Anger can be like fire; it can burn your house down or you can cook dinner with it. The difference is in whether the heat is controlled and directed.
Everybody gets angry. Some personalities tend to run hotter than others but we all deal with anger. When it becomes a daily state of mind, it’s time to make some changes. My diplomatic personality doesn’t run hot, so several years ago when I found myself seeing red on a regular basis, I learned some critical lessons. The most important one was that I had a choice. I could remove myself from the situation or change my attitude. Anger is a negative emotion, but you can learn a lot about yourself when you examine it and channel it.
According to research conducted by Henry Evans and Colm Foster, emotional intelligence experts, high performing leaders tap into and express their entire spectrum of emotions. The key is harnessing emotions for a positive outcome.
Our culture seems to be peppered with people who think venting is an appropriate way to process anger. As I mentioned in the article, Courage Doesn’t Have to Roar, the caveat of venting is it often results in rehearsing stress rather than disbursing it. I’ve observed that venting should have guidelines so that it serves a purpose other than the destruction of relationships. Ignore these rules of engagement at your own peril.
Rules of Engagement
Notice that all of these tips require thinking about what you say before letting it fly out of your mouth.
You can review the Stop, Drop and Breathe strategy in my previous post.
- Treat the information you share as confidential. Public rants (especially on social media) can make you look bad.
- Carefully select a trusted friend or mentor to air your grievances with and talk to them in a private place.
- Talk to someone who is bold enough to speak truth into your life and isn’t in a mode to simply agree with you. A different perspective can often help with clarity on identifying what the real issue is.
- Set a timer and limit the amount of time you allow yourself to talk about the problem. 10 minutes should be MORE than adequate.
- Ask yourself the key question, “What is the real issue here?” We tend to look at events, but if you’re angry, the actions have triggered something in your heart. Be willing to dig deeper than the circumstance.
Developing habits that release tension and function as pressure-release valves is a smart way to get good at anger-management.
It is estimated that about two million people in the U.S. engage in self-harm. These are primarily teenagers and young adults that desperately need a healthy way to handle negative emotions.
It should provide extra motivation to know that we are modeling behavior to the next generation. We are helping ourselves as well as those who are in our shadow when we make better choices and learn to harness our anger.
Healthy Ways to Relieve Anger
- Journaling is a proven way to process emotions. Blogging is too public for working through raw emotion. Keep it to your personal journal.
- Oxygen, endorphins, and fresh air are a great prescription for anger. Go for a brisk walk or do something physical.
- Use humor to release tension. Develop some resources that consistently make you laugh. Whether it’s playing with a furry friend, watching funny YouTube videos or listening to silly music, find ways to lighten up. Note: It’s best to leave off the sarcasm when you’re mad.
- Talk it out with a trusted friend, following the Rules of Engagement listed above.
- Pray. God isn’t shocked at anything you say. And yes, you can pray even when you’re mad. God not only knows what you’re thinking, but He has answers.
Anger Doesn’t Have to Bite
“As we say to our clients,” write Foster and Evans in Step Up: Lead in Six Moments That Matter, “don’t pretend. Be upset, but be intelligent while you’re upset.”
NOTE: You’re invited to join me for free Lunch and Learn Session on Nov. 17th on “Courage Doesn’t Always Roar.” This session will offer effective strategies for how to respond when things go south and conflict erupts. Dealing with difficult people and uncomfortable situations can be day to day challenges. Brush up on your skills with the actionable tools you will receive in this Lunch and Learn session. Register Now! >>>>