The research goes on to talk about long-term future treatments for anger related issues through drugs.
What triggered my interest is that sleep and appetite play a critical role in how people react to situations. The less sleep you have, the more irritable you become and hence, more likely to get angry.
Likewise, eating a balanced diet is important. I know people that if they do not eat on a regular basis, their blood sugar levels drop. They then become very irritable quickly and react in an apparent cross manner to situations. You sometimes feel as if they have “bitten your head off”. They don’t mean it and quite often do not even realise that they have done it. The trick to managing this is to learn to recognise the signs and gently persuading the person to have a sugary snack. So if you are with someone and suddenly they go from “mild mannered” to “Mr Angry”, you might want to consider something as simple as, when was the last time they eat something?
One of the benefits of mindfulness meditation is the calming nature it brings to so many things. In addition, the self-compassion and loving-kindness meditations help to balance your emotions. However, these do not “fix” anger issues. Contrary to what some people believe, meditation does not make us emotionless, nor does it convert all emotion into some form of fluffy minded bliss. When we’re doing mindfulness meditation, if we feel anger, we feel it: the pain, the guilt, the whole nine yards. What also happens, though, is that we have a little space around the emotion. We can see it for what it is. We develop the capability to see emotions for what they are; transient, momentary, fleeting. The emotions follow the thoughts. And as your thoughts change, so to does your emotions. The challenge we all face is to let those thoughts and associated emotions come and go, rather than trying to hold onto them and ruminate on them.
If you find yourself in this situation and want some help, do get in touch.
How Meditation Helps You with Difficult Emotions: Anger
I leave you with the following quote: