Anger is something that I really struggle with and often feel ashamed about but I am learning that feeling anger doesn’t make me a bad person, anger is a feeling that all of us have.
When I get angry I tend to curl up. I’ll cross my arms and legs and crouch and look down. I make myself very small and appear avoidant according to my psychologist. I often don’t acknowledge what is going on in my body nor the feeling I am having but with help I am recognising that anger is an issue in my life. When I’m angry the urge is to lash out…often at myself with self-harm or to swear a lot and not deal with things in an effective manner.
Today I was full of anger in my session with my psychologist and he told me to act opposite to which I angrily told him that I didn’t know what the opposite was. We recognised that the urge was to curl up, avoid eye contact and lash out/swear and so he got me to sit in a relaxed and open posture, stop swearing and look at him and it did help. I think curling up, avoiding eye contact, frowning and picking my nail varnish often makes me more angry, frustrated and wound up and by acting opposite to this urge it made me feel better. The anger was still there but I felt calmer, my heart wasn’t racing and I wasn’t making the situation worse by swearing at my psychologist so we could then have an actual conversation.
Acting opposite is a big part of DBT. If the urge is to self-harm then self-soothe and have a bubble bath or paint your nails. If the urge is to avoid then avoid avoiding. If the urge is to dislike someone and the dislike is unwarranted then think compassionate thoughts about them. If anger is giving you urges that will make the situation worse then do the opposite.