Stop Beating Yourself Up!
9 Steps Towards Mindful Anger
Things happen in our everyday lives that tend to tick us off or rub us the wrong way. It could be something as irrelevant as getting a paper cut, spilling your coffee on the way into work, or something as significant to getting into a fender bender on your way home. The relevancy and significance of these are individually based. However, all of these things may cause anger, sadness, annoyance, and irritability in our lives.
But who are you really angry with?
- Are you mad at the paper that unintentionally caused the paper cut? (Hey, paper never did anything to you, pick on someone your own size!)
- Are you mad at the coffee? (Blasphemy, who could ever be made at coffee?!?)
- Are you angry with the other person involved in the fender-bender collision?
- Are you angry with… YOU?
Often times we are angry more with ourselves than with others. As the saying goes, we are our own worst critics and it’s important to understand that beating ourselves up, especially in situations that were beyond our control, is never the answer.
Check out my 9 Steps Towards Mindful Anger that will hopefully decrease your knockouts or KO’s in the ring of solidarity!
Step 1: Pause!
Take a deep pause! Stop dead in your tracks (if it’s safe enough to do so; i.e. your skin isn’t being burned by the spilled coffee in the scenario above). Pause, acknowledge, and assess the situation. Be aware and non-judgmentally conscious of what just occurred.
Step 2: Breathe!
Take 3-5 deep breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Clear your mind so you are able to focus more on your next steps logically rather than emotionally. Deep breathing increases the oxygen flow to the brain which in moments of perceived danger, tragedy, or perceived obstacles can allow us to make quick and sound reactions. For more on mindfulness practice, meditation, and deep breathing exercises contact me here.
Step 3: Finish Finger Pointing
Didn’t your parents ever tell you it’s rude to point? Quit blaming yourself. Finish the finger-pointing habit. Things happen! Was there a cause or effect of the situation? Of course. But, it has happened, so there is no reason to begin a marathon of self-blaming, hypotheticals, and what-ifs. Blaming yourself will not make things any better nor will it change a situation. We often want to hold someone accountable even if it’s at the cost of your own sanity by taking the blame for something that was completely out of your control/or not your fault. Sure, sometimes, there is something or someone to blame and being accountable for one’s actions and taking responsibility should always be the moral thing to do, however, if it truly wasn’t your fault and you had NO control of over, quit making it your fault! Stop the judgment, finish the finger-pointing, and quit trying to hold someone accountable-especially yourself.
Step 4: Reframe & Regain Resiliency
Reframe you negative self-talk into positive self-talk and positive thinking. Cognitive Reframing is a process in which you reframe negative thoughts and feelings into more positive ones and elicit positive responses, reactions, and behaviors. Think of it as a lens you change or modify inside your mind to turn the bad into good. See the good or positive out of difficult situations. This is where true control and resiliency are regained.
Step 5: Quit Quoting
Sometimes it’s not our own negative self-talk that influences us. Some of our deep-rooted anger towards the self may have been learned or comes from past trauma including verbal and physical abuse. Someone may have told you something negative about you or believed something negative about you that you have now internalized. During times where things happen that are out of our control, we tend to replay those quotes in our minds especially if it coincides with the negative statements or quotes we once heard. This is a form of negative self-talk by attempting to confirm and validate that previously stated negative statements or beliefs. We can’t continuously repeat the negative quotes that we have heard by others, especially toxic people. Nor should we create quotes or perceived ideas of how others who are important to us will react or what they will think or say about you. Quit the quoting and understand that you are human. Repeat after me, “It is ok. It will be ok.”
We can’t continuously repeat the negative quotes that we have heard by others, especially when stated by toxic people. Nor should we create quotes or perceived ideas of how others who are important to us will react or what they will think or say about you. Quit the quoting and understand that you are human. Repeat after me, “It is ok. It will be ok.”
Step 6: Turn UP-ward Spiral thinking
Turn up!! That’s right Turn downward spiral thinking into UPward spiral thinking. Negative situations can sometimes cause an increase in anxiety or make irrational inferences from one situation to another. I have always been an “expect the worse, hope for the best” type of person. But thinking the worst is not always healthy. Ruminating about difficult situations and feelings can cause them to manifest into other feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in your life and negatively affect our mental health. Especially when you downward spiral into a list of possible worse case scenarios caused by 1 simple negative outcome. There’s a negative domino effect that occurs and we in turn literally run our brain in circles pondering ALL of the worst-case scenario outcomes from this moment on. Reverse the downward spiraling and instead, think of some positives that can or have occurred as a result of the one negative situation. Sometimes it’s hard to find a positive but focusing on the positive is better than having the negative manifest and literally take over your life. So, instead, turn UP!
Step 7: Exert Energy
In difficult situations, our flight, flight, freeze response in our brain kicks in and sometimes your response is to want to KICK something or someone. There is literally no positive result of potentially harming yourself or others nor will it fix or solve a situation. You may want to punch a wall (I have been guilty of feeling this way), you may want to scream, yell, or fight. It is in these moments where being present is essential and beneficial. Be mindful of your physiological responses. I.e. heavy/fast breathing, leg shaking, clenched fists, jaw clenching, pacing, rapid heart beat. This is all normal! Be present and aware of these responses. Don’t react to them negatively. Find healthy ways to exert negative energy -positively. When you exert energy endorphins in your body are produced, secreted, and or released which can cause positive or happy feelings in the body.
Here are some healthy physical ways to exert energy positively:
- kickboxing class
- safe sex
Step 8: Let It Go!
In the annoying words of the over-rated popular movie Frozen: “LET IT GOOO!”Let go of things you cannot control. It’s important to recognize some things we just cannot control, however; we can control our feelings and our reactions to those feelings. You can’t allow bumps on the roads from affecting your entire day, week, and life. While it is important to acknowledge your feelings, what you do with them matters most. Remember to Be present, be mindful, accept that it happened, learn from it, and move on.
Step 9: Stop Beating Yourself Up & Just Breathe!
Repeat steps 1-8. Live well and be mindfully angry!
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Iris L. Mendez, LSW -Certified Wellness Coach-Findyourwill@gmail.com