Anger Management: How to Deal with Anger

What makes you mad?

How do you deal with it?

Does your Anger ever get you into trouble?

In this article, you will learn what Anger is, why it exists, what you can do to control it, and even prevent it from arising.

When you master your Anger, you help expand the environment that supports greater health, wealth, and happiness. In other words, your life just gets better.

Let’s do this.

 

THE ANGER PROBLEM

ANGER is a natural part of Life. There’s nothing “wrong” with Anger itself.

What’s “wrong” is when you allow Anger to take control of you and then do things you later regret.

I call this ‘Unconscious Anger’.

‘Unconscious Anger’ is what fuels Human Conflict and Suffering.

The ‘Anger’ part is not the problem.

It’s the ‘Unconscious’ part that’s causing all the trouble.

For us to enjoy our lives together, we must wake up and consciously guide our Anger.

 

EMOTIONS ARE NOT THINGS – EMOTIONS ARE PROCESSES

A lot of misunderstanding about emotions is caused by thinking of them as THINGS.

Emotions like Anger, Happiness, and Curiosity are NOT THINGS you can put in your pocket, they are living PROCESSES you engage in.

living process is a series of action steps that automatically repeat over and over in a continuous cycle – like a running engine.

When you are being Angry, you are automatically repeating a series of steps – you are running your ‘Anger Engine’.

Knowing the steps is the key to controlling this engine.

 

WHAT ANGER IS AND WHY IT EXISTS

Anger is a biologically hardwired emotion that is part of your body’s Survival Mechanism.

Your Survival Mechanism is the core program of your brain and nervous system and guides all your actions around the command, “Survive!”.

Everything you do is fundamentally driven by this mechanism towards pleasure and away from pain.

Pleasure is considered anything that increases your strength and ability to survive.

Pain is considered anything that makes you weaker and less able to survive.

Anger is the tool used to help defend against pain.

A Simple Example

Let’s think in caveman terms since our biology hasn’t changed much since those days. If you get bitten by a dangerous animal, and you are in pain, your chances of survival have been reduced. You will need a burst of energy and pain-killers in order to make it through this situation. This is where Anger enters the scene. Anger is a process that quickly alters your biochemistry and heart rate to boost your energy, dull your pain, and empower you to end the threatening situation. Anger is the “Fight” component of the “Fight or Flight Response” – a.k.a. “The Stress Response”.

Anger exists to give you the burst of energy and pain killers you need to get through threatening situations.

 

WHAT TRIGGERS ANGER?

If I take a look at a number of times in my past when I got angry, I notice one thing they all have in common. They have a trigger. Something had to happen to trigger my anger otherwise I would have remained calm. Hmmmm…. interesting.

When I look at what the triggers were, they were all different …and yet they all had one thing in common – PAIN.

I noticed that PAIN is what triggers Anger. In fact, it’s the only thing that does.

But PAIN comes in 2 forms – Physical & Emotional.

Let’s start with physical pain.

 

TRIGGER #1 – PHYSICAL PAIN

Have you ever stubbed your toe or hit your thumb with a hammer? I have.

Here’s what I noticed that let me know that physical pain triggers anger:

After stubbing my toe the first thing I acknowledged was my pain. “OWWWWW!”

The next thing I acknowledged was my Anger. “FF**##@@KKK!”

No matter how many times I hurt myself, the words always came out in the same order.

If someone else ever hurt me physically, I found I reacted in anger.

I’m betting you can relate, so we’ll go on to trigger #2.

 

TRIGGER #2 – EMOTIONAL PAIN

Emotional Pain is a bit trickier to pin down in the moment it happens. Often it takes time, reflection, and the willingness to understand yourself after the anger has subsided to really identify what the actual pain-issue is.

A good example you might relate to is getting cut-off in traffic.

This one gets a lot of people all worked up, red faced, and showing off their longest finger in an unforgettable solo performance. But why?

If Emotional Pain is the trigger here, what is causing it specifically?

Well, the emotional pain does not come from the event of someone suddenly cutting in front of you in traffic. It comes from the meaning you attach to the event. It comes from what YOU think the event means about YOU. It’s a story you tell yourself.

Here’s what I mean:

If someone suddenly swerves their car in front of yours and you know it’s because the driver has diarrhea and is freaked out about the possibility of pooping in his car and is racing for the nearest toilet while tightly clenching his butt cheeks together, you might actually giggle and feel sorry for the guy. In this case, you know it doesn’t mean anything about YOU so you don’t get mad.

However, if someone cuts you off and you don’t know why, YOU are the one who comes up with the reason. If you get angry, it’s because the reason YOU came up with was hurtful to you.

 

WHY IT HURTS

The most important need of every human-being is the need to matter. It’s the need to be  ‘heard’; to be ‘seen’; to be acknowledged; to be understood; to be regarded as valuable. Our Survival Instinct is hardwired with the need to know that it’s important that we are alive. This also means that our deepest unconscious fear is of being worthless; of not mattering; of being ignored, abandoned, or rejected.

In the situation of getting cut-off in traffic, if you tell yourself that the person cutting you off is “saying” with his action that you are not worth paying attention to – and part of you believes it – it hurts… and you get mad. You feel disrespected and your Survival Instinct takes over.

It’s important to note here that, IN REALITY, the driver of the other car did not cause you any pain. YOU did it to yourself with what you told yourself ‘getting cut-off’ means about you. If you’re going to get mad, get mad at yourself.

Remember, the exact same event can happen to you, but if the reason is diarrhea, you giggle. If you make up the reason, YOU are hurting yourself. YOU are the reason you’re angry.

Okay so, here is the hard truth to swallow: When it comes to anger that is triggered by emotional pain, it is always YOU doing it to yourself regardless of what people are doing or saying about you. If part of you agrees with the ‘meaning’ of their words or actions, it will cause you to feel hurt. It’s your agreement that causes the pain. The more you agree, the more it hurts.

If you know you have brown hair and I tell you it’s green, you think I’m crazy. You don’t get mad. If, however you were self-conscious about the possibility of actually having green hair (which you believe would make you less popular/less valuable), a part of you might believe me (self-doubt) while the rest of you doesn’t want it to be true, so you get mad in order to have the energy to fight this idea.

Your Survival Instinct is a biological response that treats ALL enemies the same whether its a sabre-tooth tiger or a self-defeating thought (self-doubt).

We may often blame others for hurting our feelings. I’m guilty of it. However I now realize that I can’t be hurt if I didn’t at least partially agree with either what they said, or the story I tell myself about what their actions meant about me. This is self-doubt in all its damned glory. It’s the main root of our emotional pain.

The more self-doubt you work through, the more you free yourself from pain and Anger.

 

HANDLING THE ANGER OF OTHERS

1 – Realize that when someone gets angry, it means they are in pain.

2 – Remember, everyone’s greatest need/want/desire is to be Acknowledged and Understood. We want to know that we matter and that our feelings matter. You can often help to diffuse another person’s anger rather quickly by seeking to understand them and acknowledge their pain as valid from their point-of-view. This is true compassion. It’s the water that puts out the fire.

3 – Be curious and seek to understand their pain. Ask yourself, “What must this person believe about themselves right now in order to feel this pain.?” See if you can’t understand why they feel hurt. Do your best to understand them from their point-of-view. Imagine yourself in their place. Pretend to be them.

4 – If they see YOU as the cause of their Anger, Do NOT attempt to reason with them while they’re angry. This will only escalate the issue. Seek first to understand them and help them regain their calm. Only once they feel ‘heard’ are they willing to listen to reason. Only when they calm down are they physically capable of thinking reasonably. A person needs blood to flow into the pre-frontal cortex of their brain in order to think reasonably and this only happens once they have calmed down.

 

HANDLING YOUR OWN ANGER

When it comes to dealing with your own Anger, you must seek to understand your pain. However, Anger is not the emotion for understanding so you’ll have to cool down first. So, the next time you get angry…

1 – Observe yourself like if you were watching a TV show.

2 – Take a long, slow, deep breath into your belly and simply observe that as well. (This activates an inner process known as the Relaxation Response). Take a couple more deep breaths.

3 – Continue breathing in this way with the Intention of becoming calm enough to let the blood return to the part of your brain that allows you to think with reason. Remove yourself from the situation if you need to.

4 – Once you’ve cooled down, ask yourself, “What is the story I’m telling myself about this situation? Is this story true? In what ways is this story not true?”

If you’re mad about being cut-off in traffic, imagine the driver has diarrhea and is desperately trying to make it to a toilet. Have a good giggle. Remind yourself that another person’s bad driving habits makes a statement about them, not you.

 

SUMMARY

Anger is a survival-based emotion. It’s purpose is to give us the strength to get through painful (life-threatening) situations.

Anger is triggered by pain. Physical pain and Emotional pain.

Anger triggered by physical pain doesn’t really cause us problems. It is short-lived.

Anger triggered by emotional pain is what creates the trouble in our lives. It is often prolonged resulting in maladaptive stress.

Our deepest need as human-beings is to know that we matter. We come to believe we matter when people listen to us; respect us, and understand us.

Our deepest fear as human-beings is to feel like we don’t matter. We may come to believe that we don’t matter when people ignore us, abandon us, reject us, disrespect us, or take advantage of us.

The degree to which you believe you don’t matter, is the degree of your self-doubt.

The greater your self-doubt, the greater your emotional pain and Anger.

When something happens that causes you to focus on your self-doubt, you feel pain and get angry.

The way to overcome your Anger is to:

1 – Notice yourself becoming Angry. Simply observe and begin breathing deep and slow.

2 – Stop telling yourself stories about how things that happen mean that you don’t matter. Those stories are lies. You always matter. You make a difference to the world just being here.

3 – Remind yourself that what negative things other people do and say is really a statement about them and their pain and fear. It’s not about you. How they treat you makes no difference to the fact that you matter.

4 – Learn to overcome your self-doubt by consistently focusing on all the ways that you make a positive difference and look for ways to help others.

The way to help diffuse another person’s Anger is to:

1 – First understand that if someone is angry, they are in pain.

2 – Stay calm by breathing deep and slow through your nose.

3 – Don’t speak, just listen. If you do speak, only ask questions for clarity.

4 – Seek to understand their point-of-view and let them know when you understand them by relating what they said in your own words.

5 – Once they feel heard and understood, their deepest needs will have been met and their anger will subside.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: While all Anger is triggered by some form of pain, not all pain triggers Anger.

 

I hope this article has been of value to you in some way. Thank you for reading.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Here is a highly recommended book for men on how to move Beyond Anger.

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