So there you are, you’re there being mindful with your anger. You’ve refrained from silencing your anger. You’ve done your best to slow down your response to anger. And now you even help yourself calm down by treating yourself with self-compassion.
You could stop here with your anger treatment and be fine, but if you did, you might end up missing out on an important opportunity to understand your anger at a deeper level.
In the previous article,”Understand Your Anger,” we touched a bit upon the connection between anger and fear. It is fear that often activates our anger. A fear that someone or something is going to block our ability to achieve a goal or a desire. In other words, something we personally value. A person’s anger could be from a fear of not being seen as unique and special by others; it could be from a fear of not feeling superior or being seen as inferior, or it could be from a fear that autonomy is not being respected. The sources of personal fears in our society are as numerous as the cells in our bodies. These fears are what we have the opportunity to explore if we continue exploring our anger pass self-compassion.
Name and label your feelings: What is now?
How do you get to the state where you can explore the connection between your anger and your fears? Ask yourself, “What is now?”
- What am I feeling now? How about now? And now? And now.
- What is it about this situation that I really value and feel could be damaged?
- What am I saying about the other person? What motives am I reading into his or her action?
- What am I saying about me? Am I drawing negative conclusions about myself?
- Let’s suppose I can not change the situation, what does that say about my future?
- In what way does this situation hurt me?
If we focus on our hurts we may become more able to label our feelings and decrease our feelings of anger. This theory of naming our feelings to calm down has been proved true by science too.
A brain imaging study by UCLA psychologists revealed that verbalizing our feelings makes our difficult feelings — sadness, anger, and pain, less intense.
The study discovered that when individuals labeled a feeling, the amygdala – the part of the brain responsible for processing and memory of emotional reactions, became less active. What this means is that like in driving when you see a yellow light and you begin breaking, when you start to label your feelings, this acts as a break on your emotional responses which are driven by the amygdala. The result is that you begin to feel less angry or sad.
Next up: Expand your emotional vocabulary.