In Part One we heard from a reader (actually, a compilation of readers’ questions) expressing doubt with regard to overcoming the very destructive character trait of anger. In today’s article, let’s begin discussing some steps to do just that.
#1 Truly desire to lose anger as a character trait. This is key. Without the desire to change and a commitment to see it through, utilizing these methods will be no more effective for the long-term than trying to cover an internal infection with a bandage.
#2 Imagine situations and scenarios that could happen (perhaps based on past experience) that would elicit anger and see yourself handling them in a calm, constructive and positive manner. This is like an astronaut running simulated missions so that, by the time he or she is actually in flight, the scenario is already familiar, thus easier to handle.
#3 Play the following mind-game with yourself. Pretend you are in the midst of an outburst of anger. Then imagine that a 7 foot tall, 450 pound, ferocious looking man wielding a machine gun enters the room, looks at you and says, “if you don’t stop your anger right now, you’re in trouble.” Now, would you be able to calm down and immediately end your angry outburst? I don’t know about you, but I sure would, and fast! 🙂
#3A. Here’s the great news: If you could do it in that example, then you’ve just proved to yourself that you are capable of not becoming angry whenever you are motivated not to be. And, if you can do it once, you can do it whenever you choose.
In Part Three, we’ll see how this would play out in “real life.” Meanwhile, what do you think? Can you see how this would work for you? (Err, I mean, your friend who has the anger issue) 🙂
Enjoy this post? Receive an update when our next post is published by entering your best email address below and clicking Get Updates.
Great suggestions! Love the 450 pound gorilla imagery… yes that would switch a person from anger mode instantly LOL! In fact, once that image is locked on, a simple code word, like “SWITCH!” stated aloud to oneself is all that is needed to shift into that mindset in an instant. Love it!
Your point is, preparation is key. Couldn’t agree more : ) It’s about taking responsibility for one’s anger as a choice, rather than viewing it as an immutable character trait that has a deathgrip hold on its hapless victim.
I have to admit, I struggled with your reference of anger as a “character trait” because I view anger as simply an emotion – part of a healthy, normal, human experience. However as I thought it through, what is “character”… well it’s the sum total of habitual habits. In that frame, anger that is habitually expressed inappropriately, yes can become part of a person’s character. So it’s not about releasing anger from your experience, but rather the unhealthy, unproductive ways it is expressed. Got it.
Thanks for getting my wheels turning this morning : )
I love #1! Desire to change. As you said, the games are fun–and I love games, but will prove futile if the desire is not strong enough! Slight edge adjustments…..easy to do, easy not to do!
You have seen people attempt to change for the wrong motives & the results are very short lived. The character trait of anger is just like the character trait of integrity. We have to choose to do it regardless if anyone recognizes it or not.
I appreciate you!
Absolutely LOVE #3A! Imagine Mr.T coming in and saying “I pitty the fool who is angry around ME” or consider that your anger might bring out “The Incredible Hulk” in someone else. Bob, this is a big issue for so many (bigger than most of us want to admit-including me) and I really appreciate you writing about it.
My wife and I have six children, and to see how our anger gets manifested in them has been the best remedy for me.One of the most important aspect to overcoming anger in my life (mot completed yet)has been personal responsibility. So, when I do have an outburst, in my apology, I include the fact that my anger was my issue-not caused by anything the other person did.
Also, when I am tempted to “blow my top” it usualy helps to think about the impact it will have on the other person-even if at the time it seems the other person deserves it. See, most of the time we argue with those we love, and I have found that thinking about that love is a great way to stop anger in it’s tracks.
Lastly, anger IS selfish! We will always have more joy in our life when we are putting others before ourselves. Living by that principle will help keep the temptation from starting in the first place.
This seems like suppressing anger to me. Forcing it to go and do something else, like harden arteries or blow a gasket under pressure. It has certain validity if suffering, especially long suffering is considered an ideal. Anger is a useful tool if you know how to read it. All anger in my opinion is a function of two things. One you may have little or no control over and the other complete control once you know what it is.
Anger is a function or size of the gap between your expectation and what is occurring. I have used ‘expectations’ to assess the cause of my upsets. They all have a “This should not be this way” kind of flavor. This gap between what I expect and what is actually occurring when small is easy to miss. How often do we let the issue slide because now isn’t a good time to bring it up. You will create a bigger gap over time ignoring the small stuff. Those explosions are always out of proportion and generally only produce more and escalating anger around you. You can change your expectations, once you notice what they are and the underlying rule or rules you have adopted that are running the expectations right now. Some rules made sense when I was three but have never made sense since and only and always when triggered produce a three year olds upset and associated tantrum. [The best of us hide these very well and it seems this is the intent of your 450 pounder.] I have been in a room with that guy many times and all it did was generate more resistance and more anger in me. [Might only be me.] Each rule I adopt is associated with one or more commitments. Should I keep the commitment, modify it or be a voice for it? What is my underlying commitment and how may I express it to have agreement and alignment around me? Managing my commitments, keeping them aligned in me makes it easier to communicate how I want to be treated, interacted with, what I allow into my mind… most current so called media are about generating as much ‘upset’ and anger as possible. Upset produces more and larger upsets and once the herd takes off it is hard to stop and usually a cliff takes too many to their doom.
Some people might be able to trick themselves into calm with the 450 pounder. I think discovering the triggers, rewiring the issues and not making ourselves wrong for our feelings is a place to begin.
Hi everyone, thank you for all your comments, feedback and suggestions.
Michael, I want to address your concern. I believe I understand what you’re saying and agree that if we were talking about a suppression it would indeed be counterproductive. What I’m talking about in this series is a person who really – more than anything – allows themselves to get angry in situations which are simply inappropriate. They have the character trait of anger which they need to overcome. In this case, the visualization of the 450 pounder is simply an innocent “mind game” to help reframe the situation. One could, instead, replace it with anything else. In fact, I used that particular example exactly because it is so unlikely to actually happen, thus the fact that it’s a helpful reframe is obvious to the person using it. Does that make sense?
I think the biggest problem of all here is probably how I entitled the series. Perhaps instead of calling it “Overcoming the Trait” I should have said something like “Controlling the Trait when Inappropriate.” Of course, that sounds kind of awkward. 🙂
Again, for this method to work, the desire to change must be intact. In fact, before that, it’s being conscious of the fact that one even has a problem with inappropriate anger. Then, from there, it’s the desire to overcome it, imagining possible “anger-eliciting” situations in advance so they won’t come as surprises and catch you in “reaction” mode, and then playing whatever mind games you feel will work. The 450 pounder was simply an example; anything will work if it’s relatable to the person using it.
I also liked what you said about discovering the triggers and rewiring the issues. Certainly that’s important. .
I hope my explanation clarified, though, the more I look at it, the more I think I goofed with the title.
Bob, thanks for sharing this. I’ve a temper problem since I was a little boy, and I probably have gotten it from my parents from observation and mimicking behavior. Regardless, I will keep this in mind. Love the 7ft guy with the M60.