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How To Learn From Anger And Grow To Be Happier

How To Learn From Anger And Grow To Be Happier

Anger is one of those emotions that sneaks up on you and takes over. Anger is normal, but if you’re letting arguments escalate every time and your temper is going out of control, then you need to keep your emotions in check. If you have a short fuse, your anger might be damaging relationships‒both work and personal. Make sure you know how to learn from anger and grow to be happier.

How much do you know about anger? It’s important to understand this emotion before you know why it’s important to tackle.

Anger hurts your health.

Anger is accompanied by high levels of stress and tension. If you experience this emotion consistently over time, you will be more susceptible to illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, insomnia, and high blood pressure. But this harm isn’t purely physical. Anger takes over so much of your mind that it clouds your thinking. The stress it creates can also lead to depression and a variety of mental issues.

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Anger hurts your relationships.

Anger hurts both your personal and your work relationships. Debates and arguments can be healthy, but only if you can take a step back and realize these as discussions only, not personal attacks. Getting angry and flying off the handle makes it so that people will not feel comfortable being honest with you. They’ll tailor their words and actions to your reaction, instead of according to what needs to be said or done.

Anger makes you look like a bully.

And everyone hates a bully. People might be scared of you and do what you want if you fly off the handle easily, but they won’t respect you, and they certainly won’t like you. You need to keep your anger in check during arguments and discussions so you come across as level headed and capable of handling anything that comes your way.

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    Now that you understand the downsides of anger, you can work to get over it, which will make you happier in the long run.

    Acknowledge your anger.

    It’s said you’re supposed to “let out” your anger so it doesn’t eat away at you, or become corrosive and hurt you down the line. While this is true, you must vent in moderation. Letting out all your anger will only hurt everyone around you, possibly permanently damaging relationships.

    Understand your anger.

    Is your anger rooted in something from childhood? Are you experiencing traumatic events or heightened stress levels that are causing you to fly off the handle more easily? Is this anger covering up another feeling? Maybe you feel too vulnerable to say what you’re really feeling, so you express it in anger instead. This is especially likely to be true if anger is your default reaction in most conversations. If anger is the only emotion you can express, then you need to work on getting those others to come out more willingly.

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    Take action on your anger.

    Make note of the warning signs before anger takes over your entire body. Does your face get hot? Do you feel knots in your stomach? Do you ball your hands into fists? Keep yourself in check when this starts happening. Try breathing exercises to calm yourself down, then isolate yourself so you can work through your anger without alienating anyone you care about.

    You can control your anger.

    Anger might sneak up on you and take you by surprise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t control it. You might not be able to stop what makes you angry, but you can control how it comes out around others. Don’t throw tantrums, don’t be a bully, and don’t let it eat you alive. When you feel angry, acknowledge where it came from and that you’re too big a person to be brought down by a little negativity.

    Don’t suppress your anger.

    It’s impossible to never get angry about anything. It’s human nature that things will rub you the wrong way and you’ll get frustrated and angered by them. Instead of focusing on suppressing your anger, or even trying to eliminate the sources of your anger, just make sure you’re expressing it in constructive, not destructive, ways.

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    Make your anger productive for you.

    Take that angry energy and use it to propel you around the block for a walk, or go to the gym to blow off all that steam. Funnel your energy into a creative outlet, listen to calming music, or even just sit in silence. Find something that works for you‒something that calms you down and makes you happy‒and use that to stave off the side effects of anger.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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