The dog sped downstairs to escape the racket emanating from my bedroom!
It was 1989 and teenage hormones were rampant! I lay on my bed, pillow shoved over my head, knuckles white. Stifling scream after scream.
Finally, red-faced and breathless a giant sigh left my body and all was calm again.
Thank goodness only the dog was home with me. My mum wouldn’t have liked that one little bit.
Recalling that period of my life I realize now the extraordinary methods I have used to deal with the rage within.
And it comes naturally to all children and adolescents. As we grow into adulthood this becomes the one core emotion we find the hardest to reconcile.
As Paul Ekman PhD discusses on Psychology Today:
“Anger tells us we have a problem that ideally we should deal with when we are no longer angry. Sometimes we can’t postpone; we must deal with a provocation or interference without postponing pursuit of our goal. What then? It requires skill to focus our anger on the actions — not the actor — that are either causing (or threatening) harm or blocking our path.”
Nobody likes anger.
Yet everybody feels it from time to time. Many people chose either of two responses:
Explode in a torrent of horrible words and actions. It doesn’t make us feel better. Nor does it do any good to whatever or whoever had sparked the anger.
Bottle it up inside. Personally, I would then find ways to blame myself for the feelings. This eventually leads to depression and low self-esteem.
But with age comes wisdom, and with that wisdom comes a possible solution.
A friend of mine said that anger is not a ‘stand-alone’ emotion, but instead is masking something else we truly feel. This could be sadness, jealousy or even simply that someone behaved in a way that reflected the side of ourselves that we may not like – our shadow-selves as it is sometimes called.
I decided to explore ways of getting in touch with the shadow side of me. By testing various methods I found a combination that seems to work best.
- Meditate just 10 minutes or more, daily. A calm mind is rarely cross! I can open my mind to the reasons I may resent certain people and situations and understand with more compassion that perhaps I play a role in these feelings too.
- On the rare occasion anger surfaces, I excuse myself for a toilet break and go ‘let off steam. Even if it only means stomping my feet. Anger should never be used to harm someone, but more of a realization that you have a pressing need that has to be dealt with.
- Once calm, think about the real emotion that triggered the anger. Anger never walks alone.
- Reflect these emotions and causes later in meditation and think of what action I need to do to ‘sweep my side of the street’. Did I play a part in my feelings? Do I owe an apology? Is a difficult conversation required?
Have you found methods for dealing with anger that works really well for you? Let me know in the comments below.
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Love, Claire xxx