Anger is an emotion we are entitled to simply because we are human. But, who does it serve? Does it help us move through stages of grief, maybe? Does it move us to take up arms or change the world as a group? Certainly. When is anger healthy and when isn't it? That's something we each decide as we approach experiences that trigger anger.
What if you find yourself in a pattern of anger? What if anger arises at smaller things- annoying personality traits of your partner, your children, your coworkers, strangers as they drive? What if you find yourself angry because you missed the bus or were charged the wrong price on something you purchased? What if anger persists and rumbles below the surface of your skin... and while the world thinks you are fine, you hold onto that anger until it erupts later- much to the surprise of onlookers?
If we begin to think of anger- not as a punishment to the person we are angry with- but as a punishment to ourselves, we can begin to look at that emotion with more curiosity. Is it helping us take action in some way- to make a decision or change that will ultimately benefit ourselves or others? If so, listen to that anger and begin to notice it's pattern. Maybe there are triggers your loved ones need to know about. Maybe that trigger is something you could gently cup your hands around- like a restless bird beneath your ribcage. Maybe through acknowledgement, you could guide that bird to the surface of your skin where it can transition through the outermost layer and fly away.
If that anger is something festering and poisonous, that when you release it- it hurts others, there maybe more you need to do. Maybe there is a transition that needs to occur or some healthier habits you can create- like vents- to allow the anger to seep out of planned passageways. I love the "Roaring Breath" ritual Kyle Gray writes about in one of his books,
In this practice from Kriya yoga from southern India, you get into cobra pose, but instead of breathing in with force, you breathe out with force. It will give you a funny image in your mind if you picture yourself doing this. Here are the steps Kyle describes:
Kyle also recommends you do this in a quiet space where you won't startle a person or a fur baby.
As a general rule, I am not person who holds much anger but when I do, nothing will work as quickly or effectively as a good run or tough workout. Some experts warn that you should warm up slowly when really angry so your heart rate doesn't climb to quickly, but a good sweat session can work wonders for moving you through that venom. Even better- a good sweat session planned into your week at regular intervals can help you over the long haul.
Last, mindfulness is the practice of observing the present moment, inserting a pause before reaction so that you can evaluation, and then responding rather than reacting to a stimulus. Sitting in silence and paying attention to the breath as it rolls into your nostrils, fills your chest or lifts your stomach can be simple ways to begin to notice yourself in the present moment. Each day becomes "practice" as you more and more regularly find yourself aware of your body, thoughts, and emotions in action throughout your day. Practice doesn't have to involve breath, but can also involve attention to sights, sounds, or scents. You can practice walking- noticing the sensation of the ground under your feet and counting over and over to 10.
If you find yourself angry at yourself for repeated thoughts, reactions or mistakes, it's a good idea to share your anger with someone you trust. Working through this challenging emotion is not something you have to face alone. Don't punish yourself longer than you have to. Free yourself. Let anger go.