Feelings of anger are normal. Everybody has them; some more than others and at varying stages and intensities of life. Unresolved anger however, is harmful to our bodies physically, mentally and spiritually.
In times of stress, which is when our body reacts in a negative way physically or emotionally to an outside influence, we release hormones. Hormones influence the function of cells and tissues throughout our bodies. Our two long acting stress hormones are dehydroepiandrosterone (dhea) and cortisol. Dhea has a building influence while cortisol has a tearing down effect. Dhea helps to regulate energy levels, metabolism and reproductive functions. Cortisol helps regulate blood pressure, the immune system and helps the body digest food. Both hormones are needed for optimal health but must be kept in balance.
During extended times of stress the body produces less dhea and more cortisol. Due to the build-up, even after the stressful situation has passed, the body doesn’t return to producing normal levels of the hormones but remains in high stress response mode. Cortisol aids in the digestion of food by sending messages to the liver to produce bile in the gall bladder. High cortisol levels increase bile production which results in a system overload. An acidic environment is created in your body as bile moves from the gall bladder to the small intestine and then to the stomach, causing physical discomfort. Anger is not just an emotion, it impacts us physically.
Be assertive – learn to deal with your anger in a positive way
As humans we are emotional creatures, prone to feelings of sadness, hurt, frustration and anger. Focusing on these negative emotions on a daily basis creates a toxic environment not only in our physical bodies but in our mindsets, too. No one wants to feel like they are inadequate or that they are being used or taken advantage of and feelings of resentment can manifest quickly, giving way to anger in no time at all. You can take control of these feelings and learn to assertively confront them in a positive, healing way:
- Do not let your feelings define you. Instead of thinking ‘I am angry,’ understand that really ‘I feel angry’
- Believe in your right to feel. While feelings of anger are not positive, they exist for a reason. It’s your responsibility to find a way to release them
- Ignore the possibilities. What ifs help no one and removing the weight of imagined outcomes will make it easier for you
- Breathe. Ten deep breaths can calm you quicker than any words can
Move your way to a healthier mind, body and spirit
Physical activity is one of the easiest and most effective anger management techniques as it requires very little mental effort and no soul searching. On a chemical level, exerting your body physically releases endorphins in your brain, which are a natural feel good neurotransmitter. Just 30 minutes a day of light to moderate physical activity can make a noticeable impact on your mood, and keeping it up will also benefit your body physically, which will help increase your self-esteem and overall outlook on life.
Use your words – write your way to emotional freedom
When negative emotions are left unresolved, our unconscious mind creates a chain of memories to the unhappy event. Over time that builds up and feelings towards the negativity are strengthened, making them more and more difficult to break. The stresses caused to our body by unresolved anger are not only physical in their manifestations: heart disease, weakened immunity and cancers; and social: our relationships suffer as do our careers and personal development, but our mind and our spirit is impacted, too. One of the most effective ways of dealing with and the eventual healing of unresolved emotions is to keep a diary. Write everything down. Buy a journal or a notebook that will be used solely for the purpose of recording your thoughts; a place to safely vent your feelings. No one has to read your words, they are purely for you:
- Be specific. Record times, dates, people’s names. Words that have been said that aggravated you, acts or deeds or events that have infuriated you. The more detail you give, the less these thoughts will occupy your mind
- Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. No one is going to read your diary (unless you invite them to) or judge you. Just let the words flow
- Don’t sensor yourself. Be honest, even if it feels uncomfortable. The physical act of putting pen to paper and seeing your feelings and thoughts pour out is purging your soul of the anger and frustration
Let it go
One of the most challenging lessons we can learn is how to forgive someone who has hurt us. As sentient beings we have a tendency to hang on to past hurts and these can be difficult to let go of (I know I can hold a grudge!). It can be frustrating when the person that you are angry with doesn’t even realise that you are feeling angry; that no responsibility is accepted on their part. At the end of the day, the only person who is hurting by your anger is you. By learning to confront your anger demons, you can ultimately destroy them and let them go, moving on to a happier, healthier life:
- Focus on the anger – spend some quiet time reflecting on the moment, the person, the day and all that transpired in it to make you angry. Don’t spare any details: relive the moment in its entirety
- Understand that forgiveness is healing. It doesn’t relinquish power. Just because you forgive someone, that doesn’t mean you condone their words or actions. This is not about them. This is about you letting go of negative emotions
- Make the conscious decision to let go of the anger. If it is a person who has hurt you, decide either to rid yourself of their presence completely; or if it is a person you love, accept them for who they are. Understand that they are on their own path; they must take responsibility for their own emotions, as you are now doing
- If you need to, write them a letter. Put all the words, the feelings, the hurt and the anger onto paper. Vent until you feel calm, then burn the letter.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die” – Buddha
By choosing to let go of anger you are setting yourself free. Take responsibility for your actions and understand that you can’t change people, and nor should you want to. Decide not to hold on to negativity and anger and spend your energy and focus instead on love and healing and happiness.