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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Release Anger Without Hurting Others

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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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Clear Your Mind and Be More Present Instantly

How to Clear Your Mind and Be More Present Instantly

You may be wondering how to clear your mind. Maybe you are facing a tough presentation at work and really need to focus, or perhaps you’ve got a lot going on at home and just need to relax for a few minutes. Whatever the reason, having a clear mind can help you find your center.

The only problem is that you can’t completely erase the thousands of thoughts you have each day. The goal is to be able to observe those thoughts without engaging with each one of them.

The good news is that clearing your mind and returning to the present moment comes from a simple act of acknowledging that you’re overwhelmed in the first place. A path to better mental health and overall quality of life starts here.

What Happens When You’re Not Present?

We’ve evolved to keep looking and working towards a future goal. The very nature of our careers is to make sure that we’re setting ourselves up for the future. Our thoughts and, therefore, our habits and actions consistently point in the forward-moving direction, whether it’s in your relationship, career, or goals.

The point at which this becomes harmful is when we become too stuck in this forward motion and can’t reduce stress in the short or long-term. The result of this is burnout.[1] It’s a term that is most often used in the workplace, but burnout can happen in any area of our life where you feel like you’re pushing too hard and too fast.

The idea here is that you’re so engrossed in the forward movement that you take on too much and rest too little. There is no pause in the present because you have this sense that you must keep working.

On a physical plane, the body takes a real hit with burnout. You feel more muscle fatigue, poor concentration, insomnia, anxiety, poor metabolism, and so much more.

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These symptoms are the body’s way of throwing you red flags and warning you that you must slow down. But because your mind is so preoccupied with this forward momentum, it disconnects you from listening to your body’s signals. The only time you really hear them is when the signals are too loud to ignore, such as during serious illness or pain.

As we can see, not being present is something that snowballs over time. Eventually, it can cause serious mental, emotional, and physical ailments. 

To help you deal with this, you can check out Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment to see where you may be off balance. Then, you can check out the points below to keep moving in the right direction.

How Do We Come Back to the Present?

Answering this question will answer the question of how to clear your mind because they go hand in hand. There are many tools you can use to begin a mindfulness practice.

To reiterate, mindfulness is simply defined as the act or practice of being fully present.[2] Tools that allow you to step into this practice include meditation, journaling, a body-centered movement practice such as Qigong, or simple breathing exercises.

Underneath it all, however, is one technique that acts as a universal connector, and that is acknowledgment. This term may not sound like a technique, but its power truly flourishes when put into practice.

For us to come back to the present moment, we have to acknowledge that we have trailed off into the past or the future. Likewise, for us to clear our mind, we have to acknowledge that our mind is overwhelmed, distracted, or scattered.

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This simple act of pausing and catching ourselves in the moment is how we can build our acknowledgment practice. So, the next time you find yourself overwhelmed at work with mental to-do lists, pause. Acknowledge your state of mind and say to yourself that you’re overwhelmed. This sends a signal to your whole being that you’re aware of what’s going on.

It cuts the cords of illusion, denial, and ignorance. You are now building your awareness of yourself, which is an incredibly potent gift.

How to Clear Your Mind

Now that you’ve acknowledged where you are and how you feel, you can take action and learn ways to clear your mind. You can take a few moments away from your desk or to-do list, and practice something to ground yourself back into the present moment.

1. Take a Walk

Grounding yourself can be as simple as taking a walk and admiring the changing of the leaves. This practice is also known as “forest bathing,” and it doesn’t necessarily need to take place in a forest. It can be in your favorite park or even walking around your town or neighborhood.

Bring your attention to the senses as you enjoy your walk. Can you tune in to the sounds of your footsteps on the earth? Can you notice the smells and take in the sights around you while staying present in the moment? Can you touch a leaf or the bark of a tree and allow the texture to teach you something new?

Such a practice does wonders in clearing your mind and bringing you back to the now. It also connects you more deeply to your environment.

2. Box Breathing

As you’re learning how to clear your mind, a mind-clearing practice may look like sitting down and going through a nourishing meditation or breath practice. Breathing is, honestly, the easiest and best way to clear your mind. Even taking a few deep breaths in and out and feeling and noticing the breath will bring you right back to the present moment.[3]

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In yoga, we call this breath Same Vrti, meaning a 1:1 breath ratio. It can also be translated as “box breathing.” The idea is to make the length of your inhales and exhales the same, as this allows you to take in more oxygen and slow down the chatter of the monkey mind. It also kicks on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion, offering many health benefits in the long run.

This will allow your heart rate to slow down so that you can reduce any anxiety you may be feeling. It also aids in digestion, as the metabolism is back on track, and helps you physically process food and drink properly.

3. Add Meditation

how to meditate and clear your mind is also helpful when you want to clear negative thoughts and relieve stress. In fact, following your breath is a meditation in itself. Adding a visual, like imagining gentle ripples on a lake or clouds passing along a beautiful blue sky, can give the mind something to attach to without running through the train of your thoughts.

On the other hand, if you are mentally overwhelmed and meditation sounds like more stress, tuning in to a guided meditation session can be alleviating. It often helps to hear the voice of a teacher or guide who can walk you into more peace and contentment with their words and energy. If you can’t find such a guide in a local studio, turn to the many meditation apps on your phone, or YouTube.

4. Write Your Thoughts

Alternatively, another powerful practice for when you’re learning how to clear your mind is sitting down and writing out all of the thoughts in your head. We call this a “brain dump,” and it is an effective method for simply releasing your thoughts so that you can mentally breathe and process things better.

Grab a piece of paper and write out all of the thoughts that are pressing for your attention. The idea is not to analyze the thoughts or fix them, but to give those thoughts an exit so that you can move on with your day without fixating on them aggressively. This can look like a laundry list of thoughts, or a diary entry.

Afterward, feel free to close your journal or rip up the paper as part of your stress management. You don’t need to hold on to what you wrote, but it does help to see the expression of what you’re holding on to mentally. Likewise, this practice is very potent to do at night before bedtime. So many of us struggle to sleep soundly with many thoughts bouncing back and forth, and this exercise before bed can allow us to enter a deeper level of rest.

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Regardless of what you do, understand that practicing mindfulness is a lifelong process. With life’s ups and downs, it’s stressful to attach yourself to the practice of being mindful and in the present moment because it’s never guaranteed that you will be present for 100% of your life.

In this practice, what matters more than anything is intention. Our intention of staying present and sticking to our mindfulness practice is what will encourage us to keep coming back to it, even when we forget.

Final Thoughts

With the thousands of thoughts that we have in our head each day, it can sound overwhelming to even tackle this and try to learn how to clear your mind. The technique, however, is powerful, simple, and effective.

It all comes down to first recognizing and acknowledging that we are overwhelmed, stressed, or far away from the present moment. That acknowledgment acts as a wake-up alarm, inviting us to examine our state of mind and take action.

In this way, not only are we clearing our minds in a manner that works for us, but we’re also building our self-awareness, which is a beautiful and powerful way of being in the world.

More Tips on How to Clear Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Elijah Hiett via unsplash.com

Reference

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