Blog / Therapy Techniques - Understanding Anger
Therapy Techniques - Understanding Anger28.12.2023 | Sriraksha S
As we learn more and more on mental health & well-being, it becomes important to be aware of certain tools and techniques that can be used in our daily life to take care of oneself. Since mental health includes our emotional & behavioral, social and cognitive well-being, it affects how we think, feel and act. While making healthy choices is something we always hear about a lot, it is helpful to be aware of what steps can be taken that can actually be beneficial for our well-being. While therapy is a professional space and conducted by a trained person, knowing a few basic techniques that we can apply in our lives can surely be helpful. iDare aims to create awareness on this.
Anger is the most misunderstood emotion there is. For 27 years, I have successfully repressed this emotion, so much so that even in situations where people normally tend to get angry, I haven’t been able to. It usually starts with conditioning since childhood, by families & society on how anger is a bad emotion and one not to be felt. I was convinced that this was true and that when I get angry, I only end up hurting those I care about.
It took me years of therapy despite coming from the profession to understand that anger is just like any other emotion. An emotion we have demonized as a big bad monster that we need to keep locked up. Anger expressed unhealthily can definitely wreak havoc not only personally but sometimes even on the society at large. We have been shown enough movies on aggression and how it can be destructive. What people failed to show us, however, is that when anger is expressed healthily, it is a critical emotion.
Would you believe me if I told you we would all be lost without this emotion? We would be. Anger is our friend. It helps us understand where our boundaries lie, and to help protect us when these boundaries are breached. But I’d be amiss if I did not mention just how many people come to me to help them with their “anger issues”. People want to stop feeling angry and understandably so, as whenever they do, it ends up hurting them, people around them and destroying relationships a lot of times.
So, what are we to do? It’s quite simple, isn’t it? We as human beings all feel different emotions, and this is normal. Anger is one such emotion and it is also normal for it to exist. So where exactly is the problem? Why do people not want to feel it? Drawing from the experiences my clients have had, what scares them is the outcome of anger so can that be changed? The answer is a resounding yes.
For anger to not have destructive outcomes, it needs to be expressed in a healthy way. This is what we have failed to teach generations of people, how to express our emotions healthily, especially one’s like anger, jealousy, fear, guilt etc. These emotions scare us so much because they can be intense to feel and can have negative outcomes when expressed.
Strategies to diffuse anger
Somatic approaches to anger have been efficiently used since centuries. This involves getting physical and expelling anger out of our body. Anger is usually paired with “motor program”, which essentially means the urge to fight or protect using our body. Most times we channel this by either getting physically violent or expel it verbally. What can be done instead, is to use these muscles for healthy action.
A few safe ways include
Pushing against a wall, the wall push up pose, until you feel fatigue and do not want to do it anymore
Clenching and unclenching your fists until you start to feel the anger dissipate
Any form of physical activities, like workouts, brisk walks or a run, boxing etc.
Try the plank pose and hold for as long as you can.
For these strategies to work, it is first important to move away, temporarily, from the situation or the person triggering the anger and then try these methods to express anger and feel calmer eventually. Most times, I have walked away from situations but then sit on my own and use distractions to forget it which is again what we call suppressing the emotion instead of feeling it. Using these methods mentioned above will ensure that you are expressing your anger instead of suppressing but also are making sure it is not harming you or anyone else in the process.
Make sure to check in with yourself after you try these out on whether you anger is starting to shift or no. Sometimes, there can also be co-occurring issues along with the anger which could be the result of something deeper. In such cases, it can be beneficial to seek out help and support from a trained mental health professional to determine how best to address them in a safe space.
(P.S. Passive aggression too can be unhealthy and needs a healthy alternative)
Please remember, these techniques are in no way a substitute to an actual therapy session. We would like to emphasize that if someone is struggling with their mental health and if it is affecting day to day life, it is imperative to consult with a trained professional.
If you or somebody you know needs any help to understand therapy techniques in depth or is stressed with issues related to mental health, consider reaching our ‘Support’ and ‘Engage’ verticals for affordable and inclusive help!
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