When anger rears it’s ugly head it can affect our judgement and thinking. In a state of numbed fury we can say unreasonable and irrational words, often to the people closest to us, giving way to guilt and regret once our initial dalliance with the Hulk has subsided.
Anger is a completely normal human emotion that we all experience, but it can frequently lock us up in a vicious circle, filled with pessimistic thoughts and a destructive mindset that can often make the situation worse, inhibiting our path back to feelings of happiness, calmness and contentment.
What if anger could instead be an effective expression of who we are, our passion and our convictions ?
Soon after Nelson Mandela walked away from twenty-seven years in jail, Bill Clinton asked, “Surely, you must have felt some anger?” Mandela agreed that, yes, alongside the joy of being free, he had also felt great anger. “But,” he said, “I valued my freedom more, and I knew that if I expressed my anger I would still be a prisoner.”
Negative vs. Positive Anger
Most people perceive anger as a strictly negative emotion, but that all depends on our perspective. It isn’t actually good or bad. It’s innate and perfectly normal as a human being to feel angry when you are wronged, mistreated, or hurt. The feeling isn’t the problem, but it’s how we react and perceive it that can cause so much harm to both mind and body.
Expressing a moderate level of anger can actually be good for us in a number of ways. One benefit of expressing your anger is that it allows others to immediately know how you really feel.
In recent studies, experts were able to prove that expressing anger helps angry people to solve problems and communicate with other more effectively.
Positive Anger For Positive Energy & Achieving Your Goals
Moderate expression of anger can also be a source of undertaking ideas, a proverbial kick up the backside that can lead us to use our time and harness our emotions in a more effective and constructive manner. It’s highly unlikely that activists, intent on changing government policy or with good intentions on human rights go about their day filled with sunshine and rainbows. Their passion, and anger is used to try and have a positive influence on the world.
If your body is a car, then anger can become the carburetor of the engine, controlling the flow of emotions to help you perform at your best, driving you on with focus and a gas tank full of personal resolve……just without the harmful lead.
Mastering the art of anger management is great and the payoff can be a huge. Turning negative emotions into positivity without the shouting, screaming, blaming and feelings of guilt often associated with “an episode.” Once it’s been harnessed you can improve relationships and your own self-esteem.
Meditation & Anger Management
Anger isn’t just a mental state of mind, it triggers a cascade of reactions without our bodies, an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol flow through the body. While normal in intermittent and small doses, protracted exposure can lead to a number of health concerns and issues.
Diana Adile Kirschner, a Philadelphia-area clinical psychologist and co author of the book Comprehensive Family Therapy advises her clients to learn meditation and has seen firsthand how helpful it can be. “Not only is meditation an absolutely marvelous de-stresser, it helps people better relate to one another” she says. “I can tell when clients are following through with meditation. For instance, I had a couple who consistently bickered. After they started meditating, they came less angry, more self-reflective and more loving”.
Meditation can be an effective way to control anger for a variety of reasons. When our hormonal system has been exposed to such excessive levels of damaging hormones, meditation plays a regulating role and rebalances our body in order to access a state that is more favorable for us:
- It equalizes the stress hormone (Cortisol) and boost the “feel good hormone” (Serotonin) in order to positively influence your mood and state of mind.
- It calms the nervous system down to a level that we cannot even achieve while asleep, allowing us to better integrate new targeted behavioral patterns.
- It significantly lowers anger and animosity towards others and towards ourselves, enhancing a clearer perception of our environment. It helps us develop compassionate feelings which leads to better and healthier interpersonal relationships.
- It lowers blood pressure and heart rate significantly, helping us deal much better with future situations where our anger could be challenged again.
- Meditation allows us to perceive “threats” in a more rational way.
- It makes us feel more inclined to look beyond the hurt and frustration, giving us a more rational and balanced perspective
There are different ways one can practice daily meditation:
– Vedic meditation is a mantra based meditation, where you continually repeat a chosen word or phrase quietly in your own mind. It is a simple, natural, effortless technique practiced 20 minutes twice each day while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed.
– Mindfulness is the practice that involves learning to experience the present moment as it really is, in order to develop the ability to step away from habitual, often unconscious emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events. Focusing on the breath while sitting quietly is an excellent form of meditation.
– Yoga and martial arts, such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong, can be other techniques to achieve a meditative state. These methods are all about harmonizing the body with the mind and breath through the means of various breathing techniques in order to reach inner peace and develop an overall better health.
Anger can be a poison for your own health and for your surroundings if it isn’t used constructively. Meditation can give you the tools that allow mastery of your own mind, free of stress and all of its ugly derivatives. It eventually gives you access to your inner-self and personal insights. It represents the opportunity to understand your anger, and thus is the keystone of any successful anger management therapy.
The dawn of a positive change in your life can start when you access the inner Bruce Banner more often than his nemesis, The Hulk. So seek solutions, find one that works, and aspire to more a serene lifestyle, free from the ugly green monster.
Photo credits: (top) Niels Linneberg (center) Marie Boucaut