There are many times when anger can feel overpowering – when we feel wronged, not heard, ignored, or wrongly accused of something, we may feel an urge to defend ourselves. Anger is a strong emotion – so strong that it can lead to self-harm, violence, and even death. It can damage our bodies and well-being, and can ruin our relationships. When we’re feeling angry, our heartbeat may be racing, our thoughts may feel scattered, our palms may feel sweaty, experience red face, and more. These physiological symptoms are a reaction to the situation that is upsetting us – and we could easily allow ourselves to escalate and begin taking forceful action on those thoughts and feelings. However, there is an easier way to manage this, and you can be mindful even though you are angry.
A study conducted by Borders, Earleywine, & Jajodia (2010) found that in fact, ruminating over an event that has happened in the past can increase anger and aggression. They found that mindfulness, the practice of staying present-focused and intentionally aware, can help combat rumination, which in turn decreases feelings of anger and aggression. There are many techniques that we can use to stay mindful even while we are feeling angry. David Gelles from the New York Times (2017) provides some great insight to this:
- Recognize that you are angry, and allow yourself to feel it. Stop trying to avoid this emotion or push it away – give it attention by just sitting and feeling it.
- Stop giving power to your anger through rumination and storytelling. Shift your attention to your body instead.
- Focus on neutral or pleasant things around you, or even parts of your body that feel neutral or pleasant.
- Rest on the sensations that you feel throughout your body. Stay focused on them, and if your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to those sensations.
- Investigate your anger within your body. Where do you feel it? What does it feel like? How do your body’s sensations change as you pay more attention to them? Observe these reactions.
- Explore the message that your body has in store for you. What is it trying to say? Was a boundary crossed?
- Reflect on several ways that you could address the situation. What would be the most helpful response to you right now?
- Make a responsible decision to do whatever you need to at this moment. Make sure it’s healthy and not harmful – go for a walk, take a shower, or even have a direct conversation with someone.
Staying mindful while we are angry can be challenging. Emotions can take over, but we must make an active decision to let ourselves feel those emotions and then healthily work through them. If we can remain present and aware even in a moment of anger, we can more effectively handle those anger-filled, stressful situations.
Recovery is yours when you start to do the work. At a treatment facility in the New Vista Behavioral Health family, you will be supported with staff and programming held to higher standards, providing exceptional care for better outcomes. Life is yours for living. Start making a change today by calling: 888-316-3665