Mindfulness — One More Item in Your Anger Management Toolbox
“Let today be the day you finally release yourself from the imprisonment of past grudges and anger. Simplify your life. Let go of the poisonous past and live the abundantly beautiful present… today.” -Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
Do you enjoy being uncomfortable, irritable, offended, inconvenienced, or taken for granted?
Most of us don’t. Many of us get indignant. Pissed off. Angry.
What if we mastered our ability to stay in the present moment?
What if we let ourselves feel, observe, and deal… before running off at the mouth, pushing back, or self-destructing?
What if you were mindful and clear, managing anger with peace and equanimity?
Open your anger management toolbox.
You have exactly what you need to make those things happen.
The Mindfulness Tool
When unhealthy anger starts to rattle around in your head, you need the right tool to tighten any loosening screws on your self-control, and pin down anything unhelpful or unwanted that could make a difficult situation worse.
Mindfulness is a great tool in a tense moment for a variety of reasons:
Mindfulness makes you aware of how anger feels in your body.
Is your stomach in knots, your chest heaving, and your brow furrowed? Anger often speeds up your breath and heart rate. Your fists may be clenched. Recognize and pay attention to your anger responses.
- Breathing is an important part of mindfulness…and calming down.
Breathe into the physical responses. Take deep cleansing breaths through your nose. Breathe through those stomach knots, and control your quick heart rate. Regulate your responses to keep them from rushing you down an angry path.
Mindfulness encourages you to fully feel, not bury, sensations.
Introduce a compassionate, gentler aspect to your anger. Consider the idea that mindfulness gives you a chance to understand yourself better, and to experience depth and meaning of your emotions more fully.
Noticing your thoughts and thought patterns mindfully, provides insight.
Question your angry impulses. Is there another way to handle the circumstance? Is the fallout worth the angry release? Circumvent thoughts that feed your angry mood. How does it feel to let some of those thoughts pass without taking regrettable action? How does it feel to hold on to them?
For example, mindfully examine your anger-inducing thought patterns.
- Do you exaggerate or generalize? Starting thoughts with “He always…” or “You never…” usually doesn’t lead to calm behavior. Think in specifics.
- Are you a mind-reader? Assuming you know what someone else thinks or feels only leads to trouble and miscommunication.
- Do you blame others for your annoyed and irritated thinking? If “it’s all your fault” often crosses your mind, you may need to shift your focus. Determine your own part in your anger, and take responsibility for it.
Mindfulness provides the space to step back and let go.
To truly let go of your anger, you’ll likely need to get some distance from what’s roiling inside you. Try to be an observer of your thoughts and feelings, rather than becoming immersed in them. Emotions come and go, ebb and flow, if you let them. You don’t always need to jump in and splash around. Let the emotions drift on without you.
Communication, instead of aggression, is the gift of mindful anger management.
When was the last time you actually communicated with the person who angered you? Mindfulness actually presents an opportunity for resolution and understanding. When the anger fades, you’ll have the chance to see what productive, constructive discussion can be gleaned.
by Counseling Wise on July 1, 2015