5 Ways To Effectively Process Anger

Rage Monsters & Angerholics

Anger – oh the blood-boiling, fist-clenching, tongue-biting, sweet taste of anger.

We, in this modern day and age, all know that deliciously scalp-tingling feeling. Hi, I’m Grace, and I’m an Angerholic. Hi Grace, keep on coming- wow, brings me right back to NA meetings.

What Anger Actually Is

Anger is one of those emotions that seeps into the cracks of your being when you’re not looking, not paying attention. There are certain situations, be it at school, work, home, that we encounter in our lives that inevitably trip our what-the-actual-f*ck-sensors.

by Tatiana T
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At work it could be your coworker behaving like an unreasonable, incompetent dickwad or during lecture you could suddenly be enlightened with the knowledge that your professor couldn’t give two shits if the students actually learn anything.

In moments like these, I feel as if I’m whipped in the face by the cold winds of injustice and the rage monster cave-lady part of me is rampaging around in my subconscious. Meanwhile my intelligent prefrontal cortex says, wait, pause – think of how to react in this situation so we don’t lose our job/fail this class/wind up in jail.

We conclude, yes, it probably is best not to let the rage monster out in public. So, what can we do?

How We Tend To Deal With Anger

We have a few options at this point, we can choose to let the anger go, we can accept the anger as a valid emotion and seek to understand it, or we can attempt to bury it.

Eyes can speak by spatz_2011
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Now, because we as a species are intelligent as we are, most of us recognize instinctually that anger is trying to tell us something. We aren’t always pleased with the presence of certain emotions that we tend to label as “negative”, simply because they feel uncomfortable or we associate experiencing a certain emotion with a painful experience.

What we need to realize is that all emotions are valid and have a function and the emotion itself is never negative. All emotions are essential to having a human experience!

However, the manner in which we choose to act when experiencing a certain emotion is what can be toxic and damaging.

What Is The Point Of Anger?

The emotions we feel have different purposes and messages they are trying to send (shout out to the limbic system y’all).

Sadly, as intelligent of a species as we are (aww yeah, let’s stroke that go some more baby), in those numerous instances of face-numbing anger most of us cannot decipher what the anger-response to a situation is trying to tell us.

So, what is our response more often than not?

all of these emotions of mine by Ryan.berry
Image Credit: All Of These Emotions Of Mine by Ryan.berry is licensed under CC by ND 2.0; Source: link

We suck that anger down like sweet tea on a hot summer’s day. That reaction in and of itself is not necessary a “wrong” reaction – we have livelihoods, educations, relationships to consider. However, what makes it detrimental is when we don’t address that anger and understand what was causing it.

When we bury emotions or simply refuse to acknowledge them, they tend to fester and build to an unhealthy point. This can lead to repression to the point of being unable to experience certain emotions and resentment if we still feel the emotion but choose not to acknowledge it as valid and important.

How Anger Manifests To Kick Our Butts

Anger can be tricky, it can compound between our pores until, it explodes in a fit of rage (an adult temper tantrum if you will) or form into deep-seated resentment, and quite often a combination of the two when not dealt with. When that torrential rain of fury is unleashed, hell, does it feel GOOD.

Scream by Melissa O'Donohue
Image Credit: Scream by Melissa O’Donohue is licensed under CC by ND 2.0; Source: link

Many of us become addicted to the release of that self-righteous rage and actively seek out ways to relieve the pressure of built up anger. Then we wash, rinse, and repeat.

Anger & Rush Hour

Take driving at rush hour for example, how many times have we been cut off by some asshole driver (or been the one doing the cutting off, let’s be honest now people) and proceed to rain down the most creative combination of expletives known to mankind.

pussy road rage by Shanna Riley
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Relatively harmless method of depressurizing, I’d say (however that is coming from a self-professed angerholic so that statement may or may not be a tad biased). Harmful or not, this type of anger response is indicative of the suppressed anger we carry with us.

In most cases, the infraction is not justifiable to the level of response we had towards it. Our disproportionate explosion is merely a pressure release for built up emotional energy seeking an outlet.

Anger & Alcohol

What about binge-drinking and becoming aggressively, violently confrontational and not remembering any of it the next day? Our drink-before-think cultural mentality actually provides a convenient gateway to allow this blind rage to be unleashed.

Alcohol plus societal subliminal messaging plus personal dysfunction equals lowered inhibitions and the perfect stage to unleash some shit under the excuse of “oops, I was drunk”.

DRINKS by Jeremy
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It creates the perfect opportunity for self justification of behaviors that would be unacceptable and unhealthy in any other circumstance. Sprinkle in a dash of self hatred and a pinch of guilt and you’ve got yourself a toxic cycle!

Understanding The Why

When we experience anger, it is trying to lift us from a state of powerlessness into an energetic state that drives us to take action toward change.

Anger as an emotion communicates to us that our boundaries have been crossed. In this way, anger is actually trying to help you!

Now that we are aware of the underlying reasoning, what can we do to move towards angerholic recovery so it doesn’t negatively impact our health and those around us? Well, this is your lucky day folks (as I am sure everyone is desperately sitting on the edge of their chairs, racking their brains on how to beat the angerholic rage monster within)!

5 Ways To Effectively Process Anger

1. Discuss

Rather than holding it all in for an impromptu explosion at your next family dinner, talk it out with a trusted, supportive person in your life.

Phone Talkin by Martin Cathrae
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Be open and honest about why it is important for you to talk about and how it helps you. Sometimes it can help to have someone in your corner to sort out the cause and effect of those nitty gritty emotions.

Try to understand what the anger is trying to tell you. What boundaries do you feel were crossed in an unacceptable way?

2. Get Physical

Exercise is an effective, healthful way to unload some of the pent-up anger and stress accumulated in our bodies while also introducing those feel-good endorphins to help us balance the scales.

It should be said that this is not a method to stop yourself from dealing with the anger, but rather to channel it into something beneficial. Becoming rooted in the now and present in the body can help give the mind a break from all the daily stressors that can exacerbate anger.

Walk by Letizia Barbi
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Even simply doing some jumping jacks when you feel the anger starting to spin can help to break the cycle. Don’t be discouraged if the concept of exercise seems intimidating at first – take a short walk, start small!

Once you have released some of the excess energy, you can begin thinking about the issue at hand more clearly and level-headedly.

3. Meditate

Take some time for yourself to be alone with, you guessed it – yourself! You don’t need to have yogi-like sageness to meditate not does meditation in this sense mean solely emptying your mind from all thought.

Start by putting on some music, lighting a candle, sitting in nature, or anything else that is soothing to you. Observe the path your thoughts take and reflect on them without judgement.

Meditation by Tina Leggio
Image Credit: Meditation by Tina Leggio is licensed under CC by ND 2.0; Source: link

Try to focus on understanding the why behind your emotions, rather than the who or the what. Ask yourself when the last time you felt the particular emotion was and try to remember when the first time was.

See if you can draw any correlation between patterns of behavior that led you to feel this way and what patterns you subsequently contribute to as a result.

4. Accept

Acknowledge that anger is a valid emotion to have and against contrary beliefs, it is a perfectly healthy emotion to have. It can bring us up from a state of powerlessness.

Let me be clear, anger can be extremely destructive to the individual and others if handled improperly. But when accepted and used to come to a greater understanding of the self, anger can be incredibly constructive.

Spread The Love And Peace by karen H. nickname.{pooh}.jpg
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Rather than demonize, deny, or suppress the existence of anger as a natural emotion all humans experience, it is what we choose to do with the emotion and how we respond to the situation that makes the difference.

Take some time to sit with the emotion and truly feel the physical sensations of your anger. How does it manifest in your body? For me, it’s a heating up of my head and upper chest. I can actually feel my body temperature rising.

Learn to recognize the first signs of anger before an explosion or suppression begins! This helps in gaining better understanding and appreciation for your entire emotional spectrum, rather than just placing the “positive” emotions on a pedestal and crucifying the “negative” ones.

5. Create

Express the things that are bothering you in whatever way you see fit.

Write a lengthy rant on the unethical ways of the corporate world, write a thoughtful poem on the injustices of the justice system, write a complaint letter to your coworker/significant other/family member, write a song about the epic tale of the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

Create by Sonny Abesamis
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However you choose to do it – coloring, welding, pottery, calligraphy, composing, painting – just create! It can be a therapeutic and creative outlet for anger.

Anger For Growth

Following this magical list will not cure your anger or make it disappear, or make you into a zen master overnight. The key here is to understand what the anger-response is trying to tell us about the situations and people that are triggering it.

By understanding our emotions, we begin to gain self-awareness.

Knowledge of the self is powerful – and with it, we can start to enact growth.

growth by Mike Cohen
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What helps you to better understand your anger? Leave some tips for other readers below!

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