How do you show up when you are angry?
Do you tend to scream, yell, or shout?
Withdraw, sulk and ignore?
Have you caught yourself saying hurtful things that you didn’t mean?
Has that brought you shame or regret later?
Anger in you, anger in me
Anger exists in all of us, just like joy, kindness and compassion
It’s a coping mechanism; it is neither good nor bad; it just is
However, frequent and unmanaged anger can cause you problems. You are likely to make unwise, reckless choices, burn through relationships, hurt people, and maybe even damage your career.
As an Executive Coach, I often get to work with corporate executives who are under enormous stress, pressure, and, to top it, angry. I encourage them to explore their anger from a place of curiosity and be aware of what it does to them and those around them.
For most, the blame lies elsewhere ” He triggers me”, ” She knows how to push my buttons”, ” They are being manipulative.” “Knowing that X or Y makes me angry, he continues the same behaviour.”
Notice that there is an accusation in all of the above statements and the transfer of responsibility too.
People find it hard to be around and work with a constantly angry, resentful, or aggressive person. But, unfortunately, unmanaged anger has the potential to derail your relationships and career.
The reality is that you cannot eliminate anger; you can learn to manage, and the responsibility to do so lies with you.
Here are ten approaches that you may find helpful in managing your anger without curbing your sense of self-expression.
1.Acknowledge your anger
Know and accept that anger exists in everyone, and it’s okay for you to feel it at times. Don’t let shame or guilt accumulate; instead, use them as alerts to manage your anger faster.
2.Understand the source of your anger
What usually makes you angry?
Are they the same set of people, behaviours and actions or different ones?
Is there a pattern?
Are you under unusually high levels of stress and pressure?
Do you feel your needs are not being met either at work or home?
Could your anger be stemming from an unaddressed health challenge? For example, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or some chronic pain observe being angrier than usual.
Get curious, learn from your anger.
3.Address the source
Awareness is helpful; however, wasted if not acted upon. Once you become aware of the sources of your anger, you need to take ownership of your behaviour and work on managing your anger. Make a plan and get going; take action.
4.Practice calm and patience
Focus on how you want to be when you manage your anger better, e.g. a sense of calm, feeling safe, grounded, and patient with oneself and others.
The state of calm will not appear by wishing or thinking. Like all skills, you need to learn, practise and repeat the act of staying calm to train your body and mind to relax.
Slowing down the pace of life, making time for reflection, learning to listen actively are a few approaches that can help.
You can control and influence some things in life. But the rest are beyond you,
Learn to make peace and accept that which you cannot change.
Acceptance means letting go of hurts, painful memories, unpleasant experiences and also avoiding holding onto grudges. None of us is perfect or will ever be; forgiving ourselves and others makes it easier to honour acceptance.
Gratitude is the act of acknowledging things that you are thankful for regularly. Every moment you spend being grateful has the potential to shift your energy and state of being. Enjoying good health, having a job, being surrounded by loved ones, waking up alive are all reasons to be grateful.
Your need to control, manage all elements of your life will lead to frustration and anger. Choose instead to welcome change, let life unfold, bringing with it whatever it has to, accept uncertainty as a given; it’s unavoidable.
8.Invest your energy
Ruminating, overthinking, worrying all contribute to stress and anger. Staying engaged ensures you are not bored or brooding.
Choose to invest your time and energy in things that make you happy and bring you joy.
Fun is not exclusive to children; you too can do something to lighten up and unwind as an adult.
9.Attend to well being
You are responsible for your well being. So choose to take ownership, make time for exercise, meditation, reflection, sufficient rest and sleep.
Spend time in activities beyond work, create avenues for self-expression
Work to reduce clutter, simplify your life and seek the support of friends, family members to talk it out when things get heavy.
Here are a couple of quotes from the Dalai Lama to inspire you
” My religion is simple; my religion is kindness.”
” Be kind when possible. It’s always possible to be kind.”
Everyone is facing some challenge or the other, and life can be tricky. A bit of kindness goes a long way, so start by being kind towards yourself, and then practice the same with others;
Even after practising all of the above, you will encounter situations that test you, bring you stress and pressure. Your anger will rise, and you may say or do something that hurts someone else.
Own up and say you are sorry. It will soften your heart and lessen the pain of the other. Life is short, fragile and precious so fill it with joy, purpose and memories to cherish.
May you be safe, may you be at peace, may you be happy
Points to Ponder
- What or who do I blame for feeling angry?
- What meaning do I give to my anger?
- Where do I need to take greater responsibility for my actions?
- How do I want others to describe me?
- What would make me feel calmer and at peace?
- When things fall apart – Pema Chodron
- The Heart of Understanding – Thich Nhat Hanh
- Man’s search for meaning – Victor Franklyn
- Essentialism – Greg Mckeown