There are two natural reactions to anger. Either we vent, or we hold it in. The first demonstrates an inability to suppress and the second an inability to express. Although we may sometimes differ in the way we react, our personality and upbringing make us primarily an Expresser or a Suppressor. Which one do you think you are?
We’ve all been an Expresser at some stage. Unable to quell the thoughts simmering away inside our minds, we just let loose with some kind of verbal torrent or physical act. Voices raised, tempers flared, composure lost. And too often once the conversation has ended and everything has settled down, we find ourselves regretting the things we’ve done or said.
We’ve all been a Suppressor at some stage also. Unable to take action or speak the thoughts swirling around inside our heads due to indignity, brain fog or fear of repercussion, we remain mute, silent, seemingly detached from the whole situation. But underneath the surface, resentment smoulders, ire continues, and antagonism is perpetuated. When the moment has passed and those feelings have died down, we may not have said or done anything that will cause regret, but neither have we resolved the situation or dealt with those emotions.
I was at a seminar several weeks ago where the presenter said that the key to dealing with anger is not to express it or suppress it, but to address it. There are 3 key steps to addressing anger so that the outcome is positive.
The first step is to distract. Find a way to take our mind off what is happening so as to diminish the severity of the emotions and enable us to be in control of the situation at hand.
The second step is to reappraise. Gain some perspective on the issue. Is it really important enough to warrant being angry about? Is there another side to the story? Can we understand where the other person is coming from? Perhaps it’s worthwhile objectively talking to the other person about how we feel in order to share our feelings and understand their point of view.
The third step is to forgive. Forgiving others is the last and most critical step. With the new perspective we’ve gained are we able to forgive them (even if they haven’t asked for forgiveness)? Without forgiving them we will never be able to move on from the issue and it will keep rearing its ugly head.
Distract. Reappraise. Forgive.
It is well known that our emotions – including anger – affect us physiologically. That is, the way we feel – whether positively or negatively – will impact our physical state. Anger for example is a form of stress and stress increases cortisol levels in the blood stream, resulting in a host of problems. If we feel happy and positive about life then we have better functioning organs, we breathe more easily, stand up straighter, accomplish more and sleep better. Conversely if we feel unhappy and negative about life then we have dysfunctional organs, restricted breathing, poor posture, we achieve less and our sleeping is disrupted.
Managing our emotions (including our anger), and expressing them in a positive way, will help not only our mental state, but also will help the Chiropractic adjustments we receive to be more effective and hold for longer. And in letting go of negativity and filling the space with forgiveness and positivity we add years to our life, and quality to our years.