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Exploring the True Meaning of Anger and Best Coping Strategies

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

This week, 'Therapy Begins with Tea' steeps on what anger communicates to us and offers a way to cope with anger using a RAIN exercise.

What anger means and how to deal with anger
'When I sat with my anger long enough, I realized it went by another name. Grief."

Therapy Begins with Tea is a weekly newsletter based on the themes that come up in my sessions as a therapist who specializes in imposter syndrome, attachment styles in romantic relationships, and our psychological relationships with money. Each week consists of a 'steep' in thought reflection, an accompanying body based check-in, and tea card intentions for the week to come.

'Steep' in Thought (3-5 min)

Anger is necessary

How often do you get angry? What's it feel like? Is it that 'nostrils flared, body heated, seeing red, verbal venom' kind of experience or are you the type that shuts down & goes hollow when you feel it? When was the last time you got angry? What happened?

In this heydey of mindfulness apps, 'letting go,' and self-help, the message to move away from anger has never been stronger. But actually, anger is a cornerstone of wellbeing. Anger is a primary emotion that clues us in to what's going on underneath. It is 'other oriented' and external, but when we can shift towards a more self-oriented, internal focus, we see that anger comes from the painful experience of our needs being dismissed or ignored (e.g. need for security, acknowledgment, dependability, autonomy).

What Anger really means

Because when we feel anger, we're really feeling fear and sadness. And as heavy as those emotions can be, identifying that fear and sadness allows us to then process & find resolution with the people or life events we're feeling that anger towards. Read on to practice exploring your anger.

Full Body Check-In (2-4 min)

A RAIN exercise can be used for any emotion, but today we're going to use it to explore anger. Start by grounding yourself with five cycles of breath. Once you feel that connection with your body, continue below.

Recognize (with curiosity)

Start with the anger. How does it show up in your body? Where do you feel it? On a scale of 0-10, how strong is the anger?

Allow (with Warmth)

In order to investigate and process the feeling, you have to invite it closer. Rather than reacting to it or pushing it out of the way, let it be. Liken this to asking your anger to sit with you for a cup of tea. Patiently wait for the anger to be present with you, but not consuming you, before moving to the next step.

Investigate (with interest + Care)

Start with "I'm angry at ______ because I am feeling _____ ." Explore the second feeling. Is there sadness around it? Is there fear? Can you identify what needs are feeling dismissed or ignored? Stay curious.

Nurture (with compassion)

Now that you understand what your anger is signaling to you, what does it need? Sometimes our emotions need simply to be acknowledged. Other times, they signal to us that a boundary needs to be set. Comfort the need(s) that were feeling dismissed, denied, & ignored previously. Trust your gut to give you clarity on next steps.

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