Yesterday, while driving to the grocery store I was followed by an individual who was clearly angry with me. He sped up next to me, gave me the finger, shot an imaginary pistol at me, cut in front of me, slowed down and then gave me the middle finger one last time before he sped off down the street. You may be wondering what I did to deserve such an angry response from this person? I was going 44 MPH in a 45 MPH zone. Obviously, my compliant driving served as a trigger for some of his deeper anger issues. I believe that it is imperative that we learn to make peace with our anger. I believe that by making peace with our anger we will create a far less threatening world and that is a good thing.
ANGER: The psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged or denied and the tendency to react through retaliation.
Studies have shown that holding on to anger can be very damaging to both our mental and physical health. When we harbor resentment and anger we are creating a “me versus them” mindset that is extremely “victim” oriented. This type of mindset will never allow true peace and joy to enter our lives. I would like to breakdown the word anger and share some thoughts on how each of us can begin making peace with this undesirable emotion.
A=ACTIONS. There are two main types of anger. The first is passive anger, which can include gossiping, poison pen letters, sabotaging relationships, emotional blackmail and self blame. This type of anger is covert in nature but its effects can be quite devastating. The second type is aggressive anger, which can include road rage, bullying, substance abuse, threats, physical violence, vengeance and blaming others. This type of anger is more open and assertive. When we find ourselves experiencing feelings of anger it is very important that we acknowledge them and seek a more peaceful interpretation of what is really going on inside us. Be mindful that the Ego is very powerful and it will fight hard to challenge our reality.
N=NORMAL. Anger is a very normal emotion. We all experience moments of anger in our daily lives. Anger can often provide us with a healthy emotional release. In many instances, such as sports, anger can become a great motivator and lead us to victory. The key is to differentiate between “good anger” and “bad anger.” If your anger starts to become all consuming, it is advisable to seek the wisdom of a third party to help you work through this unhealthy emotion.
G=GRACE. One of the most effective ways to make peace with our anger is to practice showing grace. We all operate from our own unique set of internal rules. When we feel that these rules are being violated, we react. Again, this is usually our friend the Ego at work. Our job is to step back and determine how much energy we are willing to put into “righting” the perceived wrong. We must also be willing to look at things from a different perspective. By “putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes” we are opening the door that will allow grace to enter.
E=EXPRESSION. When feelings of anger and resentment arise, it is important to identify what is actually occurring inside of us. What emotions are we feeling? Are we feeling sorry for ourselves and just want to “lash out” or are we feeling threatened in some way? In any type of anger driven confrontation it is advisable to use the word “I” as opposed to the word “you.” A statement such as “I am feeling this way” is far more effective than saying “you make me feel this way.” By using “I” we are taking responsibility for our feelings and the conversation will usually become far less volatile. One of the fastest ways to make peace with our anger is by honestly communicating how we feel. By “bottling” up our anger we are setting ourselves (and those around us) up for an “explosion” of emotion, the results of which can be devastating!
R= RELEASE. When we were children we were encouraged to stop and count to ten as a means of “cooling off.” As adults it is also very important to “cool off” while we sort through our emotions. Taking a series of deep breaths can help us achieve a more relaxed state. Daily exercise is a very effective way to combat stress and manage anger. A 30 minute run, walk or bike ride can do wonders for our physical and mental health. Speaking words of gratitude for all of our life experiences allows us to keep our lives in perspective and helps us to release feelings of anger. Learning to effectively release our anger will ensure that we live a much healthier and emotionally rewarding life.
As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.