Is guilt a familiar byproduct of your anger? How often do you tried to rationalize and justify your anger? If any of this sounds familiar, the first thing you should know is that your anger is not the issue. And you’re not the problem either. That’s right. You and your anger are not the problem. The problem actually stems from not having the ability to discover what’s making you angry in the first place. Keep reading and find out how you can zero in on what’s making you anger so you can use your anger to your advantage.
~~ “What makes me so angry?” ~~
We usually become angry because two things are happening. First, we believe that someone or something is preventing us from getting what we want. Second, we believe that something either should or should not be happening the way it is. This thinking focuses our attention entirely on limitation and fear.
Take a moment and think, if all you’re paying attention to is not having what you want and what is or isn’t happening the way it should, how else would you feel? You might not be surprised to know that this kind of thinking causes undo confusion, stress, and upset? How else would you feel but angry?
As soon as you discover that absolutely all anger is a result of where you focus your attention, then your anger turns into an alarm telling you to change your focus of attention. So that’s the upside of anger: This can be a wonderful reminder to focus on producing the life you desire.
Here’s an example: Pat was waiting for Leslie at their favorite restaurant. They agreed to meet at 7:15. After waiting for 20 minutes, Pat began to feel a little angry. “Leslie knows I hate waiting. We had an agreement. How selfish … Not even a phone call to explain … I’m only waiting another five minutes and then I’m leaving …” Pat thought. And the more Pat had these thoughts, the angrier Pat felt.
Let’s examine the thinking that created Pat anger. It sounds like Pat believes that Leslie should not be late if they had an agreement, that the evening would be ruined by Leslie’s late arrival, and that if people really cared about each other they would call and explain the sudden change in plans.
When you focus your attention on limitations and fear as Pat did, anger is an understandable response. ~~ “Then what do you suggest I focus my attention on?” ~~
We believe that lying beneath people’s anger are things they value that are missing in the situation. The easiest way we’ve discovered to stop feeling angry and start creating a life we want, is to identify what’s at the root of the anger – what we value. In this situation one thing Pat may highly value is peacefulness. So what prevents Pat from being peaceful in this situation? It may be that Pat needs more predictability in order to have a sense of peacefulness.
Once you know what you need, you’re able to take action to get those needs met. Perhaps, Pat would asked Leslie to make an agreement that if either one of them might be late, they’ll call and let the other person know.
~~ “So, how can I use this in my life?” ~~
The most effective “anger management” starts with understanding that anger is not the problem. Next you can begin to notice the very first moment when you start to feel tense or irritated. This is the best time to use your anger as an alarm bell, warning you to shift your focus of attention. Then you single out any should/shouldn’t, judgment type statements you hear yourself thinking.
Once you have a statement to work with, you get to the heart of anger by exploring each of these statements. You discover the hidden values within it, like how Pat values peacefulness. When you identify what you value, you ask yourself the question: “In this situation what do I need so I can experience what I value right now?” Like Pat’s need for predictability. Then think of some ways you might be able to get that need met and start to experience what you value. The same way Pat and Leslie agreed to call if they will be late.
Don’t look back in anger at what’s just happened; look ahead to see how you can get what you need so you will start experiencing what you value. When you focus your attention on what you value, what you need, and how you’re going to get those needs met, anger can be transformed into an opportunity to create a truly enjoyable life where you experience what you truly value.
By: Beth Banning and Neill Gibson
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