Anger: Keep Calm during the storm

Anger, a primal emotion that is ever-present in our daily lives in little ways, is also one of the most searched terms on google. When this piece was written, the most searched query vis-a-vis anger is “how to control anger immediately” followed by “how to control anger and anxiety”.

Babies feel it, adults feel it, and so does Dr. Bruce Banner!

In modern society, we have been able to vastly reduce the time it takes for a lot of things, from same-day deliveries, to bullet trains and airplanes.

This luxury has vastly reduced our patience threshold.

Consequently, we expect our bodies in a similar fashion, to quickly revert back to normal after emotional outbursts- like anger. This puts unrealistic expectations on our bodies and more often than not it ends up hurting us.

Imagine a rubber band that’s stretched to its limit. Would you rather take your time to let it come back to normal, or would you want to save time and let the rubber band go from one side?

When we expect to control our anger instantaneously we imagine quick fixes to our behavior so that we can defer the anger to some other time when we can process it, which never arrives.

We want to click a button and feel better, no matter how ridiculous that sounds. Even online shopping needs more button mashing than that! 

In reality, dealing with anger is an elaborate process that needs to play itself out. It can’t be rushed. We need to allow ourselves the time to process our anger and get to the underlying issue.

Confronting this issue acts as a patience building exercise that simultaneously helps put in the machinery to healthily deal with anger. 

It’s like having one bird in your hand, finding two more in the bush, and three more birds that were walking back home for movie night. 

Winner winner chicken dinner!

Anger as a Compass

Life isn’t always pretty. But shadows remind us of light, and anger in its own place is a very important indicator for us. It is our moral compass. It indicates plainly what we are not okay with. 

Imagine if humanity lacked this important evolutionary advantage!? Even Faizal’s blood boils!!!

Another trend in google search is the popularity of the query- “what is the opposite of anger?” I have a feeling this isn’t a query that elementary literature students are searching for on google. This is a query that people from all walks of life gravitate towards. 

There is a certain allure to the question. But, all that glitters is not gold! Our unrealistic expectation of getting rid of anger from our lives can have counterproductive outcomes. 

Eventually when we do find ourselves getting angry, the anger is even more dysfunctional because of our aversion to anger and failure to keep anger at bay. This is a vicious cycle, unending and ruthless.   

If we accept that anger is a natural part of our lives and is something that we have to deal with from time to time, we can proficiently deal with anger when it rises from within our depths. 

Acceptance therefore helps us focus on problem solving and introspection in an angered state without lashing out at ourselves or the people around us. 

The more we try to run from anger, the easier it is for anger to find us. 

If Dr. Banner can do it to befriend the Hulk, so can us puny humans!

How to become Storm-Ready?

Let’s look at some concrete strategies to help deal with the intense emotional state that accompanies anger.

  • A helpful technique to help de-escalate and defuse anger is the TIPP skill. Remember the acronym- TIPP
  1. Temperature: Splash some cold water on your face, blow the ac on your face, and essentially change your body temperature to de-escalate anger!
  2. Intense Exercise: Intense exercise to match your emotions. Running to the end of the corridor, doing jumping jacks or push-ups or other exercises for 20 minutes or more to engage our bodies.
  3. Paced Breathing: Box breathing technique helps calm the body down. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds and hold for 4 seconds. Repeat this till the body calms down.
  4. Paired Muscle Relaxation: Tense your muscles as you breathe in for 5-6 seconds. Notice that feeling. Then relax them as you breathe out, paying attention to how that feels as you do it. Notice the difference between the feeling of tension and the feeling of relaxation. Go through each muscle group in the body and tense then relax each one. As you relax a muscle group, say to yourself, “relax.”
  • Listening to music never fails! So in anger, it remains the same. Engaging in any hobby or activity that demands our concentration helps us work through our anger. If you’re focusing on beating that boss battle, you won’t have the time to feed the anger! FINISH HIM 
  • Knock Knock! 

Who’s there? 

To

To who?

It’s to whom! 

Humor is another efficient strategy of diffusing and dealing with anger. It is an efficient technique that can help confront what is triggering us- just steer clear of Sarcasm!!  

The techniques mentioned are quick fixes only. 

Like eating a snack when you’re famished! No amount of tic tacs can satiate that hunger. 

They don’t address the underlying issues and therefore should be used carefully. We should know when to ask for professional help. 

Even Batman has Robin!!!!    

All of us carry, consciously or unconsciously, expectations from the world around us. Without us realizing, these turn into demands. Demands like mom shouldn’t do this, or the world should be fair to me. When these demands go unmet, it makes us angry. 

Another explanation for our anger can be that we simply can’t bear the discomfort of a certain situation. The intolerance for our frustration leads to us irritation and anger. So if for example, you simply can’t tolerate the discomfort of meeting a particular person, the mere thought of having to meet them would irritate and anger you. 

We all feel it! There’s no shame in it. As long as we have anger we have a beacon to guide us on the journey of life. 

To fight the injustices of life, we all need healthy anger burning within us. Mandela had it, Mahatma Gandhi had it, and now that beacon is passed down to us. Let’s do our best to make our lives, and consequently a better world for us all. 

If you or somebody you know struggles due to one or more of the attitudes/behaviors mentioned above, please reach out to us for professional help at https://innerplanet.in/contact/