How To Deal With Anger - Life Coach Advice
Anger is defined as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. No wonder why it doesn't feel so good to get angry, or to deal with anger. But, anger IS one of the emotions that we do experience and that we have to deal with in this life. In this blog post I am sharing five tips that can help in dealing with anger.
how to deal with anger tip #1 - EXPRESSING the anger & SUPPRESSING the anger
Women in general have an issue with dealing with anger. Since childhood, due to socially constracted norms of behaviour, girls are being taught that they need to be "decent", polite, quiet, act "lady alike"... Shouting, playing wildly on the playground, yelling, screaming, aggressive behaviour - is "allowed" only for boys. On the other hand boys are not "supposed" to cry or show weakness of any kind - that is "allowed" only if you're a girl.
That kind of socially constructed behaviour model which we are learning since early age leads to men having problem in general to express and deal with feelings of sadness and grief, and women having issues with expressing the anger. As a consequence of this, many men while growing up "adopt" various "masculine approved" ways of dealing with grief and sadness - like turning their grief into a (self) destructive behaviour (indulging in drugs or alcohol, if they internalise the sadness, or becoming more aggressive or abusive - if they externalise it). Women, on the other hand, instead of expressing anger learn "the art" of suppressing the anger. Every emotion suppressed, like the father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud have taught us, escalates eventually in an "uglier form".
Instead of allowing themselves to feel and go trough the emotion of anger, and then going trough the following process of expressing and dealing with it, women in general numb it and instead show passive - aggressive behaviour (silence, putting up the distance from the person, crying, pretending everything is "fine", emotional blackmailing, gossiping behind the person's back...). When the suppressed anger eventually escalates, it turns ugly in the form of verbal insults, emotional break down, or "crying out loud marathon"!
Just like men unconsciously "convert" sadness into a self destructive behaviour, rage, and aggression, women often "convert" anger into a crying vent-sesh and sadness.
Suppressing it, pretending everything is fine while inside we are in term oil, gossiping about the person instead of confronting them and talking it out, crying instead of yelling... are not the genuine ways to deal with anger, but they were taught and imposed to us by the socially constructed patterns of behaviour that today no longer serve us. Just like we need to help the men in our life to give themselves permission to feel and express the emotions of sadness and grief, by providing them the non-judgemental space to show their vulnerable side and to cry, we need to give ourselves permission to feel and express the emotion of anger in a "masculine way".
We have to allow ourselves to tap into our masculine energy and truly feel the anger emotion, instead of suppressing it, and give ourselves the permission to get angry, just like we need to support our men in expressing their vulnerable side!
how to deal with anger tip #2 - feeling the anger
Once we give ourselves the permission to unleash the wild woman inside and truly feel the anger, we need to learn how to deal with this feeling in the most constructive way. You may have expected to read the advice on how to "calm down" when you get angry in this blog post, and now you may be surprised after you have read that you need to give yourself permission as a woman to feel angry! The thing is, after a being on a spiritual journey for a decade and working as a life coach with more than 100 women internationally, I came to realisation that emotions both negative and positive are part of our life journey on this Earth plane, and we need them! Thinking positive and being optimistic is good, but I do not live, preach, or teach "Think Pink" spirituality and self development. In order to truly be happy and feel positive deep within, we need to heal our childhood wounds, traumas from the past, negative emotions we have been numbing for a long time, past hurt and pain, feelings of shame, guilt, unworthiness... Then only we can feel genuinely happy and truly blossom spiritually and in every aspect of our life, like the lotus flower which rises from the mud!
Negative emotions are indicators in our life that there is a wound that needs to heal. Anger is showing us that there is something we feel powerless about or that someone is crossing the boundaries of our emotional wellbeing territory, breaking our rules and destroying what we love, support, or believe in.
Anger is needed in our life, because it is the same masculine energy represented by the planet Mars, which has the role to defend and protect us. Women who deny and numb the feeling of anger usually find it difficult to set healthy boundaries in relationships, stand up for themselves, be assertive and ask for what they deserve. So many of my coaching clients are very carrying, gentle, kind, empathetic, generous women (they have fully embraced all of their feminine energy qualities) but they are struggling a lot to set healthy boundaries and they are being taken advantage by people (due to denying their masculine energy side). I have to mention that many of these women do tap into their masculine energy in other ways which are nowadays socially "appropriate" for women. They are very success driven, passionately pursuing their goals, which makes them very successful in their career, but when it comes to dealing with anger and being assertive (setting the boundaries, asking for what they want and need, and standing up for themselves) they find it very challenging. (If you recognise yourself in this paragraph and need help in setting healthy boundaries, increasing your self worth and self respect, and self empowerment, my life coaching program via Skype is just what you need!).
So, yes, we as women need to tap into this masculine energy not from the place of weakness (crying and playing the victim role by being passive aggressive), but from the place of our power (tapping into the worrier woman within)! Anger can be a beneficial force whenever we are in the situation when we need to fight for our rights, and for the treatment or reward that we deserve, when we need to stand up for ourselves, or when someone in our life is acting in a way that is threatening for our wellbeing. When we need to protect ourselves, we have to tap into that Goddess of War archetype within, get angry, and stand up for ourselves!
But, once we learn to tap into the emotion of anger, that Mars energy or a warrior woman within, and we give ourselves permission to feel the anger, we also need learn how to deal with anger in the most constructive way. Let's remember what the anger is - a feeling of annoyance, displeasure, and hostility. We surely do not to feel this way very often, or for a very long time, because the anger represents the energy of planet Mars which is about fight, destruction, hurting another...
My Vedic Astrology teacher described Mars as a friend with needles all over his body. Even if he wants to hug us, with the best intention of a good friend, he will puncture us! Now, we need Mars in our life to protect and defend us, just like a good soldier and bodyguard would - that's why his needles are for, but we also need to learn to manage that friend wisely so that we do not hurt (puncture) other people unnecessary (especially the one we love deeply), or even ourselves (if our anger gets internalised). Now, when we have learned about the importance of feeling and expressing the anger versus suppressing it, let's dive into tools for dealing with anger in the most constructive way.
HOW TO DEAL WITH ANGER TIP #3 - ACKNOWLEDGING & ACCUSING ANOTHER
In dealing with anger we need to remember that it is about OUR emotional state and OUR point of view. We may or may not be right about another person's reasons and actions behind their behaviour. Like it is said in the jurisdictional process - person is innocent until he or she is proven guilty. Very often we make things in our head about other person's behaviour. It is really important to acknowledge how we feel and to express it (right away) instead of suppressing it and "storing" it, which many women do, until the point where they say very sarcastically:
"We need to talk!!!"
Then follows series of accusations:
"You have been doing this for the past six months / one year/ years..."
"If I knew you will behave this way, I would never..."
"How can you be so senseless / selfish / blind to my needs...?"
"You have done this and this and this to me, _____. .... you are such a b*tch, moron, jerk...!"
If two women are talking to each other then they might still be able to understand the situation, as both have learned to "indirectly" express their anger and to "store" it for a long time, and they will know the other one is having a vent-sesh, but if the woman is talking to a man, accusing him (now) for what he was doing for last X months or years... poor guy will have no clue what the hell is going on! We need to express our anger WHEN WE FEEL IT, instead of accumulating it to the point that it gets ugly and escalates too much. At the same time we need to learn to acknowledge our emotions and give a chance to another side to explain themselves before we make a DECISION what we are going to do (a.k.a how we are going to punish them or cut them out from our life). Very often we attack and "punish" the person first, then seek explanation later! Acknowledging our feeling means that we communicate how we feel, instead of accusing another person (before we given them a chance to explain their point of view and their reasons). For example:
"I FEEL ANGRY or I AM UPSET because I think / feel / observed / that you ___________ "
It is important to express OUR feelings in that particular way - I FEEL, instead of accusing a person the same minute for being "wrong" (like in the example above). Then, the next step is to ask WHY they are acting the way they do, so that we can hear their point of view. Once we hear the other side we still have a decision to make, and we can decide and discover if we need to set clear boundaries in the future, clarify our expectations, communicate the "rules", forgive the person, or leave the situation or a person... but we will be do it in the way that it will minimise the puncture wounds of both sides, while acting from the place of power.
Sometimes, we will be that much hot headed and enraged that we will react in affect and do the exactly the opposite - attack the person and say some very hurtful things before we even hear their point of view. We can go even further - tell them "it is over between us", cut the communication, delete them from our phone, Facebook, or Instagram, threaten them, even physically attack them, or destroy some of their property! To prevent that happening, you can use the anger management techniques described in upcoming paragraphs.
HOW TO DEAL WITH ANGER TIP #4 - SIX SECONDS RULE
Emotional Intelligence is about being "smart" with our feelings. If you follow me for a longer time you know that I am conducting EQ workshops in Delhi in India with my dear colleague Lata Dasila Singh. I will share in this post one simple Emotional Intelligence tool that you can use in dealing with any emotion, but I find it to be most useful in dealing with anger. It is called "six seconds rule". In order that you understand why it is called "six seconds" I will share a bit of psychological research published in the e-book issued by the int. E.I. organisation Six Seconds, "Practicing Emotional intelligence": "Emotion chemicals are produced throughout our bodies, and primarily in our brains. There is a little 'factory' called the hypothalamus that assembles emotion chemicals. They’re made out of little strings of protein called peptides. These chemicals are released, then go coursing through our brains, and through the pituitary gland into our bloodstreams. Emotions affect every living cell in our bodies. And, our bodies affect our minds. It takes about six seconds for an emotion chemical to travel through the body, deliver it's message to a cell, and be recycled."
Practical application of this information (emotion release cycle lasting for six seconds) in our life is whenever next time you feel very strong emotion (in this case anger), in order to bring awareness into it, and to RESPOND to the situation, rather than REACT in anger (in an unreasonable way or hurtful way that you may regret later), take a deep breath and count to six. GIVE IT SIX SECONDS. The timing between reacting in rage while our head is "hot" - doing something stupid that we may regret later, and responding with awareness is six seconds!
In anger and rage, we can say or do things that we will regret: attack someone physically, destroy something, say something really hurtful to another person, hurt ourselves by hitting or kicking something... We can even do something that is against the law! So, next time when you feel really angry at someone or something give it - six seconds!
how to deal with anger tip #4 - SUBLIMATION
In psychology, sublimation is a mature type of defence mechanism, in which socially unacceptable impulses are transformed into socially acceptable actions or behaviour. So, in short, sublimation would mean "channeling" and "unleashing" your anger in less damaging and more constructive ways. As we have learned above, it is important to express the anger and not suppress it.
Sublimation would be less harmful way of channeling the rage, fury, and anger when we cannot or should not express it towards anyone or anything in particular that we "blame" for triggering our anger response.
Sometimes, we can get angry on a figure of authority, like our boss, for example, and then we may not be in the situation to "release" the anger on him or her. We can get angry on the government, destiny, person we are not able to reach or talk to (for example someone who has passed away), our ex for getting involved with somebody new (although we are angry, since he is no longer in a committed relationship with us, we cannot "blame" him for seeing somebody else)... In any situation where we feel the anger and we are internalising it ("feeling the inner turmoil"), because we cannot confront the person or a situation because it is not appropriate to confront, or it can have really harmful consequences (like for example jail sentence, big material damage, losing our job which is the only source of income at the moment...) it is good to use the sublimation ("channelling the anger"), since internalised and suppressed anger is not good for our health in a long run, neither for our piece of mind. If we do not channel the anger that we feel in a healthy way, sooner or later we can expect it "explode" (when the suppressed feeling escalates) in an ugly way.
Ways of sublimating the anger can be for example doing intense physical activity (running, kicking the boxing bag, martial arts practice, demanding workout routine...). We can write anger release letter in which we will write how we feel about the person (we can allow ourselves to write some really ugly stuff if needed :-). After writing the letter, we can burn it (in a safe way) or tear it in into pieces. You can yell out loud the lyrics of a powerful song which describes how you feel. If you know pranayama and kriyas, you can release the anger powerfully trough intense breath work techniques. Destruction and letting go rituals are also very helpful in releasing the anger, for example cleaning of the home or garage and getting rid of old things, tearing old papers, hitting the pillow or carpet to dust it off, throwing things out, or if we feel very enraged, braking the piece of (old) furniture... Just for the record, I am not "preaching" violent behaviour on this blog, ha ha, but we know that emotions if suppressed can escalate in much uglier form (in which case sublimation process can be of big help). In the moments of rage, it's better to brake the plate than to brake your reputation, career, or someone's leg; it causes far less damage to burn an anger realise letter than to burn someone's car; and it is much less harmful to kick the boxing bag like a crazy person in the gym, then to go back to our workplace and kick out boss's... body parts :-).
HOW TO DEAL WITH ANGER TIP #5 - KNOWING WHAT TRIGGERED THE ANGER WITHIN
Like we learned above, negative emotions are indicators of an emotional wound within that needs to heal. Anger is one of the most primal feelings which gets triggered whenever we are feeling threatened or powerless in some way. For example, getting angry on your partner for flirting with another is triggered by fear of being emotionally hurt if we get cheated or "replaced" by somebody else in his life.
There is always a fear beneath the anger!
Every time when we get angry, that emotion of anger is triggered by some of our fears, whether it is about our physical or emotional wellbeing. Sometimes we get angry with awareness and it IS 100% related with the event or a person that us angry (for example seeing someone stealing or destroying our property). But, many times, the trigger for our anger is unconscious since it is coming from an unhealed childhood wound, past hurts or a failure we have not overcome... In that case, our anger is triggered on a subconscious level, and we will get enraged and angry every time this wound is punctured by other people's resonating words, acts, or behaviour. For example, a woman who was having very controlling father while growing up and holds a lot of resentment towards him explodes and gets angry every time her partner tells her what she should do. He may have the best intentions at heart - to give her advice, but she will feel angry and enraged because subconsciously she feels like that little girl who was always told what to do - and she can unconsciously unleash the anger she feels about her father for so many years - onto her partner in the present moment.
Very often, the reason why we are angry is not the actual reason why we got angry!
It is very important that you self reflect every time you get angry why did you (truly) get angry? What fear lies beneath that anger? What emotional wound is hurting and bleeding beneath that fear? Where that anger is coming from? Are you angry on that particular person or you are unleashing the anger which that you feel about somebody else from your past? It happens many times that we are "punishing" current boyfriend for the mistakes of our ex, or a current friend for the pain caused by toxic friend from the past, or we can even get irritated by somebody without "big" or solid reason, just because that person reminds us of someone who has hurt us in the past!
Many of my life coaching clients discover during our coaching sessions together that anger they were feeling about their ex or current partners was actually being triggered by their fears and emotional wounds from the past or even their childhood. It had nothing or very little to do with the people whom they were thinking are the reason of their anger. Those people from the present moment did do certain things which triggered the fears and punctured the emotional wound from the past, but the real reason why they were getting angry had nothing to do with them. Once my coaching clients heal their emotional wounds, they start noticing that same things done by same people in their life are not upsetting them anymore!
HOW TO DEAL WITH ANGER - REMEMBER THIS...
Very often we get angry and we become very judgmental of another person, without knowing their true motive and reasons for their behaviour. When I encourage my life coaching clients to express how they feel to a person they are angry towards, it often happens that they discover how that person did not have any wrong intentions or that he or she was upset over somebody or something else, which had nothing to do with them, but they took their reactions and behaviour personally, or that they actually triggered some of their emotional wounds from the past. Before we judge another, "cut out" another, attack another, get furious about another... if possible, we should express how and why WE FEEL upset, and give them a chance to explain themselves. We may discover that we were angry for no reason, that person just had a difficult day and it was nothing personal against us, or that they really had the intention of hurting us or harming us in some way. Either way, we will be able to understand the situation better and ACT - not REACT, from the place of power and wisdom, not from the place of fear and ignorance.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT SUPPRESSED ANGER CAN MAKE US FEEL US POWERLESS FOR A SHORT TIME AND AWAKEN OUR DEMONIC SIDE IN THE LONG RUN, ONCE IT "ESCALATES" IN AN UGLIER FORM. BUT, IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT IF WE DO NOT LEARN TO MANAGE OUR ANGER, IT CAN TAKE POWER OVER US - MAKE US DO THINGS IN RAGE WE WOULD NEVER DO (TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEING)!
If you are getting angry very often and you are having hard time to manage your anger, there may be some emotional wound you may or may not be aware of which you need to heal and overcome. That is the most important long term step to deal with anger. If you need help in this process of healing and self discovery working with a good life coach or therapist can be very helpful. As we have learned, women tend to "convert" anger into sadness. If you are feeling depressed or sad more than normal, or feeling very vulnerable and crying prone for a longer time, and you do not understand why you are feeling this way, you may be actually having an internalised suppressed anger which is being expressed as sadness and depression!