By Leigh Burton
Anger is deep in the hearts of many people and is a toxin that drains the very essence of life.
Anger causes a great deal of suffering for everyone concerned. Whether in privacy or visible to an entire community, a reaction to anger produces fear that robs us of emotional health. While it seems that some people thrive on anger, it isn’t comfortable for anyone and is a form of suffering that anyone would want to rid themselves of. It is one of the few emotions that causes an immediate onset of noticeable physical symptoms, and the shame that follows can be unbearable.
Managing anger and the issue at the core of the matter requires emotional intelligence to heal. It may seem that we can be calm or happy one moment and instantly move into a state of anger, but the truth is that there is always a build-up to the explosion that inevitably happens when circumstances are handled inappropriately. When we suppress frustration, confusion, and shame, we kindle the ignition coil that inevitably burns its way to discharging something that cannot be taken back. What’s done is done and so to is the suffering that is unavoidable.
To respond to a circumstance is to acknowledge a feeling that something is not right. We are conditioned to believe that the expression of feelings other than joy is improper. If there is something that we don’t like or that makes us uncomfortable, we are encouraged to keep it to ourselves so that we don’t rock the boat. We might feel that how another person receives our expression is our responsibility. We may question our thoughts and wonder if we have the right to feel the way we do. If this was a healthy process, would it not make sense that we could suppress our feelings and it not eventually cause an outburst?
There is nothing wrong with acknowledging how we feel, if done the right way, and it is a healthful way to respond to a circumstance. To react to pent-up anger is nothing short of abuse to ourselves and those around us. Simply put, an outburst of rage is violence against our right to peace and freedom.
Almost always, unmanaged anger can be found in our genealogy. Someone we looked to for nurturing had the same issue in their way. That’s not to say that everyone in our environment would have accepted the behavior as a reasonable response to unmanaged stress. How each of us interprets and adopts the teachings we receive is individual? However, there is hope for those of us that have difficulty in dealing with anger.
There are many reasons that an individual can become angry. It can be due to feeling a loss of control or a need to feel powerful. It can also be due to the suffering related to depression and turning it around to replace one pain for another. It is suggested that we take a timeout and participate in alternative activities that can reduce the anxiety and heightened emotional state. While this helps at the moment, it may not be enough to resolve the underlying issue that is at the root of the matter. If we don’t go deep into where it is coming from, there is always going to be the possibility of it surfacing again.
The bottom line is that anger is the result of subdued feelings that have rippled out from the root emotion fear. If we are willing to take a look inside, we will always find that anger is the result of fear and our Ego telling us a story that we need to protect ourselves. Symptoms of fight or flight are not easy to detect but, when they are noticeable, we are already well into the process of feeling attacked. Whether it is our opinion being disregarded, our feelings ill-considered, or disrespect for our boundaries, it’s personal, and we can easily lash out as a result. When angry, it’s important to step back and embrace the courage to STOP. Ask “How am I feeling?” Don’t stop at the first or second answer that comes to mind. Instead, get to the core of the matter and ask “What is it that is causing me to feel fear?” Often the issue at hand is related to self-esteem and the desire to matter, which are two significant concerns that our Ego has for our well-being.
Looking inside isn’t something that should be done as needed either. We need to take time to encourage our well-being and personal growth. There are a few things we can do each day that will go a long way in supporting emotional health.
If we take time every morning and at the end of our busy day to meditate and reflect, we promote a healthy relationship with ourselves that inspires the use of emotional intelligence. Some of us find it difficult but, it doesn’t have to be what we consider the traditional form of meditation. Just taking a few minutes in solitude and allowing ourselves to exist is a form of meditation in itself.
Throughout the day ask, “How am I feeling?” We are often so busy that we forget to check in with ourselves and grant permission to be human. While some emotions are embraced and exciting to feel, all should be respected for they are a part of us. If we are to practice self-love, then we should be willing to show love to all parts of who we are. Remember that emotions are triggered for a reason.
Nurture the heart and mind every day. Watching a video on personal development or, reading a few pages from a book that resonates with our journey is a continual encouragement of being the best person that we can be for ourselves and those we share our lives with.
We don’t have to suffer in anger if we reflect on why the circumstances are personal. We can take the path that is more serving to all and commit to change what otherwise causes regret.