Since anger is an emotion charged with energy, relaxation techniques can help relieve the stress it causes you. Progressive muscle relaxation is particularly successful as an anger management tool. It is also one of the easiest to practise. It involves the tensing and relaxing of each of the 16 different muscles groups in your body. Tense each muscle hard enough for about ten seconds and then suddenly relax the muscle for fifteen seconds. The whole exercise could take up to half an hour. As you release each muscle imagine the anger or stress seeping away. Begin with your fists, then your biceps (muscles on the upper arm), then your triceps (muscles underneath the arm). Raise your eyebrows to tighten the forehead muscles and tense the muscles at the back of your head, close your eyelids tightly, open your mouth wide and stretch your jaw, then go to the back of your neck, tense your shoulders, push your shoulder blades back, breathe deeply to tighten the stomach muscles, arch your back, clench your buttocks, tighten your thigh muscles, pull up your toes, tighten your calf muscles, curl your toes and tense your feet. If this is done properly it will greatly relax your body and weaken your anger.
How to Vent Anger Successfully
There is a lot of debate about how to discharge anger safely. Some research suggests that venting anger explosively causes more harm than good, while some writers contend that suppressing it is equally harmful. Because anger is full of energy, therapists once believed that an energetic venting (e.g. using a punch bag) was the best, but research now shows that this is detrimental to our health and causes as much damage as an outburst of anger. Current theory also holds that explosively venting anger merely nurtures volatility. Finding gentle ways to process it is recommended, for example, listening to gentle music or water flowing in a stream. When you are taking a shower you can imagine the anger flowing away with the water. These gentle anger management techniques will help you to ease your stress and take better care of yourself. As the stress eases so does the chronic vigilance that keeps the fire of anger smouldering.
The Unsent Letter
The unsent letter, mentioned above, is one of the best ways to vent your anger. In this you can express exactly how you feel, using any type of language you like, while showing in detail the reasons for your anger. You can use the letter to deal with normal or with toxic anger. The letter is for your healing and to give you a voice. If the letter is to heal toxic anger, it is about reclaiming your power, and expressing your anger at being neglected in childhood. When your power is taken as a child you feel fearful as an adult, and a letter to those who sowed that fear can help to release you from its grip. It does not matter if the person, who caused you this distress, is alive or dead. The letter should be worded strongly, using the non-dominant hand to access the feelings of the inner child, and should express not only your anger but any other feeling you have suffered as a result of neglectful parenting. When you have finished you could read it aloud to a therapist or a close friend and then tear it up or burn it. This is a symbol of freedom because you are now having a voice and tearing down the power of the person who hurt you. If you burn the letter you will see their ancient power vanishing in smoke.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE