In my previous post, I explored anger and where it comes from, now we’re going to discuss strategies to better address, understand, and overcome that anger.
Anger usually turns into perpetual anger for one main reason: angry people spend so much of their time and energy focusing on why they are right about a certain situation (justifying their anger) instead of letting go of the anger and moving past it.
Being angry is not only exhausting, but angry people are exhausting to be around. And those who are chronically frustrated probably realize, deep down, that others are reluctant to be around their volatile nature. But coming to terms with that notion would probably be an explosive event, which is why most angry people simply dismiss their behaviors with the idea that “I’m just being myself!”
But chronic, explosive, inappropriate anger doesn’t have to be apart of your fundamental makeup, not at all. The first step is admitting it.
After recognizing your anger, observe it. Notice how your anger can be childlike, similar to a temper tantrum a three year old toddler might throw if they aren’t getting their way. While this may make you feel foolish and embarrassed, it’s important to understand your habitual behaviors and how effective they are in solving your problems.
Chances are, they aren’t effective at all. And unlike bratty toddlers, adults have a myriad of ways to express their frustrations, and not just by immediately exploding.
The next thing you need to do is understand where that anger is coming from. While most of us will never admit we are anything like our parents (save for perfect skin, fast metabolisms, perfectly straight teeth, and the like), we are, especially when it comes to the way we conduct ourselves on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps the manifestation of your anger is completely different from that of your parents, but according to Lauren Zander, Chairman and Co-founder of the Life coaching firm HG Life Coaching “in essence the pattern is no doubt the same.”
Once you’ve been able to swallow the realization that you’re more like the people who raised you than you thought, use them as an example. Where did their anger get them? How effective, or ineffective, was behaving that way for them? Did it get them what they wanted, or get in their way? Being able to identify how a certain behavior either achieved or hindered success and general happiness it someone else’s life brings you one step closer to being able to apply that process to yourself.
And here’s how it’s done:
- For a dozen or so days, act as you normally would, but keep a list of certain triggers that will inevitably make you angry. No matter how big or small the trigger is, or how large or insignificant your reaction may be, make a note of it.
- Dissect your list of triggers–you’re probably going to discover that your triggers are uncannily predictable. Typically, they’re simple variations of the same three or four things that completely infuriate you.
- Focus on one of those triggers and develop an alternative way to deal with the anger it evokes.
- Try, if possible changing the situation, or better yet, changing the way you react to the situation. For example, if traffic is a trigger for your anger, try changing your route to avoid an irritating commute. If that’s not possible, try to change the way you react to the traffic. You need to acknowledge that the traffic will be inevitable, so instead use that energy you set aside for your anger and road rage for something more calming, like meditation, or listening to a podcast or music. Over time, you’ll begin to associate that time less and less with anger and frustration.
Life coaches can be extremely useful in creating and implementing plans to manage and reduce your anger. Because while address and acknowledging anger is important to balancing out your mental well-being, letting it take over your life isn’t!