The American Psychological Association just published a great article on the effects of anger on the body (http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/11/03/hm.anger.management/index.html). Toxic emotions like anger increase your blood pressure, heart rate, send stress hormones coursing through your body, deplete you of energy, and make it harder to think clearly. Is it any wonder that heart attacks happen at a greater frequency on Monday mornings than any other day or time in the week?
So what are some practical alternatives to being angry?
Effectively dealing with toxic emotions means not suppressing them and letting them build up, but also not letting them take control of you. Negative emotions are your guidance system. They are like a flashing light in your car – an indicator that something is going on. The key to understanding your emotions is to consciously figure out what the root cause of the emotion is, and deal with that. If you can’t change whatever “that” is (a person, situation, environment), walk away from it. If you can’t walk away from it, change your thinking about it. Don’t resist it; accept it fully, and then create change from a place of full acceptance. Remember, what you resists, persists. Far from being a sign of weakness, acceptance actually puts you in a more empowered place because you are no longer expending energy resisting.
As you alter your environment or thinking, your emotional guidance system will automatically recalibrate to your new point of focus. And what you focus on expands. As you find an emotion like anger dissipating, you will notice physical changes. Your breathing might become more regular. Your shoulder and neck muscles might relax. And you just might begin thinking more clearly and find the solution that had escaped you before.