Mindful Anger

A pathway to emotional freedom

The Five Steps to Mindfully Releasing Anger

All these steps are tools to help you wash away anger and hurt feelings.

Past angerwhether a grudge, resentment, pent-up rage, or a slight committed by someone you were close to years ago and never forgaveis like a millstone hanging around your neck. The people and situations you haven’t moved past can create emotional and physical problems that will affect your health, and lead you to act that anger out on innocent parties who love and support you.

What to do? Release that toxicity in a healthy and meaningful way, and rid yourself of those septic feelings forever. Here are my five steps to accomplish that:

STEP 1: GET YOUR ANGER PERCOLATING

The first step to moving old anger up and out is to awaken it—get it bubbling and stirring inside you, like the way coffee percolates inside an old-fashioned coffee maker.

Then focus on your breath. By focusing your attention on your breath, your mindfulness of it also keeps you in the now, relaxing you and helping you experience the sensations, emotions, and other internal activities that tell you what is going on with you.

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STEP 2: MOVE YOUR FEELINGS OUT THROUGH WRITING

The hands, feet, and voice are key channels for releasing emotional energy from the body. Therefore, writing—which connects the mind and the hands—can facilitate a powerful release. This technique, can effectively get stuck emotions moving up and out of the body, thereby reducing or preventing the toxic emotional buildup that may be spilling out all over your life.

Writing down your emotions—without judging them—is one of the quickest ways to become aware of what’s going on inside you.

STEP 3: SHARE YOUR STORY

A third way to mindfully explore and express your anger and other feelings generated in upsetting incidents is to share them with another person.

Hearing that others have similar shameful experiences will help you realize you are not alone, and shifts your perspective from self judgment to self acceptance.

STEP 4: FIND YOUR NEW TRUTH

When children experience a trauma or an attachment wound (along with hurt feelings from it), they develop a belief and tell themselves a story about it in order to make sense of what happened and to cope. This is both helpful and a hindrance, because the story is almost always limiting and based on fear.

Although this belief—what I’ll call an old truth—may feel like a protection at the time, it will restrict the experience of loving relationships later in life. Beliefs that are formed in response to an injury are always limiting, and hinder us in getting what we really want in life.

This step is meant to set these wrongs right. The idea is to find a new truth for yourself; a message that will offset and replace the limiting belief—the old truth—that you developed as a child. Hearing that message now, even so many years later, can be an extremely liberating experience.

STEP 5: PERFORM A RELEASE CEREMONY

A powerful way to further let go of the wounding event, along with the hurt and angry feelings and limiting beliefs, is with an actual physical release.

Be creative and pick an activity that works for you. For example, throw rocks in a safe place somewhere, or find a private space to shake your limbs to release the negative energy. Do as much of the exercise as you can wherever you are, and use your imagination the rest of the time. It’s been shown that the body and mind can’t tell the difference between reality and imaginationso both forms count.

All these steps are tools to help you wash away the anger and hurt feelings that happen to each of us as we journey through life. Remember, to rid ourselves of the toxic feelings that remain bottled up inside us, we must bring them up and engage them. But, because they are only feelings, we can master them, and reveal the new truths that help us move forward positively.

 

Dr. Andrea Brandt, Ph.D, M.F.T, is a psychotherapist with over 30 years of experience treating anger, passive-aggressiveness, anxiety, relationships, and work-life balance.

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