Anger is a signal or symptom that many of us fail to pay attention to. Although anger is simply a feeling, like so many other feelings, there is often a stigma attached to feeling angry. Instead of paying attention to the anger and allowing it to be a useful tool in our lives, we feel guilty for feeling anger and continue to suppress it. When we can acknowledge our anger and be curious about what the underlying problem might be, then anger can be very helpful.
Anger can mean that:
we are being hurt
our rights are being violated
we are not getting what we want
we are not getting what we expect
we have not addressed emotional issues in our lives
we are not living congruently with our beliefs
we have compromised our beliefs in a relationship
we are giving more than we are comfortable giving
we are allowing others to do too much for us
we are afraid of something
Anger is simply a feeling. It has a thought behind it that creates the feeling of anger. Your thought may be one of those listed above, or you may need to do some more digging in your own mind to figure out what the thought behind your anger is.
Anger can be a catalyst for taking action. Rather than suppressing anger or lashing out in anger, here are some steps that can help you process anger as soon as you recognize it.
Acknowledge the fact that I am angry
Do something physical - take a walk, run, workout. Do something to burn off the adrenalin.
Center yourself. Ask yourself what thought is causing me to feel angry? Am I clear on what I want? How did I create, allow, or contribute to the problem? Is this a real problem? Is it worth the effort? What action will I take?
Sometimes it is enough to process the emotion and make a choice to change the way you are thinking about the issue. If the circumstance can’t be changed because it is in the past, or because the other person refuses to engage in problem-solving, you can process anger without anyone else being involved in the process.
If there is a chance of changing the circumstance you may decide that the issue is worth taking up with another person. At that point, you need to make sure you are coming from a good place within yourself. Make sure this is a conversation that you are having FOR you not AGAINST them. When you do your work of dealing with anger before the conversation there is a much higher probability that you can work together to problem-solve and come to a new agreement.
Recognize anger as the symptom it is. Instead of feeling bad about feeling angry, take some time to look at your anger and understand what it is trying to tell you. Process your anger in an appropriate way. You don’t need to let anger control your life.