Acupuncture and Anger
Acupuncture for Anger
With the world in its current flux many people have found themselves struggling with feelings of anger.
To deal with anger, it’s important to know how it manifests itself, where it comes from and how we can remove it from our lives.
I’m not going to go into the details of recent world events and the social politics of the demonstrations we’ve seen. It’s enough to know that it is understandably causing an outpouring of strong emotions.
World peace and harmony is a wonderful goal, but it’s something we have to work for together – calmly and with unity. The impact of this pandemic will have a lasting emotional effect on some of us, especially if we have lost loved ones or friends to Covid-19.
But it’s important that we remind ourselves each time we step outside that the pandemic itself and the way in which we are being forced to live is temporary.
That, however, doesn’t change the fact that in the here and now discussions about the world’s current status can cause mass concern and in many cases anger.
We may not recognise anger in ourselves, we probably identify it as stress or frustration, but that can very easily bubble up. It can include an element of action: hostility or aggression.
This can manifest itself mildly as irritation or, in the worst cases, the cycle of anger and violence can solidify into what might appear to be a stubborn personality trait – although Chinese medicine takes a different view of that, and I’ll come to that shortly.
Most of us will have had an experience of hurt building into other feelings of anger or resentment. Anger hurts not just us, but those around us that we love the most. It can jeopardise work relationships, our jobs and it perpetuates unhappiness.
Sources of anger
Of course these emotions aren’t just brought on by environmental factors.
We should remember that anger can be born out of pain. Chronic pain can easily give us feelings of anger. It may be in waves or at a low, (seemingly) manageable level, but that is not sustainable. It can erode self-esteem and weigh you down with guilt.
Anger can be brought on by long-term stress or illness; hormonal changes as we age; or dietary and lifestyle habits such as the excessive consumption of spicy foods, excessive salt intake, chronic smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise – all of which can lead to what in Chinese medicine we call yin depletion, qi stagnation and aggravation of liver yang.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Anger can be stopped with the intervention of an effective therapy such as acupuncture. The link between body, mind, and spirit is well established in Chinese medical philosophy. Its treatment for anger and other emotional disorders has been proven effective.
Chinese medicine regards anger as neither a personality trait nor a reflection of one’s character, but a health disorder. Providing the appropriate treatment gives hope and healing to hurt individuals and fragmented families. We recognise anger as a physiological imbalance treatable with acupuncture.
Acupuncture can treat stress, anger, and frustration. Periodic acupuncture treatments can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems. The core focus of anger treatment is to subdue the volatile energies.
A lot of people experience relief as early as the first week of treatment. With the support of acupuncture, a person may not react emotionally or physically with such intensity, when confronted with external provocations.
Following treatment patients have experienced a sense of detachment from a situation or person; the mind remains rational while the emotion is non-responsive, as if one has a Teflon surface. Other patients have felt some emotional trigger, but the intensity, post-treatment, was significantly diminished.
Like all emotions, anger is normal within a certain context. But when those emotions become unexpressed, stuck or prolonged they can cause more problems than they solve, many of them internal and unseen, and this is equally true for anger.
Scientific studies have proved anger can impact the functioning of the heart. Anger stimulates more sympathetic nervous system activity than other emotions. The body engages a defence response. Heart rate and temperature increase, as does blood pressure. Other bodily sensations include nausea, clenched fists, muscle tension, and sweating.
Most notably are the effects of anger on the cardiovascular system. Study after study demonstrates that anger dramatically increases the incidences of coronary heart disease (CHD). The heart pumps blood less efficiently during angry situations, in comparison to other heightened states, such as exercise.
Acupuncture is hugely beneficial, but it doesn’t have to work alone, supporting treatment with lifestyle changes can lead to impressive results.
Although anger is often viewed as maladaptive, it has a strong motivational element, prompting people to communicate how they feel or to change situations that ignite their anger. Writing about how we feel can be therapeutic because it allows us the time and space to rationalise our emotions and find meaning, instead of becoming ‘stuck’ in the emotion.
With a level of awareness and detachment writing can be a productive and calm way to discover what caused the anger in the first place. One may then find a sense of understanding and control.
An even more promising approach is forgiveness.
Unforgiving responses to blame, anger and hostility are found to be destructive to personal health. It can lead to a sustained pattern of hurtful memories and vengeful thoughts.
Forgiveness is a more beneficial approach to anger, associated with a reduction in heart problems, and overall lower stress responses. Knowing that anger is physiological in nature helps us stop judging others and not reacting to the source(s) of anger. It also allows us to be more compassionate toward ourselves and others.
Many far Eastern cultures consider anger to be a product of the mind, not of external events. Healing anger, then, is a matter of increasing self-awareness through a series of steps.
- We must take responsibility for our anger, rather than blaming others.
- We develop an awareness of the mind, and its habits of desire, aversion and ignorance.
- We seek understanding of the causes of anger as frustrated desire, aversion, and self-defence.
- We learn to pass through states of anger with consciousness; watching the workings of anger without reacting.
Let’s see if through a mixture of acupuncture and behaviour change we can bring a little more light to our daily lives.
If there’s anyone you know who you think would benefit from reading this article please forward on the link.
If you’d like to talk to me about any of this, or make an appointment, please call me on 07941 183774. Be kind to yourselves.