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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

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

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

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

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Last Updated on November 8, 2021

How To Do Focused Meditation Any Time

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How To Do Focused Meditation Any Time

Do you often feel stressed for most of your day? Maybe you always feel a burden that you just can’t get rid of? Focused meditation might be your answer.

In this article, I’ll explore what focused meditation is, how it differs in the pool of many styles of meditation, and how to implement and start this practice today. Likewise, I’ll highlight the benefits of a focused meditation practice for your overall health.

What Is Focused Meditation?

Meditation is the practice of becoming self-aware through breath and attention to connect the mind, body, and spirit.[1] Meditation as a whole can change the structure and function of our brain. That being said, focused meditation or a guided meditation for focus is by far the best one. Meditation for focus and concentration can come in different forms. Experienced meditators use the following:

  • Mindfulness – this meditation involves us to be focusing on your breath and observing thoughts. This allows us to focus on our feelings without becoming too absorbed in them.
  • Concentrative – a meditation that gets us to focus on a particular point; be it a word, breath, object, or a point in the space you’re meditating. This is meant for us to pay attention to that point and prevent our minds from getting distracted.
  • Moving – this meditation involves gets us to focus on slow and repetitive movements similar to yoga or tai chi. The goal is again to be focusing on your breath while relaxing your body and mind with the movements.

Focused meditation, also known as concentrative meditation, is the practice of meditating and bringing your attention to one single object. This object can be something practical and tangible, such as a mandala painting or a candle flame. It can also be something abstract, such as a phrase (also known as mantra) or a sound (such as Om).[2][3]

Whatever you settle your attention on becomes the focal point. None of these object examples are better than others—they are simply choices depending on what you’re looking to get out of your practice. For example, practitioners will choose candle gazing to interpret the images the flame makes in the shadows while others will choose a mantra because that particular phrase or word empowers or heals them.

How Does It Differ From Other Meditation Styles?

All meditation styles and practices overlap and build on each other. Their basic foundation is the same: to bring the practitioner insight and introspection.

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There is no right or wrong way to meditate, however, the various types of meditation can enhance particular qualities. Based on your personality and needs, one type of meditation may be more useful to you than the other. The 9 types of meditation are:

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Spiritual meditation
  • Focused meditation
  • Movement meditation
  • Mantra meditation
  • Transcendental meditation
  • Progressive relaxation
  • Loving kindness meditation
  • Visualization meditation

Focused meditation, specifically, is the practice of focusing on one single object for the duration of the practice. How this differs from other meditation styles is that it gives the practitioner something tangible to do: focus. It’s almost like giving your mind an action to perform—listen to this sound, repeat these words, watch this flame, etc. This is also one of the reasons why this particular meditation style is great for beginners!

One of the biggest challenges in any meditation practice is that the mind gets carried away and we lose ourselves to random thoughts. This “obstacle” is actually a style of meditation in and of itself called Vipassana.[4] However, in focused meditation, we give the mind something to do so that it’s not simply left to its own devices. This type of meditation is beneficial for beginners and for practitioners who prefer some structure and guidance to their meditations.

The Benefits of Focused Meditation

In this style of meditation, what you’re really doing is exercising your mental muscles. Your brain is highly affected by dedicated and concentrated meditation practice.

Scientists have performed countless studies on focused meditation and have found that active meditators have more gray matter volume in their brain and, therefore, offsetting the cognitive decline that comes with aging. So, not only does practicing focused meditation help you learn how to focus better on certain tasks, but it also improves similar functions, such as memory. [5]

Likewise, it helps in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, which our society is currently crippled with.[6] By settling your attention on an object, you are essentially building your ability to observe your thoughts and sensations from a place of objectivity. This allows you to detach from negative self-talk that is often the breeding ground for depression and other mental illnesses.

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From a guided meditation for focus to practicing it yourself, daily meditation for focus comes with several benefits:

  • It’ll reduce stress
  • Help you to control anxiety
  • Enhance your self-awareness
  • Improve attention span
  • Helps you to focus on the present moment
  • Increase your creativity and imagination
  • And boost your patience and tolerance for things.

How to Practice Focused Meditation

Here are six tips to help you practice focused meditation. Based on your availability and interest, these tips may change and evolve. That’s the point: to create a structured practice that caters to your needs.

1. Find a Comfortable Seat

As with any meditation practice, comfort is truly key. The physical body responds to meditation practice by alerting you to whether it is comfortable and supported or stressed out and in pain. This is best observed in practitioners who tend to slouch and lose the tall, supported spine that is essential to meditation practice.

A simple rule in meditative sitting is to ensure that your hips are higher than your knees. Therefore, choosing to sit in a chair instead of on the floor may be a smart decision or perhaps propping yourself up on a cushion. For meditation techniques overall, it does not matter how you sit. All that matters is that you are supported and comfortable sitting for some time.

2. Choose Your Object of Focus

Every meditation training session is going to be different because no single day is the same for any one person. Therefore, experienced meditators know that choosing an object is more about listening to what you need at this time versus following any doctrine or “rule.”

If you’re not sure and have a hard time deciding, make focusing on your breath and pay attention to the inhale and exhale is a good option. Then, assign each inhale and exhale a number, and once you reach 10, start over. This is one of the simpler methods of keeping your mind occupied—by giving it a task. This also trains your mind, and over time and with practice, your mind will easily focus on an object without too much effort.

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3. Set Your Desired Time or “Go With the Flow”

If you have a structured routine and would like to stick to your schedule, by all means, set a gentle timer for how long you’d like your meditation to be. This is also your opportunity to throw out the notion that any meditation has to be a certain length of time to be correct—it does not.

Likewise, if you have the time, you can also listen to your body and come out of your meditation when you feel it’s right to do so. This is often a beautiful practice of listening and tuning in.

4. Relax Your Body as You Focus on Your Meditation

Typically, when we are focusing on something, we tend to tighten our body. Observe this next time that you’re concentrating on something: your jaw will tighten and your shoulders will squeeze up towards your ears.

As you sink into your meditation, keep this in mind and check in with your body every once in a while. Let your shoulders sink down your back and release any tension through your jaw and face. Lastly, relax your brow and let your eyes be heavy in their sockets. Then, return to your object of meditation. Observe if your meditation changes at all by relaxing your physical body.

5. Return to Your Breath and Object When You Get Distracted

Notice that I didn’t say “if you get distracted.” That’s because you definitely will drift off with random thoughts or get pulled away from your object of focus. In meditation, distractions are almost guaranteed. Therefore, it’s your opportunity to practice detaching yourself from feeling guilty or inadequate to continue.

Over time and with practice, you will find it easier to stay with your object of focus. In the meantime, however, notice when you get distracted. Pause and take a big breath in and out. Check in with your physical body and relax. Once you’re ready again, return to your object of focus. Meditation is simply one long cycle of wandering and coming back to yourself.

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6. Journal Your Experiences

When your meditation practice has ended, another powerful practice is to jot down any experiences that you felt. There may have been insights and “downloads” that you acquired during your session that you may want to record.

Likewise, you could write about any challenges that you faced. These are great lessons that will continue to show up for you, and it’s nice to keep a journal of them to see how they evolve and progress over time (and they will). Lastly, you can write about what works and what doesn’t, as far as picking your objects of meditation go. This way, you can learn what you most associate with and feel comfortable with.

While these steps are simple, it’s easier said than done. Whether you’re starting out with a guided meditation for focus, loving kindness meditation, or transcendental meditation, anticipating failure the first time you try these things is healthy. Furthermore, congratulate yourself for even making slight progress like noticing and returning to the present moment and noticing the sensations you experienced.

Final Thoughts

If practicing meditation causes you to feel distracted and unsupported, give focused meditation a go! With the help of an object to bring your attention to, it structures your meditation time and offers guidance and support.

Dedicating yourself to this style of meditation will help increase your memory, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote better cognitive function. Even though any style of meditation is a powerful way of taking care of your mental health, focused meditation gives your mind a tangible task with which to grow and strengthen.

More About Focused Meditation

Featured photo credit: Lua Valentia via unsplash.com

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Reference

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