MINDFULNESS & ANGER: WHY GETTING ANGRY IS OK
Anger & mindfulness. Now that’s an interesting question. Don’t they teach in mindfulness classes not to get attached to your thoughts, create space and a new relationship with your external world? Getting angry isn’t part of the deal. Or so it seems.
It’s Natural to Get Angry
Let’s face it. We all get angry from time to time. There are things in this world which are certain to make you feel anger. I feel angry about the biggest fraud brought on the British public in the form of the EU referendum and the total failure in a parliamentary democracy, whereby narrow-minded politicians put their own deluded interests first against the good of the country. Now that’s a bit of anger, isn’t it?
After all, we all live in a world where we have a relationship with each other – whether that be personally, professionally or even the natural contract we have with each other in terms of the space between us and the rest of the world. Ever felt angry because someone got in your way in some physical space, insulted you or didn’t do something as promised? It’s because you’ve been violated in some way. Getting angry is a natural response. It’s why I get angry over Brexit; because my rights are being violated and savaged.
I see it all the time in the office. The blame game arises, people don’t deliver or angry words are said by email or in person. The end result – regret.
The Mindfulness of Anger
Of course, getting angry and being mindful are completely different topics. Anger serves a purpose – it can help connect and remind you of your own personal values and what you value in others, especially when those values are violated; it can reaffirm a commitment to yourself to uphold your own values and act and behave in a different way. Democracy can only function when peaceful protest is permitted and is in fact encouraged.
Some infamous yoga teachers have even used anger as a means of expressing their strong heartfelt desire for their students to improve. I personally don’t subscribe to that theory insofar as the risk of psychological harm may arise, or a student may be confused, upset or resentful. Being firm is one thing, getting angry is another. I myself experienced such feelings, and the teacher apologised at the end of the training, noting it had been ‘done to him’.
The difference then between the mindfulness of anger and getting angry is the context and the response. Sure, I can get angry at my colleagues for their perceived lack of attention or behaviour? Maybe they’ve said or done something that was hurtful at the time, but was said out of context or was an emotional outburst?
Is it worth harming a relationship all for the sake of anger? Angry words hurt and can do irreparable damage. That’s the truth. Most of all, is it worth upsetting your peaceful mind?
The Paradox of Anger
The paradox of anger is that the person who ends up getting hurt is often you – feelings of guilt, remorse or sadness arise because the ‘inflictor’ of anger becomes the ‘inflicted’. Why this occurs is a matter for psychology, but for those with personalities which crave attention and ‘being liked’, anything which is an affront to such desires is bound to cause angst and regret.
The brilliance of the power of mindfulness and anger is that we have a tool available to us that instantly brings calm. It’s called the ‘breath’. By taking a deep breath, through the nose, inhaling deeply into the abdomen, every time we feel anger arising, we ‘process’ this anger and release it through that body. Quite simply, it dissipates. By doing so, we bring the mind and the body back to the present moment. What was previously a temporary aberration and fluctuation in the state of mind becomes history.
So, putting it simply, getting angry is a normal human response. The power of the mindfulness of anger is that you become free – the choice of how you respond to it is yours. Isn’t that a cause worth fighting for?
“Be Curious, not Critical” ~ Rod Stryker.