How To Control Anger Issues: Mastering Emotion With Meditation
The Ultimate Guide To Mastering Anger
We all know it. We have all felt it. Anger. For those of us with anger issues, our health, our work, our relationships, and our whole quality of life are under the thumb of one supreme ruler.
Luckily meditation remedies the mental, emotional, and physiological factors underlying anger. We discuss a few of them here.
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Causes Of Anger: When We Lack Control
There are a couple of different ways people use anger to their real world advantage:
Feeling Powerless. Anger is often used as a go-to power grabbing strategy when we feel like we lack control of a particular situation. Because it works, it can also be quite addictive. Yelling at the supermarket store clerk for not honoring last week’s milk coupon is a good example.
Meditation helps us realize that, if we actually had control of a situation, then we wouldn't feel the need to become angry. If your flight gets delayed by 3 hours, will yelling at the desk attendant get you an upgrade to a private charter jet?
By allowing a shift in consciousness, an upgrade to a higher level of thought, meditation provides a true means of control rather than the illusion of control achieved through lashing out at others.
Finding Solutions & Keeping Cool. If you find yourself in what appears to be a "no way out" situation, keeping a calm, clear head will open doors that you would not have otherwise seen. Anger only clouds the mind and crimps clear thought.
When controlling a situation is impossible, meditation will help you diffuse the fear, become cool with the uncertainty, and melt the anxiety long before they approach a boiling point.
Anger outbursts can be compared to an emotional time bomb. The advanced emotional recognition and mindfulness learned through meditation ensures the green wire gets clipped first, then the black, then the yellow. Always in the correct order, no matter the situation.
Causes Of Anger: Controlling Other People
Abuse Of Power. A smaller percentage of people (most likely not you!) who feel small and insecure weaponize anger to feel bigger than everyone else, using power trips and false machismo to make up for their shortcomings. An abusive boss who finds a little too much pleasure in controlling his employees would be a prime example.
In this case, the problem is a bit more clear. When you see everyone as "separate from you," as competition, as disposable tools waiting to be "used," then you are certain to have anger and control issues. It's par for the course.
Luckily, meditation uproots this problem.
We Are All One. Black or white, rich or poor, religious or atheist, republican or democrat, meditation deepens your understanding that we humans are far more alike than we are different, we all have the same basic needs, wants, and motivations — health, love, purpose, and happiness.
When you start seeing people as "other forms of you," and really that, in the grand scheme of things "we are all one," the idea of controlling other people to your benefit seems utterly absurd. In this way, meditation makes you far less selfish, and far more of a giving person.
Raise your consciousness. Shift your polarity. Discover meditation.
Why We Become Angry: Dealing With The Monkey Mind
The Inner Critic. Though a modern mind epidemic (we all suffer this to a certain degree), many angry people (not necessarily you!) have a much louder and more negatively polarized "inner critic" than most everyone else.
Their inner voice is so loud that it drowns out the rest of the choir, especially those just trying to help."Why listen to anyone else when I’m always right!" Self-righteousness in its purest form.
This inner voice likes to paint pictures of everything as being good or bad. "I never remember anything," "I'm not good enough for that job," "I can’t do this," "I can’t do that," "Everyone is always out to get me." It is a kind of limited, highly polarized "all or none" type of thinking.
Capping Your Potential. Many angry folks are self-sabotagers, squandering one growth opportunity after another. Their loud inner voices are quite defensive, don’t like listening, and really hate being corrected for making mistakes.
By closing their ears and minds to all feedback (including positive), the polarized "inner critic" lacks the capacity to course correct. When doors open for angry people (not necessarily you!), they close them.
The captain who fails to heed the expertise and advice of his crew is sure to run the ship aground. Luckily, meditation fixes all of the above!
How To Control Anger: Stilling the Mind
Mind Chatter Cease & Desist. By quieting the 50,000 thoughts that the human mind generates per day, meditation disables the so called "inner critic" while successfully transforming negative inner dialogue.
The meditative mind has learned to not place "good" or "bad" labels on thoughts, but simply to observe and witness them from a distance. In turn, "thought resistance" goes to the wayside, disabling the spiral of emotions which so often leads to angry outbursts.
By putting to bed the useless, fear-based narrative which so often dominates the human mind, meditation extinguishes the barrage of thoughts about not having enough, not being enough, and not doing enough.
How To Control Anger: The Positive Mindset
Unplanting The Seeds Of Anger. People who "make it" in their respective field very often say that it was their positive mindset which ultimately enabled their success. In fact, countless highly successful people owe their success to meditation! Meditation takes "I never" and "I can’t" out of your vocabulary.
It is a big picture mindset, the view from the top of the mountain that transforms how meditators deal with their thoughts and master their inner dialogue. The seeds of anger: feelings of inadequacy, powerlessness, and helplessness — get replaced with self-confidence and positive belief.
Meditation empowers your thinking on every level — your mind will be calm and rational, your thoughts will be clear and creative, your consciousness will be clean and pure.
How high can you go? How far can you reach? You never know until you practice meditation. At the very least, becoming a less angry person has massive advantages.
Meditation & The Physiology Of Anger: Prefrontal Cortex
Hacking Anger. Obviously, we are no longer cavemen. We have evolved. Other than being taller and less hairy, what is the biggest difference, the clearest dividing line between ancient and modern man? Easy. That would be our thought orchestrating, higher level thinking "prefrontal cortex."
We have always been taught that certain things can't be changed. You can't move a mountain. You can't drain the ocean. You can't grow in height after 30. You can't change your brain.
But science has proven otherwise. You CAN change your brain... through the power of "Neuroplasticity!" If you want to be a smarter, happier, and healthier person, then finding a way to train the "Einstein-like" prefrontal cortex is critical. Luckily, meditation is evolution’s secret cheat code, the very best way to hack your brain into the future.
A landmark 2005 study by Harvard neuroscientist Dr. Sara Lazar found that the prefrontal cortexes of meditators had an incredible amount of what scientist call "thickness," "folds," and overall "surface area." You know how pushups build up your chest, triceps, and shoulders? Meditation does the same for your brain.
Evolving Beyond Anger. Moreover, the study found that the participants' measurables for higher level thinking, raw intelligence (IQ), emotional well-being, psychological balance, and happiness were off the charts. Kind of hard to be angry when so many things are going your way? The implications of this finding are immense, reaching far and wide.
By tipping his hat, the "CEO" prefrontal cortex will send your anger issues to the unemployment line. Meditation needs no salary.
The Physiology Of Anger: Fight Or Flight Mode
From Ancient To Modern. With "caveman" on the nightly dinner menu, our ancestors often went face to face with hungry lions, tigers, and bears.
Back then, if we failed to show proper aggression, be it using our weapon, screaming at the top of our lungs, looking real mean and scary, throwing rocks, or whatever else our ancient neanderthal brethren did to ward off enemies — then we could quickly find ourselves on the wrong end of a Thanksgiving feast.
A certain amount of anger was essential to our ancestors' everyday survival. The problem is, in this day and age, we no longer face life or death situations. Yet, we are still wired much like cavemen.
We Aren't Cavemen Anymore. Modern man doesn’t really need his fear center activated at the drop of a pin. We don’t need noradrenaline stress hormones pumping through our veins because last month’s electric bill is twice what we thought it would be.
Letting frustration from our jobs, relationship issues, and money problems should not evoke flight or flight biochemical reactions. We cannot lash out at our friends, family members, and colleagues like they are a pack of saber-tooths.
We live in a society governed by laws and social norms which must be followed, with common sense the supreme king and ruler of us all. Luckily, meditation provides a kind of "instant evolution" to our caveman physiology.
How To Control Anger: Making The Impossible, Possible
While we like to think every problem we face has a clearly defined solution, this is not always the case. Life is not arithmetic. We can't always Houdini ourselves out of every situation, no matter how clever we are.
When life throws you an unhittable curveball, meditation will help in two main ways:
#1 — Meditation Helps You Handle The Impossible. First, if the solution is undefined or doesn’t exist, then meditation will make you far more emotionally balanced to properly deal with it.
For example, on your drive home, you get blindsided by a drunk driver. You survive, but the doctor couldn't save your left leg below the knee. Barring some kind of sci-fi limb generating technology, being physically whole again ain't gonna happen.
You could play the victim. After all, you are the victim! You could become bitter, jaded, hate your life. People have given up for a lot less, that is for sure. Your anger could spiral out of control, making you a shell of your former self.
Going Above & Beyond. Or, you could raise your consciousness. Instead of piling up more and more frustration, day after day, you could reset it in meditation. You can roll back the odometer on your anxiety, depression, and frustration, whenever you wish.
Instead of living your life in the mental gutter, you could transcend the experience. You could use it as a springboard to go higher and further than you ever dreamed possible.
A new career helping amputees maybe? Perhaps leverage that insurance settlement money into a passionate business venture? Go back to school? Maybe get into counseling or therapy? After all, who has more street-cred than the one-legged happy guy?
The point is that meditation puts your level of thought above anger, even for people going through highly traumatic experiences. There are a million ways to overcome just about anything, perhaps even inspiring others along the way. Meditation unlocks this high level mindset.
#2 — Meditation Helps You In Solving The Possible. Second, if the problem blocking your path can somehow be solved, then meditation will arm you with the mental toolkit to do so.
For example, your lazy coworker, who just so happens to be engaged to the CEO's daughter — just got promoted to the job you have slaved toward over the last 7 years.
You could get angry and frustrated, put in your resignation, throw a stapler at your boss, maybe go postal. While you may not act on these thoughts, it is certainly normal to be angry in a situation like this.
They say that great athletes' brainwaves drop into calm "Alpha" brainwaves when under pressure. For example, kicking a game tying field goal, shooting a late fourth quarter free throw, putting on the 18th hole to win the golf tournament — you get the idea.
Mind Is The Builder. Like an athlete, you could harness the power of meditation to find and maintain your emotional equilibrium, baseline, and zero point — while digging deep into your mind for creative solutions.
Maybe it's time to start your own business? How about becoming a consultant? Time to upgrade cities? Start over fresh? Maybe you could try cooking, writing, or teaching? Teach yourself to code? How about subletting your apartment while regathering in a cheap Mexican beach town?
The point is that a calm, clear mind generates creative solutions. Meditation is the best way to tap into that infinite reserve of wisdom contained within. Anger not only clouds the mind, but it can spiral until you find yourself living a bitter, unhappy life.
All Solutions Reside In The Mind. Have you ever heard of shower thoughts? Great thinkers often report that, like bolts of divine inspiration, their best stuff strikes them when they least expect.
When Albert Einstein was working on the modern theory of relativity, he had a routine for accessing his deep mind. He would lay down in a trance-like state, waiting for subconscious ideas to surface — recording them on paper upon waking.
Biographers have described Einstein's personality as quiet, reserved, soft-spoken, while preferring solitude. Did you see angry written there? Thought so.
A simmering of the deep mind can cook up all kinds of wonderfully creative solutions that will never be found in a clouded, frustrated hot-head’s kitchen. In situations that would otherwise have you pulling your hair out, sometimes a bit of subconscious cerebration is necessary to find a proper solution.
Subconscious Exploration. Serving as your mental "Magellan," meditation circumnavigates the depths of your mind, locating the hard-to-find solutions, while easily weathering any anger-causing storm on the horizon.
Who is more likely to find the cure to cancer? The frustrated scientist, banging his head against the wall, hating himself and his life? Or the scientist who stills, quiets, and disciplines his mind through 30 minutes of daily meditation?
To access that long-sunken treasure trove held deep within the ocean of your mind, discover meditation. The secrets to the universe are contained within. Anger has no loot, no booty, and no value.
What To Know About Repressed Anger
Is It OK To Repress Anger? "Instead of getting mad, maybe I should just hold it in. No harm, no foul, right?" Anger repression, at least in the short term, does not appear to be such a bad thing.
However, the danger when you bottle up dysfunctional emotions is that they can fester, intensify and become inflamed. Unexpressed anger can lead to passive aggressive behavior, cynicism, bitterness, and hate. That’s just for starters.
Anger dramatically impacts your health. Your heart races, your blood pressure boils, your fight or flight hormones get triggered, your muscles tighten, breathing becomes more and more difficult.
When you hold in anger, these problems not only linger but they build up, layer upon layer, until you reach a breaking point.
Then, how do we solve this emotional calculus? Meditation!
Releasing Anger. By weakening the power our stressful thoughts have on both our psychology and physiology, meditation is the very best way to become immune to the spiraling negative effects of repressed anger.
Like the ocean tide, the mindfulness learned by observing the rise and fall of your feelings makes you keenly aware of the thinking process — witnessing your thoughts instead of identifying with and being controlled by them.
When you do this, not only will your internal state swing into balance, but repressing your anger becomes impossible — since nothing will really bother you.
Meditation & The Physiology Of Anger: Amygdala & Cortisol
Quieting The Caveman Brain. Contained within the temporal lobes of your brain are two almond shaped groups of nuclei called the "amygdala." Serving as the brain's "fear center," overactivity within this region increases anger disorder likelihood 100 fold. Luckily, you don't have to succomb to the impending doom that the human mind so often generates.
A Harvard University study brain scanned freshly minted meditators before and after an 8 week mindfulness class. What did they find? Amazingly, the meditators "fear center" amygdalae were far less active, sending almost no "distress signals" to the rest of the brain. Meditation had effectively forced the brain to upgrade its long outdated "caveman software," while cooling off the often overheated temper-tantrum-linked hardware.
Canceling Angry Hormones. Do you have anger issues? Then your system is likely oozing with cortisol, a major age-accelerating hormone which gets abundantly released when we are stressed out.
While a natural product of our evolution, too much cortisol can compound into a spiral of problems: brain-fog, tissue break-down, blocking good hormones, insomnia, anxiety, depression — we can go on. Too much cortisol is clearly bad news, only getting worse after fits of rage.
What if there was a way to reduce this nasty hormone? You can! A Rutgers University study found that, after practicing for only a couple of weeks, meditation dramatically reduced (by more than 50%!) the body’s main stress hormone "cortisol." What does this mean?
By neutralizing the nasty chemical cocktail present before, during, and after you become angry, meditation effectively balances the biological environment which directly impacts how you think, feel, and react.
To sum, quicker than the light switch in your bedroom, meditation's brain rewiring puts to bed your brain's primitive "caveman" fear center. In turn, you become a far happier person, while staying cool, calm, and collected even if the world around is in total chaos. Anger begone.
How To Control Anger: Perspective
"My flight is cancelled. This is the worst case. Absolutely terrible. Why do bad things always seem to happen to me?"
The Sky Is Falling. Angry people (not necessarily you!) are often masters at being overly dramatic, blowing things out of proportion, exaggerating the mundane, while sweating the little things.
Luckily, meditation gives the angry person a much broader perspective. A few examples are below:
The Word Is Not Fair. Meditation will deepen your understanding that while the world is not always a fair place for you, it's not a fair place for anyone. We all have to deal with much the same crap. Our ability to not get angry and frustrated when faced with the inevitable roadblock is the key. This kind of emotional intelligence makes you incredibly resilient, no matter the situation.
The most successful people are those that learn to navigate through turbulent waters — coming from rough neighborhoods, dysfunctional families, disadvantage backgrounds, you name it. When channeled intelligently, the darkness you face can only brighten your future.
Resistance Makes The Mind Grow. Like an Olympic hurdler, learning to leap over life's obstacles forces you to grow. Keeping a cool, meditative mindset not only transcends any emotion raising situation but forces you to harness the power of living in an unjust world to become a better human.
When getting angry, jaded, or quitting is not an option, you start to believe. Belief in whatever you are doing unlocks the power of your subconscious mind, which then clears the path to your goal. Your job becomes to tune into and follow that intuitive advice. Anger only clouds your mind, stunts your growth, and disables your intuition.
How To Control Anger: Increase Your Emotional Intelligence
Years ago, most everyone agreed that it was your raw intelligence (IQ) that predicted whether or not you ultimately became successful in your respective field of work.
EQ Instead Of IQ. Got a perfect SAT score? You will inevitably become CEO. You can memorize 1000 digits of Pi? Get promoted to University Chancellor. Solve a rubix cube in 10 seconds? Your name is etched on the NASA Administrator’s door. Does this happen in the real world? No.
Then, what’s the newer, more widely accepted #1 success indicator? Emotional intelligence (EQ) — as scientists have shown again and again. What kind of characteristics do these folks display?
Characteristics Of Emotional Intelligence. People with advanced emotional intelligence have mastered both work and play. They tend to have prosperous careers, lots of friends, and highly fulfilling relationships. They are very often generous, motivated, empathic, with the capacity and willingness to love and be loved.
And they are not angry. Think of the most successful people that you know. How many of them would you define as having angry personalities? High emotional intelligence and anger have an inversely proportional relationship. More EQ equals less anger. Very simple.
Building EQ Through Meditation. Luckily, your emotional intelligence is not set in stone. Like strengthening your bicep with curls, there are certain things you can do to build up your EQ. What’s the very best way? Meditation.
From targeting the very brain region (temporoparietal junction) associated with high EQ, to increasing your self understanding and awareness, to melting away years of layered anxiety & depression, to becoming in tune with reading people's vibes, facial expressions, and body language — meditation is the very best way to upgrade your EQ to the highest level.
How To Control Anger: Fewer Demands, Fewer Disappointments
When things don’t go your way, disappointment is sure to follow. While being demanding can be quite helpful in many situations, many angry people have unhealthy and unrealistic expectations. A series of disappointments can make anyone a permanently angry person.
Then, what’s the cure for being too demanding? Awareness.
Mind Is The Elixir. The mindfulness achieved through meditation helps you know when you are being a jerk. As with so many other things, it is a lack of consciousness that is the problem.
When you start paying attention to your mind and observing your thoughts, a magical thing happens. Your intentions, words, and actions move to higher and higher levels. You no longer see people as tools to be used. You begin seeing people as other forms of you.
Knowing you will not always get what you want can be an empowering and an effective elixir to anger and frustration. Mindfulness is the world’s best cure-all.
How To Control Anger: Training Your Filter
Blatant Disregard. We all know the dude with "no filter." He says whatever pops into his head, letting it rip anytime / anywhere, while never thinking of the blowback. While some would argue this is a good trait, we all need to exhibit some kind of social restraint from time to time. A line needs to be drawn somewhere, or else we could find ourselves jobless, spouseless, living in a tiny apartment with a bunch of cats.
What's the link? Many angry people tend to be quite impulsive, saying and doing the first thing that pops into their head. They tend to use foul language, swearing and cursing regardless of the situation, often apologizing once they cool down. Put simply, angry people quite often have no filter.
Inner Environment. Then, what's the problem? Your words are a direct reflection of your inner dialogue. Your inner dialogue is a direct reflection of your inner environment. To fix angry outbursts, you need to fix the root of the problem: your inner environment.
If you have a mountain of anxiety, depression, and addiction clogging up your system, then it is highly likely your filter is not in tune. Beyond just wearing your emotions on your sleeve, a clogged up system means you are likely to fly off the cuff anytime, anywhere.
Curating Your Life. The best solution, meditation restores balance to even the most out of tune inner environment, melting away the years of piled up dysfunctional emotions. When you can reset your anxiety, lift your depression, eliminate your addiction, then your thoughts, words, and actions will be closer to the "real" you.
In turn, those around you will see your highest self — no matter the situation. That is the real you — you know, buried under the baggage! Expect your life to take on a much more curated, deeply thought out path.
Beyond just slowing down and thinking deeply about your responses, meditation changes you from the inside out. You won't necessarily have more restraint, you will simply be different. Upgraded. Better.