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10 Unexpected Facts About Anger That Will Impress You

10 Unexpected Facts About Anger That Will Impress You

The last line before Zack de la Rocha spits the words “freedom, yeah right freedom” in his song of the same name, is “Anger is a gift.” This line sticks in mind even after more than two decades, as does the rest of Rage Against The Machine’s self-titled debut, because of its power. The way in which the words are propelled by de la Rocha’s mouth says more than the meaning of the words.

But a gift? Anger wells in the pit of your stomach as a mixture of fear and frustration. We get angry at our children, our bosses and ourselves for different reasons. Some of the following facts about anger may surprise as well as impress you, but all told anger’s gift is one that can damage the body or soul of the angry host, so recognition and control of anger is the key to using the emotion effectively.

1. Anger is not inherently bad.

While anger pits in the stomach, the emotion itself is not inherently bad. Men, women and children experience anger differently. Whereas children most often feel anger from the perspective of frustration–they can’t have what they want when they want it–adults get angry when they feel out of control. Anger itself isn’t a bad or even a dangerous thing, but it always needs consideration. As with any emotion, understanding why it is felt is the first step to reaping its benefits.

2. Anger is an emotion with physiological effects.

We all understand the feeling of a rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and burning stomach as our muscles tighten and we feel anger. The “fight or flight” system engages as we decide how best to deal with our anger. According to an article in Psychology Today, expressing anger is always the best thing for you.  When anger feeds off itself, your release of anger causes you more damage. Be wary of the cycle that wreaks havoc on your nervous system.

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3. One benefit of anger is motivation.

When we feel that emotion that riles us up, we also feel motivated. At first, knowing how best to act is difficult, but in time the emotion of anger can drive us to create something innovated to solve a problem. While we can all relate to anger as a result of injustice or pain (like when a lover cheats or a boss promotes another worker), we don’t always realize that stress and taking on too much can cause angry outbursts. The body and mind sometimes work together to tell us we need to cut back at work or find more time to relax. Motivating ourselves to enjoy life more and stress less is one of the best benefits of anger.

4. Humor can diffuse anger.

Realizing that life is stressful is only the first step. Actually, the realization is more like lacing up the shoes than even taking that first step. The first step comes from the understanding that anger is an emotion that men and women feel differently, and anger does not have to control us. The simple act of laughing at anger can diffuse it.

In an argument, one person can defeat the mounting anger with a joke. I wouldn’t recommend a stand-up comedy act to diffuse a dangerous hostage situation, but when your coworkers can’t agree on a project, trying to diffuse the situation with office antics can help everyone get focused.

5. Uncontrolled anger and angry outbursts are linked to stroke and heart attack.

When you just can’t shake the anger and it feeds off itself for too long, you will either find yourself making yourself physically sick or your outburst can land you in jail. An article published by CNN shows a link between angry outbursts and increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise can exacerbate the effects of anger, putting you at an increased risk for cardiovascular events.

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6. People are not always the triggers of anger.

When our environment causes stress and frustration we experience anger, just as we experience anger with people who cause us stress and frustration. People are not always the trigger, unless they are the drivers on clogged highways contributing to road rage. Noise pollution, such as what one living in a construction zone would hear, triggers anger and sometimes we don’t even realize it.

If you find yourself getting angry and you’re not sure why, listen to your environment and recognize whether or not you get enough peace and quiet. Rushing around after kids or running from meeting to meeting in the corporate world can leave you stressed and angry. In this condition, you aren’t angry with anyone, but your environment is making you angry.

7. A plan for relaxation can combat anger.

In an attempt to benefit from anger, you should plan to relax on a regular basis. Along with eating well and exercising, planning time to relax by taking the kids to the park or enjoying a show with a friend can combat anger. We plan as much as we can for work, for our families and for our futures, but when we forget to plan to relax we give rise to anger.

8. When you feel the anger emotion, something needs examination.

Again, anger itself is not a bad thing. The motivating power of anger can act as an incentive to release pent-up aggression at the gym. When we first feel that anger, we need to examine it and understand its origin. What does the emotion mean? Are we distrustful of our partners? Does our body need to release tension and stress?

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Only by examining the underlying issues and significance of anger can we understand how best to act. Sometimes, screaming into a pillow, pummeling a cardboard cutout of a boss or writing a nasty letter we don’t intend to mail can help us express the anger in a healthy manner, but we won’t know until we know why we feel the anger.

9. Aggression is anger in action.

Feeling the anger, and choosing to take a deep breath or choosing to verbally assault a cheating lover is the difference between anger as an emotion and anger in action. Aggression is when we act on our anger, and aggression can land us in jail. Men often feel like showing anger in public or in the workplace is a sign of weakness. Hiding feelings of anger can cause outbursts at home in these situations. Accept when you feel angry and try to understand its root.

When anger must be released in a physical form, try mixed martial arts or boxing lessons to control the aggressive instinct. The benefit from anger in this scenario is that you can express your aggression and exercise at the same time. Sometimes, this physical exercise is what the body needed when the mind felt the anger emotion.

10. Anger teaches us about our ability to cope

We all experience anger from time to time, and even when we repeatedly feel frustrated and irritable our feelings may not indicate anything abnormal. Anger teaches us about our ability to cope because we can easily and objectively look at ourselves and answer a few questions. Am I feeling angry? Sometimes, we feel pressured or rushed and that leads to anger. Solving the underlying problem in this situation means planning and being more organized.

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When we realize that we are having a hard time managing anger, we might need to look more closely at how our lives are structured. While we can’t always knock off work and take a weekend trip to a quiet beach, we can work on the controlling biggest stressors in our lives. When we find we can no longer control our emotions, cope effectively or express aggression, we need to consider anger management.  Sometimes, anger is a gift we’d best return.

Featured photo credit: morguefile via Morguefile

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How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

His motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • He riles up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

Becoming the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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