How to Use Mindfulness to Calm Your Rage and Stop Making Decisions and Acting in Ways You Will Regret
“Neurologists believe that every time an individual suppresses their anger and does not act on it, the individual is really rewiring their brain to be more loving and tranquil.” – Unknown
One of the most significant ways in which practicing mindfulness has altered my life is in the manner in which I am now able to deal with my emotions of rage.
Anyone who has met me in the last several years would have no idea that I used to let my rage control my life. I sometimes find myself wishing that individuals who are only now meeting me could understand the change that has taken place in me in comparison to my history.
If others could witness how practicing mindfulness has transformed me from an angry, irritated person who despised the world into a man who loves having fun and is always in a good mood, I believe that everyone would give mindfulness a go.
Because I have been practicing mindfulness, I am now able to pay attention to what is occurring in both my mind and my body when I feel anger mounting. I often refer to this aspect of rage as the “volume knob,” and in a moment I’ll go a bit more into that concept.
To begin with, I would like to provide you with a look into my history so that you may have a clearer frame of reference as to where I used to be and where I am now as a result of the practice of mindfulness.
The Alcoholic Parent’s Offspring
Because my mother was an alcoholic while I was growing up, I struggled with a variety of problems throughout my childhood, the most significant of which was rage.
I was in a state of severe annoyance with my mother because I was unable to comprehend why she would not give up drinking for me.
I imagined that if she loved me really, she would be able to give up drinking for my sake, but she didn’t end up doing that.
My mother finally became clean and sober, but at that point, it was twenty years too late, and I still had animosity against her for the previous two decades.
In addition to the hostility I felt toward my mother, I also harbored hostility toward the rest of the world.
When I think about it now, I realize how totally absurd that was (and it kind of was). As I was growing up, it made me mad that there were other children who didn’t have to experience what I was going through in my family life.
The children I was raised with had wonderful parents who earned a respectable amount of money and were able to provide for their children in whatever way they desired financially.
However, it wasn’t simply the items in their possession; they also had loving parents and other members of their family who cared about them.
A Life Filled with Resentment
Being constantly enraged was taxing on my energy, but it was the only way I knew how to express myself. As a result of this, I directed my rage at everyone who happened to come into contact with me.
Even though I wasn’t the kind of person who got into a lot of fights when I was younger, the words that came out of my mouth were poisonous.
Over the course of my life, I have caused pain for a great number of individuals by uttering the most insensitive things I could possibly imagine, and thereafter, I have felt an overwhelming amount of remorse over this.
When I look back on my history, I now see how poisonous I was to any woman who had the misfortune of dating me. While I used to believe that every woman I dated was at fault, I can now see how toxic I was.
I neglected to include the fact that I became an alcoholic and a drug addict when I was around the age of eighteen, but I was finally able to kick my habits on the day I turned twenty-seven years old in 2012.
I am now participating in a recovery program, and one of the components of the program is that one of the primary reasons we drink and use is resentment.
This is something that I can absolutely connect to. The act of making apologies is yet another component of this approach.
It was one of the things that helped me to forgive myself, but despite the fact that I am not a huge lover of making apologies, it was something that assisted me in forgiving myself.
Getting sober has a number of challenges, one of which is that you do not instantly transform into a spiritual being.
I was still harboring a great deal of rage, and despite my best efforts, I was unable to keep my cool. I was the very definition of someone who reacts rather than responds, especially to criticism.
Whenever I reacted adversely to anything, I had to put myself in my place and apologize. I wanted to find a technique to control my anger before it reached that stage, and that’s when I discovered mindfulness training.
My Method For Controlling My Anger Is Called Mindfulness
After being clean and sober for three years, I finally stumbled into the practice of mindfulness. Even though it wasn’t quite as intense as it used to be, there was still fury building up inside of me.
I was aware that I still had a significant amount of room for personal growth, so I decided to give mindfulness meditation a go.
When I first tried meditation, I quickly realized how transformative it could be in my life. However, I did not realize how much it would help me with my anger issues until much later.
One of the things that draws me to mindfulness practice is the fact that it can be used in so many different ways, both formally and informally.
As I began to include a variety of mindful practices into my routine, such as mindful walking, attentive listening, and mindful communication, I found that I was gradually becoming more aware of my day-to-day activities.
I came to the realization that the only time I admitted to feeling angry was just before I let it all out, and even then, it was usually the culmination of something that had been building up for some time.
As a result of my inability to identify the causes of my ire at an earlier stage, I was unable to address it before responding in a manner that I would later come to regret.
Several of the following are examples of patterns that I’ve seen to be rage triggers for me:
- is a liar
- Being put down or patronized
- Being unfairly handled as an opponent
- A failure to provide credit
- Inadequately appreciated
When I talk about the “volume knob” of anger, I mean that mindfulness has helped me start capturing my anger at a volume level of one or two rather than at a level of nine or ten.
This is what I mean when I talk about the “volume knob.” When it reaches its peak, my fury no longer allows me to exert any control over it; rather, it takes over and dictates my behavior.
By practicing mindfulness throughout the day, I have not only been able to recognize my anger in its early phases, but I have also been able to respond to it with compassion and inquiry.
This is all because of the opportunities that mindfulness has afforded me.
Whenever I feel that first fury inside my body or mind, it piques my interest and makes me very intrigued. I centered myself by taking a deep breath and thinking to myself, “That is intriguing.”
Why do I have these feelings toward this person or about this situation?
The practice of mindfulness helps clear mental clutter and enables me to get to the bottom of what’s truly going on inside my own head.
My frustration is often precipitated by events that are wholly beyond my ability to influence or by other occurrences that have nothing to do with the individual or individuals who are the subject of my ire. Neither of these explanations is acceptable to me.
One of the most significant ways in which practicing mindfulness has influenced me is that it has helped me see that the beliefs I have that are at the root of my anger are often pretty narrow-minded.
A Training in Mindful Interpersonal Communication
Mindful communication is a wonderful skill that you can start utilizing right now. This requires maintaining complete attention to the discussion at hand, which includes not just listening but also being aware of the state of one’s own thoughts and feelings as well as the actions of one’s own body.
I would recommend that you start doing this with someone that you may not get along with too well, but not with someone who makes you feel an extreme amount of emotion.
It might be a person you don’t get along with very well at work, a member of your own family, or a close friend in your inner circle.
If you find that you are unable to handle this much, you may do it while reading articles on social media or watching the news.
When you are speaking with this individual, pay attention to the feelings that are coming up in your body as well as the sensations that you are experiencing.
Start paying attention to what they said that made you feel this way in the first place, and become aware of the specific locations in your body where you are experiencing feelings.
Be intrigued by the situation rather than passing judgment on it. Be curious about the reasons behind why your body and mind are reacting in the manner that they are right now.
When you respond to these thoughts and feelings with equanimity, you lower the likelihood that you will behave in an unfavorable manner in the given circumstance.
When I say to be intrigued, what I mean is to approach your experience with the same sense of wonder that a youngster would.
This was one of the first examples of mindfulness training for me. When you’re really interested in something, you don’t pass judgment on it.
Examine your experience as thoroughly as a little kid might examine a leaf that they are seeing for the first time. The intense emotions that you are experiencing at that same time will have less of an impact on you as a result of this.
Because it gives us the opportunity to take a breather, this entire procedure is of the utmost significance. We are better equipped to respond rather than react when we take a moment to stop.
It’s common for the more basic portion of our brain to want to react to situations, and when it does, we don’t give it much consideration.
The result of this is almost always regret and anguish. We are able to make far more informed choices when we possess the ability to stop before reacting to anything.
It is going to take some work before you are able to get your anger under control, but as time goes on, you will start to think back on instances that would have gotten under your skin in the past.
It continues to be an area of focus for me, and I am continually surprised by how effectively I am able to control my anger these days.
Since I’ve learned how to respond to situations rather than react to them, I don’t find myself looking back with regret on the choices I made when I was angry and acted on impulse.
As I indicated at the beginning of this piece, I wish that a greater number of people could genuinely comprehend how profoundly practicing mindfulness has altered my life.
When I see senseless acts of violence such as domestic abuse, physical altercations between strangers, or even murder that happen as a result of somebody’s inability to manage their anger, I can’t help but think about how much different this world would be if more people learned how to practice this technique.
When it comes to anger management, one of my goals is to serve as an example to others by practicing mindfulness. If they are able to see how I react to the challenges that life throws at me on a daily basis, maybe they will decide to give this whole mindfulness thing a go.