Last week I witnessed a toddler being yelled at by her father. They were in the parking lot of the grocery store and he was trying to get her into the car. Her protest echoed loudly but her father’s yelling was even worse. It’s sad that something like that would bring a person to that point. Anger is one of those strong emotions that gets to the best of all of us. For some, anger is manageable and doesn’t get to the “boiling point” hence passes without too much damage. For others, it’s very difficult to control and can make them act in a way that has them crossing the line (aka “going off the deep end”). Unfortunately, expressing anger has a negative impact on everyone in its path.
No one choses to be angry, but external or internal factors will cause it to manifest itself and those feelings are real and need to be externalized. However, it’s how those feelings and actions are expressed is what makes the difference. Often times, the magnitude at which someone externalizes their anger has to do with underlying reasons.
Those who “go off the deep end” normally have trouble managing their emotions and takes them to the “point of no return” where they reach a point that no one can reason with them, their IQ levels decrease and they can be unpredictable with their words or actions. This anger can be so strong as to cause physical changes such as increased blood pressure, increased body temperature, and yelling and swearing, even sometimes erupting into violence or physical harm. Not a pretty sight for those observing the irate behaviour from the outside. Often times, those volatile individuals who “go off the deep end” very quickly when angry and struggle with this behaviour and it can interfere with their relationships. When the “storm” passes, a heavy sense of regret sets in and they know they have done some damage to others emotionally, physically or destroyed property.
Do you sometimes feel so angry that you want to yell so hard, usually at someone or want to take an object with force e.g. like smashing your computer or slamming a door or throwing what’s in hand at the time hard against the wall? It’s not a pretty sight and the impact it has on people (and things) around you is very negative, can cause a lot of damage and with kids it can affect their self-esteem.
An effective technique for one to manage their anger is to breath. But it takes practice as one needs to realize their entering the state of anger and stop it from progressing. If they can manage to realize it at that time, this is when they need to stop and breath using the 4-7-8 technique.
Those habits of uncontrollable anger can stem from patterns developed from childhood. For example never having been taught to control that anger or perhaps it was a learned behaviour.
Anger can be triggered from external factors such as being stuck in traffic and being late for a critical appointment or meeting or a computer malfunction. It can also be triggered by interpersonal factors such as someone who “rubbed you the wrong way”. Do you have a sibling or family member that always seems to upset you? Perhaps you have a colleague at work that does things or says things that makes you furious?
Often times, the angry person is the only one feeling the anger and the other person who caused the anger appears to be unaffected by the issue. They may look at you as if your the weak one or the one with the issues. They try to reason with you and there is just nothing they can do to help you at that point.
People with an inability to control their anger often lack maturity and confidence or simply may not be at peace with themselves. There is a saying: “Maturity is when you keep your mouth shut when you want to say something mean to someone. Only people at peace with themselves can do this.” There are several anger management techniques, and I believe the most inexpensive, effective and instant solution is the 4-7-8 breathing technique as previously mentioned and outlined below (source: https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/stress-anxiety/breathing-three-exercises/).
The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Note that with this breathing technique, you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
This breathing exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it, but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension or stress. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.
Watch a video of Dr. Weil demonstrating the 4-7-8 Breath.
Ideally this effective breathing technique should be done is a maximum of 2 cycles and should be practiced for 4-6 weeks twice per day.
Practicing this breathing technique also has other benefits such reducing cravings and helping on to fall asleep easily. Physiologically it reduces blood pressure, reduces anxiety and improves digestion.
The breath is essential to life. It is the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do when we leave. In between that time, we take about half a billion breaths. What we may not realize is that the mind, body, and breath are intimately connected and can influence each other. Our breathing is influenced by our thoughts, and our thoughts and physiology can be influenced by our breath. I hope you found this blog helpful to improve your health, your person and your relationships.