Anger - the benefits of choosing to let it go.
Take a look around your desk or the room you're in right now. Look for the heaviest object that you could pick up with one hand and, if it's safe to, pick it up.
Feel the weight of it in your hand.
If you can hold it in one hand then the chances are it isn't really that heavy - but, for a moment, imagine that you had to carry it in that hand for the rest of the day.
Whilst typing your next email, whilst driving home from work, making dinner, putting the kids to bed or walking the dog. You can't put it down to brush your teeth or open a door or get into the bath, you have to keep hold of it at all times.
Think how frustrating that experience would be.
Think how much less productive you would be.
Think of all the things would you simply no longer be able to do.
Anger is a normal thing - we have an innate sense of justice and when something goes against that, when we're treated badly, lied to or feel betrayed anger is a natural response. It is almost impossible to live a perfectly chilled, anger free life - but we can choose how we deal with it.
One of our first instincts is simply to lash out in response. We're usually pretty good at avoiding doing that in a physical way but it is easy to respond to a slight with an angry email, text or response. Anyone who has done this knows that it is very easy to say or do something that we later regret!
If we manage to control our initial surge of anger we're still not automatically out of the woods. Anger is something that we can carry with us for a long time and, just like the object you held in your hand earlier, the longer we hold onto it the more frustrating the experience becomes. Research has shown that anger affects not just our mental health but can have serious implications for the body in the short term and the long term. Someone once said that holding on to anger is like taking poison and hoping the other person feels the effects - in reality we mostly damage ourselves.
So what can we do? Here are a couple of tips:
Firstly - if possible remove yourself from the situation temporarily. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, try our breathing exercise.
Secondly - make a conscious choice to let go of your anger. That doesn't mean that your anger isn't a valid response to the situation - it may well be. It also doesn't mean that you forget the thing that caused you to be angry - you may still need to respond in some way to ensure the situation doesn't happen again but you are making a decision not to allow that anger to affect you in the long term.
This might not be a one off thing, you may need to choose to do this again and again - it is a skill that takes practice but it can have a freeing effect on your immediate mental and physical health.