In this modern day and age it’s easy for our emotions to get the best of us. But we don’t have to let our emotions dictate our actions and define our person.
You can have anger without acting angry. You can feel anger yet not be angry.
Anger is an internal state; it can be physiologically felt and cognitively observed.
When anger arises, a sense of tension is present in our bodies. Our breathing quickens and shallows, our temperature may elevate, or we may perspire. There are also notable mental effects. We may become cognitively impatient and negatively biased, as displayed by the cynicism of our accompanying thoughts.
This is anger.
Anger is internal.
Being angry is an action – an expression – that is often external. It is the manifestation of feeling anger.
It’s reacting in haste, it’s yelling on impulse, it’s having impatience with the minute, and irritation at the mundane. We may even make irrational and regretful decisions. It’s taking the negative mentality which anger has created and acting from it.
When we are acting angry – we are expressing our internal anger. Though this seems like a simple distinction, we often blur the two.
We all feel anger; there is nothing wrong with that it’s a natural emotion in the human spectrum of life. But our internal state doesn’t have to dictate our external actions – just because you feel anger doesn’t mean you have to act angry.
Non-judgmental self- awareness – AKA – meditation.
In my practice, I first develop an awareness of the feeling itself. When I feel chaotic, I take a step back before proceeding in any action. I begin to welcome whatever is present in my internal landscape through curious investigation. How do I feel? What physiological sensations are present? Where is my mind presently? Where are my thoughts gravitating towards? These are observations – objective recognitions of the states of my body, mind and mood.
This awareness is without judgment. There are no evaluations: they aren’t good or bad, right or wrong. There are no interpretations as to why I am feeling a certain way. And I am not trying to influence their presence – no effort is made to push them away or hold on to them. Rather I am with them exactly as they are – a neutral awareness and plain observation of what is currently present.
At this point, I bring my breath in. I inhale for 10 seconds, hold the inhalation for 10 seconds, and then exhale for 10 seconds. After, I return to my normal breathing pattern and begin to feel my breath. What physical sensations accompany my breath: how does my body move when air enters? How does my body moves when air leaves?
When we place our mind’s attention on what our body is currently doing, we connect our bodies with our minds. It gives us a well-needed rest from the stories the mind may be telling us. We are able to come to a more conscious, grounded, and calm footing. And importantly, we have developed the awareness to make a choice: do we want to react from our emotions, and let them be the dictators of our resulting actions and moods? Or do we want to come back to the simplicity of the present moment? We develop discretion – conscious and honed decision – no longer on autopilot reacting from our emotions.
The more we start to reflect and act consciously, the more these actions become organically part of us. We can become familiarized with the presence of our emotions and feelings, and their fleeting nature. We can even befriend our anger, developing a more prolonged acceptance of its presence. And where acceptance goes, control leaves. As when we accept something as is, we have no desire to change or influence it – releasing our control – allowing these feelings to pass quicker. It’s not to say that we no longer feel these emotions, rather they become less threatening to our existence.
And this of course isn’t only applied to anger. It’s the difference from feeling anxious and having anxiety, from feeling chaos and acting chaotically.
So I implore you to experiment, and search for your own understanding. Feel when the seeds of anger may be growing. Invite it in. Investigate it. What does it feel like? What’s going on in your mental space? Notice, sans judgement. Observe, without interpreting, or evaluating.
After investigating, inhale for 10 seconds, hold it for 10 seconds, and exhale for 10 seconds. Then return to your normal breathing pattern, feeling the physical sensations of the breath.
With enough practice, it may become more innate to be calm. Things, which previously irritated you, simply don’t get to you as much. You may feel similar emotions, but you also may hone a capacity to respond from a more level ground. Instead of fueling anger, you create more peace in yourself and the world around you.
In this modern day and age it’s easy for our emotions to get the best of us. But we don’t have to let our emotions dictate our actions and define our person. To do such, we first have to grow our awareness to be able to make the distinction, and then create space between our emotions and actions.