By: BTC Admin
In the Citizens of the World Charter School in Mars Vista, California, children are being taught about anger-management–that is, the physiological reason why we get angry and the psychological and sociological effects of this emotion.
True to its mission in bringing visual content that impacts society, Wavecrest Films gathered elementary school kids who are enrolled in social-emotional learning and coaching in mindfulness classes to speak not just about anger but how to handle it and how emotions are neither bad nor good. (Link to the video is at the bottom of the article.)
Your brain on anger and what to do with it
A little girl from the video says our brains are like a jar of glitter that when we’re angry, it’s like shaking up that jar. “If you shook up the jar, and the glitter went everywhere, that would be how your mind looks. And it’s spinning around, and then you don’t have any time to think,” she observes wisely.
In this stem, we could all benefit from the tongue-in-cheek metaphor: our brain (i. e. our emotions, logic, bodily sensations) gets mixed up that we do not think straight and we may say and do things we normally won’t do if we’re not angry. But we need to remind ourselves that it is still our brain; we own it and we also own our words, actions, feelings, and thoughts. We can still take agency over ourselves and up to a certain point, what happens after we’re angry.
What’s your brain on anger? A jar of glitter, according to a 6-year-old, apparently.
Now when your ‘jar’ gets shaken up, these kids have a few reminders to help us calm down and think straight again:
- Take the time out. “First, you find a place where you can be alone, then you find some way to relax and calm down.” It is the best option to take a step back and physically (if you can) take yourself away from the situation that caused you anger. It is better to delay making any decision than making one while your whole body is hyped up and your brain’s hay-wired.
- Breathe. “When I need to calm down, I take deep breaths.” When we get angry, we take in shallow breaths, limiting the oxygen we take in, thus making it harder to think straight. Buddhist monks, psychologists, ER nurses and even Jedi master Yoda subscribe to it: Just breathe.
- Stop and think before you act. “My brain slows down, and then I feel calmer, and then I’m ready to speak to that person.” Only when we have come to the space where we have brought under our control our bodies and minds can we speak and act. This rule must not only apply in the playground but in all areas of our lives, in all ages. So many misunderstandings and heartbreaks can be mitigated if only we paused when we are angry.
Long-term actions and routines are essential to put a grasp on our emotional state but at the height of our humanity, simple steps are heroic enough. If we stop and allow our bodies to vent the anger through breathing first, we can make the world of difference than charging on with the reins out of our hands. And it helps that these kids aren’t taught that to for one to keep emotions in check, a person must never feel angry. We are permitted (in fact, expected) to feel angry and to experience a host of other emotions, but that there are productive ways to deal with how we are feeling.
So, next time you’re angry, try to remember these wide-eyed kids: find your space and allow yourself to breathe.