How to manage your anger

Renata Black, EBY Co-Founder & CEO

Raise Your Hand If You Need Anger Management

How many times do you get pissed off in a day? Road rage? Frustrated with your partner? Mad at yourself when you forget something? Anger is a crouching tiger and our higher self is just watching the nature documentary trying to figure out what is going to happen next when she finds her prey. We’re often told to avoid anger and we often feel shame when we act on the emotion. What if anger meant more than just the red hot fumes coming out of that character’s ears? It can be a guiding light in your life if you know how to harness it. Train the tiger to do your bidding. Anger can be negative, yes, but it doesn’t have to cause suffering. It doesn’t have to erode the positivity you’ve created around you nor does it have to feel like dead weight anchoring you in these moments of aggression. Being angry doesn’t make you weak, unhinged, or a bad person, it just makes you human. It is unavoidable and such an integral part of our lives. We may as well learn how to use it to our benefit. 

Let’s shift our perspective a little. Instead of, “I am so angry right now,” and letting that sentence consume every thought and action, try “what is making me so upset?”. Take control of it so it doesn’t take control of you. Anger is a transient emotion, just like any other, do not give it more power than it deserves. It is derivative to think of a healthy mind as just brimming with kindness, love and compassion while unhealthy minds cope with anger, dislike and rage. They play off each other to create balance and direction in your life. Studies have shown anger has led to greater creativity, clear minded deliberating, and better relationships. Anger can be a great catalyst for communication, for clarity, for self awareness. Anger can help us become more rational problem solvers and can teach us about patience and discipline. Anger may be the start but ultimately, you decide where it’s going to take you. Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” So let’s make sure we aren’t holding onto it or throwing it. We will use it to light a better path. 

Power Tip 1: What is your anger telling you?

Anger can shine light on the weaknesses of our mind. What commonly triggers you and what you can do to start pinpointing them. We have these blind spots of repressed emotions and anger is our body’s way of bringing our much needed attention to them.  We may feel these places in our mind being constantly prodded by those who seek to gaslight or upset us. It’s time to start fighting back. We need to build solid, personal defenses around our weaknesses so that they aren’t worn on our sleeves and used against us. We do not want to give others power to disturb our peace and the first step is to be poignantly aware of where our vulnerabilities come from. Anger can help you get your needs met. If your kids or partner are asking you to spread yourself thin you might have to take a step back and reassess what you need to change to be happy. Does your stomach twist into a knot every time you see your parents because you know they’re going to ask you when you’re going to get a better job, settle down with a nice spouse, have a kid, or have another kid? That’s a good indication that you need to set a boundary. It’s time to say, “Please don’t ask me about my career/love life/reproductive plans today/this year/ever.”

Power Tip 2: What do you want to tell your anger?

You shouldn’t ever give your anger free reign. Moderation is key. Whenever you feel the anger bubbling inside you, before you say words that were probably better left unsaid, try something called a “discomfort caveat.” It’s when you take a moment and instead of acting the intense emotions you tell the people around you what you’re feeling. Let them know it’s more difficult than usual for you to communicate clearly and acknowledge this disclaimer as you try to convey what you want to say. This will let the other person approach you with empathy rather than defense so you both can make good decisions and think like a chess player. Assess the situation, see how your reaction might catalyze others, and see if the end result would be satisfying to you. If not, the pause gives you the room to shift gears. 

When you’re angry, pauses, deep breaths, and moments of reflection more effectively exercise power and control than rapid-fire responses. If you feel less angry when you slow down, great, but that’s not the goal. This is about giving yourself a wider range of options to choose from in an emotionally charged situation. You need time to articulate your feelings and maybe even feel empathy for the person your anger is directed towards. Allow yourself that liberty. 

Power Tip 3: What can anger do for you?

Anger can push you out of complacency. Your comfort zone is full of all those feel-good emotions and anger is unpleasant so it will call for change. When you feel stuck, when you feel injustice, discrimination, when you’re sick of the environment you’re in, anger will mobilize you. Finding the motivation to take control of your life might take a fire under your bum. Anger can also lead to healthier relationships with those around you. You are practicing your patience when their actions upset you. In conflicts and disagreements, you learn about your partners’ needs and boundaries. Working through these emotions helps people practice compromise, empathy and emotional maturity. In essence, you are practicing your communication skills. 

Real talk: The goal isn’t to get rid of your anger, it’s to understand it. Where is it coming from and where can it take you? Anger is human and can help us navigate our vulnerabilities, our relationships and our environments in productive ways. Repressing it has been proven to lead to physical health problems on top of suffocating your access to the power within you. We are not defined by our negative emotions and to make sure of that, let’s grab them by their reins and push forward to a better self.

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