Bringing You Back Into Balance

Are You Ready to Explode with Anger?

September 01, 2020 Harinder Ghatora
Bringing You Back Into Balance
Are You Ready to Explode with Anger?
Chapters
Bringing You Back Into Balance
Are You Ready to Explode with Anger?
Sep 01, 2020
Harinder Ghatora

In this podcast I focus on a very misunderstood emotion; that of anger.

Many people believe anger to be inherently bad but did you know that it is a natural, healthy, intrinsically positive emotion? It just needs to be processed, managed and expressed in a safe and constructive way.

I talk through the dangers of holding your anger in and of acting it out, and outline five ways in which you can release this potentially destructive energy in a non-violent and safe way.

Subscribe to my mailing list by visiting my website: http://www.harinderghatora.co.uk

Show Notes Transcript

In this podcast I focus on a very misunderstood emotion; that of anger.

Many people believe anger to be inherently bad but did you know that it is a natural, healthy, intrinsically positive emotion? It just needs to be processed, managed and expressed in a safe and constructive way.

I talk through the dangers of holding your anger in and of acting it out, and outline five ways in which you can release this potentially destructive energy in a non-violent and safe way.

Subscribe to my mailing list by visiting my website: http://www.harinderghatora.co.uk

Are you ready to explode with anger? 

Hi, It’s Harinder here, holistic life coach and counsellor, helping you to bring peace and balance back into your life.

In this podcast I’d like to focus on a very misunderstood emotion; that of anger.

Were you brought up like me; with the warped belief that anger is somehow inherently ‘bad’? That if you want to be loved and accepted then there could be no place in your life for anger? 

I picked up this message loud and clear whilst I was growing up. 

I internalised the belief that it was actually ‘bad’ to ever feel angry. 

Now, how crazy was that? Or, more importantly, how dangerous was that for my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health? 

It wasn’t until my late thirties that I realised that anger is, in fact, a natural, healthy, intrinsically positive emotion, and that I could learn to process, manage and express it in a safe and constructive way,

So how can anger be healthy?

Most people would argue that anger is a destructive force in a person’s life. 

I totally agree. 

It is a fact that anger can get a hold over you and lead you to say and do things that are rarely in your best interest. 

However, I would say that if anger is explored and understood, and the underlying causes identified, it can give you significant clues as to what is out of balance in your inner and outer world.

Julia Cameron, in her book, ‘The Artists Way’ articulates this well:

I quote: “Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected. Why? Because anger is a map. Anger shows us what our boundaries are… Anger is meant to be acted upon. It is not meant to be acted out. Anger points the direction…”  Unquote.

I agree with Julia. With a few exceptions, like using your anger in self-defence, acting anger out is rarely healthy or constructive but reflecting and acting on anger can be very beneficial for your wellbeing. Here’s why.

One of the most obvious causes of anger is the violation of our personal boundaries. It alerts us to the fact that we have been wronged in some way.

If you were accused of doing something that you didn’t do, would you not feel angry? 

What if someone came along and hit you for no reason? Would that not anger you?

Personal boundaries are the guidelines, rules or limits that we create to identify what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around and towards us. 

The sudden emergence of anger can instantly alert us to a personal boundary violation, and give us the opportunity, and energy, to do something about it if we need or choose to. 

Sometimes the causes of anger are less apparent. One common but less obvious cause that I see a lot of in my client work is repressed or denied feelings. 

Anger often masks and protects deeper, hidden vulnerabilities such as feelings of hurt, grief, sadness, guilt, fear or shame.

As humans we often displace our anger. We think we are angry or irritated with someone or something but, when we work through our feelings, we find out that the real issue actually lies elsewhere. 

Sometimes it is easier for us to believe a certain story than face the truth and deal with the real underlying issues. Here’s an example from a case study I read on domestic violence in which the perpetrator initially identified his wife’s lack of attention as the trigger for his angry violent outbursts. By working through his feelings and thought processes in therapy he discovered that the real cause was actually his own feelings of shame and powerlessness at work. He had a difficult relationship with his boss, and felt he was not heard or valued. He didn’t have the courage to stand up for himself there but, at home there was a different power dynamic. The slightest trigger from his wife would ignite his anger and result in him behaving violently towards her. In this case the anger was alerting this man to the disempowerment he felt at work. It had nothing to do with his wife. 

In its purest form anger is simply an emotion; ‘e’ for energy ‘in motion’. And as such it needs to be allowed to flow through you. 

Think of a time when you felt angry. Can you remember the anger igniting somewhere deep inside your body, and then surging up and wanting to come out  through your mouth via your words, or down your arm and your fist? 

There is an awesome, destructive power behind anger. If this energy is not allowed to flow out of your being, it simply turns inwards and causes all sorts of harm. Anger is after all an attack energy and if we don’t give it some sort of expression it simply starts to attack us.

The whole concept of disease can be linked to emotions that have been repressed. One of the most harmful emotions to repress is anger.

If you have worked with me you will know that the analogy I often use is that of a giant barrel full of petrol, where the petrol represents your anger. Every time you feel angry but do not deal with it appropriately, you add more petrol to the barrel. Over time the barrel fills up. You probably don’t even notice; it just silently sits there in the background to your life. Until that is, one day someone comes by and lights a tiny little match. And, BANG…the whole barrel explodes. That person irritates you enough to ignite the whole barrel and you simply explode and are left confused and disorientated by the disproportionate nature of your reaction. And, to make matters worse, those around you are left shocked, violated and abused. 

I hope it’s clear by now that anger in and of itself is not the problem; t’s simply an alert system. It’s how you deal with it that really matters.

Anger expression typically takes one of three forms: holding anger-in, acting anger-out and handling anger in an emotionally intelligent way. Let’s take each one in turn.

Holding anger in is what we have just talked about. This means pushing your anger down whenever you’ve been triggered and never expressing it. Or, like me when I was younger, being so brainwashed that you never even feel when you’re triggered. This method of keeping anger inside has been known to cause depression and physical disease. It also warps a person’s personality over time, making them passively aggressive.

Passive aggressive behaviour takes many forms but can generally be described as a non-verbal aggression that manifests in negative behaviour. It is where you are angry with someone but do not, or cannot, tell them. Instead of communicating honestly when you feel upset, annoyed, irritated or disappointed you may instead bottle the feelings up, shut off verbally, give angry looks, make obvious changes in behaviour, be obstructive, sulky or put up a stone wall. And, maybe every now and again, have a huge, explosive tantrum.

Passive aggression is a destructive pattern of behaviour that can be seen as a form of emotional abuse in relationships that bites away at trust between people. It is a creation of negative energy in the ether which is felt by everyone involved and, more often than not, creates immense hurt and pain to all parties.

I’m sure you will agree that this is not a healthy way to live, either for yourself or those around you.

 The second option is acting anger out. 

This involves expressing you anger outwardly in ways that include physical and verbal assaults on people or objects. This includes things like hitting, shouting, screaming and breaking things. I often find that when I say ‘don’t bottle up your anger’ people get frightened and defensive. They think there is only one alternative to holding anger in and that is to verbally or violently lash out. 

No. That is not what I am saying. 

I would never advocate this as a healthy approach to managing anger. Unless you are in immediate physical danger and need to use your anger to defend yourself, or defend someone else, lashing out can only make matters much worse both for you and others.

Acting out in anger can do all sorts of damage. It can leave you feeling out of control, frightened and powerless in the face of your own emotions. And, it can lead to deep feelings of guilt and shame. 

OK, what are you supposed to do? 

As with everything in life, the answer lies in between the two extremes above; in the middle way.

The ideal way to manage and process anger in a safe, constructive and appropriate way is through the practice of anger control. Here are five techniques that are known to work well.

1. Physically Releasing the Anger

As mentioned above, one of the most noticeable things about the emotion of anger is the surge of energy that accompanies it. Physically releasing this energy in a safe, controlled way is a great way to express and release it without it causing any damage and harm.

An obvious technique is to connect with the anger inside you and let it all out on a punch bag or a pillow or even a horrible looking soft toy. 

Someone once told me that when she gets angry she makes bread. She goes and aggressively kneads the dough. I thought this was a brilliant idea. (Although I did make a mental note not to eat any homemade bread in her house. Can you imagine the energy in that food?!)

2. Talk Things Over

As we said earlier, anger can show us where changes need to be made within our life, particularly with regard to our relationships. 

One way to deal with anger is to calmly and constructively talk things over with the person who has angered you. You will need to physically release the anger using the technique just discussed so that you can approach this conversation in a calm way. This technique is not about venting or yelling at the person. It is about telling them why you are angry in a way that moves toward a solution.

This method of expression is why anger can sometimes be good for us. We’re moved to address a negative in our life and make it a positive. It can force us to fix problems in relationships that we want to maintain. In some cases, it might be a simple fix; the person may not even have known that what they were doing was angering you.

This approach takes courage because you have to deal with your own fears about being ignored, rejected or abandoned. The goal here is to a) figure out what the anger is really about and b) muster up the courage to have the conversation and express your needs in a calm, clear way. It involves being assertive without being aggressive. 

3. Talk to a Third Party

Sometimes we are not able to do the above for whatever reason. (We can’t track down every single reckless driver for a calm conversation, for example.)

In these cases, talking to a third party can help. Discussing the incident with a friend or colleague can help us to offload and gain a sense of perspective. 

Studies have shown that this approach can help to lower blood pressure, dissipate anger and lead the way to all-around better mental, emotional and physical health.

4. Talk to a Professional Listener

In the same way as above, talking therapy can help you to connect with, release and make sense of your anger. There are many benefits of talking to a trained counsellor. 

  • Everything you say is strictly confidential. 
  • Your therapist can facilitate anger release using a range of creative techniques. 
  • S/he can help you manage your anger better by working with you to identify the triggers and devise strategies to deal with and diffuse similar situations in the future. 
  • They can help you identify the underlying causes of the anger and explore ways in which you can either change these causes or change your reaction to these causes.
  • And, they can help you to manage the general stress and tension prevalent in modern life.

5. Journaling

One of the best techniques for processing and releasing anger is through journaling. 

Writing is a profoundly effective way of:

a) dealing with what you are thinking and feeling, and 

b) moving on from that. 

It can be done in the moment when you are feeling angry or, it can be done with situations from the past where you feel you have suppressed your anger. 

The joy of journaling is that it is a very private and personal activity in which you can say exactly what you want without any need to self censure. You can swear, rant and rave and say all the things that you would never dare to, or dream of, saying to someone’s face. There is no need to worry about grammar or sentence structure; all you do is write down whatever angry thoughts come to mind and you continue to write until all the anger has faded away. At the end you simply shred the paper and dispose of it. (Do be sure that nobody ever sees what you have written. We’re trying to make our lives better not worse1) I call this strategy rant-writing. It allows you to release your anger in a safe, controlled way without harming you or any of your  relationships.

I’ll end this podcast with a quote from Mark Twain:

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Cultivate a healthier appreciation for your anger – it’s trying to tell you something. 

 I hope this episode has helped you reframe your anger and given you some strategies to employ the next time you find yourself triggered.

 If you enjoyed listening, then don’t forget to subscribe so that you don’t miss any future episodes. Also, head on over to my website and subscribe to my mailing list for more free information on healthy balanced living. There’s a link in the show notes. 

And, remember, take good care of yourself, because we both know that if you don’t, no-one else will. 

 Bye for now.