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How to Release Anger Without Hurting Others

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How to Release Anger Without Hurting Others

There have been times in my life where I got angry and ended up hurting people whom I cared about. Whenever I think back about these bursts of anger, the consequences of me lashing out were always bad.

I have also experienced people unleashing their anger at me and again, the consequence for me was not great.

Anger can cause problems in your life. If left long enough, the negative expression of anger not only affects those around us but also impacts our quality of life and health.

Dealing With Anger and Uncertainty

The NZ government strategy to dealing with the COVID-19 crisis was to put the county into Level 4 lockdown. For the last 4 weeks, I have been living in “lockdown” with my son and husband.

The normal exercise of grocery shopping is now a stressful one. Only one person in the household can go to the supermarket and when you get to the supermarket, you have to manage the required 2 meters distance from each other, shop for your groceries, and keep yourself safe from cross-contamination.

COVID-19 has thrown uncertainty and disruption to our world, our communities, and our lives. As a result, many of us are feeling angry and scared. The basis of this anger comes from our fear of the unknown and having to deal with uncertainty.

Right now, I have no idea what my life and my business will be post COVID-19, and that is scary. I know that if I don’t deal with my feelings of fear, it will build over time and eventually be released through bursts of anger. This is not good for me and for others who may experience the wrath of my anger.

How Do We Release Our Anger Without Hurting Others?

Our relationship with anger determines whether we control this emotion or it controls us. If you want to know how to release anger without hurting others, you first need to understand what anger is all about for you.

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Anger is a natural emotion that we all feel. It is not a solo emotion because many feelings sit behind anger. These feelings can be anything from anxiety, sadness, fear, hurt, shame, feeling threatened, or frustration.

Anger is also not “The Problem”. It is the behavior we use to express our anger that is the real issue.

Susan David Ph.D., an award-winning psychologist and author of the book Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, said that “people judge themselves for feeling negative emotions like anger, disappointment or sadness. Repressing or denying these emotions makes them stronger and leads us into deadlock.”

The first step to building a healthy relationship with your anger is to work on becoming more self-aware of the feelings that fuel it.

In a podcast interview, Four Steps to Get Unstuck and Embrace Change, Susan David outlines the 4 steps you can take to create change in your life.[1]

These four steps that Susan David spoke about gave me a framework to use to help me build a healthy relationship with my negative emotions and feelings. They also helped me come up with ideas on how to release anger without hurting others.

Four Steps to Building a Healthy Relationship With Anger

1. Showing Up

Being willing to embrace and deal with uncomfortable emotions such as anger rather than avoiding or repressing them allows you to develop your Emotional Intelligence (EQ).[2] Developing your EQ helps you gain insight and wisdom that enhances your decision-making when choosing the best strategies for dealing with the overwhelming emotions that you are feeling.

Susan David states very clearly that when you do show up, you must not come from a place of judgment but a place of kindness and compassion toward yourself. Emotions are there to provide you with information about what is going on internally for you – that’s it.

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Give yourself a break and accept that you are feeling anxious and angry and that it is okay.

2. Stepping Out

Once you have accepted that it is okay for you to feel angry, then you can step out. This step, according to Susan David, is not an easy one so you must be prepared to do the work to get this step working for you.

This step requires you to detach yourself from your feelings, step back, and observe what these thoughts and emotions are all about.

A great tip that Susan gave that worked for me was to change my self-talk from “ I am feeling angry” to “At this moment I am observing my feelings of anger are present”.

Detach yourself from the monologue in your head, and see the emotions for what they really are. They are there for a reason.

Stepping out is all about you working out what these emotions are trying to tell you.

3. Walking Your Why

Knowing who you are and what is important to you gives you clarity and direction when navigating your way through the complexity of life.

This step was empowering for me because once I got my “why”, I had a point of reference to work from. This insight gave me a foundation from which I could strengthen my will power, my resilience, and my wisdom to help me identify the ways to effectively deal with anger.

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If you are struggling to figure out your values, here is a link to Susan David’s Emotional Agility Quiz.[3] It is a very simple quiz that gives you clarity about what is important to you.

Your values are the driving force to how you live your life.

4. Moving On

For me, this step was the key to me taking action in a way that was sustainable for me. I was not looking for a one-hit-wonder approach.

I recognized that these emotions and feelings I was experiencing as a result of COVID-19 would come back in some form or another. So, I had to make changes that were long-lasting.

Susan David said that to successfully move on, just take small steps. Focus on tweaking your mindset, your motivation, and your habits in ways that are aligned to your values and can contribute to making a difference in your life

Disruption, uncertainly, and change are part of life.

I had to learn how to manage my negative feelings and emotions so that I could navigate my way through these disruptive events of life. If I didn’t do this, then my emotions would control me and that is not helpful at all.

Managing my anger in a productive way comes with a far better outcome than expressing my anger in a way that hurts others.

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When moving on regarding my anger, I spent quite a bit of time working on adjusting my mindset. Because of the Level 4 restrictions, all the gyms were locked down and so walking is the only exercise I can do that gets me out of the house. Every morning I start my walk with a simple affirmation of gratitude and appreciation for all the good in my life right now.

This simple act has had an amazing effect on lessening the intensity of my feelings of fear, anxiety, and anger.

Even though life is still tough and there is so much uncertainty about my future, I feel more in control of my feelings. I don’t have this intense bubbling of emotions going on inside me that can just explode over nothing.

I am more patient of others and definitely a lot more confident about how I process my emotions of anger in a more positive and healthier way

Final Thoughts

Uncontrolled expressions of anger can cause big problems in your life. That’s why it’s important that you learn how to release anger properly and express it without hurting other people.

Building a healthy relationship with anger is the key to controlling it, and the four steps written in this article will surely put you on the right track.

More Tips on How to Release Anger Properly

Featured photo credit: Christian Fregnan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Coaching for Leaders: 297: Four Steps to Get Unstuck and Embrace Change, with Susan David
[2] Institute for Health and Human Potential: What is Emotional Intelligence?
[3] Susan David, The Quiz

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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