It may be that I’ve been drinking too much coffee lately, or that life feels a little hectic at the moment, but I’ve been visited more regularly by a familiar old feeling again: anger.
When I was a teenager, I had A LOT of anger in me. I was angry at the institution of school, angry at society’s expectations, angry at bullies, angry at myself for not being able to fit in or understand and express myself better. I was never a destructive, loud person; I never screamed and shouted and threw things (well, rarely). Instead, I kept quiet on the outside while my insides were raging.
My go-to outlet was playing the drums. Every day after I came home from school I sat down at my drum set and played my butt of for about an hour, sweating and all. Playing the drums is an amazing release, and even though I don’t play as regularly as I used to, I still enjoy the occasional outburst of energy in a musical way 😉
I used to love Heavy Metal, too, because it matched the energy of my anger! These days, I still enjoy certain Metal bands every now and then, but overall, I’m just not that angry anymore.
Or so I thought! But recently, I’ve been having this diffuse inner unrest, feeling angry or mad about something…or for no particular reason at all! So I’ve been asking myself, “What am I so angry about?”; anger is an emotion just as valuable, wise and necessary as others. It deserves to be acknowledged, listened to and processed in a healthy way!
Since my teenage years, the ways that I deal with my anger have changed; they’ve become a lot quieter and more introspective. Since I know that I’m not the only one experiencing this feeling, I want to share with you my best tips for dealing with anger:
- Acknowledge the feeling. If you try to ignore or stuff down your anger, it’ll only grow stronger until it unleashes in one big outburst – usually at an inappropriate time! I think many people are afraid of acknowledging their real feelings because they’re afraid of the consequences. But a) you don’t necessarily have to share your experience with others, it’s enough to start by acknowledging it to yourself. And b) sometimes acknowledging that we are angry is enough to diffuse the feeling. A lot of times, simply telling myself “God I feel so angry!” makes me step back and realize that it’s probably not worth to be that angry about whatever is going on!
- Move it out! Physical activities are a great way to get stagnant energy moving! While for some people a really intense, sweaty workout is very effective in blowing off steam, these days I prefer to do some slow, balancing yoga to help me cool down. Going for a brisk walk in fresh air can be great, too!
- Drink lots of water to get hydrated, to help flush out toxins and to cool down.
- Anger is often used as a “cover up” for other emotions. For some reason, anger often seems to be portrayed as the “most appropriate” reaction by our patriarchal society. I guess it seems “strong” where other emotions are deemed as “weak”. Plus, anger does have this fiery energy that can be channeled in very productive ways! And we all know that productivity is the name of the game in today’s culture… either way I like to find out what else lies underneath that anger, as only then I’m able to truly resolve what’s going on. To do so, I ask myself a series of questions: “What am I angry about?”, “What am I sad about?”, “What do I feel guilty about?”, “What am I afraid of?”. I just let the answers come to me. Sometimes I find out that I’m not even really angry, but that I’m simply worried, or disappointed, or afraid. With this knowledge I then have a better perspective on possible solutions.
- Try this simple cooling breath: If you belong to the people who are able to roll up their tongue like a straw, do so, and suck in air through your mouth. The air will feel cool coming into your mouth, and the slurping sound might even produce a little smile. 😉 If you can’t roll up your tongue (like me), simply pucker up your lips and pretend to be sucking in air through an imaginary straw – it works just as well.
- Express yourself creatively. If you play a musical instrument, dance or sing, use these ways to release some excess energy. If you prefer writing, painting, sewing, woodwork or cooking, do that! Choose something you enjoy doing and just let it all out.
- Laugh about it! Put on a funny movie, watch hilarious cat videos or talk to a friend who can make you laugh. Try and find the humor in the situation – I often can’t help but laugh when I imagine myself cursing and being all upset about some stupid little incident! There’s nothing like a little laughter to diffuse anger.
- Take action. Use the fiery energy of your anger to make the changes you wish to see. I believe that the most generalized message anger gives us is “Something needs to change here!”. What are some possible solutions to whatever situation is driving you mad? While I don’t recommend going straight up to your neighbor and punching him in the face because he blocked your driveway, you can use your anger as fuel to think of possible solutions, get out of fear and lethargy and into action-taking mode. Take some time to cool down, and then channel your anger into positive projects, such as a clearing conversation, political or humanitarian action, or self-improvement.
Anger is not an inherently “bad” emotion. If we learn to acknowledge and process it, it can serve as great teacher, guide and motivator!
How do you deal with your anger? Please let me know in the comments below!
Happy blowing off steam! 😉