Top 3 Stress Relief Mistakes Part 3 - Explosive Anger

Hammer with anger management issues threatens egg

This is the third and final post in my 3 part blog post series called The Top 3 Stress-relief Mistakes and how to stop doing them. 

Just as a quick reminder, here's a list of the 3 most common mistakes you can make when trying to relieve stress - or as I like to call them, the 3B's:

Today we're going to look at how to manage irritability and explosive anger in the face of overwhelming stress. 

It can be very scary when your anxiety turns into nearly violent anger. The worst part is that most of the time it happens when you're around people that are close to you like your family, friends and colleagues. Losing control of yourself to the point of throwing things or yelling at someone is a frightening experience for both you and the victim of your anger. 

Even though you know in the back of your mind that you don't want to hurt anyone, something sets you off and you suddenly blow up on whoever's around you. And you know what the worst part is? It's the guilt and the shame once it's over. It's other people thinking you're unpleasant, dangerous and potentially violent. 

So how do you deal with that sudden internal explosion of anger that happens for seemingly no reason at all? Read on and I'll share with you some of my best tips and advice on how to master your anger.

The Anger Equation

I hear so many people describe their irritation as happening "for no particular reason," or "out of nowhere." And that's just not true. If you want to stop blowing up on your loved ones, you need to understand where your anger is coming from. 

Here's an equation that shows how explosive anger is created:

anxiety (repressed, withheld, unprocessed negative emotions) + feeling threatened, cornered = aggressive anger

So what the equation basically says is if you repress, withhold or don't process negative emotions, then a stressful situation can make you snap.

If you keep all your anxiety bottled up, then your negative emotions are silently brewing in that bottle inside of you. But that bottle can only hold so much anxiety before it shatters, right? And yet we try our best to put more inside. You try to endure your negative emotions for as long as you can and you keep everything bottled up inside of you. It makes you feel like a flower pot with an pine tree growing inside but you just grin and bear it.

And then it happens. Something trivial sets you off, like a random guy cutting you off in traffic or someone scaring you by accidentally dropping a book behind your back. You suddenly you feel cornered or threatened - and this time you can't keep it inside anymore. You've reached your limits, your bottle's full. If you try to force anything else inside, it's going to shatter. 

Unable to contain your negative emotions anymore, they erupt with an unusual ferocity and you aggressively lash out at whoever's around you at the moment. Which is most of the time people you love and care about.

Try This to Prevent Volcanic Eruption of Anger

So if your explosive rage comes from bottled up stress and anxiety, then you need to prevent that bottle from shattering. As long as you empty your bottle regularly, you should be fine.

Release it from time to time so it won't explode

Stress creates this surge of energy inside of you to fight the threat you're facing or run away from it to save your life. But when you keep all that energy inside even though your body it waiting for you to release it, your accumulating all of that energy and negative emotion inside of you. And when you can't hold it all in anymore, it explodes in an angry fit.

So what you can do is consciously release that angry energy from time to time. So here's a couple of my best tips on how to stop yourself from blowing up on the people you love and care about:

  • Exercise: The best way to channel your excess fight and flight energies into a healthy activity that will make you stronger and fitter. Tony Schwartz says that "the best form of emotional recovery is to get your heart rate up." I couldn't agree more.
  • Punching bag: When you feel angry, your brain pumps a lot of blood into your hands to prepare you for the upcoming fight. Therefore a punching bag is the perfect tool to release that excess energy in a harmless, healthy way. I've tried it and it works beautifully.
  • Shout at the top of your lungs. This is my personal favorite. If you're feeling explosive anger bubbling inside of you and you just can't handle it anymore, hop in your car and drive to the nearest meadow. Make sure there's no one around and shout at the top of your lungs. Do this in the rain for dramatic effect and to let the rain wash over you and cool you down a little. This is very powerful. If there's no meadow near your place, you can shout into your pillow, too. It's not as powerful, but it works. 

Final Thoughts

Lashing out at people in explosive rage and then feeling guilty and depressed about it afterwards sucks. There was a time in my life when I was always on the edge and the people that were closest to me were the ones that had to live with my frequent bouts of anger. It just wasn't fair. At one point, my anger management problems almost destroyed my marriage. It was a close call and it almost cost me the love of my life. 

For me that was a the wake-up call that I needed to make the promise to myself that I'll either master my anxiety and my explosive anger or die trying. If I could do it, you can do it, too. 

And for today's quotation, at first I was going to include the famous Buddha quote:

Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

But then I remembered that almost everybody knows that one. So here's one that's not as popular but it contains a very valuable insight from Bruce Lee:

A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough.

Well that's it for today guys. I hope you found today's post useful. If you need any more help, let me know and I'll get back to you. 

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