Anger is like every emotion, it has its place, in this place it can be good. Anger can be a great motivator, a challenger of the status quo or even a visionary. But the problem is when anger is allowed to develop into its own entity and take over our minds.
We’ve all been there, you are going about your day and a thought or feeling pops into your head and you start chasing the thought, maybe it was something someone said to you recently. Now you are imagining the argument again but adding everything you’d like to have said or imagining it far worse than it actually was just to relieve your anger. The problem is you aren’t relieving your anger, you are feeding it.
All emotions are ephemeral, they only last longer than a moment when we allow them to, when we feed them to fatten them up. When we are happy we ecstatically speak about why we are happy, we talk about all the possibilities arising from your happiness and you may eat celebratory food or engage in an orgy of sex. This drags the happiness beyond the fleeting moment in which it first came about.
When we are anxious about something, perhaps a job interview or a big game or race we will think about all the things that can go wrong. We may imagine falling over before the finish line, pulling a hamstring in the warm up, choking from a dry throat in the interview or being asked a question we can’t answer. By allowing these thoughts what we do is we chase them, we keep moving from negative thought to negative thought. This prolongs the anxiety and makes it worse.
By the way, I’m not discussing anxiety as in anxiety disorder that needs psychological treatment or medical treatment. Although much of the time Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is being used to treat people with anxiety by helping them to recognise and allow negative thoughts to pass. But this has to be treatment carried out by a professional.
Bringing this all back to anger and we are left with why are some people angry more than others? And a lot of the time it comes down to those people chasing these thoughts that generate anger. Thoughts may enter their heads of something that hasn’t even happened and they will chase the thought only getting angrier and playing out a scene in their head. This type of thought chasing can go on for hours. And it benefits nobody. We are all guilty of thought chasing. Some more than others.
To combat anger we must notice when we have an angry feeling or thought provoking anger within us. Once we identify this we must allow it to just pass by our mind. Just like two trains in the middle of the night. You are one train, the thought/feeling is the other train. Personally when I catch one of these thoughts I imagine taking a picture of it and then watching the image drift away before flying quickly off to the left. I don’t know why that is what I do, it just kind of developed that way. Everyone who uses this noting technique will have their own way of letting the thought pass them by.
Once the thought has been allowed to pass you will notice that you aren’t angry, you will be clearer in mind and you won’t have any physical affects of anger such as increased heart rate or sweating etc.
This technique as you’ve probably read in one of my other posts comes with mindfulness practice in which you will develop the ability to catch and let thoughts pass. The more you do it the more you will notice how calm you are and how often you are catching these thoughts. Over time you’ll actually be catching less thoughts because you will have less negative thoughts. You’ll find that you are rarely angry and when you are it is only for a moment. You’ll be a calmer person, a happier person and moreover you’ll be more comfortable in your own skin.