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Processing Anger

This exercise can be very helpful in processing anger, especially if you write down your findings at each stage.

The next time that you find yourself in a situation where a response of anger has been provoked within you:

Press pause

It may have been provoked by a circumstance of injustice towards you or someone else. It may have been an interaction with someone who’s behaviour has irritated you to the point of loss of control.

Take a deep, slow breath.

If you are angered to the point where you are struggling to remain in control, you can find some helpful breathing exercises here:

How to Breathe

How to Stop a Panic Attack

Now step into the shoes of your Observer Self. Remember, this is the observing part of the Self that is able to witness every detail of what you are feeling, but not the part of you that is actually doing the feeling.

Notice the physical sensations within your body. It is your oldest and most loyal friend. Sensations in the body are often the first signs that something has tipped you out of balance. You may notice changes in heart rate, temperature, and rate of respiration. You may feel a surge of destructive energy and a need to take immediate action. Take your time to fully acknowledge all of the body sensations you are presented with. Be grateful for that communication.

Sit with it

Now take a few moments to acknowledge the event that has provoked the response. View it as a set of facts or circumstances. From the Observer’s perspective, there is no emotional attachment, it is simply a sequence of events.

Sit with it

Now take a few moments to catalogue the thoughts that were provoked by this set of circumstances. Thoughts can be described as single sentences that we say to ourselves internally. What is the internal narrative here? What did you say to yourself about what happened that inflamed your anger?

Sit with it

Now ask yourself what it is that you have to lose from the situation playing out. Relationships? Reputation? Wealth? Loved ones? Comfort? Sense of safety? List them all.

Sit with it

You can now consciously choose how you want to respond.

You can consider what concepts and beliefs in your unique model of the world have affected your expectations.

You can explore your attachments.

You can look to examining what core beliefs about yourself and others lie at the root of your perception of and thoughts about what happened.

You can consider reframing core beliefs using the tool in the above article on reframing core beliefs.

You can challenge those thoughts using the tool in the above article on distorted thinking.

Remember that we cannot control the environment, only our response to it. Life happens and sometimes we have limitations thrust upon us. With this in mind, once you have processed the event, you may still feel a sense of frustration if the circumstances are deeply unfair and you stand to lose something that is dear to you.

This is completely understandable

Once you have done all that you can do, you must accept that some change is unavoidable. Here is where you can choose a method of venting.

You might want to beat the stuffing out of a cushion.

You may wish to climb up high and scream at the top of your lungs.

You may wish to enlist the help of a trusted friend who’s agreed purpose will be to listen without judgement or advice.

Whatever method you choose, make it about you and to have no other purpose that the release of that emotional baggage.

Remember that an anger response is like the compression of a spring. The pressure creates great energy within the coils but once it is released and its effects felt, there is equilibrium and balance once more.

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