It seems that our world has become ever more stressful and, as a result, anger and uncivil behavior seem to be a growing problem in our culture and families. Verbal and even physical outbursts unfortunately are becoming too common in our daily experience. Indeed many good folks, who do very well in most parts of their lives, have problems with anger. Fortunately, there is something that you can do to detect the build up of anger within your body and do something while there is still time to stop it — before it breaks out in inappropriate ways.
When we become stressed, muscular tension builds up in our bodies even before we are consciously aware of it. The location of muscular tension is what I call your “organ of distress”. It is like a fire alarm that can alert you to take action when an emotional fire first breaks out. The tension forms in different parts of the body for different people. For some, it is a headache, for others it is tightness in the shoulders. For others, it is a constriction in the throat or tension in the chest or stomach.
By locating where the tension starts in your body, you can become mindful of stress before it becomes unmanageable and boils over into an angry outburst. Just like when a fire alarm sounds and you head for the nearest exit, when your organ of distress goes off, you can learn to exit from toxic or provocative situations before things go too far.
There are two keys to successful anger management: 1) to learn to be self-monitoring of when the stress starts to build and 2) to be mindful of what can happen if the tension gets too high. Responding quickly is important because, just like with a literal fire, it can be extinguished if it is dealt with when it is small. If ignored, the intensity can become out of control and outbursts are unstoppable. Although it takes a little practice, with a little effort you can get the hang of it and learn to manage stressful situations successfully.