The conscious expression of anger
“Angry people are not always wise” – Jane Austin “Pride and Prejudice”
Psychology researchers are pretty much split down the middle as to whether anger is an emotion or an expression of an emotion. I subscribe to that anger is an expression of emotion just like laughter is. However, I see it as the underlying negative emotion transforms into anger if we lack the emotional intelligence to identify and and consciously express the original negative emotion. So it becomes a “catch-all” for any negative emotion we cannot name.
Because of this, anger is not something you can control once it appears in your body. So the idea of anger management is an illusion, as you will see. The are many studies to support the evidence that suppression of anger is also very bad for our physical and mental health https://openaccesspub.org/ijpr/article/999.
When we experience anger it is the expression of it we want to be able to control so that we don’t say or do anything that we will regret, i.e. when we allow the anger to take us over. There will always be an underlying fear that evokes the anger to protect ourselves. You may want to go back and also check out our discussion about Fear. Whether it is the thought that evokes the emotion or if it is externally provoked causing the thoughts to come up, it doesn’t matter, thoughts will be swirling and giving energy to the anger, and thus perpetuating it. As a remedy it is popular to count to 10 and breath, which actually helps. The reason is because you are being present and just observing, you are not feeding the anger with your thoughts it has nothing to hold it in your body.
The ability to “manage” your anger lies in the work you put in before you get angry, by training yourself to become present and to always observe your experiences from your awareness, as opposed from your conscious mind. When you do that then you can observe the emotion, and perhaps familiarise yourself with it, see it become anger and not engage with it. You can then also observe your thoughts, and your thoughts you can control and choose what to think. Some of the practices I use to be able to express my negative emotions or anger in a healthy constructive way:
- not taking anything personally
- not assuming I know what goes on in another’s life
- passing my words and thoughts through the filters is it true, kind and helpful
- knowing and trusting my boundaries and being able to express them in a conscious manner
- approaching myself and others with compassion, acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude
- knowing how I want to feel after the negative emotion has dissipated
In the podcast I tell the story of Henry VIII and the New Forest down in the south of England. In 1483 the “New Forest Act” was passed to support the build up of the Royal Navy. However, he knew that it was going to take a long time to produce the timber to really see the fruits of his commission. However, it is this idea of preparation I would like you take with you, because when you find yourself in a fit of rage, you have already lost. Practice and preparation is the solution to dealing with anger and negative emotions in general.
Also published on Medium.