There’s a voice shouting. Takes a second before you realize it’s yours. You feel energized. Righteous. Driving every point home. It’s like the climax of a courtroom drama and you’re the hero.
Too bad you’re saying a lot of stuff you’re definitely going to regret in 20 minutes. But, hey, at least you’re getting it off your chest, right? Venting the anger. Um, no, actually.
“Venting” just makes anger worse.
Focusing on a negative emotion will likely intensify the experience of that emotion further and thus make down-regulation more difficult, leading to lower adjustment and well-being.
And, as if the short term damage wasn’t enough, the jokes about anger and heart attacks aren’t very far off the mark. At all.
Research on anger has shown that chronic anger and hostility can increase one’s vulnerability to cardiovascular problems (Suls and Bunde 2005), cause problems in relationships, pose barriers to functioning at work, and get in the way of important goals (Kassinove 1995).
So what really reduces anger? Mindfulness. Trendy, I know. Before you go shopping for meditation cushions, perhaps it would be good to have an actual definition of the word.
Mindfulness involves paying attention to, contemplating, and noticing something while letting go of judgments and assumptions. To mindfully attend to something, you must take a step back in your mind and look at it objectively without evaluating it as good or bad, or right or wrong. Don’t try to change it. Instead, be open to the experience, regardless of whether you like or dislike it.