Anger Management 1-0-1. Part 2. Managing anger
Not how you might think.
Howdy! Glad to see you back for part 2 of Anger 1-0-1. We talked about what anger signals (that I have been treated unfairly and that my boundaries have been crossed) and why blaming others for their behavior (even justly) only creates an illusion of control that does not solve my problem, and it also backfires in a bad relationship.
Now for the part that we are all waiting for: how on earth do you get ahold of this nasty feeling?
For clarity, I will describe tried and tested framework to get a grip on anger.
It’s not a panacea, it’s not a solution, and it’s not a step-by-step guide. It’s a method designed to make you more aware and in charge of your emotions.
Recognize it - don’t laugh - anger is not that obvious. Some simmer, some get anxious, some fear, and some yell. Does it come with a lump in your throat, does your face turn red? Do you start to tremble? How do you recognize that you feel angry?
Figure out the boundary that was crossed - anger is about crossed limits. We are not very good at setting limits with others, especially with close ones, or colleagues or people we want to like us. So, lots of people. Sometimes even with us - ever been angry at yourself?
So for this step, what you want to find out is what is important to you in that situation.
For example, if a colleagues yelled at you and you get angry - it might be a good indicator that you value respect.
If your partner didn’t take the garbage out or left the kitchen table dirty and you feel anger, it’s a good indicator that you value responsibility and maybe accountability when setting tasks in the house. (or you just got up on the wrong side of the bed - no true story, ofc)
Check your body budget - more often than not, anger comes from an unbalanced body budget. You know those times when you feel angry, anxious, or just in a really low mood, only to find out that after you get some sleep or eat something everything is back to normal? That’s your body budget.
So before you do anything else, just ask yourself if what you are feeling isn’t a physical thing.
Breathe and step away from the situation - sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes anger makes us confront and not always to the best outcome. When and if you feel like anger is all over you, just take a step back - literally.
This will signal your mind to back up a bit and get some perspective.
You can say something like: “I feel angry right now, so this conversation might not go well. I need some time to calm down or think and we will circle back.”
In your own words. Or use these. No matter, the important thing to remember here is that rarely something good appears from an angry confrontation. But always come back and talk about the situation.
If you yelled and feel guilty - well, then that’s why God invented apologies. These miraculous skills enable you to regroup and strengthen your relationship with other people. We’ll talk about apologizing in a future substack.
Lastly, I hear so many people berating themselves for failing to manage their anger and feeling guilty afterward.
Be kind - I cannot stress this enough - we are not awful people for feeling anger and neither are those who apparently inflict it upon us. We are all doing our best, with what we have at our disposal.
You cannot escape anger - it’s a useful emotion, just like any other. By using this approach I can guarantee (therapist’s honor) that you will feel anger less often and more conscientious.
That’s when the real managing begins.