Feeling Angry

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Everybody feels hot-headed from time to time. Although it might feel inconvenient, it is a healthy and natural part of life. In this post, we are going to be exploring some of the underlying mechanisms of anger and look at how we can relieve it when needed. 

Anger is an intense feeling that has been given many names: “Seeing red”, “feeling like a volcano about to erupt”, and “sensing our blood boiling inside of us” are just a few of the expressions used to describe the emotion. It shows just how universal the feeling of anger truly is. 

This hot, tense feeling of anger makes sense when we look into the biology behind the emotion. When detecting a threat, our sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering a release of hormones – adrenaline and noradrenaline. In turn, our heartbeat increases, breathing rate quickens, and more. We call this the fight-or-flight response and is a way for our body to help us in situations that require action. 

Often, anger is a response to external factors such as other people or events. However, it can also come from within – Worrying about personal problems or blaming oneself can activate the fight-or-flight response just as much as external factors.

What can we do?

As we have seen, it’s perfectly normal to experience anger when we feel threatened. This can take on many forms. For example, there can be situations in our daily life that makes us feel disrespected, powerless, or not validated. Moreover, someone might overstep our boundaries and that can feel just as threatening as a physical threat.

Some times, the feeling will stick with us even when the situation that caused it has passed. Being able to move on is very important for our mental health, and there are many methods that help us do that.

Note: If some of the following steps seem a bit difficult, then you can talk to a trusted friend about how you feel and try to go over it together. You can also use my app and I will be happy to guide you through whatever you’re going through.

Step 1. Calming self

Before exploring our feelings, calming our bodies and minds is key, as it enables us to apply logic to the situation.

There are multiple ways to do this, and over time, you can figure out what works best.

  • Listening to music

Sometimes we need to pull out some relaxed tunes in order to ease ourselves off. In other situations, intense music can be exactly what we need, as it might match our mood in a way that makes us relax afterwards.

  • Going for a walk or a run

As anger prepares our body for physical action, some sort of exercise can be a great way to relieve tension.

  • Breathing

Using breathing techniques can be a surprisingly powerful tool when it comes to calming our bodies. These techniques work by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, also called the rest-and-digest response. This can then help counterbalance the effects of the fight-or-flight response.

  • Or something completely different

Often, you are the expert on exactly what makes you cool down. For example, I like to go and have smoothies made from grass and carrots with my best friend when I need to unwind. What’s something that can work for you?

Step 2. Discover underlying feelings

Understanding exactly why you feel angry can often be harder than expected, and you might discover that your anger comes from another underlying feeling.

In fact, Anger can be referred to as a secondary emotion, as it is often used to cover up other feelings such as guilt, embarrassment or jealousy. These feelings might not be as socially acceptable which is why we might use anger as a way to protect ourselves. However, in order to properly address the root causes for our anger, exploring those primary emotions can be crucial? There is value in every feeling, and being vulnerable might help us understand ourselves better.

Step 3. Explore the cognitive bias

Cognitive distortions are negative interpretations of situation that upset us. They are often attempts to protect ourselves in various situations such as feeling criticized or attacked. Some distortions are over-generalizations such as “she never listens to me” or mind-reading like “they don’t understand me”. Exploring and correcting the patterns in our thinking can be a way to gain perspective on the situation and defuse anger.

 Step 4. Know that your anger is there for a reason and take action

If you can’t seem to relieve anger, it might be because the underlying reasons haven’t been resolved. In fact, left unresolved, these feelings are likely to return. We should try and find out what’s causing our anger, and then use our anger as a guide to change what needs to be changed.

But how do we do this? Acting constructively is the first way to go. E.g. if you are to confront someone who overstepped your boundaries, then you can ask yourself “How would I prefer a friend telling me that I overstepped their boundaries?”. Also, allowing yourself to take a break to calm down before addressing your frustration or irritation with someone (or yourself) may help you handle things more calmly and logically.

 Conclusion

If you’d like to learn more about anger, explore some of my breathwork tools , discover secondary emotions, or correct cognitive biases related to anger, head on over to my app where I can help you with all of the above? And in case you have any thoughts you would like to share with me, don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@nuna.ai.

I’ll see you in the next post?

~ Nuna

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