Anger management- purging negative emotions

by rodney on July 28, 2012

All too often, men find themselves in the company of what is often a lifelong companion, anger. Let’s face it; anger is the only emotion that’s deemed acceptable to feel. Other emotions such as fear, sadness, and depression are often thought of as unmanly. If you show such emotions, you’re seen as weak. Interesting fact: Anger is not a pure emotion, it is a masking emotion. It masks all those “girly” unacceptable emotions that we’re not allowed to experience. We mask these with anger as a way of not feeling.

What happens when we don’t feel these feelings is they stay with us. Over time they fester and grow often raising up to the surface. That’s when we mask them again with anger and the whole process continues. If we continue to stay within this “cycle of anger” it effects behaviour which has resulted in many men losing jobs, friends and even families.

Look at the classic story of Star Wars: Anakin allows his anger to fully take over him and he crosses over to the dark side. He loses his wife and children as well as himself. He loses his human qualities and becomes the largely robotic Darth Vader.

How can we avoid crossing over to our dark side and not let anger to control us? Quite simply we must purge these negative emotions out of our system.  When we rid our bodies of these negative qualities, they can’t fester and build within. I’m going to share with you a step by step process of controlling and purging negative emotions without losing face in front of your mates.

Step 1 is to be aware of what’s going on in our bodies.  Think back to when you become angry, what happens to your body? Does your body tighten? Do your hands become fists? Do you feel a sting behind your eyes? Whatever happens to you (and everyone is different) get to know it. Become familiar this way when you feel it happening, you become aware that you’re getting angry. When you know you’re angry, then you can control it.

Step 2 is to breathe. Breathe in deep through the nose and out the mouth.  Count to 10 as you breathe in and 10 as you breathe out. This will also control the speed of your breathing. Deep and slow is the key. Fast and shallow breathing will only cause you anxiety which in turn you’ll convert to anger. When we become angry, blood and oxygen rushes to the parts of the brain that cause us to act, leaving the parts which control thinking unable to work. Have you ever wondered why people can get into such a rage they act without thinking then don’t remember what happened afterwards? Slow, deep breathing will give oxygen and blood to the thinking parts of the brain, which in turn will allow you to control your anger.

Step 3 is self-talk.  Have a saying or a “mantra” that you repeat to yourself over and over. Something like “stay cool” or “Be calm” or “chill out” something that works for you. Me personally, I tell myself to “breathe”.  Believe it or not, our minds do listen and follow what we tell it. This is why self-talk is an important part of a lot of therapies for lots of different issues.

Step 4 is to get out of the situation that’s making you angry. When we become angry, our judgement becomes clouded and if we stay within that situation that’s making us angry, it stays clouded. When we take ourselves away, we are then able to get a fresh perspective and can then make calm, rational choices about how to proceed. It’s also a great way to find a place to be by ourselves.

Step 5 is to vent. Vent whatever it is that you’re feeling. There’s many ways to vent, physical activity such as going for a run or a walk, even punching a punching bag will work and is a lot better than punching into someone you care about. Some people like to scream into a pillow or something that will muffle their screams. You don’t want the neighbours thinking something more sinister is happening. Believe it or not, writing a letter or in a journal of some kind can also be cathartic for some people. Crying is one of the best ways of venting negative emotions. Not only crying vent, but crying also releases chemicals into the brain which has a similar effect to heroin. So after you’re done venting, you tend to feel pretty good too.  I know crying is not very manly, but it is useful. Find yourself that quiet place away from judgment and ridicule and let yourself go. You’ll find it is a liberating and freeing experience.

If negative emotions persist and or your situation is critical, please seek help and get some professional counselling.

If you’re new to the principals and skills we’ve spoken about, you will find it a challenge at first. But please persist. Like anything in life, the more you do it, the easier you’ll find it, which will ultimately lead to a better life.

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