The other day I got...angry. And I didn't necessarily react in the most appropriate way. Although I had a right to feel frustrated and hurt, as I was in a fight, I lashed out, slammed doors, stomped around, and fled the scene.
It was not my brightest moment.
Of course, I won't go into detail what happened, but I can assure you that I don't get angry often. In fact, I'm usually that girl who, if anything, smiles awkwardly and nods until tension calms down.
But that fight brought out a different side of me.
As I cooled down from the argument, I began wondering how one can manage their anger or frustration not only before it occurs but while it's happening, when it has already taken over.
It was never my intention to feel so mad or frustrated over something simple, but I can honestly say that I don't remember anything I said or did while angry, and that's the scariest thing. It felt as though my instincts kicked in and took control, as though I was enduring legitimate danger and needed protection.
When we get angry, our testosterone levels rise, our heartbeat races, arterial tension increases, and cortisol, our stress hormone, decreases. People are more likely to get angry or are quicker to anger when they are already bored, sad, or feeling neglected/deprived of recognition. The anger remains when the feelings getting across to the other people, or if they feel as though the situation is not their fault. Therefore, they must stand their ground and remain angry.
It's not a bad thing to be angry. It's absolutely normal for people to feel like they want to explode now and again. Of course, it becomes a problem when it occurs every day and is followed by physical responses, but anger or heated frustration every so often is a perfectly normal human response to situations where we feel on-guard, hurt, in danger, or when we can't reach something.
With this new era of self-care, slowing down, and calming our minds, no one really talks about anger anymore, especially not with women. We may joke about it, see it in reality tv or in movies, but anger seems to have a strangely negative connotation in the sense that we can never be mad, frustrated--we must be calm, cool and collected.
This is not one of those blog posts that tells you to restrain your anger and push it down. According to real positive psychology, pushing down hurt and frustration causes more damage than releasing anger on someone.
It's important to listen to our intuition and validate the anger or frustration we feel as humans. We're not supposed to remain calm and collected at all times.
In this blog post, I will help you figure out what to do, when you're suddenly in an argument, feeling nauseous but standing a little taller and tightening your fists anyway. You don't want to be there, but you do want to be there because oddly enough, anger can feel good, it can feel powerful.
I will talk about what you do to control the anger and frustration or manage it without acting irrationally, without saying something you'll regret and without throwing things and acting like Jan in the "Dinner Party" episode.
1. Understand that it's perfectly okay to be angry
Your emotions deserved to be validated, whether they're happy emotions or angry emotions. Feel the anger within you, and allow it to be there. For some reason or another, your body felt threatened or attacked, and your amazing reflexes acted on it. Carry this thought with you, always.
Never beat yourself up over natural human emotions. You could be the calmest, happiest girl, just like me, and still, find yourself angry.
Listen to your body, your racing heartbeat, and remember that your body is protecting you. You may even thank your body for its sharp reaction to a threat.
This way, your outlook on your anger will be different.
2. Revaluate the situation
Let's say a normal conversation somehow escalated into a fight due to miscommunication, or your computer shut down and destroyed every file, or your parents said a sly comment to you over the phone. You get the point--there are many ways one can end up angry or frustrated.
But, if you're so angry you're furious, trembling all over and ready to scream, maybe stop and revaluate the situation. Understand that it's okay to feel the way you feel, but maybe we can turn it down a bit.
Don't push the anger down, but don't release it all on someone or something just yet--not until you truly know what's happening.
Maybe say some gratitude, note what is going right for you at this moment, as hard as it may be, or tell the person you're arguing with that you need some space before arguing. Maybe you need to walk away from your computer and try to fix it later when you're level-headed.
You may be angry because of A, but there could be many other factors at play as well. Maybe it's not only A, but a combination of A, B, C, and D. If this makes sense.
It's never as bad as it seems. Trust me.
3. Figure out if you're actually angry, or triggered
When I took myself away from the situation, I realized that a lot of my anger derived from past triggers and hurts that had nothing to do with what was actually happening.
I'm working on a post right now regarding releasing the past and healing, but until then, I'll say now that it's important to know how to release past experiences and separate them from the now. We can learn from the past, but each person and issue will be different than the ones before, and while you may have been hurt in the past, you don't have to be hurt now.
You can choose how you feel at this moment.
If you find yourself seriously pissed off beyond your control and you're not sure why, it's most likely a trigger, your body's way of putting up a wall and protecting you. This is a sign that you may have some past experiences to dig up and heal through
Remember to release the past hurts, and approach this problem as a new problem because it is one. By looking at this problem as one problem on its own, it may not seem as drastic.
4. Walk away and cool down
If you've already reacted, it's not too late. Whether you're by yourself or with someone, escape to go cool down. Sit in meditation and take some deep breathes, maybe brew some stress relief tea, and simply ease your mind before reacting. Maybe journal it out, or record yourself ranting (that helps me sometimes).
You don't want to say or do something you'll regret.
Even though your blood is boiling and your face is read and your stomach is all knotted and doing this feels immensely impossible, trust me--you can do it. Walk away and take this time to relax, sit in silence, then face your problems with a level head.
If the other person is not letting you walk away and cool down as they want to argue right then and there (which happened to me), either leave entirely to go for a drive, perhaps, or shut the door and ignore them until you are both calm.
It's difficult, but it works. You're not you when you're angry.
5. Sweat it out
A lot of anger and frustration can be released through working out. Working out can help improve your overall mood and can help balance your emotions. A good sweat or even a calming stretch can help release tension and pent-up anger so that you go back to feeling more you.
If journaling or meditating isn't doing it for you, get your body moving in some way to release those endorphins before arguing your heart out.
6. Talk it out in a calm manner
At the beginning of this post, I stated that it's okay to be angry and it's okay to lead with your feelings and emotions. But, when you work the issue out while angry, it can cause the other person to act on the defense and make it worse, as I've learned.
Make sure that both you and the other person/people have calmed down and are approaching each other with kind words and listening ears. Share your side, let them share there's, and avoid accusing them, blaming them, or putting them on the defense. This way, you can avoid a future argument.
Of course, if you'd rather avoid them for a bit, not talk it out, or cut them out entirely, that's your decision. I've had to do this before, especially when the other person is purposely being hurtful and it's not a trigger I'm experiencing.
When you talk it out with the person who may have caused the issue, it can help you see their side, which may level-out the situation. Stay true to how you feel, and don't let your guard down, but, you know... make sure you aren't screaming at each other. Listen, and be kind to one another, whether they're a friend, family member, coworker, or roommate.
It never feels good to have grudges (trust me, I'd know), so in my humble opinion, it's better to talk it out (in a calm manner) sooner than later or never. If the other person is up to it, give it a try.
7. Hold yourself accountable, and don't hold on to your anger
The other night, I thought hard about the fight I had. Although I had talked it out, the anger and the "I was in the right" circled my mind. As I thought harder, I remembered plenty of other times when I had gotten angry and yelled and thought I was in the right.
I then realized that everyone thinks they are in the right, and that's the big issue with arguments.
If you did get angry and lash out, admit it to yourself--hold yourself accountable. This will help you stop from lashing out in future arguments as well as release potential stubbornness or pent-up anger. While it's normal to experience anger or feel hurt, it's never okay to yell, criticize, or be rude, then fall back on your anger.
Don't beat yourself up, either. Once you've talked it out, fixed your computer, etc., release your remaining anger through various practices that work for you, then learn from what happened.
Every situation, good or bad, is a life lesson in disguise.
Maybe its time to heal from the past. Or maybe its time to work on anger problems. Or maybe its time to start doing the dishes to avoid those weekly arguments. Whatever the case, take what you can from your anger, and move on.
Related posts you may enjoy ~
When I go through tough times, I love to make little lists of things than I can learn from them going forward. So here presented is a little list that I know will help me when faced with frustration.
So I do hope this post helped you find clarity in the midst of anger or has offered you some valuable advice for the future!
How often do you find yourself angry or frustrated? What do you do about it? How do you manage those feelings? How do you release them?
Have a wonderful rest of your evening!