Oh, you can feel it. The anger boiling up in you… you’re seeing red… you could just explode.
Take a deep breath. Count to 10. Exhale.
We’ve all been there. We feel anger or rage for a situation, and then we react. Sometimes, we do something we regret. Most of the time, we cringe when we look back at how we handled a situation when upset.
In our calmer state we see too late how we “should’ve” reacted to a sensitive situation with unhappy parties.
“I shouldn’t have….” or “I wish I’d….” or “Why did I…”
Just a few months ago I was caught in a similar situation and had a falling out with someone that left a very bad taste in my mouth for a while.
Without going into too much detail, let’s just say the situation became bigger than it needed to be. Regardless of who or what made the situation worse, both parties on either side of the fence were clearly very upset with each other.
It has been a long time since I experienced a very personal dispute like that, I almost didn’t know how to feel.
Most of my relationships are great so to have one start to crack made me crack a little too.
There was a sea of emotions in me. I had moments where I wanted to break something (like a gift I had recently received from that person) or maybe just send a quick text giving them a piece of my mind. I even had a 3-second ridiculous thought to delete them on Facebook!
Fortunately those thoughts were fleeting and I managed to compose myself and auto-correct quite fast. In fact, it was during this time that I was inspired to write this article. (Which also became a great distraction to the focus-point of my anger.)
I just realized that all the things I was feeling was normal, and almost everyone would feel that way too. The difference is some of us react to it, and some of us don’t.
In those angry moments I chose to list down the things I felt like reacting, versus merely having an impulse and jumping into it. That way, I gave myself the opportunity to actually look at something tangible that was showing me how ridiculous and childish I was being (or thinking of being).
I’m happy I managed to compose myself well enough to not say/do anything I would regret, and I feel blessed that I was faced with that situation as tough and hurtful as it was, because it actually taught me a few things about myself – how I view opinions of others, how I process feedback (regardless of how it comes to me), how I process betrayal and hurt and how I could choose to react to something in any moment.
The relationship is not necessarily fixed nor do I know if it will ever be salvaged. But what’s important is that I never came from a reactionary or malicious stance, I have let it go in my heart, it doesn’t hold me back in any way and most importantly, I’ve learned things about myself which I can continue to improve on.
Today, I can think of that person and send them love. Trust me though, just a few months ago something like that, felt impossible.
So, if you’re ever getting so upset and feel like you’re going to explode, I hope these 5 things I learned can help.
By keeping this in mind, I managed to clear my thoughts and emotions enough to know that doing things when you’re upset are just not worth it, and can actually make the situation worse.
This whole process also taught me about the capabilities to forgive. I forgave this person for what I felt they did wrong unto me, and I forgave myself for doing anything that hurt that person in any way as well.
We’re both human – this is not right and that is not wrong; we all make mistakes. It is not my role to judge or punish, and if I never let it go, I just end up hurting myself more than anything else.
“Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.” Martin Luther King Jr.
1. Don’t bitch
This is the first thing you’re going to want to do when you’re upset. You’re going to have nasty angry thoughts, and there is nothing more fulfilling than having an audience join you in this moment.
It makes you feel validated. It makes you feel better if you can get some people on your side to “back you up” and make you feel like “you’re in the right”.
Resist this urge. Bitching and whining to others (especially when the people you’re bitching to have nothing to do with your problem, and have not personally witnessed any of your claims) only makes you look bad.
Don’t be a gossip. Focus on what you need to learn from this situation. It’s happening for a reason. Don’t make this about your suffering in any way – victimisation will get you no where.
Go inward and process what you feel and what you’re experiencing and what you’re supposed to learn from all of this that will help you grow as a person and restore your spirit.
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” Gloria Steinem
2. Don’t lose your cool
Just try to be as composed as your can be. There can be spikes of emotions related to anger, so make sure you are aware that an impulse is just that – an impulse.
If you feel the need to pick up the phone and yell away, or you feel like doing anything rash or desperate like delete their phone number in your address book or get them off your Facebook list of friends – just stop.
First, take a deep breath. Here’s a good breathing technique I like to practice several times a day. I find that by touching base to focus on my breathe throughout the day, I feel calmer. I notice that my particularly “stressful” days are those which I forget to breathe.
This technique is called the 4-7-8 technique. You simply breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds.
Do three or four rounds of this, and evaluate how your feel. If anger is still seething in you, then sleep on it.
Most of the time, sleeping on something tends to change our outlook on it the next day. Perhaps the next day the idea of reacting the way you felt like initially, may not feel as good or right as the day before.
You just saved yourself from doing something stupid. Yay!
“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” Aristotle
3. Don’t take your anger out on someone else
When you’re upset, your whole mood gets thrown out of whack. The colour changes in your world. It’s as though it gets dark and grey and a heavy cloud begins to loom.
You’re suddenly in a world where everything else starts to then go wrong. People are more annoying than usual. That traffic jam was set up to ruin your day.
As a result, you go from being nice person to being not-nice-person.
You catch yourself mumbling curses under your breath or snapping at a stranger, colleague, loved one, anyone.
Don’t do it. You’re just jaded for a second because something else came along earlier and ruined your day. You’re upset. There’s no need to ruin it for anyone else. When we’re upset, we tend to feel that we’re in the right, even when more than one thing happens to make us upset.
If you’re having a bad day, it’s you. It’s not the people around you.
So don’t ruin it for someone else – the ripple effect just means that if you’ve upset someone bad enough, their day then gets ruined, and maybe they get stuck in the same rut as you and then go off to be mean to somebody else.
Do you want to be the source of that anger that spreads on?
“A smiling face and joyful, loving words are the best presents I can share with everyone I know.” Louise Hay
4. Don’t get upset that you’re upset
And then as if feeling hurt, angry and upset about someone or something wasn’t enough, we can sometimes then go further – we get upset with ourselves for our behaviour which we think led to the disaster that made us upset; or we’re upset that we allowed ourselves to get upset; or we’re upset that something made us upset.
It really is a dark hole to spiral down if you don’t stop yourself from crazy thoughts that keep you sinking.
Some of us also then deal with guilt of how we reacted and treated certain people or situations in that moment when we were upset.
For the most part, a lot of the things that have been done, cannot be changed, so let it go. Deal with it. For the things you can change though, do try.
If you’ve unnecessarily made someone feel bad cause you were moody, own up and apologise. If you snapped at your husband for something small because you had a chip on your shoulder, own up and apologise. If you let your emotions get too far and you said something nasty or mean to someone who upset you, own up and apologise.
It’s OK to make mistakes in life, but deal with the truth and take responsibility for your own actions. It doesn’t matter whether your apology is accepted, what matters is that you had the courage to apologise (we know that’s not easy!), and you’re alright with the outcome either way.
Also, if you’re just upset in general, always remember that this is a huge indicator that you’re not happy deep inside, and this is usually the telling sign for lack of self-love.
Only once you sort out your emotions, fill the spaces for anything that’s lacking, feel some joy and love in your heart again, can you then deal with any problem in a healthy and objective manner.
Being out of whack emotionally usually means we’re out of whack mentally as well. So best to not make any decisions at a time like this.
A friend recently said to me, “When you’re down and want to fix your problems, don’t forget to FLY first. You can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first and foremost.”
FLY – First Love Yourself.
I love that.
5. Don’t forget to reflect
And this is the most important thing of all. No matter what’s said and done, if we don’t reflect about what is happening in our outer world with our life and our inner world with our emotions, then everything that we ever experience becomes a waste.
Why have experiences if we don’t learn anything from it?
Never beat yourself up when things go wrong, and never judge others when they make mistakes. We’re all doing our part trying to live life which we all know has it’s challenges.
Life is a mirror, and everyone is our teacher. You may not like everything you see about yourself be it through your eyes or others, but life works in such a way that the signs are out there. The universe shows us what we should celebrate and what we should fix.
And likewise. If you see something in someone you don’t like, or if it seems like somebody is lashing out of at you or trying to take you down, find a place in your heart to let it go. It is a direct reflection of what they could be going through, so why not send them love so they can find themselves. And if you are being criticised or criticising yourself, send yourself love so you can work on your own issues too.
Reflect, accept, let go and send love.
“How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.”
Do you have any advice on things we shouldn’t do when we’re upset? Share your thoughts with us!