Posted by: Suzan | September 24, 2019

Healthy Ways to Express Anger and Feel More at Peace

anger quote 2 9-24-19

I gaze out of the large picture window in my living room to witness a bunny and community of quail nibbling on the grass and cacti. Circling above Mission Trails Park is a Red-Tailed Hawk, now swooping down for its prey.  Life seems good, that is, until I later get into my car, turn on NPR, and listen to the news.

Commentaries range from potential threats of nuclear war to discrimination against immigrants, blatant racism, senseless murders, a divisive political system, and more. Underneath this raging torrent of negativity I believe lies deep, unresolved anger within those responsible for the atrocities and wrongdoings. Perhaps people not feeling seen or heard by others lash out. It’s so complicated. I find myself pulled in by my need to “know” and repelled by a stronger need to feel at peace.

Approaching a yellow light close to turning red at a large intersection, I stop. The car behind me swerves around screeching. The car stops and the driver stares at me while wagging his middle finger shouting “F— You.”

I point at the red light and yell “F— You. Red light!” We both are in need of centering yet I’m left with, “What has happened to our world when the norm now seems to run the yellow/red lights?” Where is our civility?” This driver also became a mirror reflecting the deep anguish I already feel.

In a world gone awry, how do we express our anger in a more positive way? It’s critical for our health to get our anger outside of us rather than allow it to fester inside. Otherwise it’s like a volcanic inferno which may one day explode. In the book, Childhood Disrupted, How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal, it mentions when someone does not express anger and instead turns it inward – depression and/or other physical illnesses can result. The book recommends writing about stressful experiences for healing. Research studies showed when people did this they went to the doctor less and showed positive changes in immune function. Writing, or journaling, is a way to release pent up emotional pain, which when repressed can create ill health–and perhaps also lead to acting out in ways which can harm others.

Here are 7 healthy ways to express anger adapted from Psychology Today:

  • Play sports like soccer, pickle ball, volleyball or whatever your preference. You can also buy a punching bag to hang in your home or lift some weights.
  • Write out your anger (again as mentioned before – get it out and onto the paper for more relief)!
  • Sing your anger. Select some songs which reflect best how you’re feeling and sing along. You can also write your own lyrics.
  • Dance out your anger. Choose music which helps you get more in touch with how you’re feeling and then move your body in whatever way it would like to move. Be mindful of any physical limitations you may have so you don’t get injured.
  • Draw or paint your anger. Use colors, colored pencils, or paints (finger paints work really well for this), use a sketch pad, butcher paper or whatever you like to express yourself. This is not about creating fine art – it’s about allowing whatever shows up.
  • Verbalize your anger with a gestalt technique. You can pound some pillows on your bed or a sofa imagining them to be the person or situation you’re frustrated with. You can also put a chair across from you. Talk to the chair about what you’re angry about. Talk to it and scream at it.
  • Calmly talk with the person you’re angry with. Once you have used one of the above techniques and feel more grounded, you can then talk with the person you’re angry with. Make sure you can speak with a calm demeanor before you initiate this. Let the person know why you’re angry and explore ways to resolve the situation and to not allow it to happen again.

Finally, remember this famous quote by Buddha:

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

 

 


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