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Anger

 

As with other emotions like fear, anxiety and trauma, anger triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response in the sympathetic nervous system.   Unbridled anger can contribute to heart disease and other related illnesses; it can savage relationships, and lead to regrettable choices and behaviors.

Anger plays an important role in our lives.  It alerts us when something is wrong; it gives us a surge of energy.  Learning to harness the energy of anger allows the healthy expression of this  perplexing and dynamic emotion.

Be honest with yourself.   This requires that you dig deeper.  What is underneath the anger you are feeling: fear, self-loathing, hurt, chronic unhappiness, perfectionism, intolerance, isolation, injustice?  Is your anger response appropriate to the circumstance?

Interrupt anger.  Step back from the situation, emotionally; literally if necessary.  Be aware.  Practice not allowing your anger to escalate.  Slow yourself down.  Breathe!

Exercise.  Take a walk; clean a closet, rake some leaves, do some jumping jacks, laugh.   Movement and laughter help diffuse the physical effects of anger.

Take action.  Once truly  past the episode, decide upon a course of action.  This may mean confronting a friend, loved one or co-worker.  Do it with love and compassion.

Forgive.  We are all human.  Forgiving does not mean forgetting.  If anger  arises from a toxic dynamic, forgetting  sets the stage for the game of uproar to escalate.  Forgiving yourself and the other party allows for different choices.

Anger is not weakness.  Anger is not bad or good.  Anger can motivate us to greatness; think Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Successfully harnessing the power of anger, being able to direct anger toward positive use, requires learning to control anger, rather than having anger control you.

 

 

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