Anger. The feeling that makes us say things we’ll regret later. A feeling that makes us want to throw things against a wall.
What does it take to create problems? How does anger arise? How do we normally react to anger and what other (useful) possibilities do we have?
This article will help you to develop a more conscious approach to anger.
Anger has a very specific dynamic in a discussion:
We get angry and criticize another person. The other person also reacts to criticism with anger and accusations, which in turn feeds our anger.
It comes and goes. The discussion escalates.
How do we normally deal with anger?
One way is to suppress our own anger. Here are some signs that react to anger by suppression:
You’re not saying what you think.
You feel you shouldn’t express your anger.
What usually happens with this strategy is that at some point anger erupts or you feel psychologically uncomfortable.
Another way to deal with anger is to let it out blindly. Signs that you react to anger in this way include the following:
You confront others with your accusations without thinking about them.
You often have violent arguments.
When two people who react in this way meet, the argument quickly escalates.
What does it take for problems to arise?
For problems to arise, a number of conditions must be met:
When you are angry, it shows you that something you have observed or perceived is not working for you.
If something does not work for us, we have learned to make judgments. In the case of anger these are judgments about situations or about other people. We judge what is wrong with others. What they do wrong. But that’s not all. For problems to arise, there must be a sense of threat. Anything that doesn’t work right now must be perceived as a threat.
When these conditions are met, one feels anger.
This also reflects the tragedy of anger: it shows that something is not working for us. We need something else. If we keep the anger inside us or blame ourselves, we reduce the likelihood of getting what we need.
How else can we deal with problems?
When we sense trouble, we see the world as if it were a tunnel. Our bodies activate the fight or flight instinct. We focus strongly on the external threat and block everything around us. Physiologically, the sympathetic nerve is activated, a stress nerve that activates the body and prepares it for “fight or flight”.
Learning to cope with anger
In this state – a narrow, adrenaline-filled vision – it is not easy to find a constructive solution for conflicting wishes. To do so, we have to reach a different emotional state.
The first step in dealing with anger is to take several deep breaths.
This allows you to enter another state.
You can also do anything that will allow you to move to another state that suits you. If you are not in a conversation: Walk around the block. Stand up. Take a cold shower. You got it.
If you are in another state, the problem is still there, but you see more possibilities than hitting yourself or keeping your head down.
If you’re in another state, turn your anger around:
Look inside yourself and try to figure out what is not working for you and what you need or what is important to you. Your judgments about the other person can help you:
Whatever problems come into your life, give them time. Look at them and imagine how you would feel if they were happy. Keep them in your mind and be aware of the importance you attach to these qualities. It is quite normal to become angry when you feel they are a threat.
Once you have come into contact with your values, work on your judgement of the other person:
What exactly did the other person, whom you call selfish, do? What need did this person try to satisfy?
These questions are not easy to ask when you are angry, so it is important to look after yourself first.
One way of thinking that will help you stop judging is to assume that the other person is doing the best he or she can do in the circumstances.
If I look at the person as a whole, taking into account his or her history, temperament, experience and knowledge, I can understand the decision. This does not mean that this decision is good and useful. It simply means that the person at that time thought that this was the only way he or she had to survive, for example, to be accepted, to be loved, and so on.
Find out what you need, what is important for you. If possible, also develop a certain understanding for the other person. In this way you create a space in which you can express your wishes clearly and calmly without blaming the other person.
If you want something from someone, the person can only follow you if you communicate it clearly. But they will only follow you if you say it gratefully.
When we become angry, our body activates the fight or flight instinct. Our reactions are designed in such a way that when we get angry we either confront the other person with accusations or withdraw and turn the anger against ourselves.
We can also focus our attention on what has not worked in this situation and what is important to us.
One way of thinking that helps to weaken anger and judgment is that everyone does their best at some point in certain circumstances.