Thank You Dear Ones! aka My Friends’ Resources for Handling Anger

Last week, I posted on Facebook about dealing with anger.

I am very much a “make lemonade” kind of person, but I do get caught in negative thinking sometimes. Lately, I’ve been focused on how to release myself from that.

So, I asked my Facebook community to help. Here’s the original question:

Here’s a serious issue I could use your help with: I want to rid myself of negative thinking. I don’t mean “stop being angry” since anger is just a feeling to be felt.

Rather, I want to stop sitting in it, and especially, directing it at people.
Do you have any techniques that you have used to do this yourself?

I’m down with a lot of the whys and wherefores, I have an amazing team of “trusted advisors” aka friends, I have a new therapist, I’ve been exercising, and I believe in the philosophies around love and compassion. At this moment, I am looking for really tactical advice that will help me in the moment.

Thank you.

I was just about bowled over with the responses I got. They ranged from the most simple (“smile so you get the endorphin release”) to the overhaul-your-life kind of answer (“let’s talk about my 21 year Buddhism practice.” ) And each and every one of them was offered with love and faith in the value of the beautiful struggle of humanity.

It seems only fitting to offer them back to you.

Thanks for sharing, and for reading dear ones! And please feel free to add to this list in the comments below.

  • If you have not tried this already, take a 30-day break from news. Two people suggested this one.
  • Spend 10 minutes each morning writing. On paper. Two people suggested this one.
  • Study a healthy subject. Read up on tea or spices or scents or butterflies. Make yourself a quasi expert in something new.
  • Karma Triyana Dharmachakra: His Holiness Karmapa. This is the North American seat of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, Supreme Head of the Karma Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Meditation with Sharon Salzberg is a great instructor and does lots of workshops in New York.
  • Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life, based on ACT—Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It’s actually a workbook so it is quite practical, and provides specific techniques.
  • My father said to me once, “Always repeat the words you are about to say to yourself (out loud if possible). If you don’t like the sound of them, most other folk won’t either.” If you find yourself becoming engulfed in negative thinking, ask yourself, “Why?” If it is anger based, deal with it. Anger is not just a feeling to be experienced. It is negative activity in your psyche to the Nth degree. Overcoming anger is necessary before you can address negativity fully, because the anger undermines any “positive” perspective you can place. I assume you do not mean disappointment when you use the word “anger.” After you realize what is making you feel bad (negative), see if it can be addressed. It may be that only part of the solution is you. You may have to separate yourself from some of the people involved in your negativity, perhaps even permanently unless they change as well as you. And it might not be a “meet me halfway thing.” And always remember, drink lemonade. You can also just deal with it by living with it. Many of the folk I know who live in urban areas deal with and live with a goodly amount of negativity. They prevent it from engulfing them by recognizing what it is and incorporating it into their lives. One of my best friends is a quite irascible person who seemingly wallows in negativity, yet manages to live quite happily within that negative persona. Think about most long time city residents. They often have a tough (usually negative) exterior, yet live with each other. Make lemonade from your lemons.
  • For a quick and simple cure “in the moment,” put a really big smile on your face and hold it for at least a minute. Your body will release endorphins and make you feel better!!!
  • EFT/Tapping: About five different people suggested EFT. “Tap on acupressure points, add affirmations to release negative energy.” “I used it in combination with EMDR in therapy many years ago and was effective for me.” “I was going to suggest EFT too! Great stuff. I found it especially helpful with inner child (or in the case of my anger: inner teenager) work.”
  • Meditation at Tibet House or the ID project. Someone mentioned Sharon Salzberg…she occasionally does stuff at Tibet House.
  • We can only do. We cannot say, “I won’t think about x.” So pick something positive that you want to pay attention to for a while. : )
  • There is this book called The Four Agreements. It’s about having gratitude. Personally I think anger can be a good motivator for art so I don’t think it’s so bad as long as you’re not consumed by it.
  • How about boxing or kungfu?
  • I was thinking recently that if a person’s mind is filled with too many negative thoughts, then there are only really two things to do. The first is to think less, or quiet the mind (e.g. meditation). The second is to think more positive thoughts, in order to crowd out the negative ones. That’s just math!
  • I would be really happy to share about my 21 years of Buddhist practice.
  • Check podcasts from Josh Korda, Dharmapunx NYC and Brooklyn. Some of the best stuff I’ve come across—and he speaks my language.
  • You’re sitting on it. Walking is the way to move out of it. From what I’ve been told anger becomes depression; walking moves it out. Good luck. Let it go. Dance—I know that you like to!
  • Please read Marshall Rosenberg’s Non Violent Communication. All the tools are there. Preview tip: Anger is OK until you express it in a judgmental or blaming way. As soon as you do that, you’ll put the other person on the defensive and your initial need (which wasn’t being met and which made you angry) will only be further out of your reach. Make observations without evaluations. Be aware of your needs and the feelings behind them and then learn the communications skills to skillfully articulate them. We were never taught this in school. This is the fundamental lesson which would change the world if applied globally. 
  • At various points in time I’ve found journaling helpful. I really liked some of the exercise in The Artist’s Way in particular.
  • The first step is to notice the negative thought, then smile at it, say “oh, you old friend,” and shift to something more positive. Nothing is more deflating to negativity than a little ho-hum.
  • I just heard this five minute video last night, tried it today and it works! Eckhart Tolle, Accept this Moment As If You Had Chosen It [How To Deflate Your Ego]

It’s such an outpouring of love. I’m so grateful to everyone who shared their wisdom, and with it, their love. Please feel free to add to this list in the comments.