Copyright 2006 Johanna Vanderpol
Our culture makes anger a dirty word. Yet, it is an emotion that deserves attention. Because it has not received the proper attention, it is responsible for coming out “all wrong” and come out it will. The way to manage anger is by recognizing it as a valid emotion with a purpose. Next time you are angry, look at it as a form of information that has a message for you. Determine the message and act in a way that satisfies the message with self-respect and respect for others. Here are ten points to keep in mind as you move through anger:
1. Recognize that anger is a valid message that something is wrong.
2. Experience the sensations in the body: Where do you feel it? What does it feel like?
3. Determine the message in the emotion. What is the message? What is anger trying to tell you? Have one of your boundaries been violated? Is it a response to protect you from feeling hurt? Are your goals being frustrated? Are you responding to feeling threatened? Has your sense of justice been betrayed? Figure out the message. Your body and mind are trying to tell you something.
4. Understand the other persons point of view. Are you angry at someone? Have you thought about or talked about what may have provoked their behaviour? If you can truly understand, it will change your anger.
5. Understand your need for nourishing people in your life. Is your anger a pattern, a theme with the same kinds of problems with the same kinds of people? Is it time to respect yourself and choose friends and others who treat you better?
6. Recognize your beliefs. What beliefs about yourself and others are driving your anger. Use the ABC exercise on my site to excavate your beliefs. Are your beliefs adaptive or maladaptive? If they are adaptive, go ahead to action. If they are maladaptive, what new belief do you need to try that would work better or be more accurate?
7. Take action. Inherent in the message of anger is the need for non-violent action that is respectful of self and others. This is the tricky one. What action is required here that will satisfy the anger without causing damage to anyone including yourself.
8. Manage your anger. If you need to manage your anger, in what ways can you do that which would allow you to continue to function?
9. Acknowledge the anger. Suspend self-judgment. Are you truly acknowledging your anger, even if you know it is connected to a maladaptive belief that you havent yet changed completely? Acknowledging and having compassion for yourself in a nurturing style will go a long way to having your anger feel heard.
10. Look for moderation. Remember, suppressed anger is linked to cancer and cathartic anger is linked to cardiovascular heart disease. Find the moderate point on the continuum for hearing and taking appropriate action and your anger will be attended to in a way that is befitting for all concerned.
Now that you have some new insight, what will you do today to bring it into consciousness and apply it. Every day we get angry but don’t pay much attention to it. Today, notice a small thing you are angry at and apply any one of these principles or insights and see how it changes things for you. I would love to hear if it had any effect for you.