Everyone experiences anger time to time. What's going on when we feel anger and how can we stop it from taking over our actions and doing things we later regret?
Good morning, lovely people. Welcome to another episode of Fit and Fabulous with me, Dr Orlena Kerek.
Today, we are talking about letting go of anger. Letting go of anger was the top podcast. One that you all love that I did way, way, way back.
Today I have decided to do letting go of anger too.
Before we start thinking about anger. I want to tell you a little story about my wetsuit. Why do you want to know about my wetsuit? You do want to know about my wetsuit. I promise you.
I live in Costa Brava near the Mediterranean sea. During the summer, I go swimming early in the morning and I love swimming.
It's my sport of choice. It's the thing that suits me. I love swimming in the sea.
More than anything I find on the days that I go swimming, I am full of energy and refreshed and I can focus. I'm a more happy person. My husband says that on the days I don't go swimming, I'm more grumpy.
Normally I swim in a wetsuit that I bought from Decathalon, which is a relatively cheap sports shop.
Scarily the water temperature this year is not as cold as other years. I'm sure that that is not a great sign. However, I have continued to use my wetsuit. It seems to have stretched a little bit so that it doesn't fit properly.
If you know how a wetsuit works, they have to be quite snug. Otherwise, they don't do anything.
This wetsuit that I have lets water in and there is a gentleman who I swim with. He doesn't come very often. My team was laughing at me the other day and saying your wetsuit is pointless. I laughed back and said, I know, it's just the water comes in and it's too big. It's kind of stretched.
It's basically like carrying weights around with me. So it makes it more hard work for me because the water comes in and I then have to move that water. So I was joking then. Yeah. It's like, I'm doing extra exercises, but it does protect me from the jellyfish. Although I haven't seen a single jellyfish this year.
At the weekend, he sent me a text message saying, "I've got a wetsuit for you. You can have it".
I was very grateful and thought, "I've been kind of thinking about buying another wetsuit. I've been putting it off because I can't be bothered to order it. I can't be bothered to go to the shops."
He dropped it around for me, this gift out of the blue, which was super kind of him.
There was this little thought in my brain of, it's August. I was actually thinking, I didn't need to wear a wetsuit because it was relatively warm. However, the weather has turned in a couple of days yesterday.
I didn't go swimming because there was a thunderstorm and there was lightning. So I thought, yeah, I don't really want to swim when there's lightning.
We didn't go this morning. I went and it's a little bit windy. We have this wind that blows from the Pyrenees mountain called a trout Montana.
It's quite strong.
We decided to go because we know where the sheltered bits are. I decided to try out my new wetsuit and it was amazing. It fits beautifully. I was so much warmer than normal.
This is absolutely amazing. I'll be able to extend my swimming a little bit. I'll enjoy the beginning and the end swimming a little bit.
What I thought when I was swimming was this is very similar, but it's absolutely amazing. The difference is so big.
Why haven't I done this before? Why have I been putting up with this not so great wetsuit? I could have just sorted it out and got myself a much better wetsuit.
And this is my message. This is the reason I am telling you this story.
So many people, so many of you put up with not feeling great, not feeling energised and vigorous and on top form. You don't realise how close you are to feeling amazing.
There's actually a quote, "most people don't realise how close they are to feeling fabulous, to feeling on top form."
I can't remember who it was, who said that. It's so true. People live in this state of not wearing a great wetsuit and putting up with cold. They don't realise that if they change a little bit, life will be so much better.
For me having a new wetsuit was like putting on a winter coat in the cold.
Making little changes to your life leads to feeling fit and fabulous and amazing. That's my story for today. Make a little change and see how amazing you feel.
What we're actually talking about is letting go of anger. This came up because I was having a conversation yesterday. Actually, it was a client call and we were talking about anger.
My comment was talking about how she feels anger in certain situations. She gave an example of when she felt angry about a particular girl. She examined the thoughts behind that. That isn't today.
What I want to talk about is anger itself and how anger specifically a scary emotion.
One of the things my client was saying was that when she was little, she saw her mother get angry and be violent.
Do you know what that is? Anger. Anger is one of those scary emotions.
One of the big parts of anger and scary emotions is that when we're angry, we do want to do mean things. We want to stay in that rut of being angry. We want to shout and scream and hurt people and inflict pain on everyone and everything around us.
It's really difficult to trust ourselves. We don't want to hurt each other. We don't want to do these things, but when we're angry, we know that that is how we turn up and how we want to do things.
So what is going on here? We have different parts of our brain. We have this bit called our prefrontal cortex. It's the big bit of our forehead, which makes us different from other animals.
Like for example, apes who don't have that bit so developed. You can see when you look at their heads that their prefrontal cortex slopes back.
They don't have all that thinking power in front of their brain. We humans do. It's almost like that is the programmer, the person who is there, writing out a code for your computer.
We're the people that prefrontal cortex makes decisions. This is how I want to turn up. This is what I want to do. I've got these amazing plans and this is what we're going to do.
What happens when we are triggered or when emotions start to creep in? Our body takes over our primitive brain takes over and it's like a physiological response.
In the case of anger, your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure goes up. The thinking part of your brain is no longer in control. We're on automation and we want to run away.
We want to do something primitive. So the primitive things are flight fight or freeze. So typically what we see is people want to fight.
Our kids want to get up and they want to fight each other. You might want to fight people. You might want to inflict pain. Your primitive self wants to inflict pain or freeze.
That's like a rabbit in the headlights. You just stand there. You can't do anything or run away. Those are the three big things that we see, and that is the primitive physiological response.
That's your adrenaline surging round. That's the angle at a fulfilled tilt, but there is a buildup time, a small amount of anger.
I only have this theory about emotions. On one level we are very intellectual and we can describe so many different emotions. We can describe elation, excitement, contentment, all these different things.
Actually, on a physiological level, there are very few basic emotions and one of them is anger.
Anger comes in different ranges. Frustration is a facade of anger. It's another way of looking at anger.
When we talk about frustration, really, and truly what is underneath that is anger. The anger of not being able to achieve what we want.
This is my theory. There are a few primitive emotions.
Happiness, contentment is one. Fear is another one. Out of these few primitive emotions, we develop other emotions which have an element of thinking in them.
Once we open that out, we have loads and loads of different emotions.
So what can we do about anger? We don't want to turn up to life angry all the time, angry and stressed.
We don't want that to be our default position. Often it's our default position because we are negatively wired. We are negatively wired to seek danger, to run away from danger.
This makes sense because back in the day, if there was danger, there was a tiger behind the tree and you ran away from it.
You got to live another day. If we weren't looking for that danger and there was a tiger behind the tree that was lights out. We didn't get to live another day.
When we have anger, it's almost like Pandora's box. We've opened this lid on anger and it's there. You can't pretend it isn't there.
The way I explain this to my clients is we have three things that we can do when we feel emotions.
The first thing is we deny this emotion and pretend that this emotion doesn't exist.
We distract ourselves from this emotion.
What we see lots of people doing when they run to the fridge, because they're not hungry, but it's just this automated.
I feel this emotion. I want to distract myself.
What am I going to do? The problem with denying or distracting yourself is it doesn't get to the root cause of that emotion. It just comes back up.
It comes back up the way of thinking the way of being it's still there. So you just put it off for another day.
The second thing you can do is act out on your emotion.
You want to be angry. You want to be negative.
You want to carry on telling your children.
This is one of the things I find that when I get triggered. I want to tell them off. I want them to try and see it from my point of view. That is a mild form of anger that is acting out on anger.
For kids, it will be having a tantrum lying on the floor for adults, shouting screaming. As it escalates, you're hurting each other. You're saying mean things that is being controlled by your anger.
That is your primitive brain doing those things.
Fight, flight and freeze. That is not your prefrontal cortex, your thinking brain being in control.
The third thing that you can do, which is not easy is to just feel that emotion. Allow that emotion in and neither push it away nor act on it.
You just feel it there in your body. Eventually, if you don't act on it, that emotion disappears. And that it's very easy to say,
"Hey, that's what you do with emotions." When you're in the throes of that emotion, it's very difficult because you want to act on that emotion.
One really useful tip is to just breathe, breathe through that emotion and focus on your breath.
What you're doing is allowing your body to calm down. You're allowing your prefrontal cortex to take control of the program of the computer. That is your brain and your body.
When you're angry learning how to focus on your breathing is not easy.
Learning breathing techniques when you aren't angry is a really useful thing to do.
Things like meditation will help you with breathing. Just spending a few minutes a day, breathing.
Being conscious of your breathing so that when you're angry and triggered, you can focus on your breathing. You get back to that state of, "okay I am no longer triggered. I can get back to what I was doing."
Anger is something that a lot of us don't want to look at in our life. I look at anger and think, before I had children, I was very rarely angry.
I can think of a few times. I remember one time with my then-boyfriend, now my husband. I was angry with him for some reason. I can't remember the exact reason. I suspect it was to do with him going out drinking far too much and staying up really, really late whilst I was working.
Anyhow, the story was that I was making dinner. I was making a curry with a bright yellow sauce. I got angry and I threw a wooden spoon. Not at him. I think I threw it at the ceiling. It was a very high ceiling and it afterwards had a yellow mark on the ceiling, which everybody laughed about now.
That's not a nice story for me to admit. I don't want to say, "yeah, I'm this." I got really angry and threw wooden spoons either at people or away from people. That's not the kind of person I want to be.
So what is the kind of person I want to be? not angry. I want to be happy and content, but I actually liked to be is someone who is more light-hearted.
I'm not naturally a laughy person but I've decided that I want to be.
If any of you have any ideas on how to be lighthearted and laugh more, then feel free to let me know.
I'm currently working on laughter yoga, which is amazing. Perhaps a topic for another podcast. You can make decisions about how we want to show up and we can make this by design.
We can decide this is what I want to do. I don't want to be angry. I want to be something else instead.
The first step is to notice ourselves and to notice that underlying anger and think, what is causing that. Why am I angry? What's going on here?
Once you can get to understand it and accept it, then you can move on. You can allow it to pass through you and go, "okay, I'm not going to let that situation get me down anymore."
Just a little recap. Here are the three things that you can do when any emotion passes through you. It doesn't have to be anger. It can be fear. All these emotions.
You can deny it, pretend it isn't there.
You can act on it. So for anger, flight fight or freeze.
You can allow it to be there and feel that emotion and not act on it.
That is really difficult. It's not an easy thing to do.
We have this idea in society that we want to always be happy. So we do try and deny these emotions, but really, and truly that isn't the aim.
Life is full of these emotions. It's the good emotions, the bad emotions, the happiness, the sadness.
What we want to do is have these emotions without being controlled by them. Just allowing them to pass by.
So there you go, anger in a nutshell.
Another story for you. When we did the first podcast letting go of anger, I talked about lots of different methods. If you haven't listened to that, go back and listen to letting go of anger.
I give you more tips for anger. One of the things I talked about was always looking for the positive.
This comes back to the idea that we are negatively wired, but we can retrain our brains.
One of the things we can do is look at a situation and find positives in a situation that is seemingly negative.
If you didn't hear this story, which I've shared on both Facebook and Instagram. Last week, I went swimming in the morning at seven o'clock. The beach was pretty empty and nobody else was with me.
Normally, I swim with some friends, but I had no friends that day. So I left my stuff by the beach, went from my swim. When I got back, someone had stolen my clothes.
Oh my goodness. How is that possible? Why would anybody want to steal my boats? I presume what they were looking for was my mobile phone and my car keys now. People said to me, how did you manage to keep positive in that situation?
I will give you a clue. If you have a situation, you can always think it could have been worse. I'm grateful that it wasn't worse.
In this situation, I was very grateful that they didn't steal my coffees. They didn't steal my mobile phone. And then also the shoes, the flip flops that I had and the dress for old shoes. I was happy to get rid of them.
I didn't have any huge, significant attachment to it. It wasn't a special dress. Unlike my underwear, I was very upset about my underwear.
My point is, if you cannot see the positive in a situation, have a think, how could this be worse? It can always be much worse.
My friends, it has been lovely talking to you. I will chat to you again next week.
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Dr Orlena Kerek (MBChB from the University of Bristol, UK) trained as a pediatric doctor. She is now a family health coach. She helps busy mums who want to feel amazing by eating healthy food. So they can enjoy a healthy life, get back into their honeymoon shorts and teach their kids healthy habits. All without thinking about it.
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