Do you have a hard time controlling your anger?
Do you find yourself lashing out in ways you later regret?
If so, self-compassion and mindfulness can help you.
Anger can be a tricky emotion to deal with. It’s easy to get angry and do something you’ll later regret.
But that doesn’t mean anger is a “bad” emotion. You can think of anger like a tool. A hammer is neither good nor bad, but it can be used to help or hurt. Feeling angry can push you to stand up for yourself or something you believe in, and it can be used to cause harm.
By the end of this blog post, you will understand and know how to use self-compassion and mindfulness to manage anger and other painful emotions. They are two powerful practices that can help stop your anger and other painful emotions from controlling you and leading you to do something you’ll regret.
What are Self-compassion and Mindfulness?
Put simply, self-compassion is the practice of treating yourself kindly when things are difficult.
And mindfulness is the practice of focusing on what’s happening in the present moment without self-judgment or self-criticism.
Why we should use these practices when dealing with anger
It’s easy to get swept up in anger and other painful emotions, but allowing anger to influence how you act or what you say can lead to undesirable results.
How many times have you said or done something out of anger that later led to regret??
If you’re human, it’s happened at least once.
So, rather than allowing your anger to get the best of you and cause you to lose a friendship, relationship, job, or your dignity, let’s figure out how to reign it in with some simple exercises.
Applying Self-compassion and Mindfulness to Your Life
Self-compassion and mindfulness can each help you deal with anger, but together they make a powerful self-management tool.
Identify what you are feeling
This might seem like an odd first step, but it is surprisingly effective at taking control of your emotional state.
The next time you are experiencing a painful emotion like anger, repeat the following phrase:
“I am experiencing (the name of the emotion).”
Doing this separates you from the emotion so you can look at it objectively. Your self-awareness then allows you to observe the emotion, understand it, and navigate around it rather than letting it control you.
Side note: make sure you avoid saying something like, “I am angry.” Doing so will accomplish the opposite of the above because you are identifying yourself as the emotion. And if you identify as the emotion, it’s much easier to allow yourself to be controlled by it.
Notice how the emotion feels in your body
Once you have identified the emotion itself, close your eyes and try to locate where in your body you feel it.
Similar to identifying the emotion, physically locating it further separates you from it.
Use self-compassion to process the anger
Recognize that the emotion is a normal feeling and we all go through events in life that can lead us to feel frustrated or angry.
It’s perfectly okay to feel anger or sadness or jealousy. It doesn’t mean you are weak or bad for feeling those emotions.
What counts is how you respond to the emotion.
Self-compassion means treating yourself the way a friend would treat themselves if they were feeling anger, sadness, or any other difficult emotion.
If your best friend got angry, would you criticize their anger, ignoring the fact they are in pain and feeling bad?
Hopefully not. Ideally, you would be kind toward your friend because that’s what friends do for each other. We treat each other with love and support which leads to a calm and clear headspace.
If you’re a human, you will be dealing with intense emotions again in the future.
It is therefore a great idea to incorporate a mindfulness practice into your daily routine so you are less likely to be controlled by your emotions.
Here’s a simple list of amazing benefits you can expect by adopting a simple 10-minute meditation practice into your daily routine.
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved emotional health
- Enhanced self-awareness
- Lengthened attention span
- Increased kindness
- Improved sleep
- Pain management
Focus on what’s good for you instead of dwelling on things that upset you
Imagine walking into a dark room.
You can’t see anything so you take out a flashlight.
As you point the light in different directions you notice the contents of the room fall into two categories:
- On the left half of the room, every object you shine the light on is grotesque and twisted, evoking feelings of fear and discomfort. The longer you shine the light on these objects, the worse you feel.
- On the right half of the room, however, every object you shine the light on seems pleasant and inviting, evoking feelings of warmth and comfort. You can’t help but smile and feel good about yourself.
In fact, the more objects you scan with your flashlight on the right side of the room, the more courage you have to occasionally point your light at the left side of the room. Sometimes you do it out of curiosity, and other times to remind yourself of the suffering that is part of life.
But for some reason, the longer you illuminate the left side, the more you feel drawn in. It feels natural to wallow in the painful emotions welling up inside you until the fear and discomfort start to feel strangely comfortable.
You quickly learn to get a hold of yourself and return your focus to the right side, and you begin feeling good again.
That room is your mind, and the flashlight is your ability to focus.
Our minds are filled with endless thoughts which can make us feel worse or better about ourselves, others, and the world around us.
It all depends on where you place your focus.
So, when you find yourself experiencing a painful emotion like anger or sadness, take a moment to bring some self-compassion and mindfulness to your emotional state.
First, remember self-compassion. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling pissed off or down in the dumps. Painful emotions are as integral to the human experience as positive emotions.
Second, remember mindfulness. Are you pointing your flashlight at something that is making you feel pissed off or down in the dumps? Anger and frustration are really good signals to note, but they’re pretty bad strategies for taking action. Can you focus on something else instead?
In a Nutshell
Anger is a natural human emotion, but it can be overwhelming at times.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by anger or other difficult emotions, try practicing self-compassion and mindfulness to process your feelings in a healthy manner.
Self-compassion gives you empathy for yourself so that you can process your emotions without making them worse or beating yourself up.
When you’re mindful, you see things more clearly without judgment which helps you process your emotions with less reactivity and negativity.
The next time you feel overwhelmed by anger, follow these steps:
- Identify the emotion and what provoked it
- Locate where you feel the emotion in your body
- Use self-compassion to process the anger by treating yourself the way you would treat an upset friend or family member
- Adopt a mindfulness practice like meditation or a breathing exercise
- Focus on what’s good for you instead of dwelling on things that upset you
With self-compassion, mindfulness, and time you can make angry outbursts a thing of the past.
But remember, the exercise in this article can be used with any painful emotion you experience.
Check out our conversation with Chris Fraser & Dr. Isabelle Leboeuf to get more great tips and exercises for managing your anger and other painful emotions!
If you want the confidence to build a life on your terms and pursue your wildest dreams without hesitation, we’re here for you. We can help you make this happen by providing expert coaching in our X-Factor Accelerator mentorship program. You’ll have the control and rock-solid belief in yourself you need to seize opportunities in your career, influence winning outcomes, and live life on your terms.