Anger: An Internal Enemy

Are you really in control? “This person really upsets me!” is a very common expression; the anger emotion arises when something or someone gets us off balance. This change from our “not angry” or relaxed state to an “angry” state, I would say, is not perceivable. Of course we know when we
are angry or very angry, but when we are aware we are already beyond the transition point from relaxed to angry. The anger energy is so strong that when it happens we don’t realize it, it is like a shock in which we gain awareness once we are well into the anger and in the strongest cases not even in that moment but after it goes away.

The causes of this shift can be many: something did not come off as we wanted; somebody did not follow our instructions, did or said something that bothers us, did not comply with a deadline or promise, or simply did not perform well.

Here, we are not going to analyze if the causing person or event is good or bad, that could be very subjective; but we are going to focus on the anger reaction, analyze its disadvantages and give a few tips that will help us modify this reaction in our benefit.

When anger arises there is a chain of events: the event itself, our perception of it, what we think about it and finally the anger feeling. But these events happen so fast that we only perceive something that we dislike and then our emotion could go from a light upsetting all the way to
an explosive energy that makes us yell, turn red and even physically attack a person with strong gestures.

How strong this is and to what degree it takes control over us that is not rare to hear somebody refer to her last anger attack with phrases like: “I was not myself…”, “I could not recognize myself…” or “I was out of me…”

Think for a moment on what we are looking for with the anger. Lets ask first does anger makes me happy? And though the obvious answer is no, we have to analyze it because if we keep getting angry we are getting some pleasure even if it is temporal. Sometimes anger arises from a fear
emotion and gives us a power feeling that allows us to overcome the fear.

Perhaps anger gives us the pleasure of power, of being in control of people, because the one more angry and yelling more in an specific situation could feel that is the one subjugating the other and
therefore more powerful; and power has always maintained its appeal among us. But we have to admit that anger gives us various upsetting states that make it impossible to coexist with true happiness.

At the bottom of the event there is a strong communication need, if something did not go as we would have liked is because we were not clear enough, somebody ignored our desires and expectations and therefore with the anger we have the illusion to establish a much more clear
communication. At the end of a good fight we say: “I told him what he was made of¡”, “I put her in her place!”, and other expressions that confirm that anger allowed us to give a more firm message.

But if we analyze what happens to communication during the fight, ironically communications deteriorates pretty bad, a person caught by anger can get so upset that his phrases and yelling is completely disarticulated and does not achieve to express himself good, and ends converting the event in a total communication failure, the receptor gets scared, closes and basically is NOT listening because his mind is focused on one or various of the following options: to think about the arguments to defend herself and counterattack, to think how he can fix the situation, or simply to observe the big show the other part is performing in front of her, but in none of these
cases he is a good listener.

A need of communication implies a need of closeness. Curiously as we are more close to the person that “creates” our anger, more freedom we give ourselves to yell at him, insult her or hurting him as part of the process causing exactly the opposite to what we want: distance. It is a mystery why we can mistreat more the people we love more and control ourselves and respect more the people we do not love that much.

How can we detect the anger, reduce its effects and work little by little to get rid of this emotion that is clearly not achieving our goals?
The first tip is understand the sequence of events that creates the anger, the feeling of anger comes from a thought, and this though comes from a perception we have about an event or person; when we notice that this feeling starts to arise, make it a habit to stop and ask yourself, what am I thinking that causes this emotion?, what am I perceiving as negative that caused in me this thought?, what was the attack, frustration or deception?, am I going to correct something about it with this anger and all its related behaviors? Or am I going in the opposite direction of my goal to
communicate more clearly why this is not good for me.

When we notice our anger, is useful to think what do I want to communicate? This helps us to relax or to look for a better moment to do it. We can also imagine that we are a movie star constantly under the eye of a camera either working or because we cannot get rid of the paparazzi and think
how am I going to feel later when I see a filmed video of my anger attack?, in it we will have of course our face altered, red face, our hands will be in the air creating all types of gestures and our yelling will be completely intimidating. Is this video clip a source of pride? will we feel good when
watching those scenes?, or will it be something embarrassing and terrifying in which we will confirm the phrase “I do not recognize myself, I was not myself in that moment…”

These phrase only confirms that the anger energy has such a power that it totally takes over our control, our essential being is removed and we are not longer owners of ourselves, we do and say things that we would not want to do or say if we were owners of the situation.

How do we solve it? How do we get rid of all these people, all these situations that attack us and make us lose control?, Well, going that road would be a useless task, we would never finish getting rid of people or situations that bother us, are frustrating or disappointing, that is not the way to go.

But there is a way to work on getting rid of anger and it is first to understand that is an internal and not an external enemy; the real enemies are not the persons or situations that are annoying or that we consider are not fulfilling our expectations, these persons are not intrinsically negatives, proof of that is the fact that in some other moment or circumstances they could have been nice or neutral to us.

The root of the what is bothering us and the frustration and therefore the root of the anger is what we think about it, the enemy is not out, it is the thought that creates the emotion and the thoughts
are inside our mind, they should come from us and we should be their owners, but if we do not cultivate patience they will take the control.

So next time that angers arise or you get close to it, take a deep breath and ask yourself: my reaction will allow me to communicate better what I want to this person?, does it gets me close to him?, does it contributes to improve the situation?, my personal video clip will show a patient and in control person or a fuming livid person?, am I going to allow something or someone to take over my control? May be if you practice, you will get surprised with the results.

April 21, 2010

Guillermo Mendoza guillermo@impactcoachingsolutions.com +1(832)334-3583

Executive Coach, motivational speaker, writer, trainer, empowering individuals and organizations to transform getting the results they want faster and better.

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