The Importance of Letting Anger Go
Do you ever wake up angry?
Like really angry, and without any real reason? Then everything you do seems to attract a cascade of situations that keep you boiling up inside?
Or maybe you do have a reason. Something is going on in your life that you can’t seem to get beyond. Or perhaps it’s a combo. I mean there is a lot going on in this chaotic muddled world and it’s easy to find something to be angry about.
That was me this morning. I woke up irritable. It was pouring down rain, gloomy, and I found myself stuck behind the slowest drivers on the road no matter which lane I chose. I arrived for my morning swim late and the pool was already full. I took time to stretch and breathe so I could assess which lane to approach. I decided on the lane with one lady who promptly told me that she felt uncomfortable sharing her lane and to choose another.
I was taken aback. In all my years of swimming, I have only once been told to leave a swim lane, and that was from an old lady we revered to as “the wart” when I was 12 years old. I felt rejected, attacked, and caught off guard. So I did what any kind, civil, caring adult would do; I smiled, said okay, and moved into the next lane over.
I proceeded to swim with a certain amount of aggression. How dare she! Who does she think she is? I grew up at this pool and I’m here all the time! Swimmers aren’t nasty people! Does she think I’m gonna slow her down? I’ll show her who’s slow.
And that is how the next hour of my life went: Angry swimming because someone didn’t want to share their lane.
Ask Yourself: Can I Let This Go?
As I was changing, more relaxed, I started to realize how irrational I was being. I don’t know this lady. We are still in a COVID situation. She might have special needs or feel anxious to have another swimmer in the lane. She has left the pool, the situation (was it even a situation?) is over yet I keep rumbling on in my head.
How silly, I thought, because I know one thing for certain, and that is that whatever her issue was it has nothing to do with me.
You’ve done this, right?
Instead of just moving along from a casual encounter you start in on the situation. Instead of rationalizing that this has nothing to do with you, your ego decides to have a field day full of sweet revenge for a stranger who said or did something that didn’t sit right.
But because you are a caring individual you harbor that shit.
You stuff it all in because you don’t want to…
- seem rude
- be rejected
- feel judged or
- get singled out
You Are Not Alone
We’ve all felt some version of this and most of the time it’s subconscious. Often we might not realize these feelings until later when we can see the whole situation.
Instead, we just let things simmer because they seem small or irrational or not worth making a scene.
This is the problem: when we don’t process the anger we feel, we carry it around in our bodies.
We stuff it down because we are nice people and anger is not an option.
Whether you picked these thoughts up from your family or school or life experience, we all know how terrible it feels to be singled out in ways that make us feel threatened, uncomfortable, or irrationally unimportant. We understand the consequences and know how harmful anger can be. This makes our feelings of anger incredibly tricky.
We suppress and suppress and let outside beliefs and values bury into our minds. We don’t want to offend or be challenged by someone else. But by not speaking up or standing up and voicing your opinions you are devaluing your own right to be seen and heard. Our voice becomes smaller and smaller, then one day you are at the pool and let a silly comment ruin your workout.
Anger is a completely normal emotion. A very powerful one and one that we have been told is bad. Although unmanaged anger is bad, the emotion itself is a signal that something is off. Typically it reflects something in your outer world not aligning with a belief you have about how the world is supposed to be.
Next time instead of allowing your ego to run wild and take complete power over you when you feel anger, try stepping back and taking a couple of deep mindful breaths. You can choose to not actively express your thoughts, but you may also realize it’s not necessary for any of these strong emotions to play out a tirade of finger-pointing either.
It’s time to break the anger patterns within you.
- It’s time to be brave and own your anger so you can process through it.
- It’s time to ask why you get wrapped up in thoughts of hate and aggression.
- It’s time to start sharing our stories and thoughts about why we bury these difficult emotions.
- It’s time to let go of the potential judgment of someone else.
- It’s time to start directing our minds in a more compassionate arena of thought.
- It’s time to understand that you are worthy of being seen and heard.
It’s time to toss suppressed anger into the inferno and shed yourself of shame.
When you choose to not deal with anger it waits under the surface for an opportunity to explode. Learning to deal with anger in a healthy way shows maturity. It can be challenging, but at the end of the day anger keeps us small and limits our power and purpose.
Breathwork is my go-to way of dealing with anger. Just like hitting the gym is a powerful way to let that anger go, so is breathwork.
Powerful, energizing breath practices can help amp you up so you can settle down, or calming breath practices to give you pause between your thoughts.
Two powerful breath practices for helping alleviate anger are Ego Eradicator and 4-7-8 method of breathing.
Ego Eradicator is a version of Breath of Fire: A rapid exhale way of breathing that simulates the sound and movement of a sneeze. The exhale is forced out while the inhale happens naturally without thought. This works wonders for calming anger and ego issues that arise.
- This is performed sitting with your arms straight up and out at a 60-degree angle.
- Fingers tucked into the pads of your hand and thumbs raise.
The trick here is to forcibly and rapidly exhale for three minutes while keeping your elbows straight and arms firm at that 60 degrees.
Your focus either on your third eye point or open with a soft gaze down towards the tip of your nose.
This breathing practice begins to feel like a meditation that you are forcefully breathing through. It helps clear the lungs of stagnant energy and opens the channels to your heart. This calms your mind and helps reduce thoughts and feelings of anger held in the body.
When you are angry you’ll notice your breath becomes shallow and quick. When you notice this you can immediately calm yourself by slowing and deepening your breath.
- Start slowly by inhaling into your nose for three seconds
- holding your breath for two seconds
- then exhaling out the mouth for four seconds.
This can feel challenging when your heart is beating fast and thoughts of anger fill your mind. This slow exaggeration of your breath is a great start. Once you have this down you can start to add a second to each: breathing in for four seconds, holding for 3, 4, 5, 6, up to 7 seconds, then exhaling for 5, 6, then 7, and 8 exhales.
The ratio of 4-7-8 being the height of slowing and calming you down. This is a gradual way to ease out of anger. The key is to keep the focus on your breath. In through the nose, hold, then let the exhale be longer than the inhale and out the mouth.
10 rounds of this and you will feel your muscles relax, your mind calm, and more in balance.
Both techniques offer an opportunity to get out of your head and into nurturing the body.
Your breath is a key component in self-regulating your nervous system. Anger comes from a place deeply rooted in self-preservation. It’s best to handle anger as quickly as possible. Instead of getting angry for being angry and starting a cycle of blame, try turning to your breath and see how quickly it can all turn around.
I am always curious how these techniques work for others and love to hear your success stories. As a certified breath coach I am on a mission to help all breathe more deeply and with purpose. If you’re interested in learning more, check out my online course, Breath Mindset, and begin your breathing journey today.