One of the most difficult feelings to deal with is anger. Why? It might be because energy is in huge motion. The adrenaline response is high with anger. That chemical reaction can make a person feel very powerful in a physical way. And, it is so strong that it disrupts the thinking part of the brain.
Beneath the surface of anger is fear and pain.
When we see someone who is afraid or in pain, our natural human response is to offer comfort. Conversely, when emotional energy manifests as anger, the tendency is to protect oneself by fight (our own anger rises and a battle ensues), flight (take cover, back away) or freeze (play dead, the stance of “I don’t care”, possibly a passive aggressive response.)
Although quite natural, responding to anger with anger increasing the motion and intensity of the energy. Most of us have learned this pattern of response and can’t imagine any other option. If someone is mad, angry, upset then we are too.
What would be better?
It starts by becoming aware of your own anger episodes first. Can you identify where in your physical body you feel anger? It might be a feeling in your stomach. Likely the jaw and/or fists will clench. You may feel tension in your legs, arms and shoulders. If you can notice places of tension and tell your body to relax, the battle is more than half won.
Tell yourself, “Anger is a mask for fear and pain.” Have you ever seen a child who is afraid? Have you ever held that child and whispered “It’s OK. You don’t have to be afraid.” Imagine some form of that for yourself. Tell yourself, “It’s OK. You don’t have to be afraid.” Then notice your breath and consciously take deeper breaths. The old adage to “count to 10” is golden advice!
Once you can begin to master your own anger in private it is easier to apply the same steps when others around you get angry. I use the Becky Baily phrase, “Own your own upset.” As I repeat that when my child (or someone else) is upset (angry), I am less likely to hook into the energy that is in motion in THEIR body. I can stay centered in myself and calm, (breath awareness helps!) then I can look behind the mask of their anger and see the true fear or hurt. Once their energy slows down, I know how to give comfort instead of ramping up their energy more.
Repeating the phrase “Anger is a mask for fear and pain. Nurture him/her/myself” as a mantra may bring it to your mind at the very moment you need it–that moment when anger begins to rise before your brain goes off-line. Repeating this phrase could be a powerful tool to help reverse the anger response patterns in your life.
I hope this printable can help you solidify this concept for yourself and be a tool to teach it to someone else.
When I want to REMEMBER something, I write it down. When I want to make it part of me, I doodle it. This takes time and helps me process and REINFORCE it. The creative process slows down my busy mind and REJUVENATES me. When I RELAY it to others by sharing printables and coloring pages, the idea may take on a beautiful life of its own in someone else.