If you wish to release anger and not let it control you, I congratulate you. While anger is a natural emotion, uncontrollable anger can substantially hurt your own health and your loved ones.
To release anger and get to the point where it no longer controls you requires understanding 1. what anger is, 2. how to release anger, 3. how to control anger in the context of a relationship, 4. how to let out anger out and how to channel anger toward positive outcomes. This article will discuss each step-by-step.
What is anger?
Anger is unlike any other emotion. Anger is a secondary emotion. It is a protective emotion. One that first came up as a defensive mechanism to come to help us out when the primary feeling or sensation we was too painful or intense to handle.
if you feel angry, you’ve skipped a step. A feeling was there that your system is automatically short-circuiting to help you avoid the undesirable feeling.
Anger rears its head to mask the primary emotion that your younger self simply could not handle.
The primary emotion might be fear, anxiety, guilt, embarrassment, shame jealousy, sadness, worry. It is usually a feeling and/or its associated sensation that your system cannot stomach.
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How to Release Anger
The moment to release anger is not in the moment it arises when we are in connection with another. We will discuss how to deal with that in the next section.
To release the power that anger has over us requires understanding the primary emotion that the anger is there to protect. Working with a mental health therapist is certainly an effective and supportive way of getting to the root of the matter. Look for one that practice anger management therapy. But you can also work towards releasing anger on your own.
Questions useful to ask yourself include:
“How old do I feel when the anger arise?”
“How did I feel (emotions/ sensations) right before the anger arose?”
“How intense is the anger and when was the first time I felt such intense anger?”
“What image or memory comes to mind?”
“What emotions/ sensations are associated with this memory?”
If anger has deep roots within you, anger might show up for you not just for one primary emotion but for a variety of primary emotions. Whatever the case may be, understanding the emotions or sensations that the anger is trying to protect is the first and most important step toward releasing anger.
Awareness of the primary emotion is essential to putting an end to the the automatic protective mechanism of anger, that is to the reactivity of anger.
How to Control Anger in a Relationship
Anger is a very powerful emotion that has devastating effect on ourselves and on our loved ones.
The first thing to understand is that anger is fighting fire with fire. It is you, first and foremost, that you are hurting. “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” as the Buddha reportedly said.
Anger is a detrimental step in a vicious cycle taking undigested pain, amplifying it and passing it on to another. Anger is a protection and as such it does provide some benefits but such benefits are short-lived.
By taking out your anger on others, you’ve not only done damage to your own system by acting from a highly reactive place, you’ve also damaged your loved one by lashing out at time.
Being loving to your loved one is to be sensitive to them. To care about their needs, their feelings, their sensations. Anger is a visceral assault on their nervous systems. One that can leave irreversible damages on their heart and their openness.
Being on the receiving end of your anger might leave your loved ones feeling unsafe, scared, and/or uncomfortable to be around you. Certainly, their love towards you will be diminished by it as it is quite difficult to be open hearted with someone who hurts us so viscerally.
To control anger in a healthy relationship takes the form of doing whatever is in your power to not let the anger spill onto them. With enough anger therapy and/or self-examination, you can get to a place where the triggers don’t lead to the automatic anger reaction. Or, at minimum, that the intensity of the anger is drastically reduced.
Understand that anger and love are incompatible. You cannot be sensitive to others while at the same time lashing out at them.
Emotional regulation is a skill to work on. Creating as much spaciousness between the trigger and the expression of the anger is a great skill to build.
Taking three deep breaths, drinking a cup of water, removing yourself from the room are great strategies, among others for breaking the anger reactivity in its course before it does damage to people you love.
How to Let Out Anger out and how to channel it toward a positive outcome
Letting anger out at others does not help. It won’t help getting your point across. You won’t get sympathy for how much pain you’re in or how unfair the situation is. Anger outbursts are so hurtful that the message cannot get across. All that is felt by the recipient is the pain and shock of being on the receiving end of anger.
Similarly, repressing anger or projecting it inward toward the self does not resolve the issue. Repressing or denying anger does not work.
The healthy way of letting anger out is in therapy or in solitude. By getting up close and personal with the anger, you can learn much about why it is here, what it’s trying to protect you against, what makes it tick and what relieves it.
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By bringing curiosity and compassion to that part of yourself, you can gain greater understanding of yourself and gain greater mastery over it.
Because anger is such an intense emotion, there is a potent energy there that can be channeled toward positive outcomes. Anger can catapult us to get off our couch and finally embody the change we’ve been thriving for.
Anger can be channeled toward positive actions like going to the gym, finishing up some work we’ve been putting off or taking some other positive actions. Anger can be utilized to propel us forward in positive ways precisely because of its high intensity.