I’m sure we’ve all experienced that burning rage of anger at least a few times in our lives. For me, it starts in my chest and it feels like hot lava rising up towards my head. My central nervous system is on full alert and I start shaking. It’s a long time since I felt that way but I remember it like it was yesterday.
Your anger is there is communicate with you
This fiery emotion is a totally justified response to betrayal, loss, injustice, hurt, trauma, or violation. It is so important to honour and give space to this feeling (as it is with every feeling) so that we can acknowledge it and look towards what it is that has caused this fire within us.
When we don’t allow ourselves to feel anger we cause ourselves more suffering.
“Suffering is fighting reality.”
And when we don’t consciously make space for the anger to be there without taking responsibility for our emotions and allow it to consume us, we end up hurting others.
So I would like to share with you 6 action steps that will help you to calm your emotions and to ground yourself.
1. Drop into your body and feel
The first thing I advise you do is to notice whereabouts in your body you feel the fire. Like I shared, I feel it first in my chest and then it shoots upwards to consume my whole head. It’s hot and intense and it doesn’t feel nice.
Then notice how your body is physically responding. Are you shaking? Are your fists clenched? Are you hot? Is your jaw clenched? Maybe you feel a strong desire to scream or shout or to fight or run away.
Now take some time to experience whatever is coming up for you. Sit with your feelings (or pace the floor) whilst paying attention to how you feel and where you feel in it in your body. Nothing is permanent and the emotion WILL pass if you allow it space to be felt. Notice how the initial intense feeling starts to lessen as you give yourself that time and space.
***Our thoughts cause our emotions in the first place so they can often fuel the anger. Notice if your thoughts are adding fuel or water to the fire. Choose to think thoughts that calm you down, try to look at the situation from a neutral perspective… take yourself out of the equation.
2. Slow down and make space
When we feel the emotion of anger, it often brings with it a sense of urgency. I MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS RIGHT NOW!!! Whilst it’s important to address what’s happened, it’s more important to slow down first because when we don’t, we often do or say things that we regret later on.
If you notice you’re physically tense, then take steps to physically relax yourself. Whether that’s massaging your neck and shoulders or consciously asking your muscles to relax.
If you feel hot, take off a layer, go outside for fresh air, touch something cold.
If you feel like you need to run, allow yourself time to walk to clear your head. If you’re with someone and need to leave, let them know that you need time to digest this and remove yourself from the situation.
If you feel like you want to fight, find a way to move that pent up energy such as putting on a hard core tune and dancing or bang out some burpees or scream into and hit a pillow.
If you feel that you’re withdrawing, you may not feel safe. Give yourself permission to leave and connect with something or someone that grounds you such as nature, a blanket, a hug.
3. Focus on your breath
Deep breathing helps to settle our nervous system almost right away. So simply by taking 5 deep slow breaths, you will feel calmer. Try breathing to a count. So breathe in for 4 – hold for 4 – release for 4 – hold for 4 and repeat.
If, like me and my friend Jess, you find it hard to take slow deep breaths and it seems to make your tension worse, then instead of trying to change your breath, just focus on it. Pay all your attention to where you feel it most in the body. Just watch it.
4. Compassion. Compassion. Compassion
Anger is an uncomfortable, painful emotion to feel. Meeting yourself with compassion (always) is so crucial. Soothe yourself by placing your hand on your heart, closing your eyes and saying out loud things like:
“I’m sorry this is happened right now and that it feels so difficult.”
“Wow, that’s A LOT to deal with and process right now. It’s ok to take your time.”
“You don’t deserve to be treated this way.”
5. Are there any feelings beneath the anger?
Take your time going through steps 1-4 and then when you feel calmer and ready, start to get curious about what feelings are beneath the initial anger.
Anger can often be used as a protective shield to an underlying more painful emotion such as disappointment or shame. Most of us weren’t taught how to deal with disappointment so anger can come up to protect us from that painful emotion.
Peeling back the layers of anger can show us what’s really going on and enables us to learn more about ourselves and take steps to heal the core emotional wound.
6. Respond, don’t react
Giving ourselves the time and the space to process all of the above is super important if we don’t want to be consumed by anger and do things that we might later regret.
A reaction happens in an instant. It is learned from the past and fueled by emotions.
A response takes a little longer; it includes the present and is empowered by awareness and clarity.
When we choose to respond instead of reacting, we can zoom out of the situation and look at it from a neutral perception. Then we can take into consideration others involved and future consequences.
There are many more options available to us when we respond, including standing up for ourselves, having a tough conversation, creating a boundary, ending a relationship, forgiveness, taking time out, or seeking additional support.
If your anger consumes you in your daily life, reach out to someone. Remember, we need each other. We’re not meant to go through the hard stuff alone.
If you need help with processing emotions, reach out to me here. I can offer support and guidance right away.
We’re in this together!
Love Victoria xox