Anger is a natural human emotion, and we all experience it from time to time. However, it can sometimes feel like the world is becoming an angrier place every day, whether at work, on the roads, or even in our closest relationships. It can be hard to know where to draw the line between a normal reaction, and one that is destructive to ourselves and others.
In some situations, anger can be useful and even necessary. It’s a powerful emotion, that we all need to feel sometimes. For example, when our primitive ‘fight or flight’ instincts are activated, it can provide the adrenaline rush needed to defend ourselves, or get us out of a dangerous situation.
Anger is also a natural reaction to hurt feelings, for example, when we feel we have been deceived or unfairly treated. It can provide the impetus to change or move on from a negative situation.
So, although suppressing or numbing our ability to get angry altogether is a bad idea, learning how to handle the heat can be very useful. The first step is to realise the difference between destructive and helpful anger. If you are getting angry on a regular basis, and expressing it through aggressive behaviours, then it is a sign that your anger is not well managed.
Aggression may take the form of outward violence or abuse towards others, whether verbally or physically. Some people don’t realise that aggression can also be expressed internally, in the form of self-harm, substance abuse, eating disorders, or social isolation. It can also take the form of passive aggression, for example, sarcasm or sulking.
Any of these behaviours can have serious implications for ourselves and others, and it’s important to address them. Studies have shown that mindfulness is one of the best techniques for learning to control our anger. It can help you access the more compassionate feelings we need to counter the built-up tension and aggression.
A key part of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy is learning to use and become more aware of the breath. This allows more oxygen to reach your brain, and gives you the mental space to centre yourself, and learn to view your emotions in a more detached and objective light.
It can also help you develop a stronger awareness of the relationship between your body and your emotions. For example, when you are becoming angry, you may notice that your heartbeat speeds up, your breathing becomes shallow, your jaw clenches, or your shoulders become tense.
Mindfulness techniques can take a lot of patience and discipline to master on your own. It’s a skill that requires practice, but it can reap continual rewards throughout your life once you have developed a good understanding of how to make it work for you.
Many people find they make much more significant progress after some sessions with a trained Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapist, to help them fully tap into the potential of the mindfulness toolkit. If you think that you would benefit from talking to a mindful therapist based in London, please get in touch today.