Dealing with anger / overwhelming feelings at the time they happen

Hi all,

Its been a while since I last posted anything. I have spent the last few months reading, and avoiding writing anything while I have worked through some things. That's all something for a different post though, possibly one where I lie down on a couch. 

My main subject is dealing with anger and overwhelming feelings. I have been through some workshops on mindfulness, and coping with feelings, and they all seem to work on:

  • Focusing on the now, and clearing the mind,
  • Then assessing the situation from a calm and neutral place, before making the right decision.

However I am struggling getting to the point where this can work.

As an example of what I mean:

I was eating with my wife and two of my children at a local food chain. It was early in the day and quiet (I only ever go to eat at places when they are not busy). The food was nice, and I managed to stay calm throughout, even when the kids started to behave as kids do. It was nice, and I went to pay the bill. When I paid, I thought it was slightly to much at the time, but I am useless at confrontation, and started furiously doing maths in my head, even as we left. Very quickly it became apparent to my wife that I was having some trouble containing my emotions, and asked what was up. I explained the cost and went through the receipt, to which she was surprised as well, but the food had been nice, and it had been a one off. We had planned to go on into town, do some shopping and enjoy the rest of the day. However, I was so angry, and overwhelmed by everything, I started to shout at people not stopping for zebra crossings, using language I feel terrible about in front of my own children. I shouted at my wife for no reason, and then got stuck inside a debilitating bubble of feelings in my own head that led to 3 hours of silence, covering the walk back to the car, journey home, including a stop to the supermarket, and back at home. 

I am aware of how I did not do the right thing in the situation, and am also aware that by breathing slowly, counting to ten, focusing on the now etc. are proven techniques to calming people down and resolving problems. I just cannot prevent the rapid escalation when something happens that I have not planned and is out of my control. I feel terrible for my wife, as often she is left with an extra child (me), and I feel ashamed that I leave her to deal with it all. I prefer to stay at home, or do things I know, or go to the same places at the same times to avoid issues etc. and keep things as I know them. 

How do other people deal with that initial wave of emotion? Are there any other techniques that people have tried that work? 

Many thanks all,


Parents Reply Children
  • First of all practise abdominal breathing, here. Just keep practising. I concentrate on my breathing and just the breathing. I can’t stress enough that it takes a while to get it to become natural. This method can be used standing up. So you can do it when out and about.

    I couldn’t find a good video for qigong meditation so I’ll explain it. The difference between the abdominal breathing and qigong breathing is that in qigong you breathe in and out through your nose, tongue on the roof of your mouth, otherwise it’s the same. I sit on the floor or a chair same posture as abdominal breathing. Your centre of gravity (dan tien) is about three finger widths below your navel. While you are breathing you imagine that there is a well of energy in your dan tien and that from there you slowly draw it out and around your body. I’m not sure I actually believe the qi theory, but it does feel that you move something around inside you, and concentrating on doing this helps rid your mind of other thoughts. It took me a few tries before I got the hang of it. You’ll know when you’ve got the hang of it, because you will feel great. I do it twice a day for about 15 minutes. Any questions, just ask. All the best, Graham.