Anger is like a destructive bacteria growing everywhere; you don’t see it coming until it’s too late. It’s in our homes, our workplaces, and every store we step foot into. You can’t go anywhere these days without hearing a mom yell at her kids or witness a disgruntled driver flip the bird to an old lady who accidentally pulled out in front of him. In fact, you may have even been that mom or driver. Whether we are the ones who are angry or the recipients of the heated emotion, we can all honestly say that nothing good usually comes of it.
Analyze Your Actions
Try, for just a moment, to remember the last time you got angry with someone. How did you communicate your feelings? How did they respond? Do you regret your actions? How could you have acted differently? These questions are simply to get you thinking about how this negative emotion can rule if you let it. Truth be told, we can always improve our communication with others.
The Opposite of Anger is Empathy
Because anger is a valid feeling, I am not saying don’t ever be angry. God knows that would not be possible for most. What I am saying, however, is be angry, just don’t do something you will regret later. Stop and think before you act; it just might save you a whole lot of heartache later. According to health and wellness gurus, Drs. Roizen and Oz, “the opposite of anger is empathy.” Empathy is defined as the intellectual identification with or vicariously experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. Though it’s difficult to imagine having empathy for someone who just hurt you in some way, Roizen and Oz strongly suggest that it’s just the key we need to overcome anger. “Doing the opposite of what you think you should do works in the area of anger and stress,” they said. “The cure to calming down is to take a moment and think about why that person may have done something to you.” What if that old lady who pulled out in front of you just lost her husband and was a little distracted as she drove to the funeral home.
Meditation: The Way to Peace
Think about that for a moment; if we could actually feel what someone else is experiencing, then maybe we wouldn’t act or react so hastily with anger. Truthfully, we don’t really know what is going on in the lives of those around us. Therefore, it’s not easy to know when our anger is truly justified. So if mind reading is not the norm for the masses then what do we do?
One key to balancing your emotions is keeping calm and focused throughout the day. Set aside a few moments each day to meditate. No, you don’t have to do the whole lotus position on the floor thing. Just sit alone somewhere quiet (if you can) and breathe deeply. Imagine with every inhale you are drawing in new, vibrant energy, and with every exhale, you are ridding yourself of harmful emotions and toxins. Think about a place that naturally brings peace to mind, a stream slowly cascading over a waterfall, seagulls flying over the beach, a vast forest of pine trees. Nature scenes work for me; you may have a completely different idea of peace and tranquility.
Most of us are not prepared for daily conflict when it shows its ugly head. That is why we often lash out or treat others with disrespect. Consider meditation as preventative therapy. The spiritual benefits to quiet time go a long way in keeping you connected to your feelings. Also, make an effort to get some form of exercise. A brisk walk does wonders for stress relief and a cluttered mind.
Get a Clue About Your Anger
Listening to what people are saying is a good way to get a clue about how you are treating others. My children said, “stop yelling at me” all the time. My response would be “I’m not yelling at you.” After months of this, I finally decided to listen to myself when I spoke to the children. To my surprise, I had been speaking to them in a much louder and firmer voice than I thought I was. I deducted that it was my way of asserting authority. Well, interestingly enough, when I stopped yelling (talking loud and firm) they started responding with much more respect and kindness.
Help Is Out There
If you find it difficult to stop a negative cycle of anger, you may need to seek professional guidance to get started. Anger management programs take you through a series of exercises and therapies that enable you to recognize your triggers and deep-set issues. Of course, not everyone needs this type of help; most will make improvement by simply changing a few bad habits. Try these simple steps for anger management:
- Get enough rest; when you are tired you are much more likely to react with anger.
- Get at least 20 minutes of exercise three times a week.
- Set aside a few minutes a day to meditate.
- Analyze how you react in different situations.
- Be honest with yourself about your emotions.
- Before responding to someone, take a moment to reflect on why they might have acted the way they did.
- Don’t assume that someone is out to get you. There may be a logical explanation for their actions.
- Talk openly about your feelings before they simmer too long. Bottling up anger leads to much worse problems in the long run.
- Remember, any improvement is good. Praise yourself for the victories!
Seek professional help if you your anger is out of control; hurting others and yourself is not acceptable. You might be depressed or experiencing some form of chemical imbalance that is causing heightened emotions. A doctor’s advice is crucial in these cases. Whatsgoodaboutanger.com is a great resource for anyone who needs support in ending anger management problems. Also, if you are a victim of domestic violence, please tell someone before it’s too late. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Resource: Health for Women magazine, issue #4
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