In Part One we began our look into the character trait of anger with an eye toward overcoming it. In Part Two, we looked at three steps, finishing by imagining a scenario that could help us to very quickly end an anger episode just before it begins.
So, how might you utilize Step #3? If you find yourself in a situation we’re anger is welling up and you feel as though you’re going to explode, first become conscious of the situation based on Step #2. Remember, you’ve already visualized it. Now, don’t rationalize (“rational lies”) to yourself that there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Instead, just recall the scene of the very large, ferocious-looking man with a machine gun threatening you that if you don’t “adjust” right now you’re in trouble.
Now, instead of losing control of yourself and becoming angry, just remember that you could (and would!) calm yourself if the circumstances were the above. And, if you could do it then, you can do it now.
Again, your desire (Step #1) to lose this trait of anger will have to be stronger than the immediate comfort or status quo (actually, the correct term might even be “emotional laziness”) of letting yourself explode into the familiar angry rage.
#4 Build on your small successes. You don’t have to be 100 percent successful in order to take pleasure in your progress. Maybe the first few times you simply don’t get *as* angry. Or, you handle it well a couple of times and then slip up. Then you do it well again. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect. Just do your best. You’re well on your way. Remember, I was there. I’m just suggesting you to do exactly what I did, which I learned from someone else.
On the other hand, while we’ve looked at some ways to keep ourselves from acting out in anger, is that enough to settle the issue, or do we also need to feel less angry about…things? What do you think and what would you recommend?
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“On the other hand, while we’ve looked at some ways to keep ourselves from acting out in anger, is that enough to settle the issue, or do we also need to feel less angry about…things?”
Bob, from experience, until I forced myself to deal with the root issues, my responses could be “controlled.” I didn’t just want control b/c it was a constant battle & still controlled me. I wanted resolve & peace.
Your question nails it. We should find out what truly causes us to react, become pro-active & recognize the consequences of not doing so. Before long, I know this from experience, we will think, “Why did that ever upset me?”.
Again, I appreciate your wisdom!
Michael, I need to respond to your comment. As a recovering “nice” person myself, I can assure you that nice people can and do behave very badly when it comes to anger. Don’t confuse silence or suppression as non-feeling. While these folks may appear dead to you (at least to your face), let me assure you the worst of them are digging the knife in your back. I am talking classic passive-aggressive behaviour here… gossiping, whining, complaining, blaming, and in extreme cases, sabotaging. It is insidious, it is vengeful, it is destructive. So given the choice between that bad behaviour and a rabid dog… I can see why you would choose the fomer. Me too!
However, the point of this whole series is that bad behaviour is bad behaviour. Neither end of the spectrum is effective (ie aggressive behaviour or passive-aggressive behaviour). And we certainly shouldn’t have to choose between which we’d rather be on the receiving end of. It’s like asking, which feels worse, being attacked from the front, or from behind? Both suck.
You and I agree that we have a responsibility to voice our anger in a controlled, responsible, mature way. I loved your comment from yesterday’s post. Assertive communication is the method I teach. This is the skill of a person confidently taking a stand, without shredding / attacking the other party. It preserves relationships, reputations, and solves most problems. And it is a learned skill.
Bob, Michael, I think we are all on the same page here. In the end let’s pick the fights worth fighting, engage responsibly, and leave the small stuff for the small-minded. Cheers!
Great article and very valuable ways of expanding self control. Accepting our ability to respond, not merely react, and exercising self awareness, self-control and empathy are huge. In addition, I find nurturing the “field” in which we make this attempt this vital. Practicing behaviors that enable us to be more peaceful, such as meditation, make it that much less likely we will need heroic acts to overcome our anger.
I like very much your advice. I would like to suggest one more thought. Chassidus explains, anger is a result of arrogance and BIG time ego, the need to control. If a person can meditate on Divine Providence and that everything has a positive reason including what you are feeling angry about .. if a person can accept G-ds plan for this moment, this will help diffuse a lot of the anger and the person will have gained a learning positive experience rather than making it through his choice to be angry a very very negative experience.
Bob, after reading all three posts I have to confess I am a fan of uncontrolled anger in others. I like active volcanoes, huge thunder storms with dozens of lightning strikes happening all over the place simultaneously and mad dogs frothing at the mouth charging down the hill coming right at me.
There are no people around me that have uncontrolled anger issues however. I would like to find some because I think the underlying passion they are holding inside, once controlled can be channeled in wonderful and powerful ways. Give me anger over timid any day. Give me mad instead of sad because they are alive versus the walking dead. ‘Nice’ people are the worst people because if you have no space to be bad you really cannot be good. ‘Nice’ people suck the energy right out of the room.
Great posts Bob,
Understanding and guiding self in all areas of life brings peace to our mind.
From my experience and what I have been studying in the last few years – how we respond to a situation is based on our Self Image, Conditioning, Beliefs etc. – how other people respond is based on their Self Image etc. How we act in any circumstance is a reflexion of who we are – therefore by sculpting a great Self Image will give us great results and peace of mind.
The only corner of the Universe that we can improve is our selves and then success in all areas of life follows.
Learning how to improve and guide our own Attitude will bring success in our relationships, business, health, financial etc….
One thing that has helped me tremendously was the fact that every time I have a conversation with someone I remind myself that we never speak to the person…we speak to their Conditioning…..and that whatever other people say it is “only their OPINION” nothing else – so no need to take thing personally.