Anger is scandalous. Many people are not big fans of anger while some people seem to enjoy anger with gusto. Anger is an emotional experience, and a powerful one at that. Anger can drive hatred, but anger can also speak for sadness. Experiencing anger feels like anger is the only thing being felt at that moment. On the contrary, anger is a secondary and sometimes tertiary emotion. More often than not, anger is a coping mechanism for fear, sadness, and vulnerability. These primary emotions can be difficult to express, articulate, and even understand.
What is anger, really?
Deeply connected to adrenaline, anger is also a means for survival. When we experience anger, we are actually experiencing a version of the ‘fight or flight’ system that has been ingrained in our human experience for millions of years. Fight or flight is a reaction method to determine if our lives need to be fought for, or if running away is the better option for survival. Needless to say, when our livelihood is being threatened, there is certainly something to be angry about. Somehow, in the mix, this reaction gets confused. Instead of anger toward a dinosaur a thousand times larger than us, we find anger at things much smaller than ourselves, or even things we can’t see. Directed anger means that we are perceiving whatever we are angry at to be bigger than us and posing a threat to our safety, externally or internally. In this way, it’s easy to see how fear and sadness could be the ultimate culprits. Fear and sadness are often suppressed, because we have learned that as much as something is threatening our stability on the outside, these emotions threaten our stability on the inside.
What to do when you’re angry
Sometimes unknowingly, that connection between anger, fear, and sadness causes us to stuff the anger down, hiding it out of fear that releasing the anger could mean letting all the worms out of the can. Just like any other emotion, not managing our feelings can have consequences. The richest being a great disservice in honoring who we are and what we are experiencing.
If you experience an angry episode and are not sure what to do, take time to breath. Even though that adrenaline is pumping and your brain is in survival mode, breathing will help calm this system down. Breathe in your nose and out your mouth. This will slow the heart rate down. Try to find awareness and mindfulness in what is going on. Is there really anger happening or is there a level of fear and sadness? You can ask yourself if you feel equipped to handle the emotions, or what might come of acting out on your anger. Allow yourself to be where you are until you understand it. You will feel gratitude toward yourself and gradually this will teach you that your feelings are okay to feel.
We know how challenging the depths of emotions can be. We also know they are manageable. The Center for Life Change is ready to help you gain manageability back in your life. Are you? Call us today to find out. (951) 775-4000