Help is close at hand
It may seem impossible to pry loved ones from continuing anger—especially if they’re deeply habituated or addicted to the presence of feel-good neurotransmitters that flood their brains when they’re furious. Thankfully, help is close at hand.
Although there’s no magic treatment for perpetual outrage, there may be remedies that we can use with individuals whom we want to free from their rage. Because anger is part of the “fight” response to stress or danger, approaches that help reduce any kind of stress may apply to the emotional hijackings that occur when anger takes over brains.
In their book, *Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, professors Emily and Amelia Nagoski describe a “stress cycle” that’s much like a tunnel that we get stuck in. The cycle can be unlocked only when it has been completed—when we emerge from the tunnel.
Drs. Emily and Amelia describe some helpful approaches that also seem applicable to **diminishing anger:
- Movement or motion of any kind
- Gentle, deep breathing (that downshifts emotions)
- Positive social interactions (that provide a sense of safety)
- Laughter that reaches deep into our bodies
- Embodied affection—e.g., relaxing and assuring hugs
- “The big, old cry”
- Creative expression involving imagination.
What I find encouraging is that these approaches work well when they take place within caring, loving relationships where an anger-afflicted person has asked for help! Instead of trying to change the minds of angry people, we can engage alongside them in any of these actions, helping release them gradually from damage that they can’t escape alone. Also implicit in any of these approaches: Lovingly pleasant conversations.
I am encouraged by what these authors propose. Their wisdom feels like an answer to my Advent prayers for God to come again and save us.
Help is close at hand!
*To find out more about the stress cycle—and the burnout that results from it—visit https://www.npr.org/2019/05/05/720490364/to-help-women-kick-burnout-sisters-write-book-to-understanding-stress-cycle
**Although the Nagoski sisters do not deal with anger as a primary example, it seems reasonable to me that what they ascribe to the “stress cycle” might also apply to anger, one of the primary emotions available to the human brain. Their insights about stress are worth careful reading and application.