How to Handle Anger Using Mindfulness

03/24/16 ·

Imagine this scenario. You wake up late for work because you didn’t hear your phone alarm go off. You’re running late and your boss mentions to you that this has happened once already this week. You come to find out that the task you delegated to your co-worker didn’t get done properly. If it doesn’t get fixed you’ll be blamed. After a long and stressful day at work you get home late only to find out that your significant other ate all of the leftovers so now you either need to cook or go back out to get some food. This situation would make anybody lose their mind. The anger would be overwhelmingly palpable.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

The trick is to be mindful of the anger. There is no need to justify it in this situation, whether it’s your fault or not isn’t the issue at hand. Instead, how you react to the situation is the important part. Here are some ways to handle your anger the next time you get upset.

Be mindful of the emotions

This is important because many times you may not even know why you’re angry. It may be that a lot of small things happened during the day that bothered you but you brushed them off. You finally get to the end of the day and you burst into a rage at the smallest issue. The idea is to be mindful each and every time something bothers you. Don’t harp on the issue and make yourself even more upset, but rather experience the feeling. Remind yourself that this feeling is just that, a feeling, it can do as much harm to you and those around you, as you allow it to. Using this technique you can avoid compounding anger and the eventual eruption.

Try a little self-compassion & forgiveness

For those unfamiliar we discussed self-compassion in a previous post. When something angers you, and you feel you are to blame, remind yourself that you are human. You make mistakes sometimes. It’s easy to beat yourself up for making the same mistake twice. However, anger isn’t going to keep you from making that mistake a third time. Acknowledge the anger and then work towards a solution once the feelings have passed.

Likewise, if the source of your anger is someone else, try to forgive them. When you think about anger objectively it really is only hurting you. The other person may feel bad knowing you’re angry at them, or they may not. If the only thing your anger is doing is make someone else feel slightly bad is it actually worth holding on to? As the quote above states, you’re the one getting burned. This is something to consider the next time someone makes you angry. Instead of simply holding on to anger try discussing the issue with them calmly to avoid it happening again. This is a more proactive way to deal with these emotions when they run rampant.

Anger is such a difficult emotion to handle because it runs through our veins like wildfire. The feeling consumes us and we don’t feel we have control anymore. The truth is, however, that we do have control. Mindfulness, self-compassion and forgiveness allow us to acknowledge the anger when it arises and then take steps to extinguish it logically.