Anger, how it helps and how it is harmful

In Blog by Celine RedfieldLeave a Comment

3543454897_31da299e76_zAnybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy. ~Aristotle

Anger is a sign post that needs attention. Your body is telling you that you are feeling threatened and something is wrong. Anger is an interesting because it is considered a secondary emotion. We use it when we feel vulnerable and we need to protect ourselves. Usually this primary feeling has to do with a person feeling: threatened, afraid, attacked, offended, disrespected, forced, trapped, or pressured.

Frequently, the metaphor used to describe anger is that it is like an iceberg. The only thing on the surface is anger and then there an a multiple feelings beneath the surface that have to do with a person’s feelings of safety.  So each time we become angry we have a chance to address a core issue, if we are willing to pause, feel our anger and examine why we feel a certain way.

Anger just like with any emotion it needs to be practiced with detached interest. But most people do one of two things with anger, hook into it or avoid it. When a person squelches their anger it becomes repressed and usually becomes depression or irritation. When a person feeds their anger it becomes rage, a unwieldy beast, which can lead to broken relationships and them doing something that they will regret or have repercussions from doing. Neither of these expressions is helpful to a person’s mind, body or spirit. Both are ignoring the issue at hand an how a person is being triggered. Here are several ways to address your anger with out repressing it or being aggressive with it:

1) Learn what the signs are that you are getting angry.

If we learn to listen to the sensations in our bodies they can help be a helpful warning sign that we are about to become angry. Here are some common cues which may indicate that a person is becoming angry:

• Tensed body
• Clenched teeth
• Increased intensity of speech or behavior
• Unkind words or the tone of voice changes to whining or yelling
• Restlessness, withdrawal, unresponsiveness, or being easily provoked
• Noises with the mouth like growls or deep breathing
• Pouting
• Squinting, rolling the eyes, or other facial expressions

Becoming aware of these kind of cues can help a person to identify that they are feeling anger and take steps to deal with it appropriately. (This list comes from

2) Walk away from the situation when you have reached your boiling point or your emotionally shut down. 

When a person identifies that they are getting angry it is always helpful to leave the situation so that a person does not further get escalated or shut down emotionally. When some one identifies that they are getting to this point it is important for them to tell the person they are interacting with that they need some time alone and that they will return at “X time”.

When a person is feeling like they are emotionally unable to deal with an interaction any longer there is no need for that person to stay in the situation. It is actually harmful for them to continue engaging and it is an act of self care by stepping away. By practicing this you will reduce the likelihood raising your blood pressure and causing yourself heart problems by not engaging in situations that elicits anger in you.

3) Learn self regulation techniques to help you to manage your anger.

When you take your time away from the situation that may be triggering you try the following self regulation techniques:

• Count to 10 while taking deep diaphragmatic breaths.
• Use rose oil or fresh roses to help calm the nervous system.
• Drink cold water to “quell the fire” of you anger.
• Practice the self compassion break by Kristen Neff
• Try this Acupressure exercise: Firmly hold the length of your middle finger while you take slow deep breaths. After a minute or two, switch to hold your other middle finger. Repeat this two or three times daily.
• Ask yourself your anger is being triggered by something in the present or by something in the past?
• Ask yourself how important is this relationship to you?
• Ask yourself if there are any other things that you are angry about?
Practicing these self regulating techniques will help a person de-escalate themselves and get their parasympathetic system going so that they will be more calm and able to think clearly .

4) Be an assertive instead of passive or aggressive with expressing your anger.

There are three types of anger aggressive, passive and assertive.

  • In aggressive anger the person directs their anger at another person by the use of hurting that person physically, psychologically or emotionally. Some examples include: using put downs, physical intimidation or physical violation.
  • Passive anger occurs when someone internalizes the anger and avoids dealing with the situation that made them angry.  Some examples are: spreading rumors, holding grudges, practicing silent scorn, being mean at a later time or physically damaging another person’s belongings.
  • The third and most effective way of dealing with anger is by communicating the anger directly using “I statements” and being non threatening to the other person. In this type of anger allows the person to express their feelings in a healthy way and allows for intimacy to be formed in a relationship.

5)Learn to label feelings and sensations. 

Many people  have difficulty with labeling sensations and feelings. Learning to practice this can help you to manage anger and stop becoming emotionally shut down. Start by practicing a few times a day when you are not having intense emotions, just so that you can practice labeling your sensations and emotions. Then as you get more experienced, do it when you are having a difficult time. Here is a link to a feelings/emotions list and here is one to a sensations chart.

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. ~Mark Twain

Anger is an opportunity for change and for us to release old pains that we have been storing in our minds. Will you join me in working on your anger this week? What are your struggles with anger? Please let me know in the comments below or please feel free to email me.

Have a beautiful rest of your week.



Image: ANGER! by Amy Mc Tigue

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