Like any emotion, anger is a normal human reaction to an upsetting situation. But when it begins to become part of our character and gets out of control, it is often triggered by perceived wrongs that don’t warrant an angry action.
In moments where anger takes control and leads to yelling, aggression and other sudden and irrational behaviour, we are often left with feelings of guilt and regret. Sometimes, those feelings set in immediately and other times, it takes time for the anger to settle. Regardless, these repetitive and sudden outbursts can damage our relationships, leaving the people we love feeling hurt, scared and on alert when they’re around us.
If you find that yourself or a loved one might have an anger issue, recent studies have shown that the practice of mindfulness can help.
The Practice of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the awareness of our thoughts, sensations and surrounding environment. It is an ancient technique that originates from Buddhist meditation, but has recently become popular in North American culture as a practice to help reduce stress and anxiety.
According to the University of California, “When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.”
In a 2017 study, David DeSteno proved that people who have been practicing mindfulness meditation were less likely to participate in vengeful behaviour when they were angry. In other words, meditation helped the study’s participants to increase their ethical behaviour by preventing them from inflicting harm on others in a situation where that would have been a normative response.
How to Practice Mindfulness
There is a wealth of resources including books, classes and online training you can refer to when learning to practice mindfulness. Today, many counselors will incorporate it into their practice as an exercise to help us learn to recognize our emotions and let them go, rather than holding onto them and letting them control our behaviour.
If you’re looking for simple ways you can begin practicing mindfulness on your own, try these few exercises:
- Pay attention — Between modern technology and city life, we are constantly distracted by everything that surrounds us. Stop in the moment to listen to your breath and get in tune with what you see, hear, feel, smell and taste. Practice living in the now.
- Self-Acceptance — Be kind to yourself. Begin to treat your own mind and body like you would a small child or a friend by reinforcing positive thoughts and behaviours.
- Focus on the breath — If you find yourself feeling angry, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Pay attention to nothing other than the air flowing in and out of your body. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath.
Mindfulness is like exercise for your mind—it takes practice, time and commitment to build the muscle for it. If you’re experiencing issues with anger and are having difficulty getting started with mindfulness, counselling can be a good place to get in tune with your emotions and get started with mindfulness. Call Your Counselling today to book a free consultation and begin your journey towards a happy, healthy life.