"Sit with Your Anger"

Updated on October 06, 2011
L.A. asks from Kew Gardens, NY
17 answers

Have you heard this expression? What does it mean? Is it part of a bigger process for addressing your feelings? It sounds unpleasant and counterintuitive to me. Why would you want to wallow in your anger?

Thanks for all your insights.

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answers from Chicago on

I don't like it either.....If I am angry I want to find a solution so I don't have to feel that way....It really drags you down.


answers from Chicago on

Ewwww, I feel enraged just READING that phrase! Nope, I do NOT like to stew in my emotions. I prefer to deal with them.

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answers from Dallas on

From what understand, it just means to allow your self to feel the anger. To not immediately try to act, or cover up negative feelings with something positive. (If you just cover it up, it never goes away. To sit with it, recognize that's the way you feel, and to NOT act until you've sat and processed it. Kind of a "control your anger, before it controls you" sort of thing.

It does not mean sit with it, forever. It means sit with it, until you can have a handle on it, and can act logically and tackle the problem in an effective way. That could be 30 seconds, depending on the person. Anger causes people to lash out immediately, and that generally makes any situation worse. That phrase just means to process, not to keep bottled up forever.

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answers from Denver on

That is a very wise question. The expression means that you should allow yourself to feel your emotions rather than repress them. Repressing them makes you ill. However, a very wise person once said, (I'm paraphrasing) "Humans have emotions so then can learn from them. The problem is that we spend so much time being caught up in our emotions that we forget to use the wisdom we have learned from them". So you are right---it does not make sense to wallow in anger. Emotions should be felt, but we should not become our emotions. You do not want to "be" angry, you want to "feel" angry. Feelings pass---beingness (for lack of a better way to put it) does not pass. Denying the feeling is as unhealthy as becoming the emotion. Those are my thoughts :-)

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answers from Dallas on

I interpret it as 'work through your anger' or to deal with your anger issues and being accountable for your anger. I do not take it as stew or wallow in your anger.

I found this on a website:

Sit With Your Anger

1. Allow yourself to feel angry. You may think you need to cover “negative feelings” with positive ones. You don’t. You’re entitled to feel whatever you need to feel. We all are.

2. Make a conscious choice to sit with the feeling. Oftentimes when I’m angry I feel the need to act on it, but later I generally wish I’d waited. Decide that you’re not going to do anything until the feeling has less of a grip on you.

3. Feel the anger in your body. Is your neck tense? Is your chest burning? Is your throat tightening? Are your legs twitching? Recognize the sensations in your body and breathe into those areas to clear the blockages that are keeping you feeling stuck.

4. See this as an exercise in self-soothing. You can get yourself all revved-up, stewing in righteousness and mentally rehashing all the ways you were wronged. Or you can talk yourself down from bitter rage into a place of inner calm. In the end, we’re the only ones responsible for our mental states, so this is a great opportunity to practice regulating yours.

5. Commit to acting without seeking retribution. Decide that you’re not looking to get even or regain a sense of power. You’re looking to address the situation and communicate your thoughts about it clearly.

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answers from Dover on

I think it means to give yourself a moment to feel how you feel. Validate yourself, calm down and don't immediately react.

I was taught that to be angry was wrong, so my first response used to be to deny it or stuff it down. Now, I think it more healty to sit with it for awhile, let yourself feel it instead of pushing it away. Don't stew in it, but accept that it's how you feel in the moment. Don't assign it a value, like right or wrong. Just feel it. Then work through it, calm down and adress it, if necessary.

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answers from Houston on

it makes about as much sense to me as the phrase.."cry it out"......sorry...where does it go?

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answers from Redding on

Sitting with your anger doesnt mean wallow in it. I think you are correct about it being a part of a process. Depending on a persons ability to deal it could go in several different directions. Sitting (pondering) your anger could either make you MORE angry, or it could give you time to simmer down and let it go, and/or figure out how to handle it in a productive fashion. I think it has a lot to do with someone's predisposition to things in general.
It's like "go sit on your pity pot".
It really means go think about it.

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answers from New York on

I think the expression means to acknowledge or recognize your anger instead of trying to run away from it or deal with it in unhealthy ways. I agree that it's a poor expression. It's frustrating to "sit" with any unpleasant emotion or feeling but to try and talk it out or journal it can help relieve the "pain."

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answers from Seattle on

Well, sit WITH is different than sit IN or sit ON. ;-)

If I have a friend over, I'm going to sit with them. When it's time for them to leave I'm going to let them leave. Heck, maybe they'll tell me something important while they are over. Maybe we'll just have a good time. Maybe it won't feel good, because life doesn't always feel good. Either way, maybe we'll have a cup of coffee, and then they'll go. While they are over I don't have to make my life about THEM...but I can sit with them and give 'em space without giving myself up.

Same with my feelings. Anger is a series of chemical exchanges in our body. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Anger/grief/joy - I can simply acknowledge them. "Hello anger. I see you. Yup. You're in my body. Still in my body. Well THIS is uncomfortable. You're still in my body. Oh, I don't feel angry any more."

For a long time I used to try to abandon or coddle my feelings. I'd make decisions based on my feelings rather than to see my feelings as physical symptoms. (If I get a paper cut on my finger, my finger will hurt for a bit. The cut itself is not the pain. Rather, I feel pain coming from the area of my finger that is hurt. I don't need to squeeze lemon onto my cut, nor do I need to stop my day because of my cut. I can acknowledge the pain and continue living.)

Sometimes my feelings tell me valuable information. "Oh, I feel jealous. I *think* you have something *I* want and I feel resentment towards you for that." Sometimes they don't, "Oh, nothing external is going on (that I know of right now). I feel sad right now."

Either way, feelings are temporary and will leave when my body stops producing that particular chemical message. I don't have to run around trying to make them go away, but I can take care of myself. I can make choices NOT because I feel something (if I break my leg, I'm going to be gentle with it. Not because it will hurt if I'm not (though that TOO) but because I need to allow it to set and heal. I'm going to put it in a caste so that it sets properly. My pain let me know it was broken.)

I am a person of value and can choose to place fluid boundaries. "I feel upset when you come over. I feel unheard and resentful when you call me names in my own home," might let me see that I need to set a boundary regarding a specific house guest. I'm not getting what I need or want (safety and communication) in that relationship, lets say. My feelings are a window into that knowledge. So I might ask that they don't return, or ask if they are willing to change their behavior. Just as an example.

Or, if I'm feeling so upset that I think I'm going to react (my kids just made a mess so I'm going to scream at them) I might take space / do something else until I feel able to be in ownership of my actions.

If I'm sad, I might choose to take a bath or drink some tea with a girlfriend. Not to feel better (I don't need to chase another feeling) but to do things that feed me even IF I'm not feeling great. I get to take care of myself and that helps me to be balanced.

I don't need to sit in an angry dirty diaper. I don't need to react to my feelings ("I feel angry so I'm going to punch you"). I don't need to avoid my feelings ("la, la, la, everything is FINE!). Nor do I need to hold onto it or blame my feelings on something/someone (YOU MADE me angry so you are a jerk). I get to see them, take care of myself, and live with integrity.

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answers from Redding on

To me, it means calm down and take a few deep breaths instead of flying off the handle, verbally ripping people's heads off, throwing things, doing something you might regret later just because you're angry at that very moment.
Sit with your anger for a second instead of lashing out with it.

Just my opinion.

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answers from New York on

It is short term advice. Basically to calm down before you do something hurtful when you are very angry. It is hard to think clearly when you are really angry (this is a biological process). It is not about ignoring your anger, just calming down and thinking then using the energy to make more thoughtful changes.



answers from New York on

I have heard the expression. It is a bit counterintuitive, and it's difficult to do, but the main idea is not to repress or not acknowledge your angry feelings. It is to prevent explosive reactions, and to encourage appropriate and constructive reactions. If your tendency is to unleash fury when you are angry, many times things are said or done that are later regretted. And worse, you may not even grasp fully why you are so angry to begin with, and therefore do not get the result you need which is a clear expression of the source of your anger, and a change in behavior or the acknowledgement of the person you are angry with. They only counter-react to the rage and nothing gets accomplished.

"Sitting with your anger" means to stop, perhaps walk away from the situation until you can calm down and really understand what triggered the anger to begin with, and then go back at another time and react appropriately, calmly and with purpose. Chances are you will not be a screaming banshee at that point who's not taken seriously. You'll be calm, rational, and have a constructive point of view.


answers from Hartford on

Sit and think before you speak, act, and react. Never act and speak in anger. Even if you think the other person deserves it.

Basically, you need to give yourself time to process your feelings and work through it before you speak and react.



answers from St. Louis on

isn't that what "time-out" is?


now for my real answer: to me, the phrase means to own your anger, to address the underlying causes, & to make it better. If it's your anger, then it's up to you -& only you - to make things right.



answers from Jamestown on

At first glance it does seem weird. After reflection I get the impression that it means we are to "sit" on anger by not acting on it or because of it. We are supposed to think about why we are angry and if we have reason to be before we blow things out of proportion and make matters worse.

The Bible says to not let the sun go down on our anger. We are supposed to resolve issues of distress prior to going to bed so we don't wake up still mad.

What I want to know is...what do we do if we get angry when the sun has already gone down?


answers from Washington DC on

I think it means to think before you speak.

Process your feelings, process how you are going to address so you don't fly off the handle and say something you will regret and cannot take back...

No, I don't like to wallow in anger. But I like to think before I speak in anger..

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