Anger issues. To a greater or lesser degree we all have them. And the challenge with Anger is that when you don’t control it, it controls you. And that is hugely destructive for us emotionally and for everything else in our lives. Fact.
Now It might surprise you to know that even though I am a life coach and spiritual guide I have a monster of a temper. Anger issues. Anger management is something I personally have dealt with my entire life and believe me it’s an ongoing process. But you know me, I love to share what I have learnt. So these days as well as working on myself I teach both anger management and conflict resolution workshops around the world and within my life coaching.
This week I had a request from a view to base my LIVE feed on anger management. You can see it here. Now I love to do research for my lives and it really reminded me once more of the importance of taming my temper and seeing my anger as an ally not an enemy. Something I had maybe forgotten in the cabin fever of isolation.
So I thought I would share a few of my re- realisations about taming your temper and anger management with you today.
So first things first let’s debunk the shame of being a person who has issues with controlling their anger.
Anger is something we all have and something we all express uniquely. We all express it differently. It’s part of our biology and like when we talked about anxiety a few weeks back anger is trying to help you not harm you.
Anger is a natural response to perceived threats. A BIOLOGICAL response. It causes your body to release adrenaline, your muscles to tighten, and your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. Basically as we talked about in the anxiety feed a few weeks back anger is a defence emotion trying to protect us by kicking in our bodies fight, flight and freeze process.
Anger is natural. It’s part of our biology.
And it happens for many, many reasons however the four most important and valid reason for it in my opinion is that we get angry:
- When we are not physically at our best
- When we feel threatened
- When we feel helpless or not in control
- When there is some inner conflict within ourselves
The challenge is obviously not the anger emotion itself but how we deal with it.
So to be honest there is no one size fits all solution to dealing with anger
The antidote to anger is different for each person
As when we are angry we are having a conversation with ourselves. Anger controls our conversation with ourselves, not us controlling our anger. And it is the cause of that internal dialogue that needs to be dealt with. And as I said before that is different for everyone.
We often forget this and assume that everyone reacts the same way we do.
And that assumption is the mother of all F*** Ups when it comes to arguements. It creates uber uber problems when emotions are raised and you are already angry.
However although anger is different is different for everyone there are some common things we can all do to start taming our temper and controlling our anger
Now I learnt something really interesting about anger when I was researching.
In terms of neurology we only experience anger for 2 secs !
I was mind blown when I found that out.
And do you know what else that means?
Everything after that 2 seconds is our dedication to being angry. To the emotion of being angry. As Jay Shetty said, we basically after that point unconsciously or sometimes consciously play act at being angry to deal with the physiological responses or emotions that have been triggered.
Finding this out has already rebooted my control over my temper in the last 48 hours! When I feel angry I remind myself that it is not all encompassing and that I don’t have to let that emotion control me. I can respond in a healthier way. (Mr T is loving this trust me)
And that’s great because it really has shown me that as Anger is really only kicking in my brain for 2 secs then I can control everything after that point.
It just takes a little self awareness, some tools and some practice.
Now although there is no one size fits all tool there are, in my opinion 4 things that do help all of us tame that temper.
Do a Physiological check in
I think developing type 1 diabetes made me very aware that our physiology is the foundation of all our emotions. So when you are angry check in with your body. Ask yourself am I hangry? If we are not feeling at full capacity physically or mentally then we are more likely to snap. Asking yourself if you are hangry, overtired or ill, when you feel irritated, angry or snapping is a good practice to have. Often these things can be the cause of us losing our temper without us even realising and then the argument is another thing we have to deal with before we can eat, sleep or take care of ourselves. So the first check in is to look at the foundation of everything in our body. If the body is not ok, service that before you deal with what made you angry.
Use rhytmic Breathing
We all know when we feel threatened, attacked, in a dangerous situation or when we feel out of control our amygdala hijacks our body and kicks in our defense system or fight, flight or freeze system. And that cuts off contact with our higher thinking brain. In the worst case scenario, seeing red. We need to think if we are going to control our anger.
One of the best ways to gain thinking control is to do breath slowly and deeply. Now I don’t mean count to ten in the traditional way. Because when we do that we are usually breathing high in the chest and thinking about all the things we want to say after the 10 – 12345678910 “you w****r!” I mean breath rhythmically.
Rhythmic breathing helps us regulate our pulse and empower our thinking brain. Rhythm breathing is about breathing for equal counts so for example 6 / 6 out or if you want to count to ten then do 5 in and 5 out. Always make a little pause between breaths and you will engage your thinking brain within a couple of breaths within 3 minutes. You will actually be at your optimal pulse rate for your best thinking performance.
This comes in two parts:
Triggers – One of the most important things to know is to be aware of what triggers you. Especially if you are a firecracker like me. Being aware of your triggers allows you to be prepared so the ‘attack’ doesn’t trigger a full amygdala hijack. So know your trigger and make a plan beforehand on how to deal with them.
Curiosity –This is even more important. In order to tame that temper you need to create awareness of where it really comes from. Anger, after that first 2 seconds is always about us. It might be a frustration, it might be a self esteem issue, a negative opinion of yourself, you may even be reacting to a previous trauma which the current situation reminds you of not the actual situation you are in now. Reactions come from us, no-one else. So ask yourself why? Why does this affect me? Where does this come from?
Not managing anger, allowing it to control us, is very often because we don’t express anger healthily – Whether we stuff our anger or explode. Taking the hard conversation is something we all try and avoid. And that just compounds frustration, resentment, bitterness making the next argument worse. Articulating it in a non confrontation way. In studies UCL proved that by naming the emotion you are feeling it calms down the physiological response and calms down the amygdala hijack. So notice what you are thinking and name it, outloud. I Feel anger, I feel tension. Then use that as your starting point for curiosity.
Now as I said before there is not a one fix solution to taming your temper. However Jay Shetty has a great video which explains 6 different types of anger and how to control them which really gives some powerful specific solutions. I highly recommend it.
Now apart from understanding that our brain only experiences anger for 2 seconds, remembering to be self aware, use rhythmic breathing to regain control of your thinking brain and making sure you are not just hangry and being curious about your anger there is something else that is really important that will help you with taming your temper.
And that is understanding that anger is actually your ally not your enemy.
Once we start to see anger as an ally not enemy we become in control
When we feel that 2 sec neurological flash of anger it is like a big Red Button from our body saying hey something is not right.
- Something has overstepped my boundaries.
- Something has triggered an old wound that needs healing
- Something is making me feel out of control
And anger interestingly doesn’t go away, even if we suppress it. It’s still there in the body.
The only way to deal with what anger brings up is to take action
- Anger reveals our boundaries
- Anger heals trauma
- Anger inspires action
Just remembering that holding on to anger is not good for us allows us to start wanting to find ways to control it.
Anger management is not about eliminating anger. We can’t. It is about working with it. Changing our physiology via breath control, changing our perspectives and becoming very aware of why our anger is happening and taking action to work with it as an ally are the keys to taming your temper.
What has helped you to tame your temper?
Let me know in the comments below
I hope this Life Lesson 101 brings you some insights. If it does than do let me know. I love to hear if this helps
I hope wherever you are today that you are enjoying your life’s journey because that is truly what it is all about
If you would like some help to tame your temper or any other life coaching during this challenging COVID time. Check out Emma-Jane’s special gift card for 2 sessions for less than the price of one. To help you take charge of your life despite Coronavirus.