Expressing Anger Mindfully
In general, there are two types of people: those who act out anger, and those who don’t. Which are you? If you act out your anger, then your challenge is in acting it out better, learning how to stay present enough to recognize when you are about to reach the point of primitive brain functioning. You can have strategies for releasing your anger constructively – through exercise or some kind of physical movement like walking, running, hitting a punching bag, or letting out a primal scream in a safe place like your car. If you’re in a provocative situation and feeling angry past the point of being able to have a calm, rational discussion, it’s probably best to gently remove yourself from the conversation by simply saying, “I’m feeling really angry, so I think it’s best if I remove myself from this conversation until I cool down”. If you are unable or it’s not appropriate to say this directly and to excuse yourself from the conversation, then place your full attention on your breathing and avoid doing anything until you have control of your words and actions and then perhaps excuse yourself from the room without making a theatrical exit in anger.
If you don’t act out your anger, meaning that anger is not familiar to you or a feeling you avoid, repress, or deny, then your work is in allowing yourself to feel it in the first place. Warning: if you are just learning how to get in touch with your anger, the anger will likely feel very intense until it is given its necessary time and space – this could mean months. Individual or group work with an anger management specialist would be enormously helpful for you if your anger is scaring you or those around you because it offers a safe container in which you can explore your anger with guidance. So if you have difficulty giving yourself permission to feel angry, and work on becoming aware of how you act out your anger? When and how does it arise? And what happens then to make sure you don’t have to feel it, where does the anger go? As you begin to learn about how you’ve been doing (or not doing) anger, try allowing yourself to experience it instead of fighting it. When you allow yourself to feel it, what happens? Does it immediately become too intense for you or can you tolerate it for a little while focusing on your breathing? The more space you allow the anger, the more you will start to feel liberated from it. Mindfulness is a skill that takes time to develop. It is not easy? And like any skill it requires a certain level of effort, time, patience, and ongoing practice.