Anger is a feeling. It is not logical, or illogical. It’s not rational, or irrational. It’s not negative, or positive. It’s none of these things, it’s just a feeling. Some feelings are more comfortable than others. Feeling happy is certainly more comfortable than feeling sad or angry. However, to be a fully emotionally healthy being we need to allow ourselves to feel the full gamut of emotions. The whole spectrum.
Our Feelings Need to be Expressed
The difference with anger is that some of us may express it in a way that is not helpful to us or others, or the way it is expressed may be inappropriate. When we feel angry, which is a natural emotional response, if we are yelling at someone, or lashing out, then we are expressing our “anger” inappropriately.
The key is not to manage or control our anger, it is to find a way to release it in a healthy, safe and appropriate way. Some say when we are angry we just need to count to ten, or think through what we are going to say before we say it. This does not really address the feeling itself.
Stuffing Your Feelings Could Lead to a Multitude of Emotional or Physical Distress
This method of dealing with anger is just pushing the anger aside, or inside, instead of allowing ourselves to feel it and discover a way of releasing it appropriately. This isn’t encouraging a release of anger onto the person we may be angry at, but rather to release it in a way that helps us feel better.
In Gestalt therapy, we utilize the “empty chair”. This is where we may visualize placing our father, mother, partner or boss to enable us to speak to them in an uncensored way, and thus release our anger. This allows us to move the anger out of our bodies.
For What Reasons Would You Try This Method?
- It is a safe, appropriate, and healthy way of releasing anger because no one is getting hurt emotionally or physically.
- It is appropriate because we are not attacking the person we may be angry with.
- It is emotionally healthy because we are not stuffing the anger, which could lead to emotional or physical illness.
Find a Sense of Calm and Peace
Our psychotherapy office has many physical vehicles for clients to express their anger. If someone needs to physically release their anger, a wavemaster filled with water is available to strike with a tennis racket, or a bataka bat.
We have found that using these tools for just a few minutes can help a person feel the anger leaving their body, releasing the charge, and then there is often a sense of calm and peace is acquired.
Try this the next time you feel angry at someone or something:
- Go to your bedroom where there is a soft mattress, or a room where there is a soft cushiony couch or chair
- Pound on the cushioned fabric
- Shout out loud, or in your head. Verbalize what you would like to say to the person you are angry with in an uncensored way
- Notice afterwards how you feel emotionally and physically.
A recent segment on Good Morning America discussed Anger Rooms or Rage Rooms. The rooms are meant to be therapeutic, offering the opportunity to schedule a time to physically break objects in a safe way, for a fee. The high demand for an opportunity to visit these rooms has validated many people’s need to discover a method to release their suppressed anger.
Many people experience an emotional release and healing through this method. For it to be most effective, it is important to integrate emotional release techniques into your daily living. If each time we feel annoyed or angry, we physically release it, the anger will not accumulate. The daily incorporation of other stress-reduction or relaxation techniques such as meditation, mindfulness and cognitive behavior therapy, help others deal with emotions in a less physical manner. If a person is feeling angry, however, the physical emotional release of it needs to happen first in order to sit still for meditation or relaxation exercises.
Emotions Need Not Make You Feel Uncomfortable
It is natural to feel angry sometimes, just like it’s natural to feel sad, happy, or hurt. It is how we express our anger, however, which determines whether it is appropriate or inappropriate.
For many of us, anger was expressed inappropriately during our childhood. Either it was demonstrated by…
- In some cases, physically hurting us
- Through emotional silence
- A parent may have used a calm voice, yet one that felt scary and threatening
- Through aggressive body language
- Or by an unspoken look, often referred to as the “evil eye”
So is it no wonder that many of us feel uncomfortable with our own, or other people’s, anger. No matter which one of the ways anger was expressed when growing up, often we learned it’s not okay to feel anger, and certainly not to express it, so we stuffed it.
“Learn to see negative situations as bad, but also as opportunities to develop coping skills and learn new behaviors.” ~ Anger-expert and psychologist Howard Kassinove, PhD
When You have a Big Reaction to a Little Thing
Often anger that is not expressed is turned inward and may turn into depression, or anxiety, or it may manifest in some physical way such as ulcers, headaches, shoulder tension, stomach issues, or even heart disease and cancer. It is so important to allow ourselves to feel our anger when it comes up, and find emotionally healthy ways of releasing it.
When our anger is out of proportion with what is happening in the moment, it often means that there is some unresolved historical wound, or issue, that has not been addressed or resolved.
For example, if someone cuts us off on the highway, instead of feeling annoyed we feel intense anger that is difficult to let go of. It is not in proportion to feel so angry at someone we have never met who simply cuts us off on the highway. So instead it may be that either in our current life, or in our history, there are, or were, those who violated our boundaries. Or it may heighten a sense of feeling invisible, or not important, that maybe triggered in that moment and caused us to overreact.
Or when we run out of milk or eggs, or notice a household chore wasn’t completed such as having the garbage taken out, and it escalates into an intense argument with your partner. The minor incident doesn’t match the internal, or external, intense emotional reaction.
This may relate to a pattern of feeling unheard, unappreciated or taken for granted. Instead of utilizing a positive method of examining these stuffed feelings, the suppressed anger overrides and produces an emotionally explosive response.
Nurture Your Emotional Health
If you struggle with expressing your unresolved historical anger or current related anger, speaking with a trusted psychotherapist at Nassau Guidance and Counseling located on Long Island can help you release this natural emotion in an emotionally healthy way. Our licensed therapists have helped many people release suppressed emotions of anger and heal the issues that precipitated it and achieve a sense of calmness and peace.