I Feel Angry! A Few Tips for Managing Your Anger
Like all of our emotions, anger has an evolutionary purpose. It’s adaptive function is to protect us, or get us ready to defend ourselves. If you think of anger as an “approach emotion” it kind of makes sense right?
Imagine being physically attacked by a predator or having your hard hunted dinner stolen by it…it may be useful to have an emotion that fuels you to fight and defend yourself! Now, this example may appear outdated, but let’s look at it from a modern perspective.
Enter 2022. You show up for your third interview for a dream job position. You are overqualified, have many years of experience and you personally know the interviewer. After you crush the interview, you wait. For weeks. Until you decide to call the interviewer. Repeatedly. Finally, her secretary picks up and lets you know the position was filled weeks ago.
Your blood boils. Your fists clench. You might even have a tension headache. You are just pissed. The anger welling up inside of you threatens to explode into a fit you may regret later.
Instead, you remember what you went over with your therapist. You drink some cool water. Go for a walk. Cry your eyes out. And get back to searching. You remind yourself that every closed door redirects you toward your purpose. If it did not open, it’s not your door.
You have thus channeled an unpleasant emotion into motivation to improve your lifestyle.
So the point is this: you don’t have to resent your anger. You don’t have to stuff it down. Or, worse, let it run you into making poor decisions you will regret later. Instead, understand it. What is it defending you from? What threat does it perceive?
Once you can answer that question, switch from your primal mind to your solution mind.
I know. It’s hard. It takes work, especially if you are used to acting on impulse. But with mindfulness work, and the support of a trained professional, you can go from resenting your anger or overindulging it, to channeling it for a better version of yourself.
Photo credit: Tanya Grypachevskaya @stilltane4ka