Dealing with anger

by: Steve Savides on

Unless you are a brick wall, you are like all other human beings, and we all get angry.

Never getting angry is not a realistic option. 

What we do with our anger is the important thing - and anger, like joy, is an inside job.

Here are four steps I have learned on my journey to dealing with my anger

(It is a journey! and one I am still working on every day - just ask my three boys!)


Before we start, let's just ask "What makes us angry"?

Anger is caused by our reaction to something - outside of ourselves - such as other people or frustrating or hurtful events. But no matter how external the manifestation of our anger, or the fact that all the events will be to do with something external, anger takes place on inside.  

As you mature, you have a chance to come to terms with anger and the cause of that hurt or anger.  You eventually come to see that no one can truly make you angry. You will come to a place where you are able to deal with situations because you have seen them before, and you realise only you can allow yourself to be angry (and sometimes legitimately need to) in response to that thing.   

Again, what we DO with our anger is the important thing. 


Here are my four steps to dealing with my anger  

1). First, admit that you are angry. 

This may sound so obvious, that it is often a step that is missed.  But there are may times we cannot - or will not - admit to ourselves that we are angry. I may know I am angry, but I may spend time kidding myself as to why.  Often, the thing I think I am angry about, is not.

Anger is like pain. It is the teacher.  It shows us where the hurt is. 

It is not possible to deal with something that you won’t recognise is there, because you cannot own that thing fully. 

Once you fully acknowledge it, then you can be deeply honest with yourself about what the true cause of the anger is.  This will lead to the solution, for you.  

2). Make a choice to deal with it. 

You have to come to a place where you understand your anger is self-indulgent at best (still not very good!) and downright harmful to yourself and others when it is full blown. 

It can be very seductive to allow anger to remain in our lives, and we are fooled if we think it gives us any strength.  People often channel anger as a source of strength; but this is a temporary solution -much like steroids are for building muscle.  We may protect our anger, justify it and even feed it, but ultimately it will weaken us and rob us of all the life we have.

You should be very specific when you are dealing with your anger, . Anger challenges us to look deeply into ourselves. Most of the time, anger is a self-defence mechanism, and comes from unresolved fears or when our pride is hurt. 

If you cannot make this important choice that you want to overcome it, sit with this step until you are.  Only when you are absolutely clear in your understanding of how anger will destroy you, your relationships and anything of value in your life, will you be able to move 

Letting that go does NOT mean the event didn't happen, or that it was ok -- but it does mean you are choosing to walk toward forgiveness of yourself and others, because you know that staying here will destroy you.  

If you need help, go and get it


3). Overcome hurt 

When I was 16 I was dealing with something very hard, and mother used to say to me that all hurt comes from un-forgiveness.  I was so angry with her when she first said it to me!! (how ironic)  

"But you don't understand how this person hurt me; they wronged me.. I did this.. they did that..."   (On and on I went, for two weeks! until I realised my hurt came from un-forgiveness and led me only to anger - which I needed to defend myself from the situation; but the longer I stayed there, the longer I would stay there) 

Hurt has to be overcome in two places 


Firstly, inside:

Just like a cut, it sometimes takes time to heal. But if you give it the right space and time, this can happen.  From the the guy who just pushed in front of you in a queue, or the girl who gossiped about you (or the other way around, take your pick).  From the co-worker who takes credit for your ideas, to someone close to you that you trusted, who betrayed you terribly... all of these hurts have to be overcome. 

There are many methods for this and they work differently for different people.  But again, if you can't do it alone, get help!!  This is another critical step. 


Outside:

When we become angry we must take great care not to act on our anger and so hurt others. If we do this we just perpetuate the cycle of violence. In the smallest ways, to the biggest ways. We just become part of the problem. We need to be part of the solution.  

4). Learn to Let It Go

Once you have acknowledged your hurt and anger, and you have examined yourself to understand what caused the anger, you need to have: 


- wisdom 
- patience
- kindness 

These things take a lot of time and effort to cultivate in your life. But if you look at the most successful people, that you admire, you will find that they have achieved this. 

Wisdom means finding ways to think or act that will end the cycle. These could be as simple as counting to ten, or going for a walk, all the way to removing yourself from a situation completely so that you can heal, or stop a cycle of behaviour (yours or that of another)

Patience means waiting to act or speak until you can do so without causing harm. Pema Chodron says “Patience has a quality of enormous honesty in it. It also has a quality of not escalating things, allowing a lot of space for the other person to speak, for the other person to express themselves, while you don’t react, even though inside you are reacting.” 

If you care about the person you will find ways to work through things. If you find the person is too difficult, or the situation is too painful, you will need to find the strength to walk away. And that is ok.  Hopefully you can both walk away with dignity and understanding.  Just know that if the root of anger lives in you, then you will be tested on it again and again until you resolve it.  


Don’t feed your anger

It’s very difficult not to react when faced with a difficult situation, especially when that situation triggers us because of old hurts. We will find anger filling us, sometimes to the point of uncontrollable rage.  

There are several schools of thought here, and a popular one will tells us to pound it out to “work out” our anger.  This, just like the anger itself, is a very useful strategy, but as we progress in our dealing with anger, even that will become less necessary, and ultimately, part of our short-term strategy, or not required at all. 

If you continually express your anger, either verbally or with physical violence, you will feed the anger, and re-enforce it, and so it will become stronger in you.  It is only with understanding and compassion can you fully resolve your anger.


Compassion Takes Courage

Sometimes we confuse aggression with strength and non-action with weakness. Of course, as we learn, we find that the opposite is actually true.

Giving in to anger, is easy, and as we mature and make our stand against anger, we will find that it is just another weakness. Physiologically, anger actually weakens our ability to respond effectively.  It takes great strength to acknowledge the root of our anger, which is always going to be in fear.  Fear, hurt and selfishness are allies that will keep us chained. It takes discipline to stay calm in the fire of anger.

Start with self-compassion, and then from there you can be compassionate toward others.  Only then will you be able to forgive.

~ Where is your intention? 


© Copyright Steve Savides