Compassion is the Antidote to Anger
With all of the unknowns divisiveness in our world, it’s easy to become anxious, scared, and angry ON. THE. REGULAR.
Anyone struggle with what to do or how to cope when you become angry?
First, let's become more familiar with how YOU experience anger. Afterall, anger creates a different experience for everyone. Not only can the origin of anger be unique, but the physical and emotional experience can be as well.
Spend some time reflecting...What does anger feel like to you? Do your cheeks get flushed and hot? Do you get a lump in your throat? Do your muscles get tense? Does your brain start running a million miles a minute? What other emotions rise to the surface when you feel angry?
Our clients are often eager to DO SOMETHING to avoid feeling this way. Sometimes though, we become so focused on stopping the anger that we become EXPERTS at pushing it away (avoidance, anyone?), distracting ourselves, or compartmentalizing. If we jump too soon into action, doing, challenging, or resolving without taking a moment to be mindful it can actually have the opposite effect. Yep...that's right...doing this can often fuel more anger, anxiety, and negative thinking.
If we are ruminating or focused on changing our own uncomfortable feelings, how can we possibly tap into empathy and compassion? We can break that psychological loop that prevents us from accepting compassion using mindfulness.
Mindfulness can help us understand that “attention is like a spotlight- whatever it shines on becomes brighter in mind,” according to Paul Miller.
One simple strategy that can help to ground us and become more mindful is what I call the “5-4-3-2-1” or the “Senses Exercise.” Here's how it goes. First 🛑 stop and take a few deep belly breaths. Then notice/name/describe:
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things out can smell
1 thing you can taste
Now that you've taken a few moments to slow down and center ourselves, we can begin extending ourselves and others compassion, grace, and empathy while making space to feel the feelings.