Let’s face it. There are certain people who tend to push our buttons. We get angry and we react. This becomes a problem if we try to fight our anger and suppress it or if we lose our emotional balance and overreact, distancing ourselves from others and destroying our relationships.
The practice of mindfulness can be a great help to anger management. This does not mean that you no longer feel anger or that you no longer stand up for yourself and become a doormat.
Mindfulness in this case is awareness of your emotions. It is the ability to notice anger arising within you, to accept your anger and express it– without losing your emotional balance.
Sometimes anger serves as a signal, motivating you to take action for change when your boundaries are crossed. At other times, it arises because there is a lesson you need to learn. As long as you are aware of your anger, it does not control you. It comes and goes, just like any other changing emotion.
It is only harmful if you try to fight the anger which arises or you lose yourself in the anger. When you try to suppress your anger, it causes you to feel impotent and eventually leads to depression. When you are lost in anger, you lash out, lose your temper and become emotionally imbalanced, harming not only others, but also yourself.
When you accept and acknowledge that you are angry, you create a distance between yourself and your emotion and in doing so, you are able to rise above and transcend your emotional state. You become empowered. You are able to respond with a calm heart and self-control.
The more you practice mindfulness of your thoughts, feelings and emotions, the easier it is to be mindful of anger and to maintain your emotional balance when it arises.
Sometimes, however, we can feel extremely hurt or wronged by someone and it is too difficult to remain in a balanced emotional state. We lose control. What can we do when this happens?
We can thank the other for reminding us to look within and be mindful of our emotions.
A mindfulness technique called R.A.I.N. can also be very helpful for returning to a state of balance and harmony in the middle of a breakdown.
Rain cuts through the confusion and brings your attention to the situation, creating space for putting everything back into perspective. With regular practice, it becomes easier to control your anger instead of letting your anger control you. The four steps of R.A.I.N. are:
- R Recognize what is happening
- A Allow life to be just as it is
- I Investigate inner experience with kindness
- N Non-identification
Recognize what is happening
You do this by focusing your attention on your immediate thoughts, feelings and emotions, noticing where and how anger is manifesting physically in your body. You could be feeling tense shoulders, clenched teeth or tightness in general.
Allow life to be just as it is
You may want to avoid feeling anger, but the key here is to allow it. When you let anger be, it slowly subsides because you are no longer resisting it.
Investigate inner experience
This is giving kind, compassionate attention to your wounded inner-child. Be receptive to your deepest, most intimate feelings and look for answers. What is the lesson you may need to learn?
You are not your emotions, thoughts, feelings or circumstances. Anger will come and go just like anything else. Feel liberated as you rest in the awareness of openness and love. You can let go and see that you are free.
If you continue to feel resentment towards whatever caused the anger in the first place, or even towards yourself for losing control, you should finish with The Loving-Kindness Meditation. This meditation is helpful for forgiving yourself, forgiving your offender and compassionately freeing yourself from any residual anger so that it does not remain as a destructive poison within you.
Next time you are faced with a strong and unpleasant emotion, try to be mindful and incorporate the practice of R.A.I.N. Let me know how this works for you and any other tips and tricks you have for maintaining your emotional balance when anger arises.