Some of my clients have been managing a lot of anger lately. Anger at those who have harmed them, anger at themselves...sometimes we don't even know wtf we're angry at, we're just pissed at the world. I have even been known to text a friend and say "I hate everything". But really....what's an effective way to feel this shit and move forward? Here's some things to try.
- Acknowledge You're Mad
As with any emotion, the first step in dealing with it is just to acknowledge it. Recognize anger when it comes up, and don't try to push it away. Make some room for it. It's not going to bite you. As ladies, we were likely taught at some point in our lives that anger is unattractive, uncalled for, and not for good girls. Maybe we were told that it wasn't ok to be angry, or that our anger wasn't justified. So now as adult people, we have to learn to be close to our anger and allow it. Anger is a healthy emotion, just like joy. Like all emotions, anger is a signal to us (it's our job to read the signal and respond) and anger usually has a physiological response in our bodies. Notice what anger feels like in your body: where do you feel it? Is is burn-y? Hot? Itchy? Tight in the chest? Don't worry, we're going to talk about what do it with it once you let it in the room in a hot minute.
2. Dissect & Unfold
Think about WHY you're feeling this way. Is there a triggering event or person? Realize that sometimes, anger is what we therapists like to call a "secondary emotion". There's usually some emotion underneath anger, a wound or some pain. Anger can be our first response, an emotional method of self protection. The mind is all "I'm angry, so I'm not going to let myself get hurt". It can be helpful to write out what you're feeling, at who or what, and why. This not only allows us to dive further into step 1, but also lets us uncover more about this feeling and peel away the layers. Sometimes I even help clients do this part in session, so we can talk about it and let the feeling hang out with us in a safe space. If you're not in therapy (WHYYYYY!!!???), maybe you have a good friend you can talk to as well.
3. Manifest it Physically
Do not let this anger fester inside you. Find a physical way to get it OUT. Again, as ladies, we are usually not allowed to do this. Little boys are sometimes even encouraged to be physical regarding their anger, but us chicks, no WAY. I'm not saying get out there and kick someone's ass. Instead, get curious about some safe ways to physically release this feeling. Some examples of healthy anger releases are kickboxing class, screaming into your pillow, running, beating up your bed or couch, loud angry music (think "Rage Against The Machine"), throwing ice outside (oddly satisfying because it shatters), or smashing old dishes/pottery (with appropriate safety goggles of course). I have even learned in yoga that Roaring Lion pose is good when you're batshit pissed (side note: you may end up laughing to hard at yourself, you kinda forget you're so angry). It might sound stupid, but I encourage you to give it a try and see what feels right.
When we release these feelings, they can't hold us hostage any longer. Does doing these things mean we'll never be angry again? Nope. Anger will come back. Maybe even about the same issue or the same person. But it's ok, you have a process now, and you don't have to fear this feeling. You got this.