Processing Anger

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Anger is my default emotion. It comes up more often than any other emotion I may feel. It often masks what is really going on inside, but I have to work through the anger to get to the actual emotion. Over the course of the last few years, I have put a lot of work into working through anger. Most days, I still forget what I should do, but I work through it anyway. I don’t have to lash out at anyone in anger. I get to be free of it if I choose to do the work. So, here we are…

1. Be angry. My first thought is almost always to make this feeling go away. I don’t like feeling angry and it makes me feel weak. I feel like I should be able to just instantly accept whatever person, place or thing has been placed before me and move on. That’s not how it works, at least for me. So, I accept the fact that I am angry and allow the feelings to wash over me so I can experience whatever it is that I’m supposed to gain from this moment. An important aspect of this part is not to sit in the anger for too long. Doing that lands me on the “pitty pot” which keeps me in anger and self-pity for far too long.

2. Talk it out. I have amazing friends. They listen to me bitch about whatever situation is happening that has me filled with anger. I can spew out profanities and talk a million miles a minute without being told to stop. Once this is done, I can finally breathe easily again. These people can also do the same with me. Once I am able to verbalize, or text if the situation doesn’t allow for a phone call, the power of the anger goes away. I may still be upset, but the emotion is less powerful. Of course, I recommend that you talk to trusted friends about the situation and don’t just go tell anyone who will listen. This can always come back and bite you in the ass, but if you have someone you know is going to keep your confidence, vent away my friends.

3. Spot Check. I was advised early on while in treatment to complete a “Spot Check Inventory” when I am angry or find myself resentful. I’m not great at completing a spot check inventory. I forget almost always, but when I do remember, it is helpful. A spot check looks something like this: 1. I am resentful at… 2. The cause of my resentment is… 3. This affects my… (I stick to the standards of *fear *self-esteem *security *personal relationships *sex relationships *pride) 4. My part… Once I have completed a spot check inventory, I am able to see “What is my part in all of this?”. It’s easy to say, “It’s the other person’s fault”. It may be, but we still have a part no matter the situation. Plus, placing blame does no one any good.

4. Pray. Prayer is an amazing thing. It doesn’t matter if you believe in God, Buddha, Allah, Floyd… Just pray. When I find myself angry, I ask that the anger be removed. I ask for guidance and direction to do the next right thing. Asking for protection is another prayer that I have recently added. Protection from myself and my unkind thoughts. Protection from the venom that some people feel so necessary to speak. There are many times that I simply ask that He hear my heart because I do not have the words. Any way that I go about it, prayer always makes the anger and frustration dissipate, even if only in small amounts.

5. Exercise. This is one of my favorite releases for anything. If I am angry, sad, happy, edgy, anything… I love to run. Whatever it is, once my feet hit the pavement I feel better. This is an opportunity for me to listen to LOUD music, cry, process, and grow. Not everyone enjoys exercise, but bringing your body into a physical experience is proven to help. I don’t have all the statistics, but it works. I’m a firm believer that if we simply change our surroundings and get the blood pumping, we are always in a different place when we return to our previous position.

6. Journal. Writing, for me, is always an outlet. It may not be the same for you… This one sort of goes along with the spot check inventory, but it doesn’t have to be so simple. I can write about my hopes, dreams, fears, goals, anything. It doesn’t have to be about the situation that has made me angry or upset. It helps most often. Again, it’s always important to make sure we journal in a safe, secure environment. I don’t want anyone to read my personal thoughts, so if I do this, I make sure it’s safe.

7. Acceptance. What is that song, Let It Go? I’ve never seen the movie, whatever it is… but really, let it go. When I can come to a place of acceptance my day continues more smoothly than if not. When I continue to let something or someone bring anger into my heart, I let them win. I am right where that person wants me to be. Miserable. One of my first sponsors always said, “Pain is inevitable. Misery is optional.”. She is absolutely right. The longer I hold onto the poison that is anger, the worse it becomes. Letting it go, accepting the situation just as it is, that is the spiritual part that holds the most power.

Kylee Christoffels

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