Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.
– Mark Twain
We all feel this emotion, it is a part of being human. For some of us it’s more intense than others. For some it completely takes over “enter the hulk”. So what effect does this emotion actually do to us and how can we best manage this fiery passion?
Scientific studies have shown that anger can cause severe damage to your health and if not managed or released in a healthy way, it can have serious long term effects on your body and mind.
Imagine for just a moment that we’re able to see your emotions as something that you are experiencing and not something that you are. Imagining that you are the witness of these feelings and that as a witness you get to choose how you respond to them. This is possible and you do have the power to experience things differently. You are not a puppet on a string at the mercy of anger or any other impulses. You are in control of your state of mind!
But why would you want to control your anger? It has been scientifically proven that repetitive or chronic anger increases blood pressure and the risk of a heart attack. When you are angry you also produce hormones that increase the amount of glucose and fatty acids in your blood and damage your arteries over time. Research also shows that one five-minute episode of anger can impair your immune system for more than six hours. It is also believed that if not managed, anger could manifest as disease in the body.
The longer you let negative emotions control the state of your body and mind, the more power you give away and the more you will suffer.
I know all too well what it feels like to fall victim to my own anger. When I first adopted a vegan lifestyle in the wake of becoming conscious about the way animals were being exploited and the pure lack of consideration being shown towards the animals and us humans by the unscrupulous food industries, I became angry. I couldn’t bare the fact that I was living in a world where such cruelty is normal and as a result I started to resent the food industries, meat eaters, retailers and ignorant consumers (my own friends and family included) for their choices and lack of concern. This anger became a part of who I was. I would protest at every opportunity and was a force to be reckoned with at every meal.
Despite this, the world carried on completely unchanged by my disdain; my friends and family went about in their normal way and all that happened was that I was left carrying this burden. All I was doing was hurting myself and my anger was not solving anything.
Through time, I learned to soften and let go. This does not mean that I stopped caring rather that I changed my perspective and thus my approach. I carried on staying true to this core belief but instead of focusing on the anger I organically started to focus on living healthily and sustain-ably. As time passed, my health improved, I lost weight, my skin looks better and I became a stronger, more balanced, happier and more energetic person. The changes in my choice of lifestyle did not go unnoticed. All of a sudden the people around me started to become more conscious about their lifestyle and even started to seek out more information about the subject that before was considered absolutely taboo. By focusing the energy that was fuelling the anger on creating change I did change but the anger itself had no effect besides causing me suffering.
If you experience anger then please recognise that there is passion there. You are experiencing the drive to act towards something you believe in. How you act towards this and how you channel this core emotion is up to you.
Anger and love are like two inseparable flames intertwined in a dance. Without the desire to protect what you either believe in or care about, there can be no anger. And to protect comes from a place of love. Feed the love, fuel it and create true meaningful change.
If we believe strongly that something is unfair or that we need to fight for justice I invite you to take a moment to see what positive action you can take to work towards that change with grace. Do not be so quick to punish yourself with anger in the hopes that by some miracle someone will be able to feel what is going on inside your mind. Nobody will ever feel your emotions but you.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Working with anger and being proactive with it can be a challenge. Meditation can really help; this practice will buy you so much time between that dreaded catalyst and you exploding uncontrollably.
The following steps may also be helpful for you:
Take the time to identify your triggers. If you know something is a trigger for you, then you will be able to manage that situation much better.
Before you do anything else, take a deep breath. Understand that your body is reacting biologically as well as emotionally. As you breathe deeply, your heart rate will slow down and you’ll turn down the heat. Giving yourself time to respond will always work in your favor. You absolutely do have the ability to control and defuse your anger.
Whatever action you take, let it be conscious and not just a spontaneous action that you might regret afterwards.
You could try asking yourself a few simple questions:
-What is the catalyst?
-Why does it make me feel angry?
-What action am I going to take (if any)?
-What result will my action have?
Take the time to look at the outcome. Anger and highly passionate moments can stay in our subconscious for years to come. Taking the time to understand and assess can help you better understand yourself and your passion. We all deal with similar emotions, thus reflection is not something you need to do by yourself. Share, vent, cry, exercise, create music or art as a way of processing. Just make sure you give whatever you are feeling time to be felt and to come out.
Always be kind to yourself.