I don’t know about you but when I get angry I sometimes get swamped with the emotions and the physiological response going on in my body. My heart races, my face and neck flush, thoughts fly around in my head. I bet you know what I’m talking about.
When that anger response happens, we know we’re upset. We know something is off-balance. We feel the urge to take care of it in some manner. But, many of us have learned to either stuff it, deny it, talk ourselves out of it or just plain lash out. In the face of those options, we often do nothing. We fear hurting the other person or being hurt ourselves.
Anger is giving us the message that a relationship or situation needs to get rebalanced so doing nothing is, usually, not a good strategy. I say, usually, because there are exceptions. If there is a real chance that I can get physically hurt, then perhaps saying nothing is a good strategy, for now. Later, I can plan what I want to do next when the time is right.
It is often helpful to take time to get clear on how we wish to speak up in a situation, be it at the office or at home. Here are some strategies that I have found to be useful:
1/ write it down – journaling or writing a letter, which you may or may not decide to send, can clarify things for you. It also stops you from playing angry thoughts over and over in your mind plotting what you want to say. Once it’s down on paper – you know you have captured it and don’t need to keep replaying it. Hours can be spent on ruminating. Get it out of your head and onto paper or onto your computer screen.
2/go for a walk – walking allows your physical reaction to subside. When your mind is calmer, you can think more clearly and then make decisions. If you prefer some other physical activity such as swimming, running, or bicycling – they can work as well.
3/ talk to a coach – talking to a trusted coach or friend can be useful. The coach/friend can assist you to see where the imbalance in the relationship or situation is and can help you to decide on a constructive plan of action.
Whatever the strategy chosen – remember that anger can be a potent force that can fuel the desire to speak up to rebalance a situation. It helps us gain our self-respect and gives us the chance of having reciprocity in our interactions with others. It’s the gift of anger!