How to express anger healthily
Updated: May 31, 2020
Anger is just a build up of energy and it needs to be acknowledged (like any emotion) and then released from the body. Not releasing anger from the body at the moment it is felt can lead to the emotions becoming trapped in the body. Over years of suppressing anger, physical disease can manifest - as suggested by Dr Gabor Mate in his book When the body says no and by Brad Nelson in his book The Emotion Code.
Dr Gabor Mate found that in his experience, everyone with an autoimmune disease had certain personality traits in common. Amongst traits such as perfectionism, he also suggested that they all suppressed negative emotions like anger. We are usually taught that it is bad to express anger, and therefore we learn from childhood to suppress it and to hide it. We aren’t generally taught how to express these emotions in a healthy way. I know that I used to think I was a ‘bad person’ for feeling angry. This is just what was taught to me as a child. This simply isn’t the case. Anger isn’t bad. The way that people express it can be. Or suppressing it can be too. Used in the right way, anger can actually be channelled into something very positive like driving you to get out of your current circumstances, or driving you to make a positive difference in the world. Anger is a build up of energy that needs to be allowed to leave your body. It is there for a reason, and so ignoring it does not help. The anger must first be observed by you, and witnessed by you. That is the first step - naming the emotion you are feeling, acknowledging it, and then doing something appropriate to release it healthily.
So what is the best way to express anger so that you allow it to leave your body? The answer is different for everyone, so you have to see which one suits you best. In fact, sometimes, depending on the situation, you may feel differently and want to use a different method. Try out any of the below next time you are angry and observe yourself to see the difference you feel afterwards. Also for me, depending on how angry I feel, I will actually have to work my way down the list and do almost all of the things before I actually feel like I’ve released it. So, after you’ve tried the first two, and you are still feeling angry, keep going and making your way through the list. I guarantee you that it will work.
What is really important to mention is that a key part of releasing anger is to not allow yourself to get caught up by it. Now this is very difficult at first, especially because our body has learnt automatic reactions to certain triggers. However, if you practice being present with the emotion (ie. noticing the emotion from an ‘observer’ point-of-view), you will be able to still feel the emotion, but not allow it to control you. A good way to practice being present with the emotion is just pausing, and asking yourself ‘what am I feeling right now?’, ‘what is this emotion called?’. Usually this is enough to get back your control over the emotion. You are now ready to try the following methods to release it:
Scream into a pillow (if doing this at home, let others in the house know first just to warn them!) My therapist also suggested screaming in your car with all the windows and doors shut.
Punch a pillow - Louise Hay mentioned this one in her book ‘How to heal your life’. She tells a story of where she had this pain in her shoulder for a couple of days and had no idea why. It was only until she sat still with herself and asked herself “What is happening here? What am I feeling?” that she felt a burning sensation which she then realised was anger. Once she 'called it out', she made the decision to release it and beat her pillows until she felt it had been released. The next day her shoulder was fine.
Write a letter to the person you are angry with. Once you are finished, don’t re-read, just burn, or rip up and throw in the bin. I find this method highly effective.
Exercise - boxing, tennis, running, yoga, dance are all great. My favourite yoga routine to do when you're angry is this one by Yoga With Adrienne, and I find it works 9 times out of 10 to get me feeling calmer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie5yjNGLxfQ
Chanting/singing - if you have been holding back words and this has made you angry, then it is a good idea to use your voice as a energetic release of the anger. You could chant along with some buddhist chats on youtube or perhaps do come singing (although I appreciate if you are feeling really angry you might not be in the mood to sing - so this step can be taken after you have released some of the anger, but you still feel there is a bit more to release).
Crying - probably one of the best methods to release any sort of emotion. Don't feel bad for crying. It is a fantastic way to release stored energy. Notice how when you have cry, how much lighter you feel after.
Talk about it with someone you trust (but just don’t let yourself do this repeatedly otherwise you are just getting caught up in the emotion as opposed to observing it and letting it out). It might be a good idea to do one of the steps above first so you get a physical release, and by this step you are already feeling a bit calmer.
Get outside and go for a walk - change your surroundings and therefore change your state.
Colour breathing exercise - I personally feel like before I can do this one I have to have some form of physical release as when I have the feeling of anger I don’t feel like sitting still and meditating. Practice this deep breathing/visualisation exercise: Begin with sitting still in a quiet space, your spine straight and your feet flat on the floor. Feel the anger and try to sense where it is in your body and what colour it is (for example red in your chest). Visualise yourself breathing in a white light above the crown of your head. See the white light going to the place where you have the anger (chest, stomach, throat etc) and see that white light neutralising the red. When you exhale, visualise yourself blowing out out the red. Do this breathing technique until you feel the red has diminished, and you are only filled with a peaceful and healing white light.
EFT - Tapping out the anger emotion. EFT is a energy healing technique which uses acupuncture points of the body which you tap whilst saying statements such as ‘Even though I have the feeling of anger, I choose to deeply and completely love, honour and accept myself’. The purpose is to release the trapped emotions and limiting beliefs tied to the emotions that you have stored in your body and mind. I would recommend Brad Yates EFT videos, they are amazing and continue to help me daily for all sorts of different emotions. Here is the one on anger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBvVAxoxrFE
Energy medicine - Here is a very quick way to release anger through a ‘energy medicine’ technique as demonstrated by Dondi Dahlin (Donna Eden’s daughter): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u531qDKnp1Y
The Emotion Code - This one is a more advanced method as you first have to learn how to muscle-test and teach yourself the technique. That being said, most people can pick this up fairly quickly. This one isn’t really for doing in the moment, and more for a preventative measure of not allowing stored emotions to build up and up. The emotion is released with magnets using the body's meridians. If you want to find out more about The Emotion Code, check out Brad Nelson’s video here which explains it in more detail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZAs3jD7mVc
I hope that you will try some of these steps to expressing the feeling of anger next time you experience it. Please remember that expressing it is healthy, but keeping it in and suppressing it is unhealthy. It does not make you a bad person to feel angry. Experiencing all emotions both positive and negative is a part of life. Once we get the power back over our emotions (instead of letting them control and rule us), then we will have fantastic emotional intelligence and therefore our health and all areas of our lives will drastically improve.