Well, this is the final article of a three-part series on the role of anger in the occurrence and perpetuation of panic attacks and anxiety. In the first two installments we defined anger within two theoretical perspectives, and took a look at how anger presented in my life as an anxiety sufferer. I’d like to wrap-up the series by discussing what I did, and still do, to keep my anger in check.
The first technique came to life as I gained the insight to identify the relationship between my thinking, feeling, and behavior, and the obvious presence of anger. I can’t stress enough the importance of matching untoward mental, emotional, and physical sensations to what’s going on in and around you at the time; as well as the goings-on in the past when you experienced similar sensations. As you detect troubling mind, spirit, and body sensations, take a moment and ask yourself if you’ve felt the same phenomena in other situations, past and present. And try to recall the emotion involved. This little technique, which I call Symptom Identification and Association (SIA), will help you identify the feelings behind many of your special little internal quirks. And that can be incredibly helpful.
I became ready to see my anger for what it was and allow it, under supervision, to play itself out. When the feeling and symptoms arose, I didn’t run. No, I hung in there and opened my mind in an effort to examine as many contributing factors as I could. And this scrutiny always included looking beyond who or what was about to wrongly become a target. Usually, in time, the true sources of the agitation (often me) were revealed and action plans could be drafted and implemented. Please don’t ever forget about the potential for displaced anger, which I discussed in part two.
Now, while the anger processing was taking place, I’d support its deliberate work by doing anything I could to sustain a presence of calm and management. Activities such as exercise, journaling, guided imagery, and relaxation techniques were employed; as well as becoming involved in some sort of positive project. No doubt, anger equals energy; so why not use this energy to feed something constructive, as opposed to feeding mismanaged and destructive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. All of these activities provided an environment of perspective and just enough diversion to inhibit the potential for becoming overwhelmed, while not losing focus on the work at hand. And I’d try to find a trusted party with whom I could talk and use as a sounding board, and from whom I could gain some perspective.
Heck, I just let myself be what my emotions were dictating, within the context of self-awareness and management. I would identify and acknowledge what I was feeling, said it was okay to feel that way, and dealt with it accordingly. And that included constructively expressing my feelings to anyone with whom I was in conflict. And if my anger was as a result of a situation over which I had absolutely no control, I did all within my power to process it and let it go. And, man, that sure wasn’t, and isn’t, an easy thing to do. Dang, it’s just so natural for us to harbor anger and become so traumatized by it, not to mention traumatizing others along the way. But, why go absolutely mad, and bring so much pain to others, over something that could possibly never change?
I remember feeling a lot of stress and anger one steamy summer day several years ago, and taking a walk in a local forest preserve. While strolling about, I found the biggest stick I could physically manage and started cracking every tree and rock I could find in a selected isolated area of woods. When I started, the stick was about five feet long. When I finished it was down to about the size of a baseball bat. But, it didn’t end there. I took that stick home and it became my “anger stick.” To this day, when dire frustration and anger knock upon my door, I’ll reach under my bed, grab my anger stick, and beat on a pillow or my bed, verbalizing my frustration as I strike.
Another great anger management technique is screaming. Now, you may be saying, “Bill, how am I going to do that without my neighbors calling 911?” Hey, scream into a pillow or while you’re driving your car. I’m telling you, it works. Here’s another one. Go to your local dollar store and buy a set of drinking glasses and head for the woods or your garage. Throw those babies at a tree, a rock, or a wall as you express your anger (please be sure to clean up the mess). Or how ‘bout an anger-venting exercise using something as simple as a towel? Yes, grab a hand towel with one hand at each end. Now just start twisting like crazy, grunting and groaning while you’re at it. If you’re so moved, verbalize some thoughts and feelings.
Well, that’s all “he” wrote regarding anger’s role in the generation and perpetuation of panic attacks and anxiety. Hopefully, you’ve not only seen the relationship, but you’ve gained some insight and learned some techniques to help you identify and manage your anger experience. Finally, I can’t stress enough that I never let myself believe that feeling anger is wrong or bad. It isn’t. However, displacing, mismanaging, stuffing, and abusively displaying anger will only lead to misery for you and those with whom you interact.