An effective way to manage your anger is by practicing mindfulness as often as possible. This helps us become not only aware of what triggers our anger, but also identify when our body has entered an angry state. First let’s clarify what we mean with mindfulness.
Mindfulness is actually very simple– it is achieved by focusing on your awareness of the present moment, while accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. In other words, checking in with yourself and your surroundings. You can do a lot of things mindfully. Mindfulness and meditation often get confused. Mindfulness can overlap with meditation, but it does not have to be as difficult as achieving a Jedi-Zen-like state.
Let’s use washing dishes as an example.
Tune into your senses. What do you smell? The soap? Perhaps a smell from what had been cooked in the kitchen? Notice the temperature of the water, the sound of it flowing and hitting the dishes. The texture of the sponge or sensation of scrubbing against the pan. Maybe you heard your partner getting settled into the other room.
Tune into your thoughts. Are you replaying a conversation you had earlier today? Are you thinking about your plans for tomorrow? Are you hoping your partner doesn’t start you television show without you?
Tune into your emotions. Maybe the soap scent reminds you of your mom and you feel happy or calm. Maybe you notice some anxiety about your plans for tomorrow. Maybe you feel anger at the thought of your partner watching said television show without you.
The more we practice mindfulness in our everyday life, the more we can notice our anger in it’s beginning stages. This way we can help ourselves before we say or do something regretful. Let’s go back to the example of washing dishes. When we notice that we are feeling angry at the thought of our partner watching a television show without us, we are more likely to address the anger and prevent it from happening again. We may pause our dish-washing and kindly ask that your partner wait for you because you feel disregarded when they don’t wait for you to watch it together. Your partner would likely understand, wait patiently for you, or even help you expedite the dish-washing process!
If the anger is not addressed, you might come into the room and verbally attack your partner, sometimes even if they’re not watching the said show you assumed. You might take the passive stance and stew in your angry emotions while you join in without knowing the first five minutes of the episode. Or you might decide to passive-aggressively punish them another way. Maybe you don’t replace the toilet paper that evening, or purposefully hog the bed sheets. Whichever way, it’s probably not as good of an outcome as it would have been when you first noticed your anger.
Call to Action: See how many activities you can do mindfully in a day. See if you can notice a change in how you think and feel by the end of that day.