Understanding Boundaries plus 8 Healthy Ways to Cope with Anger

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Image by Lubos Houska from Pixabay

Another one of the Reiki Precepts is:

Just for today, I will not anger

Therefore, in this blog I will be giving advice on healthy ways to cope with anger. However, in order to begin to heal this complex emotion we must first understand it. So let’s begin to break it down.

Understanding Anger

Anger is something that is quite common in today’s society and unfortunately it is also something that is commonly misunderstood and judged by others. This is perhaps understandable as anger often causes harm to others.

In order to understand the topic of harm please refer to my blog post on this subject.

As children, we are taught by adults that anger is a very bad and shameful thing. Our caregivers often train us to hold an extremely negative opinion about anger.

The main reason for this is likely because they themselves have never understood their own anger properly and have not been taught healthy ways to cope with anger.

So what is anger and where does it come from?

Where Does Anger Come From?

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Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Anger is primarily a sign that our own boundaries have been crossed. When looking at anger from this perspective then it becomes a very positive thing.

Wow! Hang on? How can anger possibly be positive?

In order to understand this fully we need to look at the definition of a boundary. It is important for us to define what this is because it can be taken completely out of context by those who have had their boundaries crossed in childhood.

Those who have had these types of experiences repeatedly in the past will often fail to set healthy boundaries in their daily lives.

What Is A Boundary?

A boundary is nothing more or less than a statement about who you are as a person. For example:

“I like macaroni cheese” is a boundary

Yes it really is as simple as that. Therefore, the key to setting healthy boundaries lies primarily in understanding who you are as a person and becoming your own best friend.

Anger will arise in regard to boundaries if we feel that one of our core principles is threatened by another or has been taken advantage of. For example, if someone else is behaving in a passive aggressive manner by failing to express their true feelings, then:

“I prefer open communication”, becomes a boundary. This is a statement about your own personality and you are also letting the other person know that lack of communication makes you feel unsafe.

Anger From A Positive Perspective

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Image by klimkin from Pixabay

Therefore instead of approaching anger from a shame based perspective you can choose to understand that it is simply a call to look within and understand yourself better.

Once you begin to comprehend your own personality then you will begin to define what is important to you in terms of how you wish to be treated. In short, what are your standards in regard to personal relationships?

Ultimately, in order to have a successful relationship with someone, you must first treat yourself with the same degree of love and respect that you wish to get from another person. Only then can you start to feel more comfortable in your own skin.

Once you start to feel comfortable in your own skin you will begin to feel safe around other people and start to attract healthy relationships into your life. By coming from this perspective we really can understand that our boundaries are primarily our own responsibility and not something that we ought to impose on others.

Regarding that particular point there is something else that is important to remember. That is that boundaries can become abusive.

When Boundaries Become Abusive

Often abusive boundaries in adulthood stem from the trauma of being unable to have any sense of our own anonymity in childhood. Any attempt to establish a distinct sense of self as children quickly led to us being shut down and our boundaries crossed.

Even something as simple as a two-year-old being told by a parent:

“No you can’t have the pink cup. You will take what ever one I give you”

can be an example of a childhood trauma where a child was unable to exert their own sense of independence, choice and preference.

This may sound like a ridiculous example to some people. Nonetheless, some of our deepest wounds stem from these exact scenarios in childhood.

As an adult it may seem insignificant to be able to choose what colour cup to use but for a child it is not. It contains a deeper meaning that may follow us into adulthood. This then becomes a core belief that subconsciously affects our life choices. For example:

“I’m not important enough to have the things that I want in life” or “I can’t rely on myself to make my own decisions. I need to be dependent on others”

If we have had experiences where we have been unable to exert our sense of self as children and had our boundaries crossed, then this may lead to a fear in adulthood of the same thing happening.

With this type of fear there is the tendency to attempt to be too overbearing with our boundaries and to use them as an excuse to censor other people or control their behavior when they trigger us. In order to make ourselves feel safe, we do not give other people any sense of leeway to make mistakes.

Under no circumstances should you ever stay in abusive relationships or tolerate negative behavior from others. However, if you have made it clear to someone that something that they are doing hurts you and they continue to do it then it is time to walk away.

If you continue to stay and demand over and over that they behave better, when they have proven that from their perspective they are doing their best, then this is called being abusive with your boundaries. If you reflect your own desires onto another person in order to manipulate or control over certain issues, for example, what another person wears, or what they choose to say in a conversation, then this can also be an example of being abusive with boundaries.

If someone is incapable of respecting you and treating you in the way that you deserve then It doesn’t mean that the other person’s behavior is right and you are wrong. It just means that you need to take responsibility for caring for your own needs and putting them first because the other person has proven that they are incapable of doing so.

It means stop playing the victim and casting blame on outside circumstances. By walking away and caring for your own feelings and prioritizing them as important then you are building self-esteem and self-worth. Then by the basis of law of attraction you will start to attract relationships in your life that reflect your own sense of self-love and devotion.

Healthy Ways To Cope With Anger

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As children we are not taught to see anger as a positive opportunity to understand ourselves better and build self-worth. Instead, we are taught to see it as a shameful thing and to believe that if we are angry we are bad people who have done something wrong. We are not given education on how to release it in healthy ways but instead are expected to suppress it.

Any attempt to suppress anger is only guaranteed to make it more aggressive and destructive. It has the opposite effect from the one we are desiring as it needs to be felt fully and released, which can often be tricky. Therefore, lastly, let’s look at some healthy ways to cope with anger.

  1. Write It Down Writing can often be the most therapeutic tool for dealing with difficult emotions and for me it is the one that I personally find most effective when it comes to anger. I will picture the person that I am angry with and sit down and write them a letter which I do not intend to send. However, It may help you to get in touch with your feelings if you pretend that you are going to deliver it.In the letter I will express everything that I would like to say to their face, how much they have hurt me, how their behavior made me feel, what I would like to do to them.The important thing to remember when doing this is not to censor yourself. You are not going to actually give the other person the letter to read, what’s more no one else has to see it but you. Allow your feelings to flow freely without constraint. Try not to think consciously about what you are writing or judge yourself. You are simply admitting the truth to yourself. Which can sometimes be easier said than done!Afterwards delete the document if on the computer, burn or throw away the letter. You will be guaranteed to feel a million times better. If you struggle with writing then you can record yourself talking as if you were sending a voice message or video.
  2. Move Your Body If you are looking for a more active method then there are a variety of different ways to do this. You can try an expressive and intuitive dance listening to angry or classical music, go out for a walk or a run, join a fitness or boxing class, whatever feels good to you.The key is to release toxic emotions through movement so that they do not stagnate and build up in your body as this causes depression. Suppressed anger that is unable to be released from the body can often be a cause of depression.Here is an exercise that you might like to try that involves deliberately shaking the body. It might seem a little weird or make you feel self-conscious but you can do this alone at home.Stand up straight with feet shoulder width apart. Begin to bend and straighten your knees really fast until there is movement in both the upper and lower part of your body. Ensure that while doing this you keep your spine straight and feet firmly planted on the floor. You may also want to shake your arms too and let your head hang down to your chest, whatever feels good to you. Create as fast a movement as you can until you are finished or too tired to continue.
  3. Use your voice Screaming can typically be quite antisocial, particularly in your own house and so if you have neighbors that might overhear and want to try this then you can always scream into a pillow. Screaming is actually probably the most effective method for releasing anger and the most obvious. So it is unfortunate that most people find it difficult to find a safe space to do it. Naturally you want to avoid the embarrassment of your neighbors complaining or asking awkward questions.Another way of releasing anger through vocal methods however can be singing. I find this a very therapeutic and beneficial way of releasing all kinds of emotions. Choose a song with lyrics that express how you are feeling and release your anger through your vocal expression of the song. It may help to watch yourself singing in a mirror, or imagine that the person you are angry with is sitting in the room and listening to you.
  4. Punch pillows or throw pillows Fairly self-explanatory really, don’t need to say much about this one here. Use your fists to punch pillows until you release anger or are exhausted. Alternatively you can use a wooden stick or metal pole to hit the pillow with. Depending on how angry you are, it might or might not help to imagine the other persons face on the pillow. Then again that might be a little weird or scary for you. If you have access to a punching bag then you can obviously use this instead of a pillow.If you don’t like punching then you can throw the cushions instead. Although make sure that you are in a safe place with no fragile or breakable objects nearby. A pillow could easily go astray or off target. If there are other people in the room then ensure that they are a safe distance away and throw in the opposite direction.
  5. Get a friend to help If you have a friend that is willing to help you in releasing anger then you might want to try this exercise together. How you choose to approach this depends entirely on how comfortable your friend is with anger. So make sure to talk to them beforehand and find out what they do or don’t feel safe holding space for.Sit directly opposite your friend, either on the floor or just on a couch/chair, whatever feels the most relaxed and safe to you. Imagine that your friend is the target that you are angry with and talk to them directly as if they were actually that person. Say everything that you wish you could say to who ever you are angry with.Make sure to express your feelings fully, including swearing or screaming, unless of course your friend has made it clear that they do not feel comfortable with that. This is why it is important to discuss beforehand what degree of anger they feel safe holding space for.If they do feel okay with letting you release fully then don’t censor yourself. Remember that you are given an opportunity to say things out loud that you probably wouldn’t want to say directly to the person you are angry atYou can even keep pillows nearby to punch or throw if you feel the urge to express violence. It is better that you do so in a safe and controlled environment than at an inappropriate time. If punching pillows then make sure that the other person is a reasonable and safe distance away so that they do not get hurt. If throwing pillows then obviously do not throw them anywhere near the other person.
  6. Spend time in nature Perhaps this seems like a more passive approach, but nature is one of the more healing places for releasing all kinds of difficult emotions. Take off your socks and shoes and walk barefoot in your garden, on the grass in the park or through the woods. This will help you to “ground” enabling you to feel more secure and safe in your body.Another way to release emotions in nature is to lie on the grass or sit against a tree. Imagine the anger inside of you like a black smoke, leaving your body and traveling deep into the earth below or the roots of the tree. Do this until you feel that the process is complete and you feel better.Afterwards, put your hands in the “Gassho” (prayer) position and in your mind thank Lady Gaia (Mother Earth) or the tree for assisting you in your healing. Alternatively, you could also hug the tree to express your gratitude for its participation in the process.
  7. Tell yourself “I love you” For this one I need to give credit to Matt Khan who famously teaches this process, but it is a very useful tool. For that reason I am writing it here as an example.When you feel anger, or any emotion that is particularly challenging, put your hand on your heart and say, “I love you”. If there is pain in the body and you can identify it in a specific area then you can also put your hand on that area and tell the pain, “I love you”. You can either repeat this exercise until the pain goes away, or do it for a set time limit.It is useful to remember however, that unless you give your unconditional presence on a regular basis with this exercise then it will not work. This is because the part of you that feels the anger is like a small child that can sense if your attention is genuine. If it is done out of frustration and irritation then the aspect that you are attempting to heal will feel under pressure to “hurry up and feel better”. Your presence must be unconditional.If you are struggling with telling yourself, “I love you”, then another phrase that you can use instead is, “when I am angry, I deserve more love not less”. Repeating this affirmation might help to prepare you to say I love you’s.
  8. ReikiI probably should have mentioned this one first and not last but practicing Reiki on a regular basis is actually one of the best ways to reduce and heal anger.Reiki energy is very calming and if you hold a qualification then you can practice it on yourself. You can do this by placing hands on the part of your body that is in pain or intuitively you feel requires healing. You should use the emotional healing symbol “Cho Ku Rei” for this.If you are not trained to practice Reiki on yourself then you can book regular sessions with a trained Practitioner for a small fee.I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article. If you have any questions or comments then please do leave them below in the comments section

    Happy Healing,

    Alice Swan

    alice@serenityswanreiki.com

2 Replies to “Understanding Boundaries plus 8 Healthy Ways to Cope with Anger”

  1. Great article! I recognize myself in it.

    I was so angry at one person that I was having dreams about being physically abusive to them. I realized after the second time that this happened that I had to deal with how I was feeling.

    My favorite is writing it down and now I try to journal every day just to check my feelings.

    I do like the idea of saying “I love you” to myself. I am finding that the higher my self esteem is, the less I am bothered by other people and their opinions.

    Sometimes I lose it (traffic!) but mostly I feel more in control of my feelings than I ever did before.

    Thank you for this inspiring post!

    1. I’m happy that you could relate to the article and that you found it beneficial. I find that if I am dealing with a particularly strong emotion of anger then I need to write it down in a letter as just saying “I love you” becomes too passive in that instance. Once I get in touch with the vulnerability underneath the anger, then I can use the “I love you” statements and it becomes a lot more effective. Meditation definitely helps me to quiet the mind.

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