If you ask the average person on the street to list “primal emotions,” I’d venture that anger would be one of the first examples they offer. I think we automatically connect a primal state with anger because anger’s power is more reminiscent of instinct than sentiment. It’s an emotion that can instantaneously engulf our entire being—a red hot feeling that can send all rational thought and genuine self-interest down the toilet in a nanosecond. While other emotions have their physical hold, anger can grip us in a way few others can.
How do we deal with anger? What do we do with this naturally occurring emotion when it’s not a matter of survival?
Tips for Managing Anger (So It Doesn’t Manage You):
1. Practice mindfulness, and bring that deep awareness to anger when it rises.
This isn’t about leaving society to live in a monastery or a cliffside somewhere. It’s simply about being cognizant of what you’re feeling and how those feelings unfold in you. To do this, we learn to stop identifying with our feelings and come to observe them instead.
2. Get back in your body while you’re at it.
Use the awareness to feel yourself become flushed in the face. Notice the blood retreat from your extremities. Sense the emotional force rising in our abdomens or pulsating in your forehead. Then breathe into those sensations, disarming each before they take off into uncontrolled rage. With practice, we can nip anger (when we deem it unproductive) in the bud by not trying to manipulate ourselves emotionally but by putting our full focus on physical “symptoms” and addressing those.
3. Make sure what you’re feeling is truly anger.
Sometimes we get in the habit of distorting our emotional responses to avoid feeling what is most uncomfortable and unacceptable to us. Perhaps we won’t let ourselves feel fear, or we’re afraid to plunge into the depths of grief or regret. So, we morph the big feelings into anger, which doesn’t feel as vulnerable. We might think we’re saving face in some imagined way, but we pay for it on the other end by hanging onto an unfelt, unresolved emotion. So take some inventory to make sure your anger isn’t really a proxy for something else.
4. Keep your tank full.
This might mean saying no to a lot of demands in order to take care of yourself. It might mean getting honest about the effects of your lifestyle choices (e.g. the toll of that hour-long commute) and finding other work or moving. It can mean getting outside more or rediscovering a pastime you love. It can mean getting the sleep you need and taking your allotted vacation. Whatever it is, making sure you’re not burning your candle at both ends can help prevent a blowup.
5. Pursue risk and euphoria.
Modern life can keep us peaceful—or subdued, depending on how you look at it. Some folks do well with this, while others just don’t. Your quick temper might be a sign you’re not getting your thrills from the physical risk and adventure you inherently crave. Anger is a big, bold feeling, but it’s not the best direction for that heightened emotional intensity. Move that energy productively by trying a little intermittent euphoria on for size, and see how much better you are at keeping the peace in the rest of your days.
Read the full article at: Mark’s Daily Apple